Without doubt STEREOPHONICS are one of Britain's best bands and in Kelly Jones they possess one of the country's great songwriters. Throughout their 20 year career the band have continuously released classic albums and their forthcoming ninth album, 'KEEP THE VILLAGE ALIVE,' is no exception.
This new 10 track record, written and produced by Kelly Jones, follows the acclaimed 2013 platinum release, 'Graffiti On The Train,' which sold over 300,000 copies in the UK. Since winning a Brit Award in 1998 for Best New Group, STEREOPHONICS have developed a sound that is like few others.
Their achievements are many. They are the 8th group to achieve 5 consecutive UK number 1 albums in a list that includes the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Genesis, Oasis, Blur and U2. They've enjoyed 11 top 10 singles including the number 1 single 'Dakota.' Their hits collection, 'Decade In The Sun,' sold 1.2 million copies in the UK while they sold over 150,000 tickets on their last 16 date UK arena tour.
"It's quite an optimistic album," Kelly says of the forthcoming 'KEEP THE VILLAGE ALIVE' and the fine art of story telling lies at its very heart. "That's the key to the 'KEEP THE VILLAGE ALIVE' thing. Everywhere I went as a kid, what we were learning through life or whatever was through storytelling. You were always listening to somebody's version of events."
Recorded at ICP Studios in Brussels and at their own Stylus Studios in London, the band worked from an initial pool of 35 to 40 songs. "This was almost going to be a double album at one point but double albums went out in the 70's," Kelly laughs. "There were a couple songs that spun over from 'Graffiti On The Train' onto this one, but I kind of leave the guitar in the corner of the room until it's time to write and then I think the absence from not picking it up, when I do pick it up, stuff just happens for me. I never try to force it. You get quite excited about playing again."
That excitement is prevalent all over 'KEEP THE VILLAGE ALIVE.'
It's the sound of a band in their prime.
"I still think of an album in terms of vinyl," Kelly admits. "This is the first song that starts side one! That's just my upbringing, cassettes and vinyl. The running order was always very important to me. I always remember 'What's The Story Morning Glory' had a really good running order. It was a cracking opening track and then a bunch of singles and I kind of used that as a template for 'Word Gets Around' and have ever since."
First single and opening track 'C'est La Vie' is an explosive burst of whip smart rock. It's no surprise to learn that the band often listen to 'Never Mind the Bollocks......We're The Sex Pistols' just before they go onstage to get in the mood. It's that kind of song!
Further singles include 'I Wanna Get Lost With You' and 'White Lies' both of which have been compared to the band's finest singles by those lucky enough to have already heard them. "I Wanna Get Lost With You" just came really quickly, and I think it is about wanting to lose yourself personally and lose yourself with somebody and then just literally get out there."
The band were already mixing the record when, as often happens, that song just comes along and boldly forces itself onto the album. "It was quite an emotional 24 hours I guess, the period of it happening. What was weird was that I was mixing the record, and I went into the studio the next day, sat at the piano, and as clichéd as it sounds that song just came out...and all the boys go, 'Yeah I can really relate to that."
Another highlight is 'Fight or Flight.' "We had David Arnold put some orchestration on that track so it became a bit of a James Bond song, It's kind of got that mechanical drum beat thing in there as well so it's quite cool," Kelly says.
One of the album's best songs is 'Sunny.' "That started as 3 songs in one. It goes off on that guitar solo thing at the end. I guess there's a bit of Fleetwood Mac in there at the end, 'The Chain,' and things like that," Kelly says.
Throughout their career, STEREOPHONICS have always been about family. There's a strong emotional pull at the heart of their best work. You can feel that bond throughout this new disc.
"What's good about the band is that we all still like each other," Kelly admits. "You talk about band's fighting but we meet up every week and rehearse when we're not touring. It started off as an international food night going for a Greek or an Indian. Trying different foods lasted 3 weeks and then we just went to the pub! It's nice to still have a bunch of mates to go to work with and I think that's one of the reasons why we're so prolific."
Bassist Richard Jones has been in the band since day one. "I've been with Richard since I was 3," Kelly recalls. "I went to school with him. His mother and my mother went to the same school and we were born in the same hospital two weeks apart so we've never really had a row. Richard is the kind of person you can't have a row with. He won't argue back. He's the rock behind you, ready to back you up at any turn."
Guitarist Adam Zindani is equally integral to the band's chemistry.
"Me and him are thick as thieves," Kelly says. "We hang out quite a bit together. I took him to see Al Pacino recently and we were standing at the bar and this bloke walked in that literally was an Al Pacino look alike. We couldn't stop laughing."
As for the newest member, drummer Jamie Morrison, he's already like a brother. "I was in bed one Sunday and it's always the same, as soon as your brain shuts off, the idea comes. The title 'Song for the Summer' just entered my head. I went in the garden, wrote it from top to bottom, phoned Jamie and asked him what he was doing. So we went to the studio recorded it twice and that's the version on the record.
Kelly's sternest critics may well be his two daughters who he often uses to gauge a song's longevity. Last time out it was 'Indian Summer.' This time it's 'Sunny.'
Obviously good taste runs in the family.