‘It’s a beautiful part of the country’ - Stereophonics on their upcoming Thetford gig and monumental career
- Credit: Andrew Whitton
With the ever-popular Forest Live series looming, we caught up with Rich Jones, bassist and co-founder of Stereophonics, ahead of their sold-out show on June 23 in Thetford.
Formed in Wales in 1992, Stereophonics are perhaps one of the greatest rock bands of the last few decades, well known for hit tracks Dakota, Handbags and Gladrags, Graffiti on a Train and Have a Nice Day.
With an impressive ten studio albums to their name, six of which reached No.1 in the Album Charts, they're only the eighth band ever to have attained five consecutive UK No.1 albums.
"We always wanted to be a band to have a great collection of music and to be respected as a live band - hopefully that's what people think of us," explains Rich Jones.
"We still try to get better as a band, as musicians and to be better performers and songwriters."
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Their most recent album Scream Above The Sounds, which was released 20 years after their debut, has achieved gold certification paying testament to the quality of music they have and still produce.
"20 years and 10 albums, I can't believe it sometimes that that much time has passed."
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"Scream Above The Sounds was a very quick album to put together really. There were five songs leftover from the previous album so we kind of only had to record about six or seven songs to put on it."
"It's been a busy time but we always concentrate on what is next. It's always about the next thing, what we can do next, showing people the different side of the band and trying to get better as a band, as musicians and as song writers - we're always pushing forward."
The album itself aims to provide a very hopeful message in a time when Stereophonics felt that there was a lot going on in the world.
"A lot of it's to do with the amount of information people are bombarded with on a daily basis be that from music, social media, Twitter or Instagram. There's so much information always being thrown at people and I think people can get a little bit wary of things really."
"The album was just reminding people that there is goodness out there, there are things that can make you feel a certain way and places you can go that aren't going to scare you."
"People forget that there is another side to life really - enjoy yourself and don't let anything stop you from doing what you want to do. That was a big message on the album."
Honest songwriting and lyrics is something that lead singer Kelly Jones is well known for, not just on this album but across their whole repertoire.
"Kelly as a lyricist has always wanted the songs to have meaning. We've done one or two fun songs but mainly he's always wanted to be a songwriter with a certain amount of storytelling and a bit of depth."
"He's always written that way and I've always respected him for doing that. I've never told him what to do when it comes to the lyrics because he's got it so down to a tee now - he's always been good with it and I trust what he's saying."
"We come from a very similar background and we have very similar beliefs so I know where he's coming from with a lot of it."
The relationships and attitude of the band has always been a key aspect in the longevity of their career.
"One of the main things is that we've always believed that the Stereophonics is about the band and the music; it's not about any one person within the band."
"It's not about egos in the band and the songs can dictate what's needed. That's all we've ever tried to do really."
"The songs almost become bigger than the band, people take those songs on board and whenever we play certain songs, well it's turned into a bit of a monster and it's got a life of its own."
"That's kind of what we hoped for when it comes to writing music. If those songs can become really personal to a lot of people then the songs job is done."
Following in the footsteps of bands like U2, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, Stereophonics have provided what many consider some of the greatest rock songs of our time.
"That's a lot of what we wanted from being in a band, it's to look at other heroes and hope that we could have a similar impact really."
"For us it's about being a great live band and putting on a great performance that people want to come back and see. That's what we've always tried to do and we never want to be known for just one great song."
"You're only as good as your last show so we are always striving to be better musicians and put on a better performance. Hopefully that's what we've been doing over the last 20-odd years, getting better, so fingers crossed that everyone gets something from us that they can enjoy."
Not only has their music reached chart topping positions, it's something that has always seemed to bring together generations.
"We have been very aware of that since early days. Whenever we were doing shows we noticed that there was a very youthful audience down the front but then at the back there'd be the people really listening to the lyrics and really enjoying that side of the band."
"It's a brilliant position to be in, to have such depth of audience - we never take it for granted."
2019, so far, has seen Stereophonics release their brand-new stand-alone single Chaos From The Top Down - their first release since 2017's Scream Above The Sound.
The single is said to have been written from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy laying in the road after being shot. In an interview with NME, Kelly Jones said that the boy is "reflecting in his time of dying about his life and the choices he made through the lack of options and opportunities he felt he had in today's Britain."
"It also touches on the tags and labels that have been stuck on him. The stereotypes and clichés that were placed on him. It's based on a true story that happened just outside my street. It's happening everywhere."
With the summer fast approaching, Stereophonics have kicked off their pre-summer warm-up UK dates which started out in Leicester on May 21. Despite having performed all over the world, the band still find that they get pre-gig nerves.
"We hadn't done any live gigs since last September/October so there were a few pre-gig nerves. As soon as we get the first one done we're really flying"
With only a month until Stereophonics perform at Thetford Forest, the band are really looking forward to the show.
"They're going to be a new experience for us, the forest festivals, we're doing one down near Bath as well. All the reports we've heard are of big receptions, like it's such a nice atmosphere there, we're really looking forward to experiencing it. We can't wait to get up there!"
"We're just really looking forward to coming and playing to everybody up in East Anglia. It's a beautiful part of the country and I don't think there are enough venues there to come and play regularly, so whenever we do come and play there it's always a good time."
Once all of their upcoming shows are complete, the band will be looking towards their next album release.
"We've just finished the eleventh album now and it's kind of all done so that should be released either later this year or early next year."
"After the summer's done, we'll be in full swing of getting the album released and promoting that then so yeah, we're going to have a busy last part of the year after the summer. We will probably then be back on the road, worldwide, as of the beginning of next year."
"With the new music that's coming, we've got a little bit of different Stereophonics, so hopefully there's something on there for everybody."
"We're just really excited to do new things and keep on playing in front of people. There's no better feeling than playing a song that you've written and having a great reaction from a bunch of people in front of you who are there to have a good time - it's a good position to be in."