Stereophonics are currently out on tour with brilliant new material. AMBY met up with their bassist Richard Jones a short while ago after the band performed at Lollapalooza in Berlin. The band have accomplished to stick around for about 23 years time now, all while continuing to bring fine contributions to the alternative rock scene. They just released their 9th album Keep The Village Alive and at the same time hit #1 on the UK album chart. We had a chat about touring lately, the new material, their roots from Wales, and Welsh word “Cariad”. Read more right here.
AMBY: Hi Richard. Thanks for meeting us at AMBY. We are happy to have this Q&A interview with you today.
Richard: Thanks for taking some time of for this as well.
AMBY: Let’s talk a bit about your concerts. You have just played Lollapalooza here, a performance I enjoyed to watch. Then you are heading out on a tour that also takes you around the UK.
Richard: Yea, festival season is about to end and then we start doing this European tour now in October. The UK tour will be around December. Japan, Australia, and America next year then.
AMBY: Ah that’s nice. So you are getting to North America as well.
Richard: It does take a while to get around all the regions but we have done it for the last 20 years time now and looking forward to play there again.
AMBY: That’s good. I know for a fact that there are both press and audience that are looking much forward to see you there then. They will be waiting for you there.
Richard: Brilliant. We really enjoy playing live and it is probably been the best to play the last 5-6 years. We are really having fun playing on stage. Just having a good time.
AMBY: That’s great. So what can the audience expect to watch at the concerts on the upcoming tour?
Richard: We are on our 9th album now, so we are going to play the songs people obviously would like to hear and come to the shows to hear. We are basing our setlist at the moment with a kind of Greatest Hits type of vibe. Also with our songs from the new album. It have just been released so we only play like a few songs from the new album at the moment, but as soon as people got time to absorb it and listen to it over the next couple of months, then we will start to make an addition to it.
AMBY: Then it will be exciting to watch your concerts lately, having something new on the way from show to show.
Richard: That is also the good thing about having so many songs, so many albums. You can change whenever you feel necessary really. The younger crowd might don’t know the older tracks, then we can bring them new trakcs. If it is an older crowd, then we can play the older tracks.
AMBY: Then when touring, what are your tour essentials? What things do you have to bring along?
Richard: Well, over the years you get a check-list. Stage gear, leather jackets, and tight jeans. Then we are also health concious. Of course not in the boring way, but we do a lot of fitness so we bring fitness equipment with us. Yea, but it is all about have fun really. So as long as you are in good company with your friends, that is all you need in the end.
AMBY: Right. Also a lot of bands seem to bring some games or special books along on tour, is that something you do as well?
Richard: We read a lot as well. A lot of the time we read like music biographies. As soon as one person is finished with a book another takes it in. I think we finished the “Ozzy” biography last year when we were in the studio. At the moment I am watching the B. B. King documentary that is on Netflix and I told the lads that. They look forward to watch it.
AMBY: Well and as mentioned before you just released your new album. Congrats with that. I have had a listen to it and liked it very much. So I was wondering, could you tell us a bit more about album concept and the sound on the new record?
Richard: Ah thank you. Well, a lot of the tracks on the album were recorded at the same time as our previous album “Graffiti On A Train”. We recorded about 35-40 tracks in those sessions. 5 or 6 tracks from the sessions then ended up on new album “Keep The Village Alive” and we recorded about 4 new tracks while we were mixing songs. Songs like “White Lies”, “C’est La Vie” and “I Wanna Get Lost With You” are quite recent tracks, the last tracks we recorded. Last album was quite, I won’t say experimental for us, but we let the songs dictate how long they had to be and the orchestration we used on it, so we wanted the new songs to be more concise for this album.
AMBY: The sound also seem quite various for the new album. I mean, there are the rough parts and the more calm moments and the songs goes up and down like that.. Something that makes it a various and interesting listening.
Richard: We like to try out the different types of music. We are not affraid to play anything from rock’n’roll, country and even electronic influenced stuff. It is one of the albums where we though it could go together and we were not afraid to put it all on it.
AMBY: I have heard something about the album lyrics is based a bit about Wales and village life there as the album title also refers to…
Richard: Yea, I think some of the songs are closely tied to the previous album “Graffiti On A Train”.. Like song “C’est La Vie” is about a couple of lads from a small village that go out and find themselves on the way. Also the album title was on our first album in the sleeve notes, the last thing written on the sleeve notes then said “Keep The Village Alive” and we thought it is appropriate for us to use now. It is something we said a lot as kids growing up in the village after having a good night. Kind of like “Keep your spirit up” – “Keep the village alive”.. That type of saying.
AMBY: Ah that’s quite interesting! Nice to know. Then talking a bit about highlights on the album. For me there is one song that seem to stick out from the rest. The song “Into The World” is kind of different from the rest since it is more calm and soulful. What have been the inspirations and thoughts for this song?
Richard: It was a track we recorded late at night when we were in the studio. Kelly started to play the guitar and it just sounded really dramatic and like thought-provoked. We decided to keep it as spacious like that, we didn’t want to add drums or lots of instruments like that. We created some sounds behind it in the studio. I played a bass guitar. I used a fretless bass with an EBO and a slide so it kind of didn’t sound like a bass guitar, but more like a drone instrument, like something you could hear in eastern music or like that. We also got some strings on the song. It is one of my favorite tracks on the album as well.
AMBY: Me too. I could just listen to it over and over again. Do you think it is a song you would play live?
Richard: Oh excellent. We will probably play it live at a concert at some point. I think it is more likely that we will play it when we come to something like December. It is really hard to do it at a festival due to the more festive mood there. When we are on tour and got more control over the lights and the space we can create, then the atmosphere will fit better for the song.
AMBY: Yea, it is a more calm song like that. Seems nice. Then to some more personal stuff about the band members. I know you are from Wales and it is also known for it own language, Welsh. Well, I can’t understand it.
AMBY and Richard: [laughs]
AMBY: But it is up in the media at the moment with the long words this language use that is tricky to pronounce. I was wondering then, are you guys fluent in Welsh?
Richard: No, I can’t speak Welsh as in the folk language. I know like the pleasantries like the “Please”, “Thank you” and “Hello”. The basics. The area where we come from is heavily industrialized from the Victorian times so the Welsh language was kind of pushed out from there because we had to get some other workers into the community and they couldn’t understand Welsh. We had to start speaking more English then. As Kelly and I went to school English was just the language we were taught which is somehow a bit of a shame. Now Welsh is compulsary in all the schools which I think is great.
AMBY: That is great. It is a quite beautiful language, just difficult to pronounce..
Richard: Yes. There is lots of letters in Welsh and double letters such as double f’s and r’s . When I was a kid I used to work with delivering Coal and had to read the map for the driver and some of the streets I could’t even say, it was like I haven’t got a clue what is says on the map and the driver had to read it then and he was like “Oh yea that street.”
AMBY: No GPS or Google Maps back then.
Richard: No, no, there were no internet back then..
AMBY and Richard: [laughs]
AMBY: So I was wondering do you got a favorite word in Welsh?
Richard: Yes. I think it is “Cariad”.
AMBY: “Caaariad?” You have to write that down for me as well I think. What does it mean?
Richard: It means love.
AMBY: Aaw, that is a nice one.
Richard: Yea, it is a nice word and sounds nice as well.
AMBY: Like that word. Well that is all, thanks for the good chat.
Thank you Stereophonics, for giving us your answers!
Interview and Photo by Jules Faurschou | @rockonpoets