Stereophonics talk future of rock

Three years since their last Dubai performance at Party in the Park, Welsh rockers Stereophonics are screeching back into town for a gig at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on May 11.

The 90s band is today made up of lead singer Kelly Jones, bassist Richard Jones, guitarist Adam Zindani and drummer Jamie Morrison (founding member and drummer Stuart Cable passed away in 2010). Their latest album, Scream Above the Sounds, released in 2017.

Gulf News tabloid! caught up with Richard on the evolution of the band’s sound, and found out what the future holds for the lads.

It’s been a few years since you guys were here in Dubai. What can people expect this time around?

We’ve just been doing a UK arena tour, and we’ve incorporated a lot more production in it. We’re going to put on a nice big show in Dubai. We’ve got a new album out, so we’ll be throwing that in. We’re going to be averaging about a two-hour long set list; so far people have been enjoying it.

Some artists have a preference between being in the studio, actually recording the new songs, and being on the road, performing them. Do you enjoy one over the other?

I really like both. When you’re in the studio, that’s the time when you can let your artistic [self] just come out, nobody’s there judging you — it’s just you and your band members trying to do the best for the songs. And then when you’re out on the road, performing live, it’s all about trying to [put out] those recordings in the best way possible and entertaining the crowd. There’s a great feeling you get from doing both — you get a satisfaction from making and creating, and you get a satisfaction from entertaining people and seeing everybody enjoy themselves.

You have 10 albums out to date, starting with Word Gets Around in ’97, and up until Scream Above the Sounds just last year. If by some twist of fate, you could only perform one album for the rest of your life — would you be able to choose?

I think for me, it would be the album Graffiti on the Train [2013]. It’s just the album where we let whatever happen in the studio happen. We didn’t hold back on, like, incorporating orchestras and lots of instrumentations, and it kind of freed us up for the rest of the albums that followed Graffiti … It gave us the confidence to do whatever we wanted to do, really.

You guys started out in the early 90s — would you say 1992 was a tougher time to make it as a rock band, or is 2018 a tougher time for rock?

It’s probably the same now as it was back in the 90s. It’s all about being good at your craft. People always see through people that don’t really do it well, and don’t believe in what they do. For us, it was always about playing really good live and writing the best songs we could possibly write. We stuck with that method all through our career.

Tell us a little bit about Scream Above the Sounds. What was the thought process going into that album? What did you want to achieve with it?

It was a really quick album. There were three or four songs that were not left over, but didn’t fit into the last two albums. And they were kind of the springboard for Scream Above the Sounds. We wrote a couple more songs to go along with those. There are one or two songs on there that were just [frontman] Kelly [Jones] on the piano, and Kelly on the acoustic.

You and Kelly have been in Stereophonics from the start. Do you find that your sound changes whenever new members are introduced, or is there a steady base?

We try to change our sound on every album, be it through different techniques or using different instrumentation. Or even just different types of guitars. We always try to push what we do in different directions. It’s good for us, because we’re such massive fans of all different types of genres and music, and we try and incorporate each of those genres in what we do. It comes out at different times.

When you started out social media wasn’t really a thing. What’s your relationship with it now?

We use it as a promotional tool, I suppose. I don’t really have any social media accounts for myself, personally. I’ve got an Instagram account but I don’t post anything — I use it more for looking at things. I’m kind of a dinosaur when it comes to social media.

Last year, Time magazine did a feature on the Stereophonics and the headline was, ‘Meet the major UK band you’ve been missing out on.’ Do you feel that way? That a lot of people might have missed out on you?

I think we do, in one little way. Our call has always been to reach the biggest audience we can get to, and sometimes through no fault of our own — we might have changed record companies, and the record company we’re on may not have the funding to promote the records in different areas, different regions, different locations around the world. I think we missed out on a lot of opportunities when it comes to those points. But what’s happened in the past is in the past, and we’re always looking forward to the future. What’s great about things like social media and streaming now is that you can reach such a broad audience from not even travelling anywhere, almost.

Are there any bands out there that are exciting you out of today’s musical landscape?

There’s quite a few artists, which have kind of made me turn my head in the last year or two. There’s a band from the UK called The Pins, which is like a girl-rock-punk kind of band. And there’s an artist called Ghostpoet, as well — he’s been out quite a few years, but I really like his latest album.

Finally, what’s next for the Stereophonics? Is album no 11 a possibility?

We’ve never thought too much about stopping. What happens next is usually just a matter of progression — you stop touring one album, and the songs kind of fall into place for the next album. I suppose the only way that will change is the way you release albums and songs. We’ll look at that in the future, as to if there is going to be an album, or if there’s going to be EPS, or just dropping a song every month or two.

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Don’t miss it

Tickets to Stereophonics in Dubai start from Dh399 online.