Stereophonics gear up for gig at The Centaur in Cheltenham
IT'S 16 years since Stereophonics burst out of their South Wales hometown with their debut album Word Gets Around.
Performance And Cocktails, their follow-up released two years later in 1999, kick-started a run of five chart-topping albums, while they moved from small venues where they'd cut their teeth to arenas and stadiums all over the world.
To date, they've sold more than 20 million albums and worked with the likes of The Who, Tom Jones and Paul Weller.
Their seventh album, Keep Calm And Carry On, released in late 2009, was their poorest selling and lowest charting, having peaked at number 11. A year later, after almost three and a half years of constant touring, the 'Phonics, as they're known, decided to stop and regroup.
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The result is Graffiti On The Train, their eighth album and easily the best since 2005's Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, which in itself was something of a revelation and yielded their only number one single, Dakota.
Ahead of their gig at The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse next Thursday, Kelly Jones tells The Buzz all about it.
"We finished touring in November 2010, not out of fatigue or anything – it was all very positive," says Kelly. "We'd just never had our own studio before and that was something we wanted, and it seemed like a natural time to take a break."
Along with fellow band members, Jones opted to rethink the way they approached making albums and take a year off from touring. Something they hadn't done in 16 years.
"I really wanted to concentrate on songwriting again. The first two albums we had so much time to write, and it was all a collaborative effort between the three of us," Kelly says referring to himself, Richard Jones and drummer Stuart Cable, who passed away in 2010.
"After that the band got bigger and busier and I was writing whenever I could, on the bus, in a hotel or whatever."
Thankfully, in a true return to form, Graffiti On The Train showcases Jones's brilliant way with a yarn. This time round, much of it is imagined, but it was largely inspired by a real-life event.
"I ended up thinking about someone who might be leaving notes for his girlfriend on the morning train."
They are only a band, admittedly, but one that thousands of people want to see. Their sell-out tour this month is testament to that, and will see Stereophonics performing in venues they grew out of long ago.
We can't wait. And it seems we are not the only ones with all of the tickets snapped up.