Stereophonics reveal all about their new album ahead of gig at Cheltenham's The Centaur
THEY'VE sold more than 20 million albums and worked with the likes of The Who, Tom Jones and Paul Weller.
So it's no surprise that tonight's gig by Welsh rockers The Stereophonics at The Centaur in Cheltenham is a sell-out.
Incredibly it has been 16 years since the band burst out of their South Wales hometown with their debut album World Gets Around.
Performance And Cocktails, their follow-up released two years later, kick-started a run of five chart-topping albums.
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Being so busy came at a price, however. In Stereophonics' case, particularly that of frontman and songwriter Kelly Jones, it seemed to be the drying up of ideas.
Their seventh album, Keep Calm And Carry On, released in late 2009, was their poorest selling and lowest charting, having peaked at No 11.
A year later, the 'Phonics, as they're known, decided to stop and regroup.
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.
"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," says Jones – the three being 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."
While Jones wouldn't admit it himself, it wasn't good for his songwriting.
Word Gets Around, and to a degree the follow-up, was brilliant because of the beautifully-observed, deftly-written vignettes which celebrated extraordinary happenings in a very mundane small town.
Local Boy In The Photograph was written after seeing the picture of a tragic 23-year-old, who killed himself on the train tracks, on the front of the village newspaper. His face was familiar to Jones as he'd given the stranger the time of the fateful train.
Thankfully, in a true return to form, Graffiti On The Train showcases Jones' brilliant way with a yarn.
This time round, much of it is imagined, but it was largely inspired by a real-life event.
"It was summer 2010 and we were touring a lot and doing festivals, so I was at home a fair bit," he explains. "I kept hearing footsteps on my roof when I was in bed. I was worried someone was trying to break into the house, but this one night I shouted out to them, you know, 'What the hell are you doing on my roof?' kind of thing, and they said they were just trying to get to the railway line across the trees to spray graffiti on the trains."
Their sell-out tour this month is testament to the popularity of the 'Phonics as they play at venues they grew out of long ago.
"As old-fashioned as it sounds, we're taking music to people," Jones says.