DO you ever find yourself idly humming a song that you’ve heard on the radio? Of course you do. If it’s not Ed Sheeran, we’re betting it’s something by the Stereophonics.
‘People don’t realise how many songs we have,’ laughs frontman Kelly Jones. ‘They’ve heard them on the radio and not connected it with the band’s name or our faces.’
With a career spanning decades, having such a huge back catalogue must presumably make picking the set list a veritable nightmare, and now, having released their tenth studio album, the band are heading out on an arena tour to delight the masses.
And delight them they will, having taken to Twitter to take song requests for their European dates. But there’s been a fair few obscure choices, says Kelly. ‘It’s a case of jogging your memory. You don’t carry your own records around with you so I’ve had to stream our older ones to find them again and figure out how I played them,’ Kelly says, half-jokingly.
He’s very persuasive as to why you should come to their shows, talking in a soft Welsh accent that hasn’t faded despite living in London for 18 years.
‘We’ll be playing for nearly two hours — songs from 1996 right through to the present day. It’s a big rock and roll show, a good night out, a celebration of music and moods and it’s very dynamic. I think you’ll come out of there in a better mood than you went in, I hope.’
Over 20 years has gone by since the band formed, and they’re winning over a new army of fans day by day. ‘The shows in Europe have been huge and they’re full of 17 and 18-year-old kids who have discovered us through the last two albums. They’re very much into the new material, which has been lovely,’ says Kelly. It feels like it’s gone in the blink of an eye though, and Kelly — now 43 — says he never had a Plan B.
‘We were always very ambitious and fortunately we all get on. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated we’d still be here 20 years later, that’s a long time in any job really isn’t it? It doesn’t feel like 20 years until you look in the mirror,’ he laughs. ‘We’ve all managed to maintain a decent look — if I can be modest! — but it was one of the crew’s 24th birthday the other week and I just thought, f****** hell I was 23 when we got signed. That was quite alarming!’
One of Kelly’s favourite things is looking out into the crowd and seeing a diverse group of fans. ‘Sure it’s great to be in the charts, whether you’re number one, two or three and you’ve got Rag ‘n’ Bone man next to you, of course it’s reassuring that you’re still relevant on your tenth album. We never wanted to just be “some old band from the 1990s”. We’ve worked hard and it’s great to have so many new fans that love the new material too rather than everyone waiting to hear your one-hit wonder.’
Despite being the frontman, Kelly has managed to dodge controversy, apart from one song that got him into a spot of bother. ‘I’ve avoided notoriety mostly, apart from I got a reputation from Mr Writer that I hated all journalists,’ he sighs wryly. ‘The irony was I wrote that song about one guy and then everyone thought I hated every journalist in the world. I wrote a song about a taxi driver in Have A Nice Day and that’s not about all taxi drivers, is it? It’s a song that took me 15 minutes to write and 15 f***** years to explain!’ he says, before laughing.
Any last words that we promise not to twist, Kelly? ‘Come to the shows, it’s going to be a great tour, even if you’ve only just discovered us, know that I’m very grateful and I’d love you to hear some of the old stuff.’
■ Tour starts February 23, AECC, Aberdeen, stereophonics.com