Richie Jones, bass player and one-quarter of British rock band Stereophonics is as clear on his intentions today as he was when he first joined his friends for a jamming session many years ago – it is and will always be about the songs and the music.
It’s with that foundation, continued enthusiasm and drive that just in the last month saw the group put final recordings together on their 11th studio album.
And whilst now waiting for the next stage of the process to take course and an album release date – the band can concentrate on their other love for playing their songs to the masses and gearing up for summer of tour dates, one of which is headlining Lytham Festival on Thursday, July 11.
See here for Lytham Festival line-up: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/whats-on/entertainment/lytham-festival-2019-here-is-the-full-line-up-for-lytham-festival-s-10th-anniversary-1-9672916
Richie says: “For us, recording and playing live, that’s what’s we have always done and where we get our kicks from and seeing the reaction from fans to the new music that’s a big part of it.”
“It’s been a while since we’ve been in Lancashire, and I’ll be honest I’ve never ever been to Lytham, but the experience of Lancashire I have, even going back to being a kid and teenager but with the band, we’ve had some really fantastic gigs, the fans have always been dead receptive.
“Even now 20 years in, it’s good for us to still have new places to go to, the best thing about new places, festivals is the new experience.
“Having the chance to maybe play for a different crowd and feel them really warm to you – you know then you’re going to have a good time.”
“Those bigger festivals, they’re more of a spectacle of a show.”
In their two decades plus of recording and gigging from those humble beginnings in the working men’s clubs around the villages of South Wales, Stereophonics have enjoyed international acclaim with an ever growing songbook - top hits including Dakota, Have a Nice Day, Maybe Tomorrow, Mr Writer, and Bartender and the Thief.
Landing them on the bill for Lytham’s big anniversary celebration has been a big coup.
There is a real buzz about the energy and vibe the Welsh band – fronted by founding members Kelly Jones (vocals/guitar) and Richie (bass), along with Adam Zindani (guitar) and Jamie Morrison (drums) and long-term keyboardist Tony Kirkham – will bring to Lytham Green for what is described as the ‘biggest line-up to date’ with acts Rod Stewart and Kylie Minogue also headlining the preceding nights.
Richie adds: “We’re really excited - having 10 albums and having certain big songs you have to put them in your set.
“We usually end up working around a kind of skeleton of a set you’ve been working on for the last 10 years and then you put new songs off new albums in and you switch stuff around.
“You have to play those big well known songs, like Dakota, they kind of take on a life of their own – the crowd owns them songs in a sense, they even have their own versions.”
Dakota, which Kelly Jones admits to having written in around 10 or so minutes, came from the band’s fifth album Language. Sex. Violence. Other?
It’s now 20 years since the release of their second record, Performance and Cocktails which although released to mixed reviews in 1999, spawned three top five UK singles including Bartender and the Thief.
Follow-up album Just Enough Education to Perform included hits Mr Writer and Have a Nice Day and then was re-released to include the cover version of Handbags and Gladrags and is their biggest selling album.
Commercial success has continued to follow and to date in the UK, Stereophonics have been awarded five multi-platinum album certifications, two platinum and four gold; one of their singles has been awarded platinum certification, one gold and six silver.
Most recent single, the politically charged Chaos from the Top Down, was released in February but was not intentionally a new album track.
Richie explains: “We finished touring the last album in September and the plan after the release of Scream Above The Sounds and the tour was actually to take a bit of a break and have a relax.
“But then songs started popping up here and there and before we knew it we were back in the studio in March.
“That’s the way it works though, if something comes up we want to go at it and when it feels right we just have to go with the flow.
“We’re really proud of this new album. We’ve got 11 or 12 tracks, but we actually recorded about 16/17 in total, so they’ll be maybe a bunch used on slightly different stuff in the build-up to the release of the album, and that’s the beauty of streaming now, we can release stuff when we like really.
“Chaos from the Top Down has been playing on the radio lists for a few months – people recognise it so that one will be added into the tour.
“Each song on the new album gives a slight indication of each of our musical tastes and is perhaps a little bit different to what we’ve done in the past.
“It’s good to push ourselves that bit more.”
Far from that planned ‘break’ scheduled, the band embark this month on their fresh tour, starting with Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire on June 13, before Thetford Forest ,Singleton Park in Swansea and Trinity College, Dublin, the weekend before the opening of Lytham Festival’s 10th anniversary special.
They will be supported on the night by up and coming artists Tom Grennan and fellow Welsh singer songwriter Jade Bird.
In between, Kelly Jones has embarked on his solo tour. The wordsmith of the group, he has likened the band to a marriage, needing that room at times to help each other grow and keep things fresh.
Richie agrees it is a dynamic that works for them all in having a life outside the band too.
“In the Stereophonics no one member is bigger than the songs,” he says. “We always want the music to do the talking and when it comes to performing live being the best possible band we can be.
“And that’s all we have ever wanted to do with the band and everything outside of that we’re all totally cool with - it’s up to the individuals of the band what they do in their own time between the Stereophonics.
“It all adds to what we do as a band anyway and broadens the scope of who we are and what we put out there.
“In the downtime I’ll just do some practicing at home, trying to become a better musician, even after all these years – that’s what we all want to do."
The first headliners to take to the main proms arena opening the Lytham show, on Wednesday, July 10, will be electronic new wave band The Human League .
China Crisis and Heather Small will be supporting.
After Stereophonics on the Thursday, Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters will opens proceedings on Friday, July 12 with a DJ set ahead of Sophie Ellis Bextor and Kylie.
Wet Wet Wet, fronted by Kevin Simm, will support Rod Stewart on the Saturday and Michael Ball and Sheridan Smith will close the event with a dazzling Hollywood Proms finale on the Sunday
Lytham Festival director Peter Taylor said: “We are thrilled to be bringing Stereophonics to Lytham.
“They are one of the biggest British bands of the last 20 years and we can’t wait to see them bring their live show to the Lancashire coast.
“We know the Lytham Festival audience is going to love this.”
For tickets visit https://www.lythamfestival.com