Seaside memories

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IT often seems that no matter who you interview, no matter how big the star, they always have some memory of Blackpool.

Guitar supergroup Stereophonics are no different.

One of the biggest bands in Britain for the last 15 years, they sold out the Empress Ballroom in hours when they announced a warm-up gig at the venue ahead of a stadium tour.

They arrive in town on Tuesday March 26, but it won’t be the first time they’ve been.

“I genuinely can’t wait to go back because I have great memories of it from when I was a kid,” said Richard Jones, who set up the ‘Phonics with school friend Kelly Jones in the early 1990s, before debut album Word Gets Around rocketed them to fame.

“I grew up in a small town in the middle of Wales (Cwmaman in the Cynon Valley) but the family had a static caravan in the Lake District which we used to go to every year.

“At the time I was about 14 or 15 and my brother was a couple of years older and we used to take our dad’s car and drive to Blackpool.

“We’d go and see Roy Chubby Brown or Freddie Starr or whatever comedy shows were on at the piers and then we’d head to the market and buy some tapes.

“I used to love all the shiny lights and the whole feel of the place. It felt like nowhere else really. Get me back there - I’m really looking forward to it.”

Like dozens of other bands, the Stereophonics hit the big-time on the back of the success of Oasis, when anthemic indie music was all the rage.

Unlike the majority of the others though, they’ve managed to make their career last, still churning out hits - eighth album Graffiti On The Train in the shops on March 4.

At the Empress Ballroom (“I remember playing there with the band about five years ago - lovely chandeliers”), expect plenty of material from the new album.

“We recorded it ages ago and we’ve been waiting for a year to get it out so it’s good we’re finally at that stage,” added Richard.

“I think it’s great, one of our best, full of good song writing and classic songs.

“Hopefully the people of Blackpool will like it and I think the venue will suit the songs. It’s not the usual stadiums we play, it’s more intimate and so we don’t have to use big production - we can play the songs how they are meant to be played.”

The gig’s a sell-out but the Stereophonics are set to announce a stadium tour later in the year.