Interview: Stereophonics’ Richard Jones on the band’s upcoming Australian return

Stereophonics fans in Australia had much to get excited about over the weekend, with the Welsh rockers announcing their return Down Under this April. Being the first time Stereophonics have toured Australia since 2013, there’s a lot to catch up on. The time spent away has seen the group release two albums during this period – 2015’s Keep The Village Alive and last year’s Scream Above the Sounds – and in catching up with founding member and bassist Richard Jones last week, it’s evident that the band is keen to make up for lost time next month.

“All the songs have been going down really well,” Jones says of Stereophonics’ latest. “They’ve had such good reception whenever we’ve been performing them, and same goes for Keep the Village Alive. We’re doing probably four songs from Keep the Village Alive and about six songs from Scream Above the Sounds, so it’s a good chunk of new music that we’re putting into the sets. We’ve been doing 2 hour, 20 minute long sets; it’s going to be a good show. We’ve got all the big hits in there as well from past albums; t’s not going to be all new music, because a lot of fans still love the older songs. We pop them in there and keep them excited.”

The Australian tour brings Stereophonics back to some already-trodden territory in Adelaide and Melbourne, while the group is lined up to play the iconic Sydney Opera House for the first time – to kick off the tour, no less.

“We’ve never performed there; for us it’s on our bucket list,” Jones says. “We can’t wait to play. It’s such an iconic venue, and we’ve always had a great time every time we played in Sydney, so a completely different venue while we’re there is going to be good.”

Scream Above the Sounds marks the tenth studio album from Sterephonics, an album that is continuing to take on different shapes now the band is well into their tour cycle. But the band isn’t in their heady early days anymore, so what keeps the fires burning in studio for Jones and more importantly, what keeps him grounded during extensive periods of time away from home?

“I know it might sound cliché, but I’ve always been a fan of music.” he says. “I’ve always loved playing music and always wanted to be a musician ever since I was a kid watching my favourite bands on TV, I always wanted to be in that position and it never ceases to amaze me how music can take on so many different journeys and give you an outer body experience when you play that music and it takes over you.”

“I don’t know sometimes where the ideas come from, they just happen when somebody else plays music and you play along with them and it feels totally natural, and that’s always been there with me and I’ve never lost that joy. Every time I’m in the studio I want to try and better myself as a player and better myself as part of the Stereophonics as well and the same goes for when we’re performing live, you can never take it for granted since it could be your last show and you always want to perform as if it is your last show.”

“I think we probably have sounded the best that we’ve ever sounded.” Jones furthers, reflecting on recent tours with Stereophonics and taking focus to initial bouts of international touring that broke the band on a global scale back in the early 2000’s.

“Back in the early days we were still learning the craft and a lot of the excitement was getting overshadowed by our drinking habits,” he laughs. “Now we’ve really gotten into our stride and have learned the stage craft even more. We’ve played with some great artists over the years like David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you can learn a lot from watching these people perform and the way they interact with the crowd. I think we’re more comfortable up on the stage than we’ve ever been, and in the last three shows we’ve been doing we’ve been introducing different things on the big arena stages, and it doesn’t seem alien to us, but natural now, and I think the audience is very comfortable with what we’re doing now so it’s done really well.”

With not long to go now until Stereophonics touch back down on Australian shores, Jones acknowledges the connection the band has had with our audiences, who have always come out in droves. Given Australia’s large number of UK expats, it’s no surprise.

“It’s always been special for us.” he says. “The first time we came down to Australia was probably 1997 or 1998, and ever since then, we’ve been there five or six times and it’s always been great. I don’t know what it is, I think it might be that working-class background, where they work hard during the week and play hard on the weekend, and concerts are a part of that when you hear them and appreciate that. We realised that we are that entertainment and we are that band that wants to give you a good time, hopefully we don’t fail.”

STEREOPHONICS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

Tickets go on sale to the general public from March 7th. Live Nation Members pre-sales commence from 2pm, March 5th.

April 26th | Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, SYDNEY
April 28th | The Tivoli, BRISBANE
April 30th | The Forum, MELBOURNE
May 3rd | HQ Complex, ADELAIDE
May 5th | Fremantle Arts Centre, FREMANTLE