The band from Wales are back, and this time its’s not only for the Tiger Beer. The UrbanWire caught up with the Welsh band at a round-table interview today.
This is your second visit to Singapore. Could you tell us your first impressions when you visited here for the first time?
Kelly: We had a good time last night. We went to Raffles to have a few good beers and curry. Everything was great.
Richard: The last concert that we played was really. It was a full house and the crowds were really energetic. We definitely look forward doing that again for the gig tonight.
Keeping things fresh is always a challenge, especially when you want to keep your old fans, and get new ones and collaborating with a new producer. What was the process like?
Kelly: It was good. This is the seventh studio record we have made. We try to make our records different from the previous one. It’s always a challenge to be taken out of the comfort zone and find new things. It was a good record as it was a challenge in picking which are the stronger songs. I think it was a very honest process. It’s not always good but we now we’ve got a record where we play live and people can enjoy it.
This is the first time that the band appeared on the cover.
Kelly: Yeah. We were on V2 Records for 10 years before they were bought over by Universal Music. They wanted us to release a greatest hits album. We thought that it would be a good way to know the new people of Universal Music. And they asked to put a picture of us on the front cover, so we did it for the Greatest Hits album. That sold a lot of records for them and well they decided to put our picture again for the next cover. For them it’s a no brainer, they just like to put band pictures as album covers. We try to make the picture as interesting as we possible can so we made it in the middle of the sea wit h a breakfast table. It was cold, and very wet.
The name of the album is Keep Calm and Carry On. Have there been any point of the band’s career where you just wanted to give up and listened to those words of wisdom?
Kelly: I think those words of wisdom has come in handy. It’s just strange when you have morale boosting statements. It becomes subliminal messages that you don’t realize that you are reading it. If you go through certain things in life and are freaking out as it gives people an incentive to slow down and think about it and move on. That’s kind of good for our album title. It’s good that other people can interpret the album title but it was also quite appropriate for the state of the country with the recession and the music industry.
Over the course of 18 years, the band had only 1 change of personnel to the original line-up. How did you guys maintain strong, positive relationships with one another?
Richard: We were all friends before the band even happened. We knew Adam and Javier for a long before they joined the band as well. It’s also easier if you know their personality and you get on with them in a friendship way. You get to spend a lot of time traveling, socializing and playing together. We try to experience everything together.
Besides writing a song about the critic in Mr. Writer, do you guys actually have arguments with them?
Kelly: Yeah, I did that for a long time when I was younger. We only came out after the BritPop movement. At that time, it was about being very vocal. The way the journalists would conduct interviews were, “What do you think of this band?” And if you don’t have an opinion, they make the whole interview sound like you criticising another band. Which is why they created wars between bands. We had a spat with Muse or Manic Street Preachers. It was just stupid. It was one comment where irony and sarcasm doesn’t come across in print. People took those words literally. It took us a couple of right albums to actually realize that people were being quite vindictive with the words as Mr Writer was about that one journalist.
How important do you think touring these days for Stereophonics with the whole Internet and downloading issue?
Kelly: For a band that has been around for as long as we have, we have to find new ways to express the thing that you want to do. We love going to new countries and playing live and still making good records. This record has had the best review since our first album. The irony is that if you have better reviews, your show gets bigger.
Could you tell us about the best tour memory?
Kelly: We went to Mount Rushmore once with all the guys and the crew. We were looking at the presidents. After 3 and a half hours, we realized that we left one of the guys there. We had to turn around and drive back to fetch him. After 7 hours, he was shivering in his t-shirt in the middle of the desert. He wasn’t very pleased.
Have you guys tried Tiger Beer?
Richard: Actually we have. We had a few good Tiger Beers this week. The beer is very good and it’s quite popular back in the UK.
What about durians?
Richard: Yeah we tried that. We have lucid dreams after that though. I teared back when I had one in Kuala Lumpur. It’s tears that I would probably remember after a long time.
What are some things you draw inspiration from for this album?
Kelly: The record was written over 12 months. There’s not an overriding theme for the whole thing. Beerbottle is about my streets being flooded when I was 12. Innocent is about the first experiences as a youth and the consequences of that. Live ‘n’ Love was about finding a positive outcome over a struggle.
Do you guys have any favourite football clubs?
Kelly: Leeds United.
Javier: Boca Juniors.
Adam: Birmingham City.
Richard: I’m not a football fan. I like motorbikes and female tennis.
What was the easiest or hardest video that you’ve ever shot?
Kelly: Mr.Writer was pretty tough as it was a 2-day shoot. On one day, we had to dress like clowns. It was quite strange when it was in between takes to see your friends dressed up as clowns and reading the newspaper was just plain weird. We were in this car with the seatbelt, which was spinning around with fake glass falling all over us. Thick snow was dropping at the back of your neck all day. It was pretty uncomfortable.
The gig for Stereophonics is happening tonight and is the only stop for SouthEast Asia. The band’s schedule is as tight as ever. The next tour will be across Europe in June.