Stereophonics Biography

Famed for being the first ever signings to Richard Branson’s new music label, V2 Records, this three-piece Welsh rock band created an enormous buzz around the UK’s A&R departments before finally electing to join V2 in August 1996. Indeed, Branson was reported to have taken a personal hand in their signing. Dovetailing 60s-inspired pop melodicism with new technology, the Newport-based trio was first spotted by V2’s A&R head Ronnie Gurr via a tip-off. However, they were keen to distance themselves from Newport’s recent press designation as ‘the Seattle of the 90s’, refusing to acknowledge any kinship with bands such as the 60 Foot Dolls or the Welsh-language movement. The band was formed by three friends: songwriter Kelly Jones (3 June 1974, Cwmamman, Wales; guitar/vocals), Richard Jones (b. 23 May 1974, Aberdare, Wales; bass) and Stuart Cable (b. 19 May 1970, Aberdare, Wales; drums), grew up with each other in the small Welsh village of Cwmaman. Kelly Jones and Stuart Cable played together in various covers bands, before bringing in Richard Jones in 1991 to replace original bass player Mark Everett. Adopting the name Tragic Love Company, and recruiting the first of various rhythm guitarists, they set about making an impression on the local rock circuit.

Changing their name to Stereophonics in 1996, and reverting to a trio, the band signed to V2 and supported several leading bands, including the in vogue Manic Street Preachers. The debut album, released in August 1997, confirmed their promise, attracting strong reviews, with Jones’ character-driven songwriting on tracks such as ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ and ‘A Thousand Trees’ winning particular praise. Their reward was a UK Top 10 album and a 1998 BRITS Award for Best Newcomer. Their new single, ‘The Bartender And The Thief’, debuted at number 3 in the UK charts in November the same year. ‘Just Looking’ reached number 4 the following March, and was followed by the chart-topping Performance And Cocktails. The band enjoyed their third consecutive UK Top 5 single when ‘Pick A Part That’s New’ debuted at number 3 in May.

Jones embarked on a low-key solo tour the following year, premiering material to be featured on the band’s third album. Provisionally titled J.E.E.P. , the band was forced to alter the title to Just Enough Education To Perform after the automotive manufacturer Chrysler threatened legal action. The album met with a mixed reaction upon its release in April 2001 but still topped the UK album chart. It was reissued several months later with the addition of a cover version of Michael D’Abo’s ‘Handbags And Gladrags’. The song had proved to be an enduring summer hit for the band.

Following the release of 2003’s downbeat You Gotta Go There To Come Back, the band’s fourth consecutive UK chart-topper, it was announced that drummer Cable was leaving the Stereophonics. Javier Weyler (b. 3 July 1975, Buenos Aires, Argentina) replaced him on the band’s fifth album, Language. Sex Violence. Other? The new drummer helped steer the band back towards their hard rock roots, with tracks such as the sublime ‘Dakota’ (their first UK number 1 single) and ‘Rewind’ helping provide the occasional moment of light relief.

Kelly Jones took time out from the band at the start of 2007 to release his solo debut Only The Names Have Been Changed, a brooding, low-key album that harked back to the sound of the first Stereophonics album. The new Stereophonics album Pull The Pin followed at the end of the year, and while it followed its predecessors to the top of the UK charts (barring the debut album) was viewed as something of a disappointment.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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