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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Rock education of Stereophonics
Stuart Cable and Kelly Jones
Stuart Cable and Kelly Jones played together in covers bands
With the ever changing faces of the rock scene, the Stereophonics seem like one of the elder statesmen of the business, despite only hitting the big time in the late 1990s.

But now the previously tight-knit trio must forge ahead as a duo, following the sacking of drummer Stuart Cable.

The original line-up - singer Kelly Jones, bassist Richard Jones and Cable - were the stuff of schoolboy dreams, having grown up together in a small Welsh town to becoming arguably one of Britain's biggest bands.

The Stereophonics' big break came in 1996 when they were the first band to be signed to Richard Branson's fledging label V2.

The trio grew up together in the village of Cwmaman, just south of Aberdare. They formed Tragic Love Company in 1991 which performed cover versions in local venues.

"We hated it at the time, but we learnt a lot. If you didn't entertain people in working men's clubs, you got thrown off the stage," Kelly recalled.

Knack

Over the years, Kelly's songwriting skills developed, showing a knack for telling stories inspired by the band's small-town upbringing.

In July 1996, they adopted the name Stereophonics - taken from the gramophone player of Stuart Cable's grandmother.
Stereophonics
Stuart Cable, Kelly Jones and Richard Jones grew up together

News spread about the band, and V2 won a bidding war for them. Richard Branson told the press: "I heard a tape of the Stereophonics and knew they were going to be a band for the future. I think they could still be around in 20 years or more."

A limited edition double A-sided single, Looks Like Chaplin/ More Life In A Tramp's Vest followed, as they set out supporting bands across the UK.

In March 1997, they headlined a tour of the UK, and second single Local Boy in the Photograph - inspired by a suicide in Cwmaman - dented the UK charts at number 51.

Festival dates followed, and their debut album, Word Gets Around, hit the UK charts at number six in September - rewarding the band who would go on to play more than 100 gigs during 1997.

Strained relationship

Melody Maker readers voted them the year's best new band, and they made their Brits debut in 1998 when they won Best Newcomer.

Their hectic touring schedule was to prepare them for becoming one of the most bankable - and frequent - festival headliners in the UK. By the end of 1998 they had notched up a top 10 single in Bartender and the Thief - and in March 1999 their second album, Performance and Cocktails, entered the national charts at number one.

Despite their speedy rise to fame, the band remained prickly outsiders in the UK music scene. To this day there remains a mutual air of distrust between the trio and the music press, who have lambasted them for being dull and boring.

This relationship was hardly improved with the release of the track Mr Writer, a song about music journalists which included the lyrics "I'd like to shoot you all".

Indeed, there are few tales of rock 'n' roll excess to be had when the band claim to be "too professional" to drink before a gig.

Kelly Jones
Kelly Jones is the lead singer

The group came in on the back of the "Cool Cymru" press hype of the late 1990s, along with the Manic Street Preachers and Catatonia - meaning near-constant coverage in the Welsh media, keen to trumpet the latest local heroes.

Rare cover

Their fierce loyalty to Wales has left them open to accusations of blurring the lines between patriotism and nationalism, but the band dismissed the these comments, blaming an NME journalist for misunderstanding them.

In 2001, the band released their third album, Just Enough Education to Perform, which despite a mixed critical response became a bestseller.

It was eventually re-released to include the hit single Handbags & Gladrags, most notably recorded by Rod Stewart in 1969.

A rare cover from the band - although Stuart and Kelly had began their career in covers bands - the song became one of their biggest singles.

Their fourth album, You Gotta Go There to Come Back, was released in 2003, and has so far spawned the singles Madame Helga and Maybe Tomorrow.

Like many British acts, the Stereophonics began concentrating on trying to break the US, although a first attempt stalled after Kelly Jones fell ill, forcing the American tour to be scrapped.

British bands have found it notoriously difficult to crack the American market, partly because of the vastness of the country means an enormous amount of time is needed to dedicate to touring.

Breakdown

It was during their latest tour to the States that cracks in the Stereophonics' long friendship began to show.

Drummer Cable was replaced for a number of dates by former Counting Crows drummer Steve Gorman, although at the time ill-health was blamed.

Kelly Jones has since admitted there was a problem Cable had "commitment issues" .

Both Kelly Jones and Richard Jones decided there needed to be a change and Cable was out of the band for good, leaving them to survive as a duo.

They have a number of big UK dates booked for 2003, including London's Earls Court and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, where they take to the stage minus a bandmate and previous best friend.


SEE ALSO:
Stereophonics drummer fired
25 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
'Phonics album pirated online
14 May 03  |  Wales


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