IT'S just a few weeks before Stereophonics will play to the old Racecourse Ground’s biggest crowd since the days of Ian Rush and Mark Hughes and for the band’s bassist Richard Jones their forthcoming Wrexham show will be a great chance to revisit the band’s past.
“I really can’t remember the last time we played up there but we used to play the Buckley Tivoli back around 1996 and we’re all really looking forward to it,” said Richard.
“We used to travel up there and across the top of Wales a lot back when we first got signed because it was important to us to keep it regional than just head to all the cities.”
This sense of place and pride in their local community has informed Stereophonics’ latest album Keep The Village Alive which celebrates the band’s roots in Cwmaman in Cynon Valley where Jones, 42, formed the band with schoolmates, guitarist and vocalist Kelly Jones and drummer Stuart Cable in 1992.
They went on to become one of the biggest British bands of the last 20 years, achieving five consecutive UK number one albums to put them on a list that includes the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Genesis, Oasis, Blur and U2, but despite reaching such dizzy heights it’s their reputation as a band of the people that also informs many of their new tracks.
“It’s a real celebration of where we’ve come from and what we hold dear,” said Richard.
“Growing up in a small village we came across so many vibrant characters and when we started touring we thought everywhere would be like that but it wasn’t, so we knew where we came from was a bit special and we’ve never lost that connection.”
Nineteen years on since the release of their debut album Word Gets Around, Richard and Kelly remain firm friends and although the band had to cope with Stuart’s death in 2010, they’ve remained tight.
“It’s always been like that,” said Richard.
“When Stu was in the band it was three lads who’d grown up together and we knew everything about each other because we were friends before we were in the band.
“I remember when it came to partying we were way ahead of other bands we met because we’d spent so much time going out drinking together.”
Stereophonics will be joined at Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium by Llandudno’s Catfish and the Bottlemen with Richard preparing for a true celebration of Welsh music.
“Sometimes you see bands and you just know it comes from the right place and it’s real,” added Richard. “I see a lot of the energy we had starting out in them and they love playing music.
“We’ve always been proud of being Welsh. Wherever we are in the world people ask us where we’re from and we let them know that it’s Wales, not England or the UK.”