Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones has revealed he can’t wait to get back to Northern Ireland for one of his favourite pastimes — sipping pints of Guinness with local fans.
The singer, whose band return with their 12th album Oochya! next month, are hoping to return to Belfast during their next tour.
Kelly told me: “I absolutely love doing shows over in Belfast so we’ll hopefully get back very soon.
“I think it’s a city that really responds so passionately to live performance. The way the crowd are so up for it and sing every single lyric at the top of their voices is a moving experience.
“I remember back in the early to mid Nineties we did the Ulster Hall which was an amazing gig and then we went on to do places like the SSE, Ormeau Park and Custom House Square which is a venue I loved playing at. The way you can see the city from the stage and the way people are on their apartment balconies just sitting having a beer watching the gig, it’s a very cool setting.”
Once the encore (usually Dakota) is belted out and the guitars are back in their cases, a post-gig pint in Belfast is also something Kelly enjoys.
He revealed: “I love going out in Belfast after a show you know. We just like going to a regular bar or two with the crew and just chilling out enjoying the vibe. What I love about the fans in Northern Ireland is that everybody just mixes and mingles.
“Fans will come up and buy you a pint of Guinness and have a chat about music and there’s no drama. Just people who love music and like having a drink hanging out together. It’s a great place so I’m looking forward to us getting back soon to play the fans the new songs.”
The Stereophonics’ new album finds the band on top form, serving up a collection of songs high on energy and big on melody.
Kelly says that much of the energy and spontaneous feel of the new material is a result of how quickly and how naturally it was recorded.
He explains: “We went in to one of our favourite studios (in Wiltshire) to make an album with the intention of working at speed and just really getting on with the job.
“I was itching to get some new songs recorded and myself and the guys just went for it — no messing around, no second guessing and we actually recorded the whole album in about eight or nine days.
“We never actually intended to make an album if I’m honest, it was meant to be just a few songs but it all started to flow and we just couldn’t stop. To be fair, after the pandemic restrictions… it was just nice to be out of the house.”
Songs such as Hanging On Your Hinges and Do You Feel My Love are full-on melodic rockers and sound like the band turned up, plugged in and let loose.
That almost ‘live’ feel was pretty much the desired effect according to Kelly: “I’m glad it sounds that way because we really did get in a circle and play together like a band.
“We could completely connect that way because we’ve done so many live shows over the past 25 years and it was such an enjoyable experience.
“A lot of the vocals are maybe one or two takes you know ? When that’s the way you record you’re going to get a vibrant live-sounding album and I think that’s exactly how it turned out.”
Stereophonics’ new album Oochya! is released on March 4