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The Stereophonics discuss Language. Sex. Violence. And Other stuff!


Compiled by: Jack Foley

Interviewer: Let's start with Dakota. Can you take me back to where it first came from and how it’s mutated and become what it is?
Kelly Jones:
The song Dakota was first written in Paris. I was doing a promo trip for You Got to Go There to Come Back. It was snowing and the hotel room was really cold and boring and for some reason I just had a go of the guitar and the song came pretty quick.
I kind of knew it was a strong melody and really strong hook. I put it away and finished the lyrics on an America tour a month and a half later in Vermillion, and it was one of those kind of songs that was very reflective, kind of dreamy and nostalgic but quite uplifting at the same time.
The words sounded very much like the music so it was a pretty fast song really in the sense of how it kind of became what it became. It came together very quickly.

Interviewer: And Javier, for you, I presume it’s going to be a very important song in retrospect because it will be the first song that you have been involved in. [to Javier] Your first Single.
Javier:
Well yeah, for me it’s quite important. It’s the first one so I suppose it is going to be good. Ha, ha, ha.

Interviewer: Good to drum?
Javier:
Yeah, it’s one of the best ones actually to drum to. I mean the album does vary drumming wise but it’s one of the most fun to play live actually.

Interviewer: So while we’re at it, let’s get the million dollar question out of the way. Tell us how you became involved with this motley crew?
Javier:
Well that’s complicated man. I was working in a recording studio and I happened to work with them a couple of times so we’ve known each other for over three years now.
Actually, the moment we thought about working together was when Kelly came down last time to do the demos for this album and they worked on Dakota and Superman. Just a drum machine kind of approach and then from that point on Kelly and Jim were a little bit stuck with the programming [of the drum machine] and I happened to have my drum kit there, quite conveniently, and basically I just played the drums for him [Kelly] to have an idea of the songs and all of that. Just to give proper ideas and we just clicked.
We did 15 songs in eight days and they went off to finish touring the States and all of that, and when it was time to actually do the album they called me. Up until that point we never discussed me being part of the project or me being part of the band, or anything like that.
That came up later when the album was being mixed at the end of the year. We never really thought about it too much. We just felt it was right to play together and then when we saw the results of it and also evaluated the vibe between us, it was just right.

Interviewer: Agree Rich?
Richard:
Yes [laughs] definitely, the whole process from start to finish with Javier just felt really natural. From when Kelly did the demos, when we went back on tour Kelly was saying how good Javier’s feel is and how energetic it is to play with somebody like that.
It just felt like we were teenagers again and I was just really excited to get back in the studio again and start recording with Javier and then just take it from there. We did our first live shows last month and that was a really good laugh. Playing all the old stuff, Loads of energy, sweaty rooms… Yeah it was cool.

Interviewer: We said at the time that there was very much a gang mentality around that tour. Did you feel that it was back to basics in a whole number of ways?
Richard:
Yeah, Just the whole feel of it. Being a three piece [band]. Doing three piece gigs. The whole attitude and the attitude of everybody towards us as well… It feels a lot more youthful as in that’s how we used to feel when we started doing it professionally. I think has gone back to that which is really good.

Interviewer: So Kelly, talk us through from the beginning of the entire process. Where did this album kick off and just talk us through the varying stages.
Kelly:
I think it started similarly to every other record. We finish one album and we go on tour. That tour generally lasts 18 months and during that time whatever songs I write I stick on a Dictaphone and assess when I get to the end.
I don’t really listen to it until I know I’m going to go into the studio next. I don’t really know what I have got until that time and I kind of kept doing that right up until January or February 2004.
I decided I had two cassettes worth of ideas and I had a ten day break before the David Bowie tour so I thought it would be a good time to see what was on there so went into the studio with Jim and played him the ideas.
I edited down to the 15, 16 I wanted to work on… started on Dakota, did that demo in a day and the next day moved studios to where Javier worked.

I did the demo for Superman and that came together in three hours which kind of blew me away really and pretty much all of what is on the record is the demo apart from Richard and Javier playing the parts that we roughly played on the day. Then I carried on doing the rest of the demos with Javier.
We came up with about 15 songs and for the next three months it was me kind of making notes mentally on how to produce those songs, how to put them together, because there was songs like Doorman and Brother which were quite rough and scruffy and then there was Superman, Rewind and Dakota which were much more polished, bigger band sounding.
My main challenge for the record was to join those two styles together but funnily enough, when we started recording them they kind of just became that and each song dictated itself which made the record really.
We didn’t want to make a record that was over 45 minutes long. We wanted something that when it finished you wanted to listen to it again. We wanted it to be high energy from beginning to end. We ditched the acoustic guitar, didn’t do any writing on the acoustic [guitar].
I did a lot of writing on Jaguars and Mustangs, Fender guitars instead of Gibsons and even a lot of writing on the bass. I just experimented on some electronic noises with Jim really and it was a very natural process. A big bunch of happy accidents and to us finding a sound that we have never really done before. So we didn’t really think about it.
The motto at the time making the demos in March was “don’t think, just draw” and that’s how I think Superman came back in three hours. Try this, try that, try this, try that and then listen back after. By doing that you’re not frightened of going for it. I think that when you make an album and the red light is on you get a bit “well let’s not do this” and that’s why I love demos because they kind of capture a lot more soul than sometimes a record does.
I think because you feel a bit intimidated by making an album sometimes.

Interviewer: And the whole idea to give each of the tracks just one word titles and the eventual title of the album. Talk me through that.
Kelly:
The one word song titles came from that same period. I had a bunch of ideas that were incomplete. I didn’t really know what the song titles would be. ‘Doorman’ was a one word title; ‘Superman’ was a one word title. ‘Dakota’ was then called Vermillion and I quite liked the fact that one word titles were very, to me, reminiscent of Pearl Jam 10 album.
Then it also sparked in my head that people’s attention spans were short now. No one really remembers song titles anyway and when we do set lists everybody always puts one word down so it just kind of stuck really.
We even had a song called Coffee. Jim would just pick out a random word. He picked out one called Cherokko, after his car.
Lolita was after the Kubric cover of the film that was hanging around. Some of them stuck and some of them didn’t. But we just liked the fact that they were very, very snappy and we wanted initially to have one word for the album title like Jeep or Pump by Areosmith.
We couldn’t find one so when we stumbled across Language, Sex, Violence, Other? on a classification chart on a DVD case that kind of felt right because it was four individual words.
And I quite liked the play on words on that title, which kind of asked the question “is that it?” all people are interested in is language, sex and violence or is there something else? It just had very multiple meanings, whether it was body language, bad language, foreign language or if it was sex. Male or female sex.
It just had all these, for the interpreter, many ways you could read into that, and I’ve always liked that in titles.

Interviewer: Do you feel a sense of pressure around these? Especially given the success of the earlier albums, if not, all of the albums. They’ve all sold a healthy number?
Kelly:
Yes. I’m very honest when I say that when I’m in the studio making the records I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t feel ever as free really about what we do for a living. I don’t care what anybody thinks about it.
I’m really just having a good time making music and you don’t really care about how it’ll sell because at the moment your doing it you’re so passionate about it that you think, we’ll what I’m doing is as good as I can possibly do and I’m giving all I’ve got so I don’t really care. But when it comes to a day like today and the single is released and you start going “well I wonder if anyone’s going to fucking buy it?”.
It’s only then that you start getting a little bit paranoid about it. And like you said, all the records have sold over a million records and the last few have gone to number one so we are kind of due for a fall really. I think that fall has been a gradual fall over the last couple of records. From a perspective point of view you get most of the attention from your first two records anyway. That’s when they put you on the front cover.
That’s when they try to hail you and that’s when they try to break you. Then after that you’ve just got to keep your head down and keep going forward really. You’re going to gain fans and loose fans along the way by just being true to what you do musically. That’s just the way it is.
I don’t think I feel a major amount of pressure. I’m probably more excited than anything. We’ve had such a good, positive reaction so far, critically and industry wise, which we haven’t had for a while so I’m hoping this time that we could get both the critics and the fans like it as well. I’d fucking hate it if the industry and the critics like it and the fans don’t. Ha, ha, ha

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