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Old 08-15-2002, 09:54 PM   #1
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(08-15-2002) Stereophonics talk about touring with U2 - HotPress


Pumping up the Stereos
by Stuart Clark

14 Aug 2002

Where other bands moan about the music industry or spend small fortunes bringing their stage designs to life, Stereophonics like to keep it nice and simple. Or at least as nice and simple as it gets when you tour with U2, get advice from Prince Charles and see Slipknot with their masks off


They may very well be serious individuals, but stick all three members of Stereophonics into the same room and things are guaranteed to get silly. It’s a welcome lack of pretension from a band whose last album, Just Enough Education To Perform, has sold 1.8 million copies in the UK alone. Content to leave the mask-wearing, body-piercing and other gimmicks to others, the trio’s success is down to the quality of their songs and the energy they generate when performing them live. Factors that came into play when Lord Henry Mountcharles started thinking about who he wanted to have in his garden this summer.

“We were asked to headline it a couple of years ago but couldn’t because of other commitments,” Kelly Jones resumes. “Then U2 pulled rank on us and asked 80,000 of their mates round for a private party. I tell you what, if Bono and them want to come along to our gig, they’re going to have to pay for their tickets. And queue up like everybody else.”

The last time our paths crossed – in The Clarence, appropriately enough – Stereophonics were getting ready to support U2 on the North American leg of Elevation.

“We did ten shows with them in Europe and another five in the States, which was great ’cause up till then no one had heard of us there,” Kelly continues. “The people from MTV, VH1 and radio tend to pay attention when you’re supporting the biggest band in the world. Those doors having been opened, we were able to go back and play our own gigs in front of our own fans. One minute you’re ‘the Stereowhats?’, and the next you’ve got 1,500 pissed up Americans singing along to your songs.”

Jones has already spilled the beans about the time a well-lubricated Bono jumped on the bar and started singing opera, but were there other U2-related shenanigans he witnessed?

“That I can tell a scurvy tabloid hack like you about?” he deadpans. “You just got this sense every day of the circus rolling into town. Elevation wasn’t a gig, it was an event. So much so that you’d have Kathleen Turner, Demi Moore and Sandra Bullock wandering round backstage with a beer in their hand. That’s U2’s world.

“A lot of bands operating at that level get blasé, but they send 40,000 people home every night thinking that they’ve got every cent’s worth of value from their ticket.”

“The difference with them,” opines Stuart Cable, “is a thing called ‘budget’. If they doodle a bit of stage design down on a napkin, a team of 85 highly paid employees work round the clock to make it a reality. On Planet Stereophonics, our tour manager tells us to ‘Stop being so silly and, by the way, is it Chinese or Indian take-away you want for your dinner?’ The heart and the screen are all magnificent things to do, but they cost money.”

“The sort of money that we don’t have yet,” rues Richard Jones in between mouthfuls of a Chicken sarnie that’s just been deposited in front of him by a lisping Portuguese waiter. “What seeing U2 close-up made me realise is that, if you want to, you can keep going for 25 years and still maintain your credibility. You don’t have to end up a wonky old dinosaur that everybody laughs at behind their back.”


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