Stereophonics are village people – though not in the same way as the US disco act responsible for hits including YMCA and In the Navy – and, judging by the title of their new LP, they’re clearly proud not to be city slickers.
Keep the Village Alive, due out next month, is the ninth studio album recorded by the Welsh rock band since their formation in the Cynon Valley village of Cwmaman in 1992.
Five of its predecessors – 1999’s Performance and Cocktails, 2001’s Just Enough Education to Perform, 2003’s You Gotta Go There to Come Back, 2005’s Language, Sex, Violence, Other? and 2007’s Pull the Pin – were chart-toppers, and their last LP, 2013’s Graffiti on the Train made it to No 3.
They’ve also notched up one No 1 single, 2005’s Dakota, and hit the UK singles chart’s top 10 a further nine times with tracks including 1998’s The Bartender and the Thief and 2003’s Maybe Tomorrow, both No 3s.
They also have four No 4s to their name – 1999’s Just Looking and Pick a Part That’s New, 2001’s Handbags and Gladrags and 2003’s Madame Helga.
The title of their new album harks back to their roots in more ways than one, it being a phrase lifted from the sleeve-notes of their debut album, Word Gets Around, a No 6 hit in 1997.
“We scavenged in the gravel to find this title,” said frontman Kelly Jones.
“It was a phrase I heard when I was a kid which kind of means ‘keep the spirit up, work hard, play hard’.”
“I guess a lot of smaller towns across the world have been in a little trouble.
“The work is being moved away, the pubs are being closed down, the communities are changing, so I guess it’s just a nod to those people.”
The 41-year-old’s bandmates these days are fellow founder member Richard Jones on bass, Jamie Morrison on drums and Adam Zindani on guitar.
“In the grand scheme of rock’n’roll, we are pretty young,” he added. “We’re still, like, into it. We’re still playing really well live, and we’re still making better records than the rest of them.”
A crowd the size of the combined populations of several villages will be able to see Stereophonics performing songs from their new album at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena later this year.
They’re playing at the North-East venue on Sunday, December 6, as part of a 10-date UK tour also taking in Leeds and Manchester.
This will be their ninth visit to the 11,000-capacity arena following previous shows there in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013.
Tickets cost £32.50 to £47.50. For details, go to www.metroradioarena.co.uk, www.stereophonics.com or call 0844 493 6666.
Keep the Village Alive is released on Friday, September 11, in vinyl, digital and two CD formats, a standard 10-track version and a double-disc edition adding six bonus tracks.