Stereophonics' Indian Summer video filmed in Leicestershire
Remember the bands you first loved? Gemma Peplow does as the Stereophonics were the first band she saw live. Just before their city gig, she speaks to bass player Richard Jones about their freer sound, old friends, filming in the Leicester and strip clubs
There's a lovely line at the end of that ultimate tale of friendship Stand By Me, when the grown-up Gordie is tapping away at his typewriter. "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12," grown-up Gordie writes. "Does anyone?"
It's true, isn't it? The Week's best mates are still the same ones we had back in (whisper it) '94 and the same is pretty true for music, isn't it?
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Yes of course, there are loads of new bands and singers we've found along the way. But the ones we loved when we were first discovering music – back when we would tape the charts every Sunday afternoon, when Britpop was alive and kicking and when you listened to albums in their entirety and it was massively exciting find that hidden track – will always have a special place in our hearts.
Stereophonics were the first band The Week went to see live. We got the bus to Birmingham and it was all very exciting. So it's exciting for us now that they're coming to play in Leicester, and that we get to speak to them beforehand.
Tickets for tomorrow night's De Montfort Hall gig, unsurprisingly, didn't take long to sell out. It's the first of 10 shows they're playing at smaller venues ahead of a summer tour of the bigger arenas.
"It's going to be the first opportunity for us to play the new album," bass player Richard Jones tells The Week.
"It's a brilliant opportunity for us to go to places we haven't been to in a long time, see people we haven't seen in a long time as well.
"The smaller places do make it more intimate for us and the audience. You can't hide behind any special production or lights; it's all about the music.
"De Montfort Hall was one of the first support slots we had, when we played with Skunk Anansie, in about 96. We had one crew member and we were late turning up."
The new record, Graffiti On The Train, is the Stereophonics' eighth studio album and the first on their own label, Stylus Records, having parted ways with Universal. Released at the beginning of the month, it is sitting comfortably at number three in the charts.
The video for the first official single, Indian Summer, was filmed in Leicestershire.
"We had to find a train track that would let us use it all day and we were able to do that in Leicestershire," says Richard. "Then we were in a small club (The Music Cafe, off Braunstone Gate) for the performance part. There was a curry house next door and next door to that was a strip club."
The Phonics boys didn't get to sample the curry or visit the strip club, though.
"We didn't, no, we had to use every hour working to get the video done. We started shooting on location at about 10am and it was freezing cold. We shot 'til about 6pm on the railway then had to go to the venue for the performance part. We didn't finish until 11pm."
It's obvious the single and the whole album has been made more on their own terms, says Richard.
"We've consciously done an album that isn't full of three minute radio-friendly songs. We wanted to do something that people could think about, the way music should be. It shouldn't be that throwaway stuff that's all over the charts now.
"We're a lot freer now. We had about 25 songs and whittled them down to 10. Hopefully, we'll use some of the rest and maybe put something else out next year, part two or volume two or something.
"We're always looking forward, at what we can do next and how we can better ourselves. We didn't want to be a flash-in-the-pan band, we wanted to create a catalogue of work. We're more than Dakota, we're more than Maybe Tomorrow – even though they're fantastic songs. We're always trying to continue doing something we're interested in. Hopefully the audience is interested, too.
"Myself and Kelly, we grew up together. It's one of those relationships where we don't have to say a lot to each other. Every creative decision, we're on the same page. We're always like, 'yeah, that feels right'. It's great to share something like that with him, he's my oldest friend. It's all we've done since we were 16."
Of course, the original line-up also included their other childhood mate, former drummer Stuart Cable, who tragically choked to death in his sleep in 2010.
"What happened with Stuart was just so shocking," says Richard. "We were down in Wales as we'd just done a stadium show and we woke up that Monday morning and heard the news and it was devastating. He was still our best friend.
"Every time we play songs from the first four albums, it's hard not to think about him. We experienced everything together. Touring the world, making a record for the first time, everything."
Stereophonics are on at De Montfort Hall tomorrow night.
See the made-in-Leicester video at: