Stereophonics have announced their 12th album ‘Oochya!’ by sharing new single ‘Hanging On Your Hinges’ and details of a UK tour. Check out everything below, along with our interview with frontman Kelly Jones.
The Welsh rock veterans will be celebrating their 25th anniversary next year with the new record – following on from 2019’s chart-topping ‘Kind’ and Jones’ solo album ‘Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day’, released in 2020 – and a major arena tour for March. They’ll also cap off 2021 with a huge homecoming festive stadium show in December at Cardiff Principality Stadium.
With the album set for release on March 4 in 2022, Kelly Jones has told NME how ‘Oochya!’ is a “90 per cent uptempo” album, and grew from plans to initially release a compilation marking 25 years since the Welsh band’s first single ‘Looks Like Chaplin’ was released in 1996. ’Oochya!’ was recorded in just seven days, produced by Jones with regular Stereophonics producers Jim Lowe and George Drakoulias.
The album comes previewed by the fast-paced ‘Hanging From Your Hinges’, which Jones said was influenced by ZZ Top.
Hi Kelly. When you spoke to NME last year, you said Stereophonics would release a 25th anniversary compilation in 2021. But here you are with a brand-new album. What changed?
Kelly Jones: “‘Oochya!’ began from planning that anniversary hits compilation. I began rooting through hard drives to see what to put on it. As I did that, I was finding songs we’d never released. Three or four songs on ‘Oochya!’ are built on those, and it led me to writing a bunch of new songs too. We’ve always been about trying to find new audiences with new music, and it started to feel a compilation was too easy. But, when we got to our studio, it didn’t feel like we were necessarily making a new album either. We were only together recording as a band for a week. A lot of ‘Oochya!’ was done live. The funny thing is, having thought about a hits compilation, people who’ve heard ‘Oochya!’ say it sounds like a ‘Best Of’ album, just of songs you’ve never heard before. It’s like a mixtape, with a lot of different styles on there.”
What’s the overall mood for the album?
“There are a lot of different moments, but it’s much more rock n’ roll than ‘Kind’. At our core, that’s what we are. There are periods in your life when you look inside yourself more, and you can’t fake those rock n’ roll songs. I love the guitar riff songs, and I’ve got a phone full of ideas for them. But if you’re not feeling it, there’s no point writing lyrics for them. For the last few years, I hadn’t really felt that vibe. This time, it really fitted.”
Was that anything to do with recovering from the throat surgery you documented in the Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day film which accompanied your solo album?
“Maybe. It’s been good since then to experiment with new ways of singing. I’ve enjoyed playing around with new vocal styles, but then I’ve always enjoyed trying to do that. People recognise my voice, but if you go through Stereophonics’ catalogue, there’s a lot of vocal styles.”
‘Hanging On Your Hinges’ certainly shows you’re ready to scream again…
“That’s true! It was actually first recorded during the ‘Kind’ sessions, but it didn’t fit that record. It’s a very uplifting, good-time song that smacks you in the face and we wanted to come back with a song like that. It’s like when we previewed [1999 album] ‘Performance And Cocktails’ with ‘The Bartender And The Thief’. You can hear it coming on the radio straight after the news and it ends up abruptly: you have a good time, and then it’s gone again. It’s a pretty gnarly song with a great guitar tone. As a kid, I loved Billy Gibbons’ style in ZZ Top. Our producer George Drakoulias was shouting encouragement at me in the studio and it was fucking great doing the guitar solo.”
How typical is it of the rest of ‘Oochya!’?
“There’s some very anthemic stuff on the album, and one song sounds like The Cult. There are some piano songs like Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, only with weird R&B harmonies. The end of the album is quite Stones-y, like a very earthy session recorded at 2am. It’s got a very positive feel and 90 per cent of it is very uptempo. In these times, I don’t think you can be too introspective. It’ll be a great collection to play live, as it’ll give people a feel-good experience. There are introspective moments, but even they have a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ feel.”
What does ‘Oochya!’ actually mean?
“When we were recording ‘Language. Sex. Violence. Other’ in 2004, it was a word I started writing around the studio, but I don’t know where the hell it came from! To me, it’s a word that Paul Weller or Cockneys like Chas And Dave would say, like ‘Let’s fucking have it!’ I like records like Aerosmith’s ‘Pump’ or The Rolling Stones’ ‘Grrr!’ and ‘Honk’, where the word doesn’t mean anything but still gives you a flavour. The title has a lot to do with the mood of the record, I think. Once you’re going to call your record ‘Oochya!’, it can’t be too introspective.”
Speaking of giving people a feel-good experience, how much are you looking forward to the all-Welsh line-up with Tom Jones and Catfish And The Bottlemen at Cardiff Principality Stadium just before Christmas?
“It’s a celebration for Welsh people who haven’t been able to go anywhere for 18 months. I rang Tom, asking if he’d be up for giving back to the Welsh people, and he was well up for it. I’ve been watching a lot of sport during the pandemic, as there’s been nothing else to do, and a lot of that has been watching football with Tom at his apartment in London. But you end up watching Tom more than the football – watching 80-year-old Tom Jones shouting at the television in a very strong Welsh accent. I’ve known Tom for 20 years, but he’ll show me video footage of him with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis where you still go ‘What the fuck?’ At his home, Tom has pictures with everyone – James Caan to Aretha Franklin. What a life, you know?”
How well do you know Catfish And The Bottlemen?
“I first met Van McCann backstage at T In The Park. Van dropped to his knees and was praising me to my feet! Van said him and his dad made every one of the band’s videos based on our 10-year anniversary DVD, Rewind. I didn’t realise how big a fan he is, but he’d send me texts saying how much he adores what we do. I’ve always been a fan of his band too. I haven’t seen him for a while, but we stay in touch. I’ve heard the rumours that there’s a lot of stuff going on internally with the band, that they might not be as sturdy as they were. I don’t know what’s going on there, but they’ve agreed to do our show.”
After 25 years, what do Stereophonics still have left to prove?
“We can’t rest on our laurels in any way. We still want to find the 16-year-old kid who’s never heard our music but gets excited by our new song, and can then go back through our old stuff. It’s not about catering to Radio 2, that’s too easy. I wanted to start this album campaign with something interesting like ‘Hanging On Your Hinges’, to go to Radio X or wherever. We’re in a really good place, but we always have been. Whether the records always sound like that, that’s different. But we’re itching to get back out there and I pinch myself that we’re still playing arenas after 25 years.”
Stereophonics release ‘Oochya!’ on March 4, 2022, via Stylus Records through Ignition Records Ltd. Check out the tracklist below:
1. ‘Hanging On Your Hinges’
3. ‘When You See It’
4. ‘Do Ya Feel My Love’
5. ‘Right Place Right Time’
6. ‘Close Enough To Drive Home’
7. ‘Leave The Light On’
8. ‘Running Round My Brain’
9. ‘Every Dog Has Its Day’
10. ‘You’re My Soul’
11. ‘All I Have Is You’
12. ‘Made A Mess Of Me’
13. ‘Seen That Look Before’
14. ‘Don’t Know What Ya Got’
15. ‘Jack In A Box’
Before the album, Stereophonics play at Cardiff Principality Stadium on December 18, supported by Tom Jones and Catfish And The Bottlemen. It’s followed by an 11-date tour starting at Manchester Arena on March 18 and including a show at London O2 on April 1, before finishing at Birmingham Resorts World Arena on April 2. Full dates are below, with tickets on sale from 9am on Friday (September 10) and available here.
Stereophonics’ tour dates are:
18 – Principality Stadium, Cardiff (With Tom Jones and Catfish And The Bottlemen)
18 – Arena, Manchester
20 – P&J Arena, Aberdeen
21 – Hydro, Glasgow
23 – Arena, Leeds
24 – Arena, Newcastle
26 – Centre, Brighton
27 – BIC, Bournemouth
29 – Arena, Liverpool
30 – Arena, Nottingham
1 – The O2, London
2 – Resorts World Arena, Birmingham