Stereophonics: the tambourine men

Ahead of Stereophonics' headlining slot at Sandance on Friday, their bassist Richard Jones sheds light on their forthcoming new album and describes how the group have come to terms with the death of their former drummer Stuart Cable.

Stereophonics perform at the BT London Live Opening Ceremony Celebration Concert in Hyde Park in London in July during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Miguel Medina / AFP
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The first single and title track of the new album, Violins and Tambourines, is a real slow burner – is it indicative of the new album coming our way early next year?

It is not the most different that we have ever been but the emotion and the vibe you get from it is a new part of the Stereophonics. It has a very dramatic and darker feel to it but with a light touch as well. I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing what the people think.

You are about to release your eighth album in a career that spans 20 years. Is it tough to maintain the thrill of creating and releasing new material?

I don’t think you ever lose that drive. We have got this new material and we want many people to hear it and absorb it. Then we just want to go out and play to as many people as we can. That is the kind of band that we are. We come from a live background so we have to keep on performing to get that buzz.

How do you create a similar energy when you are back in the studio?

In the studio that is another buzz and again we try to be the best band that we can be inside that studio setting. We have Kelly Jones, our singer, and he is probably one of the best songwriters of his generation and we are fortunate to support what Kelly writes and we make the best music around those lyrics.

Did the band have a specific goal with the new album?
We try to introduce different aspects of the band on each new album, whether it is through different sounds or song structures. With this project we didn’t want to be constrained by what we have done already and we just threw everything at it and whatever stuck, that’s what we went on. There are big strings, a brass section and some electronic music. And on some tracks the band are not even there and it is just a piano and vocals.
The band have also welcomed a new member into the fold, the drummer Jamie Morrison. What does it take to be a member of the gang?

In regards to musicality, they have to know how to perform a lot of different styles. The most important thing after that is how we get on. We will spend a lot of time together on the road, in and out of venues and hotels. You end up in close quarters with the same people for 18 months. So we spend a lot of time to see who will fit in the band and Jamie came along in the auditions and it just felt really comfortable. He can play his heart out as well, which is so refreshing.

During the recording of the album, your former drummer Stuart Cable (in the group from 1992 to 2003) tragically passed away. Was recording the new album a way to deal with the grief?

We have such fond memories being in the band with Stuart. He had this massive character and the way he played on certain tracks did form a big part of who we are. A couple of the tracks on the new release do have a few of these emotions because we were at the studio at the time it happened. You can’t help but play how you feel.

• The Stereophonics will perform as part of the Sandance festival on Friday from 2pm to 2am. Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai.  Tickets begin at Dh275 from

? the line-up

The Stereophonics are joined by an eclectic list of artists on the Sandance bill. We take a look at some of them

Newton Faulkner
The dreadlocked English folk rocker comes to Dubai with his new third album, Write it on Your Skin, released this year. The album’s sunny vibes, especially the title track, should go down a treat in the beach setting.
Alongside Underworld and The Chemical Brothers, the English duo Leftfield played an integral part in developing British dance music. They have their own hits including Phat Planet and Release the Pressure.
Real name Timothy McKenzie, Labrinth first made waves with hit collaborations with his fellow Londoner Tinie Tempah, co-writing and producing the hits Pass Out and Frisky. His debut album Electronic Earth, released this year, made him a star in his own right, with Earthquake and Last Time being the big singles.
Benny Benassi
The in-demand Italian DJ and producer supported Madonna in her Yas Island show in June and now returns in an environment that’s more his style.
Smoking Groove
If you are a local clubber then you’ll have heard their deck work somewhere or another. The Dubai house DJs have played in most of the UAE’s leading clubs and festivals and will show why they are local favourites.