Stereophonics: working their demons out on stage
would be trouble. Wishy-washy they ain't. Passionate
The Stereophonics come from Cwmaman in Wales. Cue
Glasgow: Barrowland, Wed 12 Mar; Cathouse with Subcircus, Sun 30 Mar; Edinburgh: Venue, Mon 10 Mar.
'Heuurghll Splutter. Hack. I just want to get a sexy deep voice but it's not that fucking deep usually. Heuurghl'
Stuart Cable, drummer with the Stereophonics, is looking a bit worse for wear. It's the morning after the night before and his voice sounds rich as tar, like Tom Jones if he had eight bollocks. And a hangover. On one side, looking equally shabby, is Kelly Jones, guitarist, vocalist and chief firebrand, on the other side is bassist Richard Jones who also looks less than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
This is all a bit of a contrast to the night before, when Kelly was pogoing as though the floor was electrified and Richard’s bass was in danger of disintegration. Stuart was inflicting grievous bodily harm on his drum kit and, at one point, stood up and roared at an already enthusiastic crowd to liven up. Or, it seemed, there
obligatory Manics comparisons: ’It’s 'cos we’re both Welsh and it's starting to wind us up a bit,’ says Kelly. They started on the road to rock 'n' roll babylon before any of them were old enough to shave and fifteen years down the line their persistence paid off when they were the first band to be signed to Richard Branson's new V2 label.
They sing about dark things, nasty things, the sort of things you’d rather not think about. Like their new single 'Local Boy In The Photograph'. 'lt’s about a friend of ours who jumped in front of a train,’ explains Kelly. 'Basically, I just try and write about what I know. If there’s a love story going on you don't have to write it in the way that everybody expects. It’s not always as romantic as people make it out to be. It’s bloody awkward and crap actually.’
It's nice to see a band who aren't relentlessy cheery. It’s even better to see them working their demons out on stage. (Jonathan Trew)
l ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ is released on Mon 77 Mar.
Jonathan Fire*Eater Glasgow: King Tut's, Fri 7 Mar.
Jonathan Fire'Eater: yarns to dance to
38 THE UST 7—20 Mar 1997
’Bring Me Daughters' was the extravagant and open-to-question command which first introduced New York's Jonathan Fire'Eater to ear-to- the-ground music lovers a few months ago. An audacious little number which came over like a cross between the swampy bar~room drawl of Gallon Drunk and the punk blues squall of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, it was a track which seemed to holler more appropriately ’bring me bourbon!’ or 'bring me new shoes and make them expensive!’
’It sounds like diamonds in the rough,’ offers singer Stuart Lupton.
It's a sound, further explored on mini- album Tremble Under Boom Lights, which was arrived at only after the quintet had trawled through everything from reggae to punk.
Lupton sets the scene. 'There were a couple of nights in a practice basement in New York City. It was a couple of blocks away from our two-roomed flat in Alphabet City, where we shared bunkbeds, that we stumbled across this sound by accident, but then we just took it hostage and milked it for all
it was worth.’
Unsurprisingly for such a yarn- spinner, he continues, 'It's a sound that tells a story and puts some atmosphere in a room. It changes though — it’s always on the run.’
Although Jonathan Fire'Eater started with a slightly different line-up many years ago at a Washington DC high school, the members gravitated to New York to attend college and, in the ultimate show of band solidarity, all dropped out on the same day.
’That was a great day in my book,’ says Lupton, ’but we didn't have any money because our parents cut us off for dropping out.’
Hence the compact flat with bunk beds. 'I was in one room with Paul the guitarist and he was on the top and I was on the bottom. That was quite an apartment. We had five bowls in the kitchen [heyl Goldilocks And The Three Bears move over!]. We spent a lot of the time on the roof because you could see the whole city from it.’
Come up and try Jonathan Fire‘Eater. The view is — panoramic. (Fiona Shepherd)
David Devant And His Spirit Wife Glasgow: Cathouse, Thurs 13 Mar.
Life's an illusion, love is a dream, but everybody's happy nowadays in the parallel universe populated by David Devant And His Spirit Wife. The band's new single, ’Ginger', has been chosen as Mark Radcliffe's ‘Single of the Week’, the debut album is straining at the leash for an early summer release and some live dates are about to bring them north of the border.
The original David Devant was a Victorian illusionist, and the band’s name, with its end-of-the-pier fairground connotations, hints at the unique qualities of their live act - four musicians knock out catchy indie-glam ditties while two other blokes perform surreal skits around them. This isn't performance art rock in the Laurie Anderson vein: take the forementioned 'Ginger', during which Bloke One opens a book of famous red-heads while Bloke Two grates a basket of carrots over his hair. Daft, yes; pretentious, no.
'The live stuff gives it an element of danger, because we can always end up looking silly,’ says the band's frontman, known only, as is the Devant way, as The Vessel. (I assume this is the 'receptacle to be filled by the spirit genius of others' type rather than ’ocean-going liner'). ’lt's drama as well, the drama that always used to be in rock 'n roll. People have been brainwashed into thinking you’re not allowed to do that anymore, that somehow it's not honest. But when we do it, it is honest because it's in our personalities.’
Resembling the result of an illicit liaison between Prince and Alvin Stardust - but with a voice that’s more 705 Bowie - The Vessel explains the thinking behind 'Ginger’. ’lt’s about personal reality. You could end up seeing your hair as red if you walked down another reality tunnel. Everyone thinks at some point of their life, "I‘m not like everybody else" and there's a bit of anger in that sometimes. So in another life, maybe we'll all be ginger and free.’ Hmm. (Alan Morrison)
I ’Ginger’ is released on Mon 70 Mar.
Dave Devant And His Spirit Wife: heads you win