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Keep the Village Alive has been in the works for quite a long time. It’s tagged as a companion piece to Graffiti on the Train, and if I’m not mistaken, you initially toyed with the idea of releasing them together as a double album.

That’s right. When we started the whole project, the songs just kept on coming thick and fast. Over the space of about 12 months we had about 36 songs. So we had the thought then of releasing a double album, just to try and release the majority of that material. But then through various talks with management and different people we know in the industry, they dissuaded us by saying that people’s attention spans ain’t what they used to be and they’d rather listen to single songs and shorter albums. So we decided to condense Graffiti on the Train down to ten songs, and the other bunch of songs we thought “We’re not going to waste those,” so we continued to work on them along with a bunch of other tracks. And that’s rolled into Keep the Village Alive.


Have you usually felt like there’s a big distinction between each successive Stereophonics album? And, in contrast, do you feel like the latest two inhabit the same stylistic and creative space?

Graffiti on the Train was a bit of a departure from Keep Calm and Carry On [2009]. We used a lot of orchestration and let the songs breathe a little bit – we weren’t afraid to add big instrumentation. I think we kept about five similar tracks for this album, but we stripped back a little bit. So even though they were from the same bunch of songs, I think people will distinguish this album from the previous one. We’ve got a lot more instant songs on this new release. The first two singles are a good indication [‘C’est la Vie’, ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’] of the type of direction we went on this album.


Keep the Village Alive and Graffiti on the Train were both recorded between ICP Studios in Brussels and Stylus Studios in London. Although you stripped a few things back, in terms of the sounds on the new record, did you stick with the same recording/ production methods?

I think the method is going to be pretty much the same, but we did change the actual instruments. Me personally, I didn’t use a lot of the Fender Jazz, which I always use. I used the new Gibson EB bass, which is a new one they brought out about two years ago and it gives a little bit more of a raw sound to the bass. I also used an Epiphone Jack Casady bass on a lot of the mellower sounding tracks.

We tend to do that – on each album we usually find an instrument that departs from the previous album. There’s something about playing a new instrument as well. It makes you play differently. We’ve got our own studio in London, so it gives us a lot more breathing space to try out new things as well. Jamie [Morrison, drums] is very accomplished and very experimental. He’s great at coming up with different sounds from anything – he hits anything and makes a good rhythm out of it. I think we spent a lot more time trying to find these different sounds and actually distinguishing the two records apart.


Like all of your albums dating back to Language. Sex. Violence. Other? (2005), Jim Lowe coproduced Keep the Village Alive. By now is it a no-brainer he’ll be the producer? Does he feel like a core part of the recorded side of the band?

I think he’s been an integral part in the way we work. We’re really quick – as soon as we get an idea, we want to get it out as quick as possible. Then what usually happens is the demo turns into the finished article. Jim is really good at getting everything set up so quick. He’s got tracks up and running even before we pick the instruments up, and he’s always really quick with coming together with demo drum tracks and sounds. He’s got a vast library of sounds and he’s always really quick at finding a good sound when we need it as well. He’s a great bloke to have around and he’s a good friend as well.


You said that with each album you try to introduce new sounds and experiment with different instruments – do you pay much attention to what’s happening elsewhere in music and make decisions based on what you hear?

It’s inevitable you kind of get influenced by different music and different sounds that you hear over the period between the previous album, but when we’re in the studio we are very mindful of not being similar to what is going on. We want to set ourselves apart and try to find a sound which suits where we want to go. You need to have that different sounding thing so it pops out on the radio.



Keep The Village Alive is out September 11 via Warner Music.