Stereophonics - Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones

Last updated: 15 December 2008

Born: 3 June 1974
Role: Vocals, guitar

A skilful lyricist with a keen narrative talent, a singer with a truly unique soulful edge, a guitarist with a talent for everything from air-punching rockers to downbeat country-rock melancholia: Kelly Jones is the musical heart and soul of Stereophonics.

My biggest fear is running out of time before finishing everything I want to do.

Kelly Jones

Like the rest of the band's founder members, Kelly grew up in the tiny ex-mining village of Cwmaman. Although there was a four year age gap between him and one of his neighbours, the young Stuart Cable, it didn't stop the pair from becoming fast friends, and before long the pair were playing in a covers band together.

Although as a young man he trained as a boxer, Kelly quickly distinguished himself from many of his peers through a much more creative pursuit - his talent for writing. In his teens, he held down a job on a market stall in Cwmaman - a career later wryly documented in the verses of More Life In A Tramp's Vest.

Before fully dedicating himself to Stereophonics, Kelly flirted with the idea of becoming a scriptwriter, with the BBC showing some interest in his early work. But as the band progressed from being a simple covers outfit to an original band, Kelly realised he could bring this narrative edge into the process of music-making.

He writes by picking up on a fleeting moment of conversation or a sight or other situation that most people would think mundane, and building them into rich and evocative stories. "It's just ideas," he says. "The idea of A Thousand Trees came from the back of a matchbox when I was 10. I made up a story around that because I thought it was a really good phrase, and I did an animation sequence for it at college."

The most hot-headed member of the band, Kelly is well known for his temper. He's no stranger to spats with bands - he's called Radiohead's Thom Yorke a "miserable twat", and described Muse's Matt Bellamy as being "up his own arse".

Luckily, now he's said to have calmed down. "Kelly used to be an absolute nightmare," Stuart told us back in 2002. "There was a time when he'd come off the road and he couldn't get that hectic feeling out of his head, he'd want to be here, there and everywhere. But now, he's moved up to London, he's got a new girlfriend - I think he's chilled out a hell of a lot."

Now his songwriting has gained popular recognition, Kelly has seemed eager to rub shoulders with his heroes in the rock'n'roll pantheon - be it a boozy night out with Noel Gallagher or playing a late-night pool game with The Rolling Stones. But Kelly is scornful of the idea of celebrity: "If I'm out with Paul Weller, we could get in the press," he shrugs. "But why bother? Even the Met Bar's got four exits. You can avoid fame if you want."

Indeed, despite the fact he fronts one of the biggest bands in Britain, Kelly is still dedicated to the hard graft, as demonstrated in the peculiar manner he recorded demos for You Gotta Get There To Come Back.

"I started by going into the studio, from 10am to 6pm and aimed to come out at the end of the day with a finished track," he explains. "I'd always heard stories of writers doing this, people like John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Brill Building writers. It not only focused my writing, it led me to finding the direction and sound of the new record."

And there's just time for a couple of bits of trviva: Kelly supports Leeds United, his star sign is Gemini, and if the story of Stereophonics was going to be made into a film, he'd like to be played by Johnny Depp.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.