Back with Stereophonics stars
HE’S the guitarist who was in an early version of Stereophonics and remained friends with singer Kelly Jones as his band became one of the country’s biggest rock groups.
But now Richard Jones – who was in protoStereophonics’ outfit Tragic Love Company with Kelly, the late Stuart Cable and his bass-playing namesake in the early ’90s – has been given a second shot at success, courtesy of his former Cwmaman bandmates.
Indeed, ’Phonics frontman Kelly has personally invited Fireroad, the Aberdare rocker’s four-piece, to support them at two sold-out shows this week.
The gigs at Plymouth Pavilion on Tuesday and Swindon Oasis on Wednesday are warmup shows which precede Stereophonics’ headline festival appearances this summer.
The shows mark the beginning of the 20-year celebrations for the Welsh rock legends and it also marks an anniversary for Richard’s own band.
“July 2017 is Fireroad’s fifth birthday. These shows could not have come at a better time,” he said.
“It’s nice to think that after 20 years in the industry Stereophonics still have their feet on the ground and are prepared to give us a boost.
“I was at the Coldplay show at the Principality Stadium and I heard (Coldplay singer) Chris Martin say he was giving (support band) Embrace an opportunity to support as they were giving something back to the band.”
He added: “We have been working hard behind the scenes preparing for the release of our second album and despite several hurdles since the initial release date the album is out in August.
“We have played live continuously all over the country and our fan base is increasing. I hope the offer of the shows is Kelly’s way of saying ‘fair play you’re still having a go’.”
The second album is titled Flesh, Blood & Bone and is inspired by the life of late Merthyr boxing legend Johnny Owen.
It features unseen images of the boxer, nicknamed the Matchstick Man, who died in 1980 aged just 24 – two months after lapsing into a coma after fighting Mexico’s Lupe Pintor for the bantamweight world title in Los Angeles.
These precious images have been donated by Johnny Owen’s family.
“Our focus on the positive aspects of his life and work really captured the hearts of his family and we have tried to do justice to his legacy,” said Richard.
“The imagery fits perfectly with the lyrics and the rationale behind the title. The analogy of a small man working hard and giving all he had to achieve his dream fits perfectly with what it means to live and work in Wales.
“There’s a lyric in one of the songs All We Have which tells of ‘Men of bronze chasing dreams of gold’. It is not only a direct reference to the statue of Johnny Owen in Merthyr but also to the men of Wales who, whether in the pits or otherwise, have given everything to achieve their dream.
“It’s a dedication to tenacity and hard work.”
Richard added: “We have worked relentlessly over the last five years and we are completely self-sufficient, fund everything ourselves and the momentum without a label has been down to long nights and busy weekends.”
Cynon Valley rockers Fireroad with singer Richard Jones, second left
Tragic Love Company – the band that became Stereophonics – featuring Fireroad frontman Richard Jones, second left
Stereophonics stars Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Adam Zindani and Jamie Morrison