Kelly Jones: Stereophonics frontman pens moving letter on experience of creating ‘Inevitable Incredible'

Kelly Jones Picture: James D Kelly Kelly Jones Picture: James D Kelly
Kelly Jones Picture: James D Kelly | James D Kelly
The Stereophonics singer is about to embark on his second solo album - and he's written a letter ahead of its release

To many music fans, Kelly Jones is the unmistakable sound of Stereophonics. The singer and guitarist has fronted the band since their humble beginnings in Cwmaman, South Wales in 1992. 

Stereophonics have become a household name for their tunes over the years, and 12 studio albums in 25 years is testament to that. A large part of Jones’ career has seen him as the lead singer and guitarist of the Welsh outfit, but he has dipped into the world of solo artistry on occasion. 

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His debut solo album, ‘Only The Names Have Been Changed’, was released in 2007. Jones said following its release that these songs, all of which have female names, that he had worked on them whilst recording Stereophonics sixth album ‘Pull The Pin’. 

It’s been a long wait for fans but in 2024, 17 years after his first solo dabble, Kelly Jones will release a second album. ‘Inevitable Incredible’ will consist of eight songs and was a significant step for Jones in his creativity as it was the first time he had predominantly written songs on the piano.    

Kelly Jones of Stereophonics pens heartfelt letter ahead of ‘Inevitable Incredible’ release 

 “I’m not sure I got room for an old upright piano at home right now.” That’s what I remember saying to Al Clay, my mix engineer, who wanted shot of his. The next thing I remember, four of my crew guys were wheeling it into my study, kicking aside my young son’s toys to find a spot against the wall. 

I’ve written a few songs on the piano. I can’t play any covers on it. It all looks the same to me. Like I’m dyslexic to it. Sometimes the keys all float around and make no sense to me at all. I know where the middle C is, the rest I have to count the alphabet and figure it out. This though, although it doesn’t seem like it, is an advantage. Not knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing is sometimes the best way forward to find something new. Undiscovered land can be a minefield, but as the saying goes, you can’t go under or over it, you have to go through it.

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I stayed in a hotel in Edinburgh a few years back. I was playing Usher Hall, a spectacular venue, I was on a solo tour, 'Don't Let The Devil Take Another Day'. A tour that was especially intimate and challenging. You live with so many people on buses and kill time in tiny dressing rooms in backstage areas that haven't been renovated since the late seventies, and this goes on every hour of the day for weeks on end. It's a family, but all families need their own room.

A hotel room becomes a sanctuary on tour. So, when I got to my room and crashed out, I awoke to see at the foot of the bed on the wall was a painting. It was a mysterious piano set against a teal bluey green atmosphere which could look like it's underwater or floating in space, or wherever you wanted it to be. Soft and dream like. A black piano with a pink stool. I was mesmerised by it. It was called 'Nocturne'. A thought came to mind, l'll make a piano record one day.

That painting now hangs in my house. After asking around the hotel, I bought it from Christine Clark the artist, and she brought it to Usher Hall that night. Serendipitously I recently played Edinburgh’s Usher Hall again this time with Far From Saints, a new band I’d now formed and this time I also visited Christine’s studio to check out the painting she had just finished for that piano album I did end up making - Inevitable Incredible.

That I believe is what you may call a full circle. The piano in my house sat there un-played. Life doesn’t sit still. It plays you. It moves you and shifts and shoves at you, it throws you around, sometimes to places where you don’t want to go, or places you may have swept under a rug. It lifts you up and it swallows you whole like Moby Dick. It fills you with dread and despair and then offers you hope and joy and happiness. All of it, if you can let go of resistance, gives insight to a new learned experience, if you tune into it. 

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The wounds and scars teach us what we need to know. There comes the curse and the blessing, because more often than not it arrives in the state of fear. And fear makes us want to run and hide. An artist’s job is to peel away and unravel all this shit and put it into some form or other. 

Something that is tangible, something you can see, touch or hear that provokes feelings of beauty, unease, disturbance, anger, violence, insanity, gentleness, anarchy, wonder, all of the complex contradictory multitudes we are all made up of. Ever since I was young, I can’t tune it out. I’m like an antenna. I feel a lot. I think a lot. There’s a distance you have to travel from the human experience to putting it into a form of art, my art is my songs, I’m grateful I have a way to express it. I’m now grateful for this piano.

From around October through to December of 2022 at around 7.30pm after reading my youngest of four children a superhero story, I was drawn to the piano. Some melodies would arrive. Melody is magic. There’s nothing, then there’s something. Then the black n red notebook before me would start to get filled with words. I’d record them onto my phone. 

Kelly Jones - new BW portrait (c) James D Kelly Kelly Jones - new BW portrait (c) James D Kelly
Kelly Jones - new BW portrait (c) James D Kelly | James D Kelly

I’d read back the pages of handwritten scribbles, not entirely knowing where the words had come from. Then I’d feel emotional. Sometimes even upset. Something had to move through me. One song turned to around ten. Christmas came and went and then I decided I should try and record these somewhere. Somewhere quiet and isolated and pretty much alone. I didn’t plan to write an album. It wrote me.

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Top line - We found a studio in Norway tucked far away on a tiny remote island on the North Sea. Isolated yet beautiful. I packed a backpack. Flew there for a week and cut an album in just six days, all live vocal and piano at the same time. The remote surroundings of the island studio allowed the songs to come to life in a sort of protected way, no distractions, it was such a new experience.

There were no expectations for how the songs should sound. Just let the emotion and vulnerability I put into writing those songs come to life. The weather could change in a minute and there was little to no contact with the outside world. All this probably influenced how the songs came to be.

It was a truly cathartic experience. I feel like I left it all out there on these songs. I haven’t really played the piano since. Some filmmakers get to do one for the studio and one for themselves. That was not my thought, but there’s a similarity to how I feel my work is evolving. A fear of stepping outside the success of Stereophonics, a band I formed when I was a teenager has gripped me for a long time.

Inevitable IncredibleInevitable Incredible
Inevitable Incredible | Ignition Records

It may all fall apart. More fear. But a lot of music I was creating was getting lost. New music sometimes needs a concentrated space to be appreciated fully in its correct surroundings and context, many great songs I presented under Stereophonics got overlooked by the anthems and radio favourites.

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I want to make music like filmmakers make films. Different subjects and landscapes and tones from one project to the next. I saw Ethan Hawke say somewhere, something like, No one gives a f*** about poetry or Yeats until their Dad dies and then they need a verse to tell them what it all means at the funeral. 

I think this album is a little like that. I want to be truthful and honest even if that puts me in a very vulnerable place, I can’t phone this in. I don’t know fully what this record is or what it means, but if you’re in a place you’re looking or searching for something within you, you may find something within these songs that connect to you.

When will ‘Inevitable Incredible’ be released? 

Jones’ new album will be released on May 3 2024. It will be released on Stylus Records through Ignition Records, and you can listen to the first track, which shares the same name as the album, through Jones’ site. 

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