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melody maker_20/02/99
In the second part of our Stereophonics feature, Kelly Jones gives us a track-by-track guide to their new album, 'Performance And Cocktails'

Barnstorming opener, in which AC/DC are given a pop make-over
"This is based on a night in a New York club called Shine where we played. The manager gave us a booth. Then this guy called Dominique came on stage talking about people's fears, the openness of sex and religion, and the final act was meant to be a woman who comes on with a pig's head and pisses all over herself, but it was cancelled. We were all going, 'What the f***ing hell is going on!' At the end of the night, this guy gave us his business card and it said 'Shine - Performance and Cocktails'. People might take the song literally - us on the road drinking - but there's more to it than that."

Raw and ragged Top Three belter
"We were waiting for a plane in New Zealand and all these sailors were walking in and out of the bar. Everyone was acting really weird and there were lesbians at the bar. I thought the bartender must see so many different things as people change character, from Jekyll to Hyde, sober to drunk. So I wrote this completely tongue-in-cheek story about the bartender and the thief who is robbing everybody. I found the melody for the chorus on a dictaphone tape. I'd been putting ideas on tape for two years and had never played them back before, until then!"

Cinematic and sublime sing-along
"This is a train-of-thought song. It's based on all sorts of things: waiting for a traffic light to turn green, a kettle to boil, losing your virginity, getting married, having children. Everybody has an expectation about what the perfect life is: the big house, winning the lottery. You always wait for something better to come along because you're never satisfied with what you've got. Sometimes you wonder whether this is all it's going to be. The title comes from a phrase my brother used to say on the tour bus."

Radio-friendly tear-jerker
"This came from a trip to America with Richard, when Stuart had glandular fever. It's about going to America for the first time and not being remotely shocked. I thought I was going to be really impressed, but I'd already seen it all on television. Even the Empire State Building didn't feel that big. I had to find some parts I hadn't seen before when all I saw were rows and rows of people drinking alone."

Introspective, "Traffic"-esque second single.
"It's about different expectations between men and women. I always wonder what people perceive as being the perfect woman: is it a supermodel, somebody with a sense of humour, or both? I think men are more pathetic. Women grow up a lot quicker because men always wait for something better to come along. It's the most personal thing I've written. Again, it was written on the road, in a hotel room in Amsterdam. If you're not drinking, there's nothing else to do but think. It's good sometimes, but other times it drives you f***ing nuts."

Muscle-flexing, mosh-pit explosion
"It's based on the media trying to find something that's not there. It was inspired by the treatment of Michael Hutchence, Princess Di and Ron Davies. George Michael is another example - how can you follow someone around just because they had a wank in a toilet? Also, when we went through Hollywood, people would point out things, like 'Oh, that's where Hugh Grant got caught with a prostitute.' You think, 'F***ing hell, this is all a movie set.' The title is another one from my brother."

Skiffle-style strum. Roll out those barrels
"I dreamt this song. That's never happened before! I bought this old Gibson 1968 SG in Cardiff and went to bed, having just watched the 'I Am The Walrus' video and there's a guitar like mine in it. I was in bed at my parents' house before I moved out with my missus and the song was going around my head at 4 am. Normally, I wake up and think, 'Ah, it's just a pile of shit', but I'd recorded this one just in case. I even wrote in my notebook: 'B-side, big brass section, jokey, take-the-piss cabaret song'. I wanted Stuart to sing it, but it ended up a bit high, so he couldn't."

Infectious slice of lyrical beauty. A future Number One?
"We played this at Earl's Court with The Who( in 1996). It was originally called 'The Pool'. I based it on a story I heard about a man who is obsessed with this singer. He goes into the record company demanding to see her and, because they won't let him in, he ends up shooting the receptionist. I tried to make him really child-like, he just wants to show off his T-shirt suntan. It took me back to when I was a kid playing at the pool opposite my house. All the kids liked to show off their little white bodies with the brown arms. It's a good image."

Downbeat stadium filler
"When we went to Hamburg we saw all these prostitutes in the windows. The easy way looking at it was five boys walking down the street, getting drunk and having a laugh. But I decided to turn it around and write what she was thinking: what does she dream for? I was down the club in Cwmaman and this little kid came up to the guy I was talking to and said, 'Is yesterday tomorrow today?' It means that every day is the same, even in all these different places."

Sleepy. stripped-down, country-ish blues
"This was the first one I wrote in my new house, before we went on tour last January. It's about if there's a shit time happening, you stay with your memories a bit longer, rather than coming back to reality. If something is a pain in the arse, you think back to something better."

Maudlin live favourite about the middle-age spread
"This used to be a nasty punk song! I sounded like a chipmunk because it was in a really high key, so we decided on an acoustic version instead, it's quite mellow and melancholy. The character is a woman who was once really good-looking and the men used to give her all the attention. Then, when she gets older, she puts on weight, so the only way she can get attention is by stripping off in a bar and acting the goat. It's based on someone who I knew in Cwmaman, who was always rumoured to be a prostitute."

Gutsy power chord anthem
"In LA, I soon realised that no one is a waitress - they're all actors and actresses. We went on a graveyard tour where a hearse takes you to all these dead film stars' houses. We just thought, 'What a f***ed-up town!' Then again, we must be pretty f***ed-up to get in the back of a hearse with this guy burning joss-sticks in the front! The lyrical voice can't make up his mind whether he likes this place or not, so in the end he just says, 'Well, pleased to meet you anyway...'"

Effective, guitar-less ballad
"My girlfriend works in a hairdresser's and this woman wanted to give us a piano, so we swapped it for a Stereophonics T-shirt. The only song I could play was 'Imagine', but I had these chords, so one night I came in from the pictures and wrote this song really quickly. It's about leading the listener on and it comes from a story that a bloke told me. He said that one night he stopped to get some petrol and someone climbed in the back of his car. We didn't want any guitars on it. It's the perfect song to finish the album with."