Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones is eager to step back from the group's "big rock" sound and hit the road with an acoustic guitar, playing songs from his band's upcoming J.E.E.P.
"I decided when I was in the studio that I'd love to go out and tour the way that the songs were written," he said. "I always loved the old folk singers just traveling by a car with one guitar case, just going onstage and playing a few songs. That was something I always wanted to do, so I decided to do it."
A Stateside acoustic outing, kicking off February 5 in Atlanta, will be a sequel of sorts to Jones' tour of the U.K. in November, although this time he'll be joined by (unrelated) bassist Richard Jones and a pair of non-Stereophonics, keyboardist Tony Kirkham and guitarist Scott James.
Jones said the idea for the stripped-down preview trek came to him as the band was recording J.E.E.P. at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Bath, England, and was partially a reaction to large-scale tours the Stereophonics mounted with the Charlatans UK and Our Lady Peace last year.
"It's going to be quiet, with candles and acoustic guitar. Mellow. No big rock, no big lights," he said.
For J.E.E.P., an acronym for "Just Enough Education to Perform," the Stereophonics decided to move away from the plugged-in rock sound of their previous albums, 1999's Performance and Cocktails and 1997's Word Gets Around.
The band instead crafted an acoustic-driven record that has more in common with Neil Young's After the Gold Rush than AC/DC's Back in Black, although the Stereophonics do unleash some fat guitar riffs on J.E.E.P.'s lead track, "Vegas Two Times."
The driving track is based on Jones' experiences in Sin City last year, and it includes references to the city's Crazy Horse Too strip club, as well as the Vietnam veteran taxi driver who shuttled the band around town.
" 'Vegas Two Times' is pretty much the [story of the] time I went to Vegas to see Tom Jones just before we made a video (a cover of 'Mama Told Me Not to Come') with him, and we just had a great night. Then when we tried to leave the next day, we got lost and we ended up leaving Vegas twice, because we actually came back on ourselves and had to leave again.
"The riff I already had," Jones continued, "so I just needed some really cool words, like 'Vegas two times' and 'Vietnam vet.' That was the guy who drove us around. There's always a Vietnam vet driving you around in a taxi there, and 'Crazy Horse Too.' Just some really cool slogans for a song. Not really lyrically deep, but it's a rock and roll song."
The Stereophonics' J.E.E.P. is due on April 17, while the first single, "Mr. Writer," will be released to radio on April 23.