Stereophonics Pull Top Down On New "J.E.E.P." LP

Stereophonics are slated to put the finishing touches on their upcoming album, "J.E.E.P.," in a New York City studio this week, as the British band has been huddling with renowned engineer Andy Wallace over the record's final mixes.

"J.E.E.P.," an acronym that stands for "Just Enough Education to Perform," is tentatively set for release both in Europe and America next spring, although frontman Kelly Jones plans to embark on a brief acoustic tour of the U.K. in November, at which time he'll preview the new material.

While in New York City, MTV News caught up with Stereophonics and talked with Jones about how the band sonically shifted gears for "J.E.E.P."

"When you tour for five years playing as a three-piece, you kind of get a bit bored," Jones said. "So I wanted to make a record with a lot more scope to it, a lot more depth, and a lot more [like] a record that I'd go out and

buy. When we went into the studio, that was a big frame of mind for us. We didn't want to go into a studio and worry about reproducing it live; we just wanted to make the record first and worry about that later.

"You don't feel [the new material] is being experimental," he added, "you just feel of it that you've grown as musicians, and you've got so much things in your head that you want to put down on tape, and you're less afraid of doing it. I think that's what it is. You've covered so much ground, you've got a good following behind you, and you're much more confident with what you do, so you just think, 'F*** it,' and do it. I think that's what happens."

Jones was quick, however, to downplay early reports that suggested that the new album was a much more reflective and experimental affair than the band's previous efforts, 1999's "Performance And Cocktails" and 1997's

"Word Gets Around."

"It's not like a mellow, acoustic Dylan album or something," Jones told MTV News of the new record. "It's very lyrical, and it's just a lot more atmospheric. I don't think it's more acoustic, but we did want to try and steer away from the big rock stuff. But when the rock stuff happened, it was full-on and it sounded f***ing great, so we thought we'd [still] have a bit of that."

Prior to speaking with MTV News, the band previewed several of the newly finished tracks for its American label reps at V2 Records, including a scorching, riff-heavy rock ditty titled "Vegas Two Times" and another song, "Mr. Writer," that detailed some of the group's frustrations with the rock and roll media.

"'Mr. Writer' actually has the line 'Just enough education to perform' within

the song," Jones said,

alluding to the new album's title. "'Mr. Writer' is kind of a dig at British journalists, really. Not in a way that I'm bitter about them, but in the way that I'm fascinated how far they go through life and not realize how much they don't know about music and still work.

"[I'm also fascinated] at how much so many bands take that to heart, when they've already got a really good following of music lovers. It's funny why you always remember one insult when you forget all the good compliments you get. Britain revolves around that, and that song is kind of a reflection of that."

Before coming to America to put "J.E.E.P." through one of its final test drives, Stereophonics teamed up with Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher to record a cover of the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping" before an invited audience at George Martin's Air Studios in London.

"We got talking during the Reading weekend,"

Jones

said of the collaboration. "We played Reading and [Oasis] played Reading on different nights. We both headlined, along with Pulp. We said, 'Should we do a track together?' So it [ended up being] 'I'm Only Sleeping,' which is a great song. [Noel] came down to RealWorld Studios in Bath, and we did a rehearsal for about 10 minutes, and then we went up to the pub for about 10 hours. It was one of the great days in our career." [RealAudio]

During the special performance, Stereophonics also taped versions of "Revolution" and John Lennon's "How?" for inclusion on "Shine On," a BBC Channel 4 program set to air this weekend in honor of what would have been John Lennon's 60th birthday.