November 7, 2009 / 12:37 AM / in 9 years

Stereophonics survives label chaos to "Carry On"

LONDON (Billboard) - Scoring a fifth successive U.K. No. 1 album should be a momentous occasion for any band, but in October 2007 the Welsh rock outfit Stereophonics wasn’t able to savor the achievement for long.

Music band Stereophonics pose at the "Q Awards" in London October 8, 2007. REUTERS/Anthony Harvey

Just as their sixth studio set, “Pull the Pin,” topped the Official Charts Company (OCC) albums list, Stereophonics’ label, V2, was integrated into Mercury Records following its acquisition by Universal Music Group. That left one of Britain’s biggest contemporary rock bands effectively between labels.

Looking back, Stereophonics singer/songwriter Kelly Jones reckons the timing affected sales for “Pull the Pin.” “Nobody was working the record,” he recalls. “Mercury didn’t want to step on V2’s toes, and V2 staff were going, ‘We’re all being fired.’ It was a s—t time.”

Fast-forward two years, and Jones says the quartet is “in a better place than it’s ever been.” His mood is fueled by the U.K. release of the band’s new studio album, “Keep Calm & Carry On,” November 16.

Mercury will release “Keep Calm” simultaneously in Japan and Australasia; the album will roll out internationally in February 2010, but an American release is yet to be confirmed.

The album’s mix of contemplative ballads and fiery rock numbers pushes Jones’ deep vocals to the fore. “I didn’t want to make a guitar album with a big wall of sound,” he says. “I just wanted to do something a lot more reflective and a bit more layered.”

The act has sold more than 9 million albums worldwide, says its Los Angeles-based manager, Dan Garnett of Nettwerk.

Label upheaval notwithstanding, the OCC says “Pull the Pin” has sold 199,700 copies in the United Kingdom. But that doesn’t compare to Stereophonics’ 2001 best-seller “Just Enough Education to Perform,” with 1.8 million copies.

U.S. sales for “Just Enough” stand at 83,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but Jones says the band has learned to live with its failure to crack America. “We just never had that luck,” he says. “It would be good to do, but we don’t lie awake at night worrying about it.”

The band does plan to keep busy with extensive touring. Garnett says the “Pull the Pin” world tour grossed more than $10 million in ticket sales. He anticipates similar results from the new campaign, including a March 2010 U.K. arena tour followed by Europe, Asia, Australia and three U.S. trips.

“We’re a live band,” Jones says. “That’s where we get our kicks from a lot of the time — we’re all kind of gypsies at heart.”

Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters

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