Byline: Tony Trainor
FEW rock drummers are likely to make such an impression on our popular culture as Stereophonics powerhouse Stuart Cable. The Cwmaman rhythm man may never attain the legendary status of the late John Bonham or Cozy Powell, but Cable is fast becoming a star in his own right.
Already the beat behind one of the world's most successful rock bands, he will appear on our television screens next month as the host of his own series of chat shows, inevitably entitled Cable TV.
The project has drawn a host of celebrities to the Pop Factory, the multimedia studios housed within the shell of the former Welsh Hills Works in Porth, Rhondda.
The Cable TV set is designed as a kitsch version of a rock star's pad - with a ``Big Yellow Taxi'' in the corner and a giant TV set that even The Flintstones would have been proud of.
The show represents a welcome departure for this versatile drummer while his Stereophonics colleague Kelly Jones completes the groundwork for the band's eagerly-awaited fourth album.
``The studio is booked and we're in there for the whole of October and the first two weeks of November,'' says Stuart.
``There's some new stuff - we played a new song at Glastonbury called Madam Helga. We'll have singles coming out, but let's get the album recorded first.
``I'd only heard a couple of album tracks from Kelly by the time I started filming the show, and even then the words weren't all finished.
``Madam Helga is about someone on holiday - I think Kelly was on holiday with his girlfriend at the time or something, but I don't know what the story is.
``You never know with Kelly. I think the album's going to be a lot less about travel, because we've done that kind of thing.'' Songs like Local Boy in the Photograph earned Stereophonics an early reputation as a rock band with attitude, and their debut album, Word Gets Around, was an unhyped overnight success.
The follow-up, Performance and Cocktails, marked a new departure, combining driving rock tunes with tales of the road as Kelly and company broadened their horizons beyond the valleys of South Wales.
The third album, Just Enough Education to Perform, is still in the UK album charts and has gone platinum four times, selling well over two million copies worldwide.
Kelly has since collaborated with other musicians on a range of projects and is featured on the new album by Paul Weller, Illumination, performing on a track called Call Me No 5. Stuart explains that although the band remains a three-piece, the addition of session men Tony Kirkham and Scott James has extended the Phonics' capabilities as a live outfit.
``We get on great with the two guys. They don't record with us or do photo sessions, but once you've had people filling out things, you've always got to have them to do everything else - TV shows and everything.
``I'd like to think we'll carry on as we are. There's only one thing we've ever said - and we'll keep on saying it - as long as we're happy doing it, we'll keep on doing it. That's the most important thing.
``We're all looking forward to making the new record. And we all want to go out on the road, so as long as that passion and that fire keep on burning, we'll keep on doing it.''
The Cable TV studio vibrates to the sound of a lone guitar as Stuart grinningly acknowledges a classic rock riff from his resident guitarist. It might have taken him back a decade or more to when the Stereophonics were rehearsing their guitar and drum solos in a hut in Cwmaman under the former band name of Tragic Love Company.
``I was dreaming of trying to be a musician back then - and that failed, because I'm not a musician, I'm a drummer.
``I certainly wasn't dreaming of hosting a television show. The first time I did this, it was very nerveracking, and I don't think I'll ever get used to it. …