Stephen Jones Interview
SO far, Steven Jones of Baby Bird fame is not being recognised as he walks down the street, which may be a good thing really because he may get some rather strange looks from people who have seen the sleeve of the third Baby Bird album. Fatherhood.
The title refers to the photograph on the front of the sleeve: Steve, wearing nothing more than an evil glint, exhibiting the full bloat of his rather large belly, in a spoof of the infamous Vogue front cover of a heavily pregnant Demi Moore.
“I didn’t have to put it on, unfortunately,” says Steve.
“I think it’s just from being in a band on tour and drinking, especially if you are headlining. If you are a bit nervy and you are hanging around waiting to go on all you can do is drink.
“I don’t know if I’m recognisable from the picture but I just prefer to give people the images. I suppose it’s all part of this idea of trying to make me look mad.”
The photo on the last album, Bad Shave, featured Steven’s face covered in red paint in mid-wet shave, and then there were the pictures of him in nothing more than a pair of baggy Union Jack underpants….All of which tends to add to, rather than detract from the increasingly wonderful music, both on the three solo, bedroom-tape CDs – whether it be warped pop, big ballads, twisted lyrics or wicked humour -and that performed by the superbly empathetic band he has put together.
And the next week promises to be one of the biggest yet in the short career of the band Baby Bird, now signed to top indie label Echo. On Tuesday, the band – Steven on vocals, Rob Gregory on drums, John Redder, bass, Luke Scott, guitar, and Hugh Chadbourne, keyboards – will play four live songs on Mark Radcliffe’s show on Radio one (10pm – midnight); on Wednesday they complete their weekly residence at The Splash Club in London with a Christmas party; and on Thursday they play their biggest Sheffield gig to date when they headline at the city’s latest club, The Republic, with support from Ginger (apt, considering the colour of the pubic hair revealed on the aforementioned cover).
It means taking a break from the recording of their debut album (due for release in April, preceded by the first single in February) which is all taking place at FON recording studio on Brown Street, where their management is also based. There will also be the final installments of the five CDs culled from the 400-plus songs Steven wrote, recorded, played and sung over the last five or so years. These are to be released as a double package in January.
If they are of the quality of Fatherhood and its predecessors, Baby Bird will have already established an incredible back catalogue before the band has actually released anything.
Several of the tracks on Fatherhood will get an airing at The Republic – Cooling Towers, Aluminium Beach, I Didn’t Want To Wake You Up and the one number that already featured in the live set, Good night – and they provide another, darker, more sombre aspect to Steven’s work. Nevertheless they will sit easily among the soon-to-be-classics such as Man’s Tight Vest, Baby Bird, Too Handsome To Be Homeless, 45 and Fat, Valerie…
Then there is the stage persona, Steven dressed in frilly shirt and naff suit, sticking out both posterior and prosthetic stomach in exaggerated badly-dressed club turn mode, giving as good as he gets from the hecklers. It may be hard to equate with the frankly gorgeous music but there is also a big streak of humour inherent in what he does. This promises to be the last Sheffield date for several months, by which time Baby Bird could well already be huge. So be there.