When he confronted the teenage interlopers, they told him they were trying to get to the train track behind his house to graffiti the train: “So I came up with some ideas about why these kids take so much risk to leave their mark on the world, and then a few weeks later, I wrote a song called ‘Graffiti on the Train,’” he says, chuckling.
The track morphed into a much larger concept. Jones, who plays The City on Tuesday with Stereophonics, penned a movie script about two small-town U.K. lads who angrily run off to Europe when their graffiti-artist chum falls from a train and dies.
“On their journey, they deal with fear,” he says. “They’re close friends, but one is very fearful and the other is just fearless.” He’s been working closely with the British film institute to finance the film. To soundtrack it, he penned more than 40 anthems, which he has edited down to two 10-song sets, volume one being the just-issued “Graffiti on the Train.”
Ever since Stereophonics’ 1997 debut “Word Gets Around,” the raspy-throated Jones has written in a visceral, decidedly visual style, making bleak sketches of working-class life in his native Cwmaman, a la the singles “Local Boy in the Photograph” and “More Life in a Tramp’s Vest.”
“Graffiti” carries on the tradition with the Tom Petty-inspired “Indian Summer” and the title track, plus the bluesy “Been Caught Cheating,” which Jones penned with Amy Winehouse in mind; she died before he could give it to her.
Jones always secretly dreamed of becoming a playwright. He has three other finished scripts – one concerns a guilt-wracked hangman, another follows three impoverished kids in South Wales.
He also regularly storyboards and directs all Stereophonics videos. “I’ve always had a love for film and music,” he says. “So it just got to the point where I wanted to combine them both. So, fingers crossed, by early next year we’ll start on ‘Graffiti’ movie production. And if I can crack this first one with Stereophonics music, then I can come back with the things I wrote earlier.”
The singer has a rugged look tailor-made for the big screen. But being on it not his thing. He says, “When I started auditioning these kids for the movie, I realized how ephemeral acting is. I love the editing, the writing, the problem solving. But to be in front of it all? No way!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com