Kelly Jones: my family values

The Stereophonics singer talks about his family

My dad had me when he was 30, and he'd been a singer professionally up until then – soul stuff. He released one record. It was quite strange to see it on the local pub jukebox when I was a kid. He was very well known in Wales, but he stopped singing professionally when he had a family – at that time you didn't mention you had a family if you were in a band – and from an early age I was going with him when he sang in the working men's clubs.

Dad worked in the factories, singing at night. He coached the local kids in football and he liked to keep himself fit. He was a great dad. He was pretty honest, really: he'd tell me if I was average, and he'd tell me if I was great.

Because Dad was the singer in the village, I was allowed in the local pub, so from an early age I was around a lot of interesting older people. I'd help pack the van away and get a Chinese takeaway. It was more interesting than what my friends were doing.

Dad hasn't been bitter about my success as a singer with Stereophonics – I think he understood that it might not happen for him. He stopped singing in the clubs around the time I signed a record deal. If anything, he feels like he passed the baton on – he's proud. But he'll sing if he's had a drink.

My mam worked in factories too. They both had a great work ethic. Mam's really strong – in many ways, she's the gaffer. We're quite similar. My dad comes across as quite calm, but when he loses his rag, he swears for hours and hours. My mother just gets up and gets on: she's a doer. They've worked hard all their lives. Now they help look after my house in Wales. I don't want my dad getting up at 5am and going to the factories.

There is quite an age difference between me and my two older brothers. I was trying to follow them round and hang out with them. Kevin would make me jump into freezing cold swimming pools to make his friends laugh. Lee's quite shy and Kevin's more outgoing; me and Lee shared a bedroom for 14 years and we're still really close. I took Lee's walk – he had a great walk – and Kevin's talk.

I learned a lot from Lee babysitting me. His friends would come round and they'd play cards, and watch films I shouldn't have been watching. All three of us in Stereophonics are amazing judges of character, and it comes from being streetwise, from being around these people. It's not your place to talk when you're 10 and the other boys are 18, so you listen. I think that's where Stereophonics' first album came from – observations of these people; funny and tragic.

I'm a very hands-on father with Bootsy and Misty, my two girls, and I have a good relationship with their mother, though we aren't together. When I first knew I was having children, I thought I wanted boys, but then I thought I'd be better with girls. I'm quite sensitive, and you get more cuddles with girls. And they like their dads.

Bootsy was sick for a while – it was a tough time – the first year I hadn't played a show for a year since I was 12. I'd stay with her, teach her shapes and colours, and it put a lot of things into perspective for me. I wouldn't not have had that time with her. Not to have my family would be a nightmare for me, because it's the main thing.

Keep Calm and Carry On is out now. Stereophonics tour the UK in March

Tina Jackson

The GuardianTramp

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