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Multi-talents needed to keep up with the Stevie Joneses

IT'S a universal conundrum:

how to fit all that you wish to achieve into one lifetime. For Stevie Jones, gun for hire as a musician and theatre sound designer, the vagaries of self-employment are further complicated by his duties as a father of two young children. "The kids were like a trigger," he says. "Like: 'Maybe it's time I did that record.'"

We'll get to the music in a moment. First, those children - four-year-old Dylan and one-year-old Anna (named by her elder brother). Their playthings litter the flat in Shawlands, in Glasgow's south side, which they share with their father and mother Jill. In the bath, multicoloured plastic letters float in the cooling water and cling to the tiles. Toys are stuffed into nooks and crannies in the hall, while in the living room, where we sit by the window watching darkness fall, the table is strewn with Lego. Jones shows me a dragon he fashioned while playing with his son.

"Hmm," he says, peering at it uncertainly. Looks like a dragon to me, I tell him. He appreciates the reassurance. "Time has become precious," he says. "It's great that the record has given us an excuse to sit and have a beer and a chat, but I never" - he stresses the word - "meet up with someone for a pint these days. I never just go and do music with someone."

Perhaps, but then Jones doesn't make it easy for himself. Since mid-April he has been dotting himself around Scotland playing sporadic shows with Aidan Moffat on the latter's Where You're Meant To Be tour, plus working on the theatre show Biding Time (Remix) as it wends its way round Scotland, London and Brighton.

His band El Hombre Trajeado, in which he plays bass alongside RM Hubbert, Jones's older brother Ben - a professor of psychology at Glasgow University - and Stef Sinclair, have recently reconvened after a long hiatus ahead of an appearance at the East End Social in Glasgow.

Add to that his countless collaborations with such free-thinking musicians as Jer Reid and Aby Vulliamy, and membership of Rude Pravo alongside artists Cara Tolmie and Luke Fowler, and you might surmise that the 35-year-old barely has time to sleep let alone drink a bottle of beer on a Tuesday night.

And that's without more than a cursory nod to the source of much of his bread and butter - sound design and production for drama organisations such as the National Theatre of Scotland and Grid Iron.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Jones has written, produced and mixed an album of spellbinding yet somewhat uncategorisable music performed by himself and a dozen or so others under the name Sound Of Yell. Brocken Spectre is due to be released this autumn on Chemikal Underground, and curious listeners will have their appetites whetted at the CCA in Glasgow on Thursday, May 27. When I press him for a summary of the album's contents - which to these ears draw on and politely bastardise elements of folk, jazz and acoustic psychedelia - he thinks long and hard. "I'd say there's a merging of a few currents in the music world in Glasgow - intricacy, unexpected twists and turns..."

There's a lushness throughout, I suggest. Rarely have acoustic instruments sounded better. "Sure," he says. "It's very textured, and there's an attention to detail. In terms of influences, I hear as much of the people playing on the record, the groups they play with and the people I work with as an engineer and a producer - the One Ensemble, National Bedtime, Rude Pravo, Jer and Aby. I find myself more influenced by the individuals I collaborate with than anything else."

Among those musicians fleshing out Jones's arrangements are Alex Neilson of Trembling Bells, whom Jones credits as playing a galvanising role, Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson - with whom he has played in various Bill Wells-related groups - and Alasdair Roberts, who regularly employs Jones on tour and on record. All three and more will appear at the CCA in a line-up Jones doubts will grace a stage again due to scheduling conflicts (already missing from the album's cast are Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and sound artist Kim Moore). "I don't think I could get that collection of people on the road for a fortnight," he says with a smile. "I'm not going to tour with nine or 10 people so there'll be a SWAT team - a trio or a quartet - that can play shows."

Wisely, Jones chose a holiday destination from his youth as the title for the project. "It's somewhere I went as a child. It was an amazing place. I was amused by the name then and continue to be. It also suggests some sort of free noise band" - he laughs - "which I like, because the music has a delicacy the name doesn't suggest."

Sound Of Yell play CCA, Glasgow, on Thursday May 27 at 8pm.

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