lostprophets is a Welsh alternative metal band.
Early Years (1997-2000)
The band formed in the town of Pontypridd near Cardiff in 1997. It formed with the breakup of Public Disturbance featuring Ian Watkins on drums and guitarist Mike Lewis. With Watkins taking over vocal duties, the band recruited guitarist Mike Chiplin and guitarist Lee Gaze. The band was named after a Duran Duran bootleg tape. Early variations on the spelling of the band's name included Lozt Prophetz, before the band finally settled on its current incarnation - all one word, all in lower case.
lostprophets started out as part of the fledgling South Wales hardcore scene, playing gigs at venues across South Wales, including T.J.'s in Newport (allegedly where Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love). From there, they went on to conduct tours on the UK's toilet circuit.
The band released several early demos, on which they experimented with their sound extensively. Their first known recording, Here Comes The Party, featured ska-like brass instrumentation on some tracks, as well as the novelty of frontman Ian Watkins rapping. As the band refined their sound, the rapping was quickly abandoned, though a strong hip-hop influence remains evident in the band's sound.
One of their early demos caught the eyes of Kerrang! magazine who offered them a gig in London. Independent label Visible Noise then offered them the opportunity to record a single. The band spent most of 1999 working on new material with Stuart Richardson, who had joined the band as a bass player.
The Fake Sound of Progress (2000-2002)
In February 2000, they signed up to do an album with Visible Noise to put out their first album The Fake Sound of Progress in July. They built up a strong live following with support slots to popular acts as Linkin Park, Deftones and Taproot as well as good concerts as headliners. Jamie Oliver (not the chef) also joined the band as a turntablist. The record drew on a wide range of influences, no doubt at least partially inspired by Refused's seminal final album The Shape of Punk to Come, which was released the year before the band began working on material for their debut album. As the band went on to achieve greater success, an incorrectly labeled mp3 attributing Refused's New Noise single to lostprophets began circulating on peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Napster.
The album caught the attention of N Prime management, who represent such acts as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica. The band was then courted by virtually all of America's major labels, enjoying meals at top class restaurants and, bizarrely, a gift of $1000 worth of pornography. Eventually, the band chose to sign with Columbia, a division of Sony Records, though in the UK their records continue to be released through Visible Noise.
At their new label's request, the band entered a New York studio with renowned producer Michael Barbiero to re-record their Visible Noise debut. The retooled version of The Fake Sound of Progress was released in October 2001. It propelled the band to previously unimaginable levels of success, but at the same time divided much of the band's existing fan base, whilst also polarizing the opinion of others in the metal and rock communities who were discovering the band for the first time. Some saw them as the future of British music; others saw them as a "safe", corporate band, while accusations of selling out began being hurled at the band from the underground music scene within which they achieved their first success.
Like most artists who break out of as insular a scene as the hardcore scene of South Wales, the band suffered a backlash from fans. The backlash against lostprophets was particularly severe; they were labelled everything from sellouts to a manufactured boy band. As the touring cycle for a set of songs that loyal fans first heard in 1999 became longer and longer, so the animosity against the band grew and grew. Their brash, outspoken interviews often added fuel to the fire, though they did also endear the band to many fans, and helped them shrug off the boy band rumours that plagued them for a number of years. Such rumours were no doubt exacerbated by the bands policy regarding interviews; they'll give an interview for any publication but never hide their true personalities behind a corporate rock star facade. This resulted in the band conducting interviews with such credibility-sapping magazines as J-17 and Cosmo Girl.
The extreme reactions to the band were best displayed as the anti-lostprophets backlash and their rising fame collided head-on at the 2001 Uxfest festival in London. lostprophets headlined over a bill consisting almost entirely of "underground" rock acts. Although lostprophets had attracted more fans to the event than the other bands on the bill, those that weren't there because of them could best be described as being there in spite of them. Throughout their set, lostprophets were bombarded with bottles and other items from the crowd, but despite this they finished their entire set and managed to avoid being "bottled off". In the next issue of Kerrang! magazine, several crowd members where interviewed. Almost all identified themselves as being decidedly anti-lostprophets, but remarked that they were impressed that the band managed to weather a hostile crowd and complete their planned performance. Although this event boosted the band's tumbling credibility within the alternative music scene that spawned them, it would not be enough to completely quiet the bands detractors however.
Despite the negative responses to the band's new corporate paymasters from many fans, the following years saw lostprophets achieve a meteoric rise to success. They found themselves in many previously unimaginable situations, such as touring with the Ozzfest heavy metal extravaganza, playing at Glastonbury and the Reading and Leeds Festival, appearing on a bizarre array of British TV shows, including Top of the Pops, CD:UK and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. They also performed as part of the 2002 NME Awards tour, underneath headliner Andrew W.K.. Andrew W.K. had been hailed by magazines like NME and Kerrang! as a saviour of rock music, but despite the hype, at many shows as many as two thirds of the crowd left immediately following lostprophets performance. The band found themselves in other bizarre situations, such as discovering that fashion designer Donatello Versace's child was a fan of their music, and subsequently being invited to her home and give a free shopping spree in the Versace store.
Despite achieving only modest commercial success with The Fake Sound of Progress (though this was vastly beyond the initial expectations for an album originally recorded on an independent UK label), the band's influence became far reaching. Their strong sense of style (which was part of the basis for the boy band rumours, as many falsely believed the band were being groomed by a record company-appointed stylist) noticeably influenced fashion in the UK. Stores such as TopMan and H&M began selling clothing that was markedly similar to those worn by lostprophets. Multi-platinum selling nu metal band Limp Bizkit briefly imitated the band, spelling their name all in one lowercase word for a short time (limpbizkit).
Start Something (2003-2004)
After the extensive touring cycle for The Fake Sound of Progress finally ended, the band took a brief break, before beginning the process of writing new material at Frontline Studios in Caerphilly, Wales. They then entered L.A.'s Bigfoot Studio for a recording process that lasted from March until September of 2003, with producer Eric Valentine. Valentine had previously produced albums for Queens of the Stone Age and Good Charlotte.
The first most fans heard from the album was the song "Burn Burn", the music video for which began receiving heavy rotation on satellite channels like MTV2, Kerrang! TV and Scuzz in the UK. The song attracted some criticism however, as the opening bore a striking to resemblance to "Mother Mary", a song from commercially unsuccessful but critically hailed emo band Far's seminal Water and Solutions album. The band themselves even conceded in interviews that the singing pattern bore an inadvertent but undeniable similarity to the Adamski song "Killers".
The single was released on November 3, 2003, and was originally scheduled to be closely followed by the release of the album. However, the release of the album was delayed several times, and demo versions of many songs leaked onto peer-to-peer file sharing networks. A headlining tour of the UK, set to an include an appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festival, was also postponed during this time, prompting much speculation to the validity of Ian Watkins' somewhat hyperbolic assertion in a Kerrang! magazine interview that, in regards to the quality of Start Something, "no-one can touch us".
Those doubting lostprophet's ability to "the produce the goods" with the second album were largely those same people who had formed part of the backlash to the band's initial success. The accusations of "selling out" that had long plagued the band were directly addressed on the "Burn Burn" B-side, with the song "Our Broken Hearts (Theme from Top Gun 2)" featuring the repeated line "if there's a way that you could be everything you want to be, would you complain that it came to you to easily?", along with many other statements aimed at their detractors.
The band eventually rescheduled the previously cancelled UK shows, with the exception of their scheduled appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, stating in magazine interviews that honouring those commitments would've meant leaving the recording studio while the album was still only half completed, and booking extra studio time to make up the time spent touring the UK would've cost thousands of dollars.
The album was finally released in the UK on February 2, 2004. It opened with the track "We Still Kill The Old Way", a bold statement of intent. As the band confirmed in interviews, the name and concept of the album, much like the "Our Broken Hearts" B-side, was addressing apathy. Compared to The Fake Sound of Progress, the commercial success achieved by the album was phenomenal, peaking at #4 in the UK album chart. The critical response from mainstream magazines was overwhelmingly positive, though the response from rock publications like Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Rock Sound that had been following the band's ascension for a number of years was decidedly tepid.
To promote the album, they toured North America, Europe and, as part of the Big Day Out festival, Australia.
The second single to be released was "Last Train Home". It was a number one song on US rock radio stations for a number of weeks. The band refused to release the accompanying music video to MTV's Total Request Live however, realising it could seriously damage their credibility among serious American rock fans, and thus make it harder for the band to establish a long-lasting career and loyal international fanbase. Similarly, the band had a dispute with their record label over what would be chosen as the third release from the record. Both lostprophets and their N Prime management wanted the dark, brooding "Make A Move"; the label wanted the poppier, catchier "I Don't Know". The band and their management walked away victorious from this battle of wills however, and the song was released as a single with the modified title "Wake Up (Make A Move)".
The touring cycle for the record culminated in the bands biggest headlining show to date; on November 21, 2004, lostprophets sold-out the cavernous Cardiff International Arena, providing beyond all doubt the band have truly established themselves as part of rock's premier league.
On June 20th 2005, founding member Mike Chiplin left the group to “pursue other musical opportunities".
Currently the remaining members are working on material for the next album, with a view for a release sometime in 2006. Due to the lengthy gap between The Fake Sound of Progress and Start Something, and the backlash that grew against the band because of it, lostprophets have repeatedly stated in interviews that they want to release a third full-length as quickly as possible, though it's not yet known how the departure of Mike Chiplin will affect this goal.
It has been rumoured on several lostprophets fansites that lead vocalist, Watkins would take on the role of drummer as well as lead vocals for the recording of the band's third album, whilst continuing the search for the replacement for departed drummer, Chiplin.
Ian Watkins (vocals),
Mike Lewis (guitarist),
Lee Gaze (guitarist),
Stuart Richardson (bass),
Jamie Oliver (keyboards, turntables, and back-up vocals).
Mike Chiplin (drums) (Quit Band June 20, 2005).