In an exclusive interview RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with guitar hero and founder member Mike Lewis – with nothing off limits.
Be sure to catch the boys in Birmingham tonight – or check them out in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle and Cardiff in the next few days.
And you can read a review of Weapons here http://rushonrock.com/2012/04/01/reviews-new-music-73/
rushonrock: How are you feeling now that Weapons is finally out there?
Mike Lewis: I’m really excited to be honest. When you write a record it’s release always seem such a long way off. We spent most of last year writing and recording Weapons and we couldn’t wait for the fans to finally hear it. I’d had it on my iPhone for a while and I tried to listen to it as a fan to gauge how good it was. I felt pretty happy with what we’d done and it got to the point where I wanted everyone else to hear it. Everyone in the band was pumped when they heard the finished album and the reaction across the board has reflected that.
rushonrock: Do you have a sounding board outsie the band before an album is released?
ML: We go to certain friends and family even during the writing process. If I’m in the house writing a sing I’ll often run it by my wife and she’ll let me know exactly what she thinks of it! She’s pretty honest – if it’s shit she’ll tell me it’s shit. But it’s important to get the opinion of people you trust. It can’t always be a friend though – a lot of the time they don’t want to hurt your feelings and are too afraid to tell you the truth!
rushonrock: Do your fans have a preconception of what a Lostprophets record should sound like?
ML: I think some of our fans actually expect – and want – a bit of a surprise. I say that but then there are some who will be exactly the opposite. I’m sure there’s a tonne of fans who would like us to write another thefakesound… or Start Something. I think, by now, they know we don’t stick to any tried and tested formula. In actual fact I think Weapons is closest to Start Something. But that wasn’t a conscious decision – it’s just something that happened. Maybe Weapons will be a little surprising to some of our fans as we’ve gone back, in places, to an older Lostprophets sound. Perhaps people expected a poppier album? It’s tough when you’ve got a few albums under your belt. Everyone has their favourites and some fans will be asking where’s the old Lostprophets while others will want to know why we don’t diversify even more. You can’t please everyone but then that shouldn’t be why you’re in a band. Ultimately we have to please ourselves first and foremost. It’s an old cliché but we do what we want to do – we write the music and we decide where we’re going.
rushonrock: What’s behind the album title?
ML: It’s kind of ambiguous in a sense. When we came up with it we did talk about the title for some time as we know it’s a strong statement and people will have their own ideas about what it means or what we’re trying to say. But of course it can mean a lot of things. We didn’t want to stick any guns or anything like that on the cover – that’s not what we’re about. But we liked the strong title and we liked the ambiguity. We want people to make their own minds up.
rushonrock: Is there a concern some people might take it too literally?
ML: If anyone thought that it was about a weapon simply as an instrument of violence we would want to put them right. But we can’t sensor things too much and wouldn’t want other people to sensor our work. I don’t think people would look at the title simply in those terms. I hope not.
rushonrock: Was Weapons a straightforward record to make?
ML: It went quite well. It was a pretty enjoyable album to make. Everybody in the band was felling pretty creative and inspired when it came to writing Weapons. We just got together and didn’t over-think things. We didn’t go into the process thinking about what songs we should be doing or what songs we wanted to write. We just let the record progress naturally and take its own course. It was a very relaxed way to do things. We didn’t try to force anything or try to be what we’re not. We just waited to see what was coming out of the writing and it turned out to be great. We got it done pretty quickly – 90% of the record was completed in a month and we spent the next six months on the final 10% just tweaking things and changing bits! Towards the end of making any album is when, as a band, we have the most arguments!
rushonrock: How do you manage the dual role as dad and guitarist in one of the biggest rock bands in the world?
ML: I have to be honest – it’s a little bit tough. When you’re 23 or 24 and you don’t have any responsibilities and you go on tour you don’t really care about going home at that point. When you’re away with your mates for six months at a time it’s no big deal – it’s just like one long lads’ holiday. Now there’s a need to balance it a little bit more. The good thing is that right now the majority of the band is in the same boat with young families – four of us are dads now so there’s that mutual understanding. Everybody realises that you can’t go away for two or three months without going home. It’s just not practical. We try to break things up a little bit now as best we can – maybe six weeks on the road and then a couple of weeks at home. I have a little girl and of course I miss her. She’s two-and-a-half and growing up all the time. But things balance themselves out. Last year we made the record in LA and I was at home all year. I saw her more last year than most dads would see their kids in five years. But this year I’ll see less of her because we’re touring the new record. What that means is that I’m much more focused when I’m with the band and the other guys are the same. If we’re going to be away from our families then we might as well make that time count and do the best job we can. We work our arses off so we can enjoy the down time.
rushonrock: Your first concert was a gig by US blues metal band Tesla who once supported Def Leppard – do you still follow them?
ML: I have to say I don’t. Maybe I should. Edison’s Medicine was – and still is – one of my favourite records of all time. I must have been about 13 when I saw them but at that point I wasn’t a huge fan. It was just a chance to go to a first rock gig and I went with Ian. We had a couple of older mates who were going and I remember we were very, very excited about it. It was about six months later that I saw the first live gig that really blew me away though – that was Megadeth and Pantera!