Here he reacts to this week’s inevitable news that one of British metal’s brightest young bands have finally opted to call time on an ultimately unfulfilled career.
On Tuesday 1st October 2013, a piece of inevitable rock news broke. It wasn’t shocking and it most certainly was overdue. Welsh rock band Lostprophets announced their official break up with the following announcement:
To our fans:
After nearly a year of coming to terms with our heartache, we finally feel ready to announce publicly what we have thought privately for some time. We can no longer continue making or performing music as Lostprophets. Your love and support over the past 15 years has been tremendous, and we’ll be forever grateful for all you’ve given us. As we look forward to the next phase of our lives, we can only hope to be surrounded by people as devoted and inspiring as you guys have been.
Jamie, Lee, Luke, Mike, and Stu
It’s always hard to say goodbye to bands that you grew up listening to. Some generations have never truly had to bid farewell to their rock heroes yet. Rolling Stones and AC/DC continue to pack out stadiums worldwide. Ozzy still makes appearances on stage from time to time. Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Journey et all are still kicking too. Lostprophets didn’t make it into the same bracket as these guys, no arguments there. But to a certain generation, the boys from Pontypridd provided the soundtrack to those oh-so-troubled teenage years.
One of my personal favourite guitar intros hails from Lostprophets debut album, Fake Sound Of Progress, on the electric quick Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja and should be considered as an all-time great. If I recollect hard enough, I can still hear the strains of Last Summer, We Are Godzilla, You Are Japan and Last Train Home blaring from my sister’s room, while I rushed to finish off some last minute piece of homework.
Whereas the aforementioned bands have never had to change their style, LP have always moved with the times. Growing up with the same fans that packed out leisure centres, town halls and student unions around the country, the band’s sound transformed over time. Moving from nu-metal and post grunge to soft rock and perhaps the contemporary genre of emo before swinging back to hard rock, in time Lostprophets didn’t need to shout and scream to make themselves heard.
Listening to the band’s third album, Liberation Transmission after sophomore effort Start Something was astonishing. Every band occasionally tries their hand at something completely new, but the difference was astounding. The album was without doubt the most commercial, pushing the band into the general public’s consciousness with catchy pop rock singles like 4:am Forever and Rooftops. The album even hit number one in the UK charts, with the band featuring heavily on Radio 1 and music channels alike. Talking to other fans about the change of direction, it became clear Liberation… divided fans and opinion alike.
Coincidently, ‘divided opinion’ could have been an accurate pseudonym for the band. Rock loyalists have never had much respect for bands like Lostprophets, never fitting neatly into one genre and lead singer Ian Watkins had his detractors way before his current shameful status.
The last two albums released signaled yet another turn of pace, with the boys moving closer to their heavy rock roots of Start Something and a more grown up sound. The Betrayed and Weapons added atmospheric and stadium rock songs to their already expansive back catalogue. Where We Belong, Bring ‘Em Down and It’s Not The End Of The World entered the UK charts in weak positions, but the bands popularity hardly waned, selling out venues up and down the country and an increasing fan-base in the states showed commercial success doesn’t always matter.
I covered the band a number of times for rushonrock.com and commented on just how professional and slick the latter tours came across. United and focused. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Behind the scenes something was amiss and Lostprophets exploded into the public eye one more time. Some serious allegations and a subsequent arrest of lead man Ian Watkins, spelt the devastating end of a 16 year career together.
This is not a piece to comment on the actions of one man, but a retrospective look at arguably one of Britain’s finest rock bands. The fallout from the controversy has been horrendous for the rest of the band. Certain fans have long since turned their backs on the music that inspired a whole batch of Welsh rock bands. Youtube videos are littered with sinister comments and many an IPod have now been wiped clear of any Lostprophets tracks in disgust.
It’s a shame such talented guitarists such as Lee Gaze and Mike Lewis will now be burdened with starting afresh, when they had everything. Over 3.5 million album sales, fans in the USA and Japan and a lifetime of memories isn’t a bad haul for 16 years, but it could have been more. Regardless of the outcome of Watkins trial, the band could never have continued under such a cloud of controversy.
So fans such as myself are left with a lack of closure. There will be no encores. No farewell tour. No greatest hits album and no reunion tour. The announcement may not have been shocking, but in just a few short sentences, a stark reality finally hit home. Lostprophets have no future, but boy did they have a past.
“Always so hard to say goodbye, And we all sit round here in our home town, It’s so good like this, these are times we’ll miss, The memories, I hope will never fade…” Lostprophets