Lostprophets biography

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Lostprophets

Last updated: 26 November 2013

Valleys-born rock sensations, plucked from obscurity on the British underground punk-rock circuit by the American record industry. Lostprophets split in 2013 following singer Ian Watkins' arrest for a string of sexual offences, to which he later pleaded guilty.

While their peers were, in the words of frontman Ian Watkins, discovering chart music, fighting, and kebabs, these six young men were swearing off drink and drugs, and immersing themselves in the underground culture of the British hardcore scene.

The band itself emerged from the ashes of Public Disturbance - a punk band that featured future Lostprophets members Ian Watkins on drums and Mike Lewis on guitar. With Watkins giving up the drums and taking up the microphone, and fellow Ponty schoolkids Lee Gaze (guitar) and Mike Chiplin (drums) joining the line-up, an embryonic incarnation of Lostprophets had coalesced by the end of 1997.

These girls can listen to the Backstreet Boys and have some brainless message or they can listen to us and at least have something positive or vaguely intellectual in their heads.

Ian Watkins

Early shows saw the band taking their diverse influences - thrash titans Anthrax, anthemic metallers Faith No More, and new-wave romantics Duran Duran - and forming them into a aggressive, melodic, but totally coherent whole.

British metal mags Kerrang! and Metal Hammer came on board immediately, heralding the band as one of Britain's first truly credible homegrown nu-metal acts. On the strength of a four track demo recorded with new bassist Stuart Richardson and vocalist/DJ Jamie Oliver, Lostprophets signed to London independent label Visible Noise in the summer of 1999, and headed into a Caerphilly studio to record their first album, Thefakesoundofprogress.

Released in November 2000, it was an immediate underground success - and by 2001, Lostprophets were effectively circumventing the British music industry, their independent album dipping in and out of the Top 100 on virtually no promotion beyond word-of-mouth. Gigs across the country sold out, attended by a fanbase brought up on Limp Bizkit, but eager to find heroes playing a sweaty stage somewhere near them.

For a few short months, Lostprophets were the best-kept secret in British rock music. And then, attracted by the buzz in a handful of credible transatlantic punk fanzines, the music industry came calling.

A trickle of emails from intrigued American record companies gradually escalated into a full-scale bidding war, which saw Lostprophets courted by some of the music industry's biggest hitters.

Picked up by Q-Prime, the management company that handles Metallica, they finally negotiated an American contract with Columbia in the summer of 2001 while remaining on Visible Noise throughout Europe. Their debut album was remixed by Metallica producer Michael Barbiero for the American market, and re-released in November 2001.

The inevitable backlash found some corners of the media condemning the Prophets as a nu-metal boy band, cruising through on their looks alone. Others still branded them as hopelessly arrogant fashion victims.

The band responded to criticism the way they knew best, hitting the road for support slots with bands as diverse as Linkin Park, Run DMC, and Pitchshifter, and blowing the headlining Andrew WK offstage on the NME Carling Premier tour that toured the nation in early 2002.

Critics that claimed the band were nothing more than nu-metal bandwagon jumpers were confounded by a cover of Duran Duran's A View To A Kill, which appeared on the bands March single, The Fake Sound Of Progress. The single charted at 21, confirming the band as a household name in Britain.

For the rest of 2002, the band turned their sights to the elusive American market, hitting the freeway with bands like The Apex Theory, Andrew WK, and Columbia labelmates Quarashi - although they returned to Britain over the summer for prestigious slots and the Ozzfest and Deconstruction festivals, two of the bands biggest shows to date.

Lostprophets disappeared from the scene throughout much of 2003, concentrating on writing and recording the follow-up album. Amid rumours of writers' block, they pulled out of their scheduled appearances at the Reading and Leeds festivals.

A new single, Burn Burn, was released in November, and reached number 17. The follow-up, Last Train Home, did much better, marking the band's first top 10 placing by getting to number eight in February 2004.

The long-awaited second album, Start Something, was released in the same month, and successfully propelled the band into the big time.

The set sold 2.5 million copies around the world, driven by the huge radio and TV hit Last Train Home. They broke through in America and played countless festivals around the world, including a triumphant appearance at the Carling Weekend Reading and Leeds festivals in 2004.

In 2005, founder member Mike Chiplin left the band, and was replaced by American Ilan Rubin, who played on their third long player, 2006's Liberation Transmission.

It had success, but possibly not as much as the band or their label wanted, despite being driven by anthemic pop rock singles Rooftops and Can't Catch Tomorrow. In 2009, the band abandoned sessions with legendary producer Bob Rock, separated from Sony and became self-produced with Stuart Richardson taking to the desk.

Ilan Rubin left the band to join Nine Inch Nails, after the album's recording. The set, entitled The Betrayed, was described by the band as being darker than their recent material. On its release in January 2010 it went top five yet again.

In December 2012 Ian Watkins was arrested and charged for a string of sexual offences. In October the following year, as he awaited trial, Lostprophets formally announced their split.

Writing on their Facebook page, they said: "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"

On 26 November Watkins pleaded guilty to a series of child sex offences including attempted rape of a baby. He had previously "furiously denied" the allegations.

Watkins pleaded guilty to attempted rape and sexual assault of a child under 13 but not guilty to rape. This was accepted by the prosecution. Prosecuting barrister Chris Clee QC told the court: "He accepts he was a determined and committed paedophile."


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