Ian Watkins (vocals)
Mike Lewis (guitarist)
Lee Gaze (guitarist)
Mike Chiplin (drums)
Stuart Richardson (bass)
Jamie Oliver (keyboards,turntables,and back-up vocals)
The Fake Sound of Progress (2000 - original version)
The Fake Sound of Progress (2001 - remixed)
Start Something (2004)
They were the town freaks, the dark-eyed punk tribe with the twitching limbs, the devil's own haircuts and the thick black crosses on the back of their hands. They only came out after dark and not to drink themselves braindead in the pubs or beat each other's brains out in the nightclubs of Pontypridd like normal, healthy young lads. Instead they'd gather late at night in dark rooms and make clamorous, infernal, incredible noises. They called themselves Lostprophets, this cult of tattoo'd misfits, but no local priests ever arrived to save them. It's only in a place like this that the Lostprophets – the UK's most incendiary, explosive, melodic and ground-breaking punk metal band since the Manics – could thrive: in the last outpost of South Wales civilisation before you get to "hillbillyville, the deep valleys and Tom Jones", under the terrified glare of the small town small minded. They were familiar faces around the Cardiff sattelite town of Pontypridd; they grew up a few doors from each other, attended the same schools, formed teenage bands to play Metallica and Police covers and spent their endless summers hanging out together, drooling over Duran Duran and Annihilator records with equal passion.
It was Ian Watkins and Mike Lewis that broke out of Pontypridd first. Aged 16 they formed a hardcore band called Public Disturbance (with Watkins on drums) and hit the stinking metal grimeholes of Britain on a mission to napalm the hoary old UK rock scene unrecognisable. They returned disheartened by the fact that the hoary old UK rock scene didn't much fancy being napalmed, cheers, and vowed to create a whole new electro-metal beast that'd stomp rock to mincemeat beneath its mighty heel. They would be the Lostprophets and they would preach a savage salvation.
For that, they'd need their old mates Lee Gaze and Mike Chiplin on board. And seeing as though neither of them could sing, Ian crept from behind his drum-kit, pulled on his bouncing shorts and became the world's most reluctant rock superstar-in-waiting.
"I don't really like being a frontman," he admits, stroking his cheek with a hand marked with a thick black cross. "I like singing and making up melodies but I hate performing. It's a pain in the arse. You're the focal point and you've got to think of all the witty remarks. I like playing drums because you can go there and fuck everything else, just play."
Lostprophets' life was charmed from the start. From their inception in late 1997 they scorched the Cardiff pub circuit with their raw concoction of frenetic breakbeats, flamethrower riffage and the kind of ace tunes that rock thought it'd been allergic to for the previous fifteen years. Their first demo received a 10/10 review in Metal Hammer and landed them a slot at a Kerrang! live show, where the head of the Visible Noise label cornered them demanding a single release. The band responded by hiding out in Frontlines demo studio in Caerphilly (where their new bassist Stuart Richardson worked) for the entirity of 1999, writing around 40 songs and avoiding the evils of bad booze like the plague.
"We hated going out to clubs," says Ian, "we don't like sport, we're not big drinkers so we didn't go to pubs. That was our social life. We'd go up there every night, hang out, play Playstation, jam a bit, record a bit, mess around, experiment with breakbeats and keyboards."
They emerged in February 2000 with a new demo 'The Fake Sound Of Progress' and Visible Noise landed on them like a Serengeti tiger on a wounded gazelle. In two weeks that July the Prophets recorded their astounding debut album 'Thefakesoundofprogress', a vitriolic nu rock masterpiece that swerved between spitting bile at the small town hypocrites and backbiters on 'Kobrakai' and 'Still Laughing', pouring scorn on a music scene full of rehash merchants on the title track and reminiscing over long hot youthful summers spent playing video games in chip shops on 'Ode To Summer' and 'Shinobi VS Dragon Ninja'.
With nu metal eating America and winking suggestively in the direction of Britain, here was a defiant UK roar in response, a visceral and thoroughly modern statement that