Ever since making waves with their debut album ‘Thefakesoundofprogress’ in 2000, Welsh rockers Lostprophets have never really been away. Whether it’s a fervent fanbase or just the quality of their material, the Pontypridd sextet are always in the UK’s musical spotlight. Their new album, ‘Weapons’, is chockfull of the trademark anthemic sound we’ve come to know, and the band themselves show no signs of letting up. Mudkiss caught up with guitarist Mike Lewis before a sold out show at the Manchester Academy.
OLIVER: You’ve been around for 15 years, surviving musical trends such as nu-metal and emo, why do you think you have had such longevity as a band?
MIKE: A couple of reasons, I think. I think the main one is we do it for us and we do it because we love what we do. We didn’t start a band for any other reason than we love music, when we started we never thought we’d be this big band or that we gonna make money or we never thought about being famous, or any of that shit. It was literally just, we were from a small town in South Wales and we love music, so were all mates who just got together to make music, to play gigs. And I think that, through everything else, over the past fifteen years, that’s the one thing that still kind of holds true – that we do it because we love it. That’s the main reason really, you know, there’s other bands that might come out this year now and it’s like “alright, cool, but what’s big now? Dubstep’s big now, alright cool, well we’ll start a dubstep band”, but that fad will go, you know? Whereas if you come out and you do what you believe in and you’re doing what you love then I think you’ll always stick around.
OLIVER: So you signed with Fearless Records, are you still with Visible Noise in the UK? What does the new label mean for the band?
MIKE: Our contract ran out with Visible Noise, so we’re signed to Epic in the UK and everywhere else in the world, apart from the US, so we’ve just signed to Fearless in the US. They were just really excited about it, and the guys at the label have been long-time fans of the band. So, they started talking to us about it, it was the same relationship we had with Visible Noise, they never had any money, they never had anything else but [label owner] Julie loved the band, so it was like her passion that almost meant more than a big label’s money at that point. So, when Fearless came to us, we felt it was almost like Fearless had the same attitude and they were just really, really excited about it, so we thought “we’ll give it a go!” We signed to Epic in the UK, basically, cos they had a deal with Visible Noise, so it just kind of got passed on to them for another two albums after out deal with Visible Noise ran out.
OLIVER: 'And At the Drive-In' is on Fearless, so that helps.
MIKE: Yeah, exactly. Well, they were!
OLIVER: Yeah, they were! So, the new album and single, Bring ‘Em Down, have got more of a positive vibe, was that conscious after [last album] The Betrayed, which was a bit more cynical?
MIKE: Erm, I don’t think it was so much of a conscious thing, I think it was more just the vibe the band was in. When we went into The Betrayed, when we were writing that, everyone was in a very kind of cynical, negative mindset, so that just naturally came out in the music. When we started writing 'Weapons', that had kind of passed, so we went into it with no preconceptions of what it was going to sound like or what we wanted the lyrical content to be about it was just let everything naturally happen. That’s what kind of came out. We literally just let it all evolve naturally without thinking about it, when we went in and did Liberation Frequency, we were like “cool, we’re gonna make a pop record” and then when we went in and did The Betrayed we said “let’s do a heavier, darker record” but with Weapons it’s just: “Let’s see what happens”.
OLIVER: So with that in mind, what were you influenced by on this record?
MIKE: There was no real set kind of music influence, it was literally, like I say, when we first started writing, we rented a house in Norfolk and it was literally just us jamming, let’s just see what comes out, there was no, like, “this record’s cool, this record’s like that”, and we’ve done that in the past. I remember when we were writing stuff on 'Fakesoundofprogress' and when we were writing stuff on Start Something, it was like “let’s write a song like this”, or whatever, but on this one it was more like, we were in this house all day in Norfolk and we would just jam all day, whatever, “that riff’s cool”, or whatever. It was very just let everything kind of happen naturally.
OLIVER: You’ll be playing the Warped Tour this summer, are you excited?
MIKE: Yeah, definitely – we’ve never done it, twelve years of us touring and we’ve never done it, so when we got offered to do it – there’s been many times in the past when we’ve been offered to do it but it hasn’t worked out because of scheduling stuff or for other reasons, but this time it worked out, especially with us signing to Fearless, it seemed like a no brainer.
OLIVER: Before Lostprophets, you were in Public Disturbance; do you still have any ties with hardcore punk?
MIKE: Yeah, I still listen to a lot of those old records, even newer bands and stuff. I still look back on that time with a lot of fond memories, we had a lot of good times in that band. It’s funny – that band was going for about four years or three years and I think we probably played a grand total of about twenty five shows – so useless. But yeah, I still listen to a lot of that old stuff and still love it. I still go to see bands, some of my buddies are in some hardcore bands and stuff in South Wales, so I still go and see them.
OLIVER: Any names?
MIKE: Crossbreaker – they’re good, they’re a great band. There’s a couple of other bands, that we’re not friends with right now, like Bastions who are really cool. So yeah, I still love it.
OLIVER: In another interview I read, there were pictures of your room and on the bookcase, I spotted some [American novelist Charles] Bukowski and Henry Rollins books, are you much of a reader?
MIKE: Bukowski’s one of my favourite authors! Yeah, 'Ham On Rye’s' one of my favourite books of all time.
OLIVER: It’s one of mine as well.
MIKE: Yeah, such a good book. I love that stuff, love Jack Kerouac as well, all of that kind of pulp stuff. George Orwell, all that kind of business. It helps to kill time on tour.
OLIVER: Your clothing line, Dead Heroes, how did that come about?
MIKE: I got asked to do that with two of my mates. Two of my mates were thinking about doing it for ages and they came to me like “do you wanna do it?”, so I said “yeah, why not?” So, I came up with some designs and took it from there really. I dunno what we’re doing at the moment, might put some t-shirts out for the summer in a couple of weeks. We don’t take it seriously, it’s just a bit of fun and something else to be creative with. Like I say it’s just with two of my mates, we have a laugh – something else to pass the time really.
OLIVER: Ok thanks, Mike, anything else you’d like to say?
MIKE: Erm...thanks [laughs].