“We are up against it, always were, always will be…”
Welsh rockers Lostprophets are hell-bent on proving a point; especially since their last album, 2010’s The Betrayed, didn’t do as well as expected – even if it received praise from critics and the band backed it in its artistic sense.
So, why did people struggle to get into it, even if it was a good album? “That’s the million dollar question. Who knows?” says drummer Luke Johnson. “It could be blamed on record sales, the financial depression, record labels, or people just not liking it. It’s an album that the band is very proud of, and during the cycle for Weapons, a lot of press are quoting it as a ‘misfire’ in the Lostprophets catalogue; this is certainly not how we view it.”
“The Betrayed made it to #3 in the UK charts. I don’t see that as any kind of failure, particularly when you bear in mind that it was released in a predominantly pop/R&B/hip-hop market. There were no other alternative artists in the top 20 at the time, and, coincidently, this is exactly the same as it is right now with Weapons. We were the only band in the UK top 20 with guitars on their record that week! We are up against it, always were, always will be.”
Lostprophets Raising the Middle Finger
Immediately noticeable on the new album, Weapons, is the positive vibe with a real rebel swagger. It almost feels like it’s the band’s musical middle finger to all those who doubted them.
“Absolutely. Not many bands make it to album #5 these days. The heart in this band has been beating stronger and stronger every album. We are a tight unit, a unit that has been slaying for over 10 years, [and] this is how we wish to continue,” says Luke [Johnson, drummer].
So, in a sense, Weapons symbolises the work of a band which is free from the music industry bullshit, and just touring and writing for the love of labour – right?
“I don’t feel like Lostprophets is a band that has ever been held for ransom on creativity by labels, deadlines or management,” Luke declares. “There is a very [strong] punk ethos that runs through us. If something doesn’t sound right, it’s not going on the record. If the record is not good enough, it’s not going to be put out. This was clear with the previous record, The Betrayed. All music written is, and has been, for the love of music, and the love of creating; otherwise, we wouldn’t do it. In respect to being liberated, the previous record was so hard to finish. This time, there was more of a fun vibe, and the making of the record was easier. I still wouldn’t say it was easy – there were many bumps along the ride – but, in general, it was a really pleasurable experience.”
Arguably, the biggest strength of Weapons is that it’s the closest sounding album to 2004’s Start Something – still a huge fan favourite to this day.
“I don’t think there was a conscious decision to return to the older sound,” Luke affirms. “I’d say there was more of an effort to write a record, which encompassed some of the more crucial elements that have given us the notoriety over the years; almost like starting all over again – or more like the beginning of ‘Chapter 2’. I believe Weapons is still an evolved album. It has a little something from all the eras of Lostprophets, and, in addition to that, a side that has not yet been heard.”
Another interesting talking point is that Weapons was produced by Ken Andrews and not Lostprophets bassist Stuart Richardson, who handled the production duties on The Betrayed with Justin Hopfer.
“Stuart was actually the main reason for going with Ken. He is a huge fan of Failure [Ken’s previous band], so we took some meetings with Ken and it just felt right. The previous three albums had been done with big Hollywood producers [The John Feldmann version of The Betrayed was scrapped and then re-recorded with Stuart], so this time we decided that we didn’t need to be told what to do, we’ve already done it ourselves before. We wanted to collaborate with someone; almost have a temporary seventh member to bounce ideas off of. Someone who was not as attached to ideas as we were. Ken was perfect for this – not to mention his skills in making the record sound sonically awesome.”
With their target locked and loaded on America, Lostprophets seem intent on really cracking the US market this time around, having signed a deal with Fearless Records to release Weapons.
“I’ve always hated the term ‘cracking the US market‘. It’s always the goal you hear people striving for, but it’s faceless. It’s so hard to define what cracking the market is. Selling millions? Obviously, that would be nice, but let’s be realistic: we’re going over there to play to our loyal fans who have stuck with us through thick and thin and hopefully along the way we’ll pick up more and more new fans as we move along. There is no finish line for us. We didn’t start to finish. There is only the journey we’re on, and as long as we can tour America without losing money hand over fist, we will always get our hands dirty, regardless of whether we’re playing to 150 or 15 000. We are proud of what we do,” Luke says. “We are really happy to be signed to Fearless; they have a very similar vision to us. After all, it’s been seven years since the band played a show in the USA. This was never meant to happen; that’s just what happens when you take your hand off the steering wheel and your eyes off the road.”
Naturally, America isn’t going to be the only place on their agenda, so which other places would Luke love to visit?
“Many. We really want to tour South America, which is looking more and more realistic by the day. I’d love to do shows in China, more of Eastern Europe, India, everywhere! If we can make it work, we will. We have a very busy album cycle ahead of us.”
Uh…I think you forgot to mention South Africa, Luke!