"We're lucky that we genuinely like writing pop songs," says Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins, "but we also grew up loving metal and loving rock, so we can combine those things without 'selling out,' so to speak, or losing any integrity. We didn't write a record for anybody else. We still write songs for ourselves without trying to predict what people will like. With every album we do, we focus more on songs and hooks. I love writing the catchiest thing I can think of."
Ian and Mike's bandmates include Lee Gaze (guitar), Stuart Richardson (bass) and Jamie Oliver (keyboards, programming).
According to Ian, the music of Lostprophets carries a "running theme of fighting apathy that comes from personal experience. We don't want any filler. We approach every song as if it was going to be a single. Every song is like a filet with no fat and no gristle."
Liberation Transmission premieres 12 new songs -- including "Everyday Combat," "A Town Called Hypocrisy," "The New Transmission," and "Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)" (the album's first single) -- drawn from a wide range of influences. "New wave, Bay Area thrash metal, arena rock, hipster bands like Interpol, all the pop stuff, Black Flag," Ian enumerates. "It comes from everywhere. We just love music."
According to Mike Lewis -- who first met Ian when the two were grade-schoolers -- the guys in the group "really are a bunch of friends doing what we love. Somebody will come up with a riff or a chord structure or some idea and everybody will work together."
During the album's pre-production in Los Angeles, the group began kicking around ideas for a producer. "We'd met with a couple of people," says Mike, "but none of them blew us away. When we were writing this album, we felt like this is the time to really make our mark. We wanted somebody who was going to be really into it and have as much of a passion about it as we did. We were thinking of big albums that meant a lot to us."
One of those records was Metallica's 1991 self-titled "black album." "Bob Rock's name came from that," says Mike. The group flew to Rock's fabled studios in Maui to hone their songs for Liberation Transmission.
"We're still kind of hungry," Ian admits. "We worked all hours. Working with Bob was amazing, but also a challenge at the same time. He's like a hard-assed drill sergeant. When he's training you, you think he's an asshole, but when you're actually in combat, that training will save your life. We came out with a much stronger record for it."
Lostprophets have come a long way since the band's early rumblings a decade ago in the tiny Welsh town of Pontypridd. "I'm grateful for where I come from," says Mike, "because it instilled such goals and drive in me. It's a typically British-Welsh working class town where there's a real danger of never leaving."
"We all grew up together," Ian remembers. "We went to school together. We are our own circle of friends. I've had this circle starting when I was five. We were the alternative kids in our town. Everybody started bands and lost interest. We didn't."
The future Lostprophets signed to Visible Noise, an independent label in the UK, and made their first album, The Fake Sound of Progress, over the course of a week in 2000, for the cost of roughly $4,000.00.
"In the beginning," Ian recalls, "nobody cared, nobody gave a s***. We were just the band that people actually wanted to see, rather than the band the magazines were telling them they wanted to see."
They toured incessantly through 2000-2001 and experienced a transformative breakthrough moment at the 2001 Reading Festival, where -- without the benefit of TV, radio or press support -- they created pure audience pandemonium on the second stage. The rabid fanbase they'd developed showed up en masse at the gig, tearing down the riot barriers and generating an authentic grassroots buzz. In 2004, Lostprophets played the main stage at the Reading Festival.
Signing with Columbia Records in the US, Lostprophets re-tooled The Fake Sound of Progress for release in October 2001. The album's successor, 2004's Start Something debuted at #5 on the UK charts and reached #33 on the Billboard Top 200, achieving RIAA gold record status.
"We've always had a theme of doing what you want and making the most of your life and not being tied down to things you don't want to do," says Mike Lewis. "Follow your dreams has always been the band's message."
"Liberation doesn't necessarily mean liberation from a repressive government," Ian offers. "It can be liberation from a repressive mentality that's keeping you down, liberation from the conditioning that leads you to believe you can no longer achieve your dreams. Liberation Transmission is the transmission of the idea that you can be liberated from whatever's keeping you down so you're moving onward or moving forward to some kind of happy goal."