With less than a fortnight before Wales’ very own Lostprophets play their biggest Dublin headline show to date, Goldenplec met up with singer Ian Watkins for a chat on why he’s only listening to hip-hop, how Lostprophets are ready to be the biggest band in the world and what we can expect from their next album ‘Weapons’.
When writing an album, would you have predetermined goals for what you want to achieve with the album, or is it a case of – sit down, write some songs and see what comes out of it?
Usually we would, whereas this (Weapons) is the first album where we didn’t have any ideas. It felt like we got everything out on ‘The Betrayed’ and it was starting afresh. We’ll write some songs and see what happens. Let the chips fall where they may and it was very much left up to self form and show where it was going.
After a decade and a half, how do you keep it fresh?
It’s weird, we all still like writing music. When we’re all together, we’re all 15 again. Writing the same way we always did.
It’s funny you say 15 again, I was listening to thefakesoundofprogress preparing for this interview and it made me feel very young, and old and nostalgic at the same time.
It’s bonkers, I still vividly remember doing that like it was yesterday.
“Bring Em Down” was one of the two songs that have come out from the new album, they’re pretty heavy with huge choruses. Would you say they represent what ‘Weapons’ is about overall?
No. . .
So you’re misleading everybody?
Yeah they’re probably the hardest songs on the record. There’s a couple of rowdy ones but a lot of mid-tempo, big, Hybrid Theory era songs. That kind of golden era of big American rock type vibe mixed in. It’s weird, it’s the first time we didn’t plan. It just came together.
And is there more rapping on the album? Because that’s something new. That surprised me when I heard it.
Yeah that was kind of it, I had it in my head how it would go.
In your head you wanted to rap on one song on the album?
It was more that I had the lyrics in staccato, and thought I can’t do that. We’ll have to get somebody to do it, but then I was like, well fuck it I’ll try it and just did it in a more angry sort of megaphone thing and it didn’t seem as bad. I could listen to it and be thinking it fit the song, it fit the chant, the rally call type thing.
In the video for ‘Bring Em Down’, did you actually headbutt that woman?
Yeah… No, I didn’t. it was all like depth of field. I was thinking that though, does she really want me to do this? I’m sure there was another bit where I punched her supposedly, but she pushed me over on a chair, you know what I mean? It’s a good video.
What would you say your favourite video is that you’ve done?
“End of the World” I always used to love, “For He’s A Jolly Good Felon”, that was cool. At the moment this one, I could watch again, and again and again and the CGI is really good in it aswell. I’m always worried when video people talk about post-production. You don’t want it to be Doctor Who. It doesn’t matter how good everything else looks, you’ve ruined it.
And how do you keep it fresh playing this many gigs after such a long length of time?
I think it’s that you’re always playing to someone new. There’s always someone there who hasn’t seen you before and that excitement of “Man, you’ve never heard this song before” fuels you. I guess it’s just fun hanging out with your friends playing music.
How much, if any, attention do you pay to reviews of your music?
I pay attention to them. I mean I don’t let it affect my sleep cos it’s all objective. Ultimately reviewers don’t buy records. It’s nice when you get a good review, when somebody likes what you’ve done. Of course it is and when somebody doesn’t it’s a bit like, meh.
How do you feel about the iTunes model of people picking and choosing songs from your albums. Would you prefer to have them listened to as a whole piece?
Yeah I do, I mean we write the album as an album. Always have and I think we always will. You know that’s the mentality we come from where it’s a start and a finish. We write the intro, we’ve had all these interludes like it’s a journey, you know what I mean? As long as people are listening to something off it and appreciate it somehow. Even if they’re not paying for it, if they’re coming to shows, you know what I mean. They’re still supporting us somehow. They’re still coming and being involved in an experience.
Is there a song by another band that you wish you had written? Or thought, it’s such a simple idea and then hitting yourself for not thinking of it first?
I get it all the time, I can’t remember what the last one was. I think it was “Bad Girls” by M.I.A.
Are there any new artists you’re listening to?
Mostly just hip-hop stuff like Yelawolf.
That’s interesting because your older albums are more hip-hop influenced, they’re more laid back with funkier drums but then the new stuff is more up front aggressive.
At the moment that’s all I listen to. Machine Gun Kelly and this guy called Macklemore. Just all this new wave of up and coming hip-hop from America. The Odd Future stuff, Goblin and the thing he did with Pusha T, the Trouble on my Mind song. It’s just stuff like that. That’s the only thing that’s interesting, doing something a bit different. You get all that bullshit like diamonds, tits and ass though.
The bling hip-hop?
Yeah, but the Yelawolf record ‘Trunkmusic’, I thought was fucking amazing, really, really good.
So you’re stranded on a desert island, you’re allowed bring 3 albums, what would they be?
Antrax “Persistence of Time”, Duran Duran “Decade” and Yelawolf “Trunk Muzik”.
Who would be your favourite band you’ve ever toured with?
I don’t know. Touring with Metallica, having James Hetfield walk into the dressing room was just frightening. You just wanna leave because you don’t want to say something stupid. It’s like the longer I’m in this room the more chance I’ll have to embarrass myself. They were cool man. Especially for a band that’s so big.
They’ve been going for such a long time. Is that something you hope Lostprophets will aspire to?
That’s who we always took our cues from, bands like Metallica and the Chili Peppers even. They took four records just messing around with socks on cocks and who’d have thought they’d turn into a world international rock band.
There is a parallel there of changing styles over albums. Would you be comfortable say with a band like Kings of Leon, they got massive on their fourth album but they did it naturally. Is that something you’d like to happen to lostprophets? Where you have the widespread appeal that means you can headline the likes of Slane Castle.
Yeah. I think if we manage to get to it we would manage to keep it. You know that’s the problem with a lot of these bands, they can’t. They seem to get there but then drop the ball. We would keep it.
Well you aren’t new to this, you’ve been doing it a long time and you seem ready for it.
I genuinely believe we still have the best songs yet to come.
Lostprophets’ fifth studio album ‘Weapons’ is released today – Monday 2nd April and tickets are still available for their Olympia show on Sunday April 15th.