By Brendan Hitchens
With successes often comes criticism and for some reason peoples’ right to openly question the motives of a band. Welsh six-piece, Lostprophets are not immune, having been dealt their fair share of criticism over the years, from being tagged as a boy band, labelled as Wales’s version of Limp Bizcuit and branded sell outs for signing with a major label. But as turntablist Jamie Oliver, (not to be confused with his naked chef namesake) points out, ‘in a way it’s flattering.’
‘In my opinion selling records means that people like your band and want to listen to your band,’ starts Oliver, somewhat passionately. ‘They can call us anything in the world while they’re sitting on the Internet and they don’t need a job,’ he continues, referring to the furuore created on the bands website. ‘It just bugs me a little bit, because they’ll say sellouts but we are doing what we love doing. We don’t do it for the money, we do it for the music and I know that sounds so cliché but that’s why we are doing it. So if that offends people then fuck them cause they don’t really have a clue.’
The band’s decision to have members of Good Charlotte contribute guest vocals on the new album also stirred controversy, with many people claiming the band capitalised on Good Charlotte’s profile to increase record sales. ‘It makes me laugh, because people think it’s a preconceived idea, a little ploy to sell records, they were there and we needed voices, it’s as simple as that.’
Recently in Australia, for The Big Day Out, as well as to promote their brand new record, ‘Start Something’s, Oliver admits that he was shocked with the Australian crowds reaction to the band. ‘Every show we’ve played has blown my mind; because this is the first time we’ve ever been to Australia. The crowds have been amazing at every show we’ve done. We didn’t expect that so many people firstly knew about us but then would actually take the time to show up to the shows.’
It’s also refreshing to hear that even members of one of the UK’s biggest bands, can still get star struck. ‘James Hetfield of Metalicca came and watched one of our shows in Sydney and then came back to our room,’ boasts Oliver, with a youthful enthusiasm. ‘We were just like kid fans, in awe of the god that is James Hetfield,’ he laughs. ‘I mean he was so cool, so down to earth and relaxed and made us feel comfortable. He couldn’t have gone up much higher but he’s gone up to that of a God like status now.’
With the bands style being labelled as everything from post-hardcore to emo to nu-metal, Jamie admits that not being able to easily classify the band’s sound is a complement to their uniqueness. ‘The difficulty that people have pinning the sound down is cool because it means we are obviously not a bandwagon band, we’re developing our own niche. Our influences don’t come from contemporary bands all that much anyway. We take more influence from the bands that we fell in love with as we were growing up,’ reveals Oliver, in particular reference to Duran Duran; the band that Lostprophets not only got their name for, but also covered for a b-side.
In today’s current music climate, where recordings are experimenting in retro and low fi production, Lostprophets and producer Eric Valentine (Queens Of The Stone Age), discarded the musical convention and opted for a sound reminiscent of their childhood heroes. A sound achieved, with the help of a considerable recording budget. ‘We just got the chance to make it big; we wanted to do a big record, an ambitious record with vision. We wanted to make a record that sounded like the records we grew up listening to. The big sorta black albums, like Guns and Roses. So if people don’t like this record then I don’t think they’ll ever like us and that sense of black and white is a comforting thing to us.’
The band’s new album, ‘Start Something’, boasting the single Burn Burn, has already made its descent on the rock charts, along with rave reviews from worldwide media. Following on from 2000’s critically acclaimed ‘The Fake Sound Of Progress’, ‘Start Something’ is a distinct improvement in the bands sound, which Oliver warrants to the band’s non-stop tour schedule. ‘After four years of constant touring we’ve become better musicians and we’ve got a better understanding of songwriting,’ begins Oliver predictably. ‘We had a lot more time to develop the songs before we recorded them and we had a lot more time to perfect everything.
We did all the things we would have wanted to do on the first album, cause we have the support from the label and we had the time to actually get it done.’ Signing with Sony also gave the band a greater confidence in achieving the sound they were after, which was something they were unable to do with their debut album. ‘We knocked out the first record in a week for £4,000 and we didn’t have the ability or the know how to do all the things we wanted to do. I mean, we still love the record but it was just never designed to last three years of scrutiny.’
After completing their brief tour of Australia, the band will head to America where they will have their work cut out in trying to match the high octane unrestrained intensity of support band The Bronx. ‘Start Something’ is out now through Sony.
By Brendan Hitchens