The band formed in 1997 in the Welsh town of Pontypridd near Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Pontypridd was also the birthplace of Tom Jones. Lostprophets formed with the break-up of Public Disturbance, which featured drummer Ian Watkins and guitarist Mike Lewis. With Watkins taking over vocal duties, the band recruited guitarist Mike Chiplin, who would later take over on drums, and guitarist Lee Gaze. The band is named after a bootleg recording of a 1988 Duran Duran concert in Italy. The name is intended to be spelled out as all one word, all in lower case.
Lostprophets started out as part of the fledgling South Wales hardcore scene, playing gigs at venues across Wales including T.J.'s in Newport. From there, they went on to conduct tours on the UK's toilet circuit.
The band released several early demos, on which they experimented with their sound extensively. Their first known recording, Here Comes The Party, featured ska-like brass instrumentation on some tracks, as well as the novelty of frontman Ian Watkins rapping. As the band refined their sound, the rapping was quickly abandoned, though a strong hip hop influence remains evident in the band's sound.
The band recorded two other demos during this time; Para Todas las Putas Celosas, which translates as "For all the jealous bitches", and The Fake Sound of Progress". Several tracks from their third demo where refined and re-recorded for the release of their debut album of the same name, including the title track and "Moac Supreme" ("A Thousand Apologies"). These are all currently out of print.
The band caught the attention of Kerrang! magazine, and were offered a gig in London. Independent label Visible Noise, subsequently offered an opportunity to record a single. The band spent most of 1999 working on new material with Stuart Richardson, who had joined the band as a bass player.
In February 2000, they signed with Visible Noise. The band's first album thefakesoundofprogress was then released through the label in July. Recorded in less than two weeks for a mere £6000 the record drew on a wide range of influences. Arguably inspired by Refused's final album The Shape of Punk to Come, released the year before Lostprophets began working on material for their debut album. Soon after the album's completion, musician Jamie Oliver joined the band.
thefakesoundofprogress featured many references to 1980s pop-culture. In addition to the Duran Duran reference in the band's name, there was an image of Venger from the Dungeons & Dragons TV series on the album liner notes, as well as song titles like "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja" and "Kobrakai". The first song's title was a reference to the video games Shinobi and Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja, while the second was an alternative spelling of Cobra Kai, the name of the karate dojo in the Karate Kid movies.
Q Prime management, who represent such acts as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica assisted the band in courting America's top major labels. In an interview, the band jokingly remarked that one American showcase gig was so crowded with major label bigwigs that should the venue have been targeted by terrorists, the entire American music industry would have collapsed overnight. Eventually, the band chose to sign with Columbia, a division of Sony Records, though in the UK their records continue to be released through Visible Noise.
The band worked with renowned producer Michael Barbiero to re-record their Visible Noise debut, and the retooled version of thefakesoundofprogress was released in October 2001 and was dedicated to Steve Cookson, a fan who died in a car crash enroute to a Lostprophets gig. The album appears to have divided the band's existing fan base where the first accusations of selling out were levelled at the band from the underground music scene within which they achieved their first success.
During this period, Lostprophets built up a strong live following with support slots to popular acts such as Linkin Park, Deftones and Taproot, as well as several headlining stints of their own. They also took part in the successful Nu-Titans tour with Defenestration among other new UK Metal acts of the time.
Headlining the 2001 Deconstruction festival in London, Lostprophets headlined a bill consisting of underground punk bands, and their appearance allegedly provoked hostility from fans of many of these bands' fans, who were both upset at the fact Lostprophets were headlining.
The band subsequently toured with Ozzfest, played at Glastonbury and the Reading and Leeds Festival. They also appeared on a number of British TV shows, including Top of the Pops, CD:UK and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. They also performed as part of the 2002 NME Awards tour
After the extensive touring cycle for thefakesoundofprogress finally ended, the band took a brief break before beginning the process of writing new material at Frontline Studios in Caerphilly, Wales. They then entered LA's Bigfoot Studio for a recording process that lasted from March until September 2003, with producer Eric Valentine. Valentine had previously produced albums for Queens of the Stone Age and Good Charlotte.
The first most fans heard from the album was the song "Burn Burn", the music video for which began receiving heavy rotation on satellite channels like MTV2, Kerrang! TV and Scuzz in the UK. The song attracted some criticism, however, as the opening bore a striking resemblance to "Mother Mary", a song from the band Far's Water and Solutions album. The band themselves even conceded in interviews that the singing pattern bore an undeniable similarity to the Adamski song "Killer”.
The single was released on November 3, 2003, and was originally scheduled to be closely followed by the release of the album. The release of the album was delayed several times and a headlining tour of the UK, was also postponed during this time. The band rescheduled the cancelled UK shows, with the exception of their scheduled appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, stating in magazine interviews that honouring those commitments would have meant leaving the recording studio while the album was only half completed.
The album was released in the UK on February 2, 2004, and was commercially successful, achieving number four in the UK Albums Chart. The critical response from mainstream magazines was positive, though the response from rock publications such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Rock Sound was tepid.
To promote the album, they toured North America, Europe and, as part of the Big Day Out festival, Australia.
The second single to be released was "Last Train Home". It was a number-one song on US Modern Rock Tracks radio play chart for one week, and reached number eight in the UK charts.
The tour for this record culminated in a sold out show on November 21, 2004, at Cardiff International Arena
The title track song "Start Something" was featured for ads for the 2006 film Annapolis.
On June 19, 2005, founding member Mike Chiplin left the group to pursue other musical opportunities.
The remaining members began working on material for the next album. Due to the lengthy gap between thefakesoundofprogress and Start Something, and the backlash that grew against the band because of it, the remaining band members stated in various interviews that they wanted to release their third album as quickly as possible.
As with Start Something, the band wrote and recorded demo tracks for the album in a UK recording studio before completing the album in America.
Liberation Transmission was recorded in Hawaii, and saw the band work with Bob Rock. Drummer Josh Freese (of The Vandals and A Perfect Circle) joined the band for this album.
In a recent BBC interview, bassist Stuart Richardson stated "We're pretty adamant though that the next single's going to be A Town Called Hypocrisy. As a band, we think that should be the next single. I could be talking out of my rectum again though!". A video for A Town Called Hypocrisy has been released with the single available September 11.
"When I say this album isn't as heavy, I don't mean its not as aggressive, 'cause trust me it is. It will blade you. I would go as far as to say that this new record has the most attitude we have ever put out on CD. The mindset is very similar to thefakesoundofprogress. It's like a perfect mix of both records. The madness of the first, with the hugeness of the second. Full of attitude though, so don't worry too much. There's just not much cheesy heavy shit I guess. It's tough trying to sum it up in words.......really is......” .
The band returned to their roots, playing a series of small venues across South Wales. They also played Give it a Name, a two-day event. These shows featured the first live appearance of 17 year-old Ilan Rubin on drums and the live premiere of songs Rooftops, A Town Called Hypocrisy and The New Transmission.
The album itself was released on June 26th 2006 (June 27th in the USA), and became the first Lostprophets album to reach number one in the UK album chart. The album has seen the band adopt a more contemporary indie sound with far less emphasise on screaming than previous releases (with one exception being opening track Everyday Combat, which features ex-When Reason Sleeps and current The Blackout vocalist Sean Smith). The bands comments in relation to the new album being similar to thefakesoundofprogress are something that have garnered them criticism from long-term fans, with the general consenus being that Liberation Transmission is a far greater departure from the bands origins as a hard rock band than previous offering Start Something. The band have listed The Cure and We Are Scientists as major inspirations for the sound on this album. While some point to this as evidence of the band changing their sound to maximise record sales, others say that the band have never made a secret of their love of popular music, with covers of bands such as Duran Duran and INXS being included as B-sides to some of their earliest singles, and also the fact that the band are named after a bootleg Duran Duran album. Watkins had previously stated that any band can create avant garde music, but it takes real talent to make good pop music that people will actually want to listen to while also staying true to yourself. The bands MySpace page reflects this change in direction, listing the band's genre as Rock/Alternative/New Wave.
Lostprophets began a full-fledged UK tour on July 3rd 2006, adding Everyday Combat, Can't Catch Tomorrow (Good Shoes Won't Save You This Time), Everybody's Screaming!!! and 4:am Forever to the three tracks they previously performed from Liberation Transmission. The band also continue to play To Hell We Ride and Start Something alongside all their previous singles. As with their warm-up gigs prior to the album's release, the band selected South Wales-based support bands for this tour, such as The Guns, The Blackout, Covergirl, Dopamine and Kids in Glass Houses, most of whom found themselves playing to the largest crowds of their careers.
The band will be following this with a full UK tour in November known as the "Liberation- Phase II" tour. The main support for this will be From First To Last with other special guests to be announced.
The band have recently expressed a strong belief that British rock acts are being overlooked by the local press in favour of similar American rock acts.
In raising this issue, the band point to the negative review for their headline show at the Give It a Name 2006 festival in the UK compared to the positive reviews for the commercially successful American co-headliner My Chemical Romance. Some detractors suggest the root cause of this statement to be due to 'bad blood' that seems to have existed between the two bands since they toured the US together in 2004 as part of the Nintendo Fusion Tour, while others expressed disgust at how attention craving and whiny (in their view) the once humble band has become.
The band have also mentioned their frustration with how the British media have ignored their efforts to date, specifically (according to them) their multi-platinum status in the British music scene. Some critics have responded to this by alleging with travesty that this is because the band pays far too much attention towards their looks (in particular the frontman's hairstyle and penchant for designer fashion) and far too little towards their musical prowness and integrity. Other music critics have called the band hypocrites for trying to defend British rock on the one hand and shooting expensive swanky videos in US locations on the other hand.
The band's appearance (and dancing) in their video for A Town Called Hypocrisy seems to be a mocking dismissal of these criticisms. Despite some misgivings, the new album has (for the large part) been welcomed quite cordially by music critics and fans alike. However, its rapid decline from the top of the UK charts suggests the album has been less successful than Start Something, which remained in the UK Top 40 for many months.
Lostprophets may will be winning over many of the cynics, when they picked up two awards at the annual Kerrang! awards. The Welsh rockers carried away the Best British Band award as well as Best Album for Liberation Transmission.