Interview – BBC Radio 1 Wales 2006
Author: James McLaren @ BBC Radio 1 Wales
Date: 27th June 2006
Link: BBC Radio 1
The Lostprophets trio on writing huge rock anthems, the freedom of success and how they’ve changed since Fake Sound Of Progress.
James McLaren: Are you going for the huge, all-conquering rock sound on Liberation Transmission?
Jamie Oliver: “We’re writing for interplanetary success! We just thought it’d be a laugh to have a crack. We did the crazy, scatty ‘here’s some hardcore, here’s some jazz’ thing on the first album. On the second record we tried to write ‘songs’ and for this is one we’re developing again. Maybe on the next record we’ll start with monkey noises!
“I think it’s harder to write big rock songs; it’s a challenge. We pretty much asked how do you do that? How do we do the best songs that we can do? How can we do a song that is so timeless, isn’t any specific genre, and isn’t in a fashion that’s going to come in and out? How do you do songs that are going to stick in people’s heads? That’s pretty much the challenge that we set out to tackle.”
Stuart Richardson: “Were we? I was just having a laugh! I was just writing big riffs and going for the big rock sound! Is this good or bad? Good, right, next! We were conscious about trying to write better songs than last time. We definitely weren’t doing anything to cut off our noses, but not contrived either.”
JMcL: Was there a freedom with having a successful second album that you could take your time doing it?
SR: “I’d say this album took as long as the second one, maybe less. We lost our drummer, and that set us back a couple of months.
JO: “We wanted to get it done quicker than it actually took in the end. It happened to be roughly the same length of time as the last one. We kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that this is how long it takes us.”
SR: “From the inception to when the album hits the shelf is a year.”
JO: “There’s a lot of reasons for that – having the songs, writing the variety of songs, living with the songs for long enough and having the freedom to change them if and when you feel they needs it. I dread to think what would happen if we went in and wrote for a month and then that was going to be the album!
“Some of the ideas were there from being on the road for Start Something, but usually we wipe the slate clean though. It’s always a worry that if you start writing songs on the road a year ago that when you record the song and it comes out, two and a half years have passed.”
SR: “Rooftops was written on the road, and so was Everybody’s Screaming!!!”
The Lostprophets trio on recording with Bob Rock, choosing singles and what to do with tracks that don’t make the album.
James McLaren: Bob Rock has worked with Bon Jovi, Metallica, Motley Crue, Skid Row and many other huge bands. What did he to the recording process?
Jamie Oliver: “By going with Bob Rock you know what you’re getting; you don’t go to Bob Rock if you want scuzzy guitars and an indie sound. He said that from the offset – whatever this album’s going to sound like, it’s going to sound huge.”
Stuart Richardson: “I remember arguing with him at one point and said, can we make that guitar sound scruffier? And he was like, ‘Why? I’m Bob Rock!’ He said, ‘if you wanna do that, go and record in your attic or something!’”
JO: The biggest thing that Bob brought to the record was the trimming down process. We wrote 35, 40 songs for this record and they were diverse. I think what Bob did was take the stronger songs and pull them all together to make a much more coherent record.”
“In the past, we’ve been a bit guilty of, ‘ooh let’s do a song a bit like this, or like that’ and nobody can really identify who we are or what we’re about. He wanted to produce a record which you could press play at any point in the record and know it’s the same band.”
JMcL: Is there a definite plan to move from rock radio in America to Top 40?
JO: “We held off going to Top 40 radio in America for the last album, because we wanted to try and maintain a good solid fanbase. People are even more temperamental in the States than they are over here; they’ll support a band and go to the show and then forget about them next month!
“So we wanted to be more like the bands who could go on tour because ultimately we want to be touring band you know – we want to go and play these venues and have a consistent turn out. That’s the environment we love to be in and that’s where our strength is I think. I think this time around, there are songs that could maybe cross over but then it’s not the focus. We still have to get a really good fanbase in the US anyway, but there are songs on here which are more likely to go top 40.”
JMcL: Have you thought about what singles might come off the album?
JO: “We haven’t thought about singles too much yet. We’ve had a bit of feedback from people around us. It’s nice now because when the record’s out, if there’s something we think should be a single then suddenly we get all this feedback from everyone else that there’s another song that’s better, then we’ll go that way. I’d rather we worked that way…”
SR: “We’re not going to stick by our guns going no, no, no!”
JO: “We don’t claim to have a crystal ball on these things!”
SR: “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!”
JO: “You never know what might happen. Maybe someone will pick up on another song. In the US, they just pick up on songs off the record and play them, and sometimes it catches fire. We’d be stupid to ignore feedback, know what I mean?”
JMcL: It’s a pretty short album, so were you adhering to the rule that an album should be short and direct?
SR: “Yeah, I wanted 10 tracks not 12! In and out! When you’re in pre-production, you just see what songs blossom, they make themselves obvious. We sat down for a week with Bob and he sat there and for the first time we had an outside opinion on your songs. That’s when we really started realising which ones are good and which ones are bad, because you’ll be playing a song, thinking this is awesome and he’s like…” and Stuart proceeds to make a strange raspberry-gargling noise.
SR:“All the songs we wrote are going to be b-sides in their super-rough, demo format. I think it’s cool because then people get to hear what we sound like before met Bob Rock and where we were. We’ll always give demos of the songs in their original format. If we don’t release them, we’ll put them on MySpace.”
The Lostprophets trio on getting Welsh bands on the road with them.
At this point lead singer Ian Watkins wanders into the room as we’re discussing his American-twang stage talk (“It’s not being American, it’s trying to have no accent at all,” explains Stuart. “We just try being eloquent, otherwise it’s garbled and no-one can understand it!”). He seems happy and pumped up. “Can I join in?” he asks.
James McLaren: You’re taking a lot of Welsh bands out on the road with you in the UK. Why was that and whose idea was it?
Jamie Oliver and Stuart Richardson: “Him!” they say in unison, pointing to Ian.
Ian Watkins: “Yeah, it was me. We’re taking out The Blackout, Dopamine, Kids In Glass Houses, The Guns and Covergirl. We couldn’t think of anyone else to take out! Nah, we know all those bands and we’re all friends with them. There are a lot of cool bands in the UK and they’re at that level where they’re just getting there.
“They’re bordering on some success and recognition, like The Blackout are doing a one-off single with Fierce Panda, which is where Muse, Coldplay and Hundred Reasons started y’know? I just think they’re good bands who deserve a shot. It’s not like we’re going to baby them and mollycoddle them, but if they get a shot, what they do with it then is up to them.”
In 2003, Lostprophets had Douglas and Funeral For A Friend support them at the Newport Centre. Funeral grasped such opportunities with both hands. It’s to be hoped that the bands under Lostprophets’ wings can do the same. Liberation Transmission could make Lostprophets one of the world’s biggest rock bands, but you get the impression that an interest in the Welsh grassroots will remain.