Ian Watkins - Vocal:
Born in Hawaii, the young Ian was a child prodigy, he invented many household items we today take for granted at the tender age of 5, such as the kitchen, the knife, the blanket and the soda stream.
Later he became interested in Formula One and was lucky enough to have Nigel Mansell tutor him in the ways of the wheel. After a few seasons and trophies, Ian left on a high to follow his tennis dream. Fate was to intervene though, and he was snapped up by Alexander McQueen's sister to be the world's most voodoo supermodel. This didn't last long, hookers and blow became a real drag and being a socialite lord, was getting too much. The Bourgeoise needed a frim leathery slap across the face, but what form would this leather gauntlet take? After a splendid dreame one warm summer night, Ian realized the method of this new revolution...Music. Ian wasted no time and called upon his lifelong chumms in the CIA, MI5 SAS and USMC Black Ops, and they all formed the collective now known as Lostprophets. The rest is unfolding as we speak. Little is known about the real meaning behind their work, but for now we can just enjoy the handsome sounds of their labors.
Lee Gaze - Guitar:
Guitarist Lee Gaze is one of the key musical forces behind the band -- the lead guitar hero that stands at the helm of most Lostprophets standards. Born in Pontypridd, the son of a mechanic, he grew up listening to his dad's records -- albums by bands like Joy Division, The Police, and The Cure. There was never really any doubt that music would be the vocation of the young Mr. Gaze. "I went to school, went to college and stuff -- I did a media studies course, but I never finished it. But I always wanted to be in a band, really. It was all I was into, music, I was obsessed." His first instrument was a second-hand drumkit. "But I couldn't really play it in the house, it was too loud," he remembers. "So I grabbed a guitar instead."
Lee formed his first band, Aftermath, with Ian Watkins back in 1990. "Ian was like, thirteen, fourteen. I was, like, seventeen. We were full-on thrash metal, influenced by Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica...all that stuff. There's a live video, actually, with me and Ian with hair right down our backs! It's definitely kicking around somewhere within our circle of friends."
One of the band's key motivators, Lee is the sort to spend long nights in the studio. "Me and Ian work well as a team, I think -- we've been together thirteen years, you know? We've never not been in the same band since we've started, and I think we've got the same vision of what we want to do. A lot of times out in LA, after a long day, most of the band would go back to the apartment.
But sometimes me and Ian would stay back, and sit in the living room with Eric [Valentine, producer], and I'd be like, 'Look, I've go this riff' and we'd build some ideas."
A keen fan of local bands on the South Wales punk and hardcore scene, Lee is still a frequent face at shows. "I've been to a show every night this week! There's good bands everywhere right now...you can go to pretty much any gig and you're guaranteed to see some good local support. There's a lot of bands doing well for themselves down here -- Hondo MacLean, Funeral for a Friend, and all that. I don't know if the scene is this good all over the country, I've been too busy to go and see! But there definitely seems to be something going on down here."
Lee hasn't drunk alcohol in six years, although he denies the label straight-edge, suggesting his take on abstinence is more a personal preference than any "cool" stance. He does admit to one temptation, though: "Red Bull is my vice! We used to be endorsed by them, so whenever we used to be heading off on tour, Julie from our label used to pack some crates of it into our van. We used to drink it for breakfast, we'd get thorugh six a day each. Which is just wrong."
Mike Chilplin - Drummer:
Lostprophets' father figure, towering sticksman Mike Chiplin is the only member of the band to hail from outside the Welsh valleys. Although born and brought up in Cardiff, Mike moved a couple times in his early teens -- a spell that ended when his father, an ex-steelworker, found his calling as a priest and settled in his new ward of Pontypridd. Mike admits he was not immediately sold by what his new home had to offer: "Pontypridd was the last place I wanted to live on the face of the planet. Driving through it compared to driving through Cardiff, it put me and my brother off straight away. But as soon as we went to some of the places, met some of the people, it was OK. And you know, it can't have been that bad, because I've just bought a house here."
Mike had cut his rock teeth on albums by the likes of Iron Maiden, Anthrax, and Metallica. But it quickly became evident that Pontypridd had a thriving rock scene of its very own. He became a dedicated fan of a local band called Fleshbind, and when two of the band's members, Ian Watkins and Lee Gaze, started playing in a band called Public Disturbance, he started hanging out with them.
At the time, though, being in a band still seemed like a pretty far-flung idea -- especially considering Mike had recently become a dad for the first time. As usual, in Lostprophets, fate played a decisive hand. "I'd just quid playing guitar," Mike explains. "I'd made the decision I wanted to play the drums. And I'd bought the drumkit. And pretty much before I'd even picked up the sticks, I was asked if I wanted to be in this new band. At which point I said yes, please! Went to a practice, thought I'd failed miserably. But three nights later, I was invited down to another one."
A father to two sons and a daughter, Mike admits that the long periods spent on the road with Lostprophets is a strain. "It can make it very hard. But it can also push me to play even better. Because if I play well, this could be my job for life, and it could take my kids to good places as well."
Out of responsibility, Mike has eased off on the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. "I've given up drinking and smoking," he admits. "I had fun on the Ozzfest, drunk all the time. But I thought, 'I could do this, have a blast, and not really live that long. Or I could knock it on the head, still have a good time -- because I don't need the beer to enjoy myself -- and know that I've got a good chance of being around for my kids."
And luckily, too, the kids are Lostprophets fans in the making. "My eldest, he's actually even been on stage with us. He came on to be with his uncle -- Ian's his uncle, you see. Ian introduced him to the crowd, he was a little bit shy, so everyone said hello to him. He loved it. But he wants a set of drums now." And does Dad recommend the drummer's path? "Absolutely. Whatever he wants to do. I'll have to have a word with Premier, see if they can make him up a kiddie's drumkit for this Christmas. Who knows. He might be lucky."
Mike Lewis - Rhythm Guitar:
As rhythm guitarist, Mike Lewis weighs in as the robust background of the Lostprophets sound. "Me and Lee are doing this classic lead-rhythm guitar thing that's been absent for a long time," he explains. "It's like all the thrash bands back in the day we used to listen to. It's a classic formula, and nobody does that anymore. So we're bringing that back."
Mike grew up in Pontypridd. He and Ian first met at the age of five in nursery school, and gradually fell in with other future members of Lostprophets throughout his teenage years. "You know how moshers all stick together when they were young," he explains. "I met Lee when I was, like, thirteen, when he formed a band with Ian. I met Jamie through a friend I used to go out skateboarding with. It was just all like that, really."
A keen skateboarder, the four-wheeled pursuits took up his early teens: "I was alright, actually. I reached my peak when I was about eighteen. But it was then that I realized that you had to give 100% if you wanted to get any better. You've got to do it every day, otherwise you'll never get any b etter. I still feel the urge to bust my board out."
After an abortive attempt at studying civil engineering ("it was horrible, I did a year and came to one conclusion -- 'I don't want to be a civil engineer'") Mike decided to pledge his life to music, whatever the cost. The genre of hardcore provided a welcome entry-ramp. Inspired by records by Madball, Youth of Today, and Agnostic Front, he formed the "very f---ing heavy" Public Disturbance, an outfit that also boasted Ian on drums. Through contacts in the nascent UK hardcore scene, Mike booked a number of nationwide tours, building up contacts that would later help Lostprophets when they first hit the road. "When the band first started, I was mainly the one that sorted out all the gigs. Phoning up promoters, all that sort of thing -- I was very hands on with that." His induction into Lostprophets, however, was more about happy accident than plotted design. "I only joined Lostprophets just helping them out. They kicked their bass player out, and they didn't have a bass player. So I went down to stand in so they could write new songs in the studio. I learnt all the songs they already had, and then I learnt a bunch of new songs. And it was like, 'Well, there's no point in getting another bass player.'"
Mike is the one member of the band that really identifies with the straight-edge philosophy. "There were many factors that caused me to stop drinking. I was nineteen, maybe, the last time I drank. I was really into hardcore then. Through bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Chain of Strength. I was hearing all these messages about straight edge. But at the same time, I'd been drinking pretty heavily for two years. It came to a head when I got rally drunk one night."
"You know when something just snaps inside you? I feared that I was going to fall into that trap of working five days a week, and drinking all weekend. I didn't want to be like that. I have nothing against other people drinking. But when it comes to me...I despise it."
Jamie Oliver - Keyboards, Stuff:
Although the last member to join the band, entering the fold just before the recording of 'Fake Sound of Progress,' Jamie has always been a close friend and confident of the band. Born in Cilfynydd, a village just outside Pontypridd, he spent his teenage years wandering the streets with a pocket camera, taking snapshots of smalltown life and painting them up on canvas. A gifted artist, Oliver spent his late teens studying on an art foundation course in Trefforest in the day, and playing bass in a number of hardcore bands by night.
In fact, had things turned out slightly different, Jamie could well have been the one holding the microphone in Lostprophets. "Back when they were in a band called Fleshbind, they asked me to sing for them," laughs Jamie. "I was like 'I'd love to, but I've got to go away to university.'"
Jamie went to pursue a degree in Bristol, and had his eyes on a master's course at Cardiff University when his old punk friends -- now called Lostprophets -- suddenly rolled back into his life. "Ian phoned me and he was like 'We're recording this album, but the problem is, none of us have got a car, and we can't get up to Birmingham.' I was the only one with a car, so I gave them a lift up. I went up, we hung out, and I decided to stay for a week. On the way back, it was like, 'Jamie, that was a really good laugh -- you should come on tour with us to take photos!'"
Visible Noise said they couldn't stump up the cash for someone that wasn't in the band, so a quick-thinking Ian responded that, well, actually Jamie was in the band. So a new set of turntables and a week's practice later, Jamie Oliver became the sixth member of Lostprophets.
Mind you, for the new album 'Start Something,' Jamie has packed up the vinyl and turned to the keyboard as his new musical tool. "I'm not exactly Einstein of the keyboard -- I'm not even sure Einstein played keyboard, did he? -- but really, it's less about playing classical piano, and more about using it to trigger samples, things like that."
And almost as importantly, in a band comprised mostly of non-drinkers, Jamie also enjoys the valued position of band drunk. "Even if I just had one beer a week, they'd call me that," he laughs. "That's what you get for playing music in a non-drinking band. But yeah, I'll drink anything in front of me. And let's just say I don't see the point in drinking one pint."
Stuart Richardson - Bass:
Born in Ferndale, a tiny village up the Rhondda Valley a couple of miles from Pontypridd, bassist Stuart Richardson spent the first eighteen years of his life trying to get out. "It's a f---ing sh--hole. I hated it. You know, I think the only reason I didn't get into Oasis and all those bands when I was into school was because everyone I hated liked those bands. It wasn't even a question of the music. It was like, the people in school, I hated them. I wished they'd all drop dead."
Early attempts at becoming a rock star fell pretty flat. "I started playing acoustic guitar when I was six or seven but, after one lesson, I was like 'f--- this.' I couldn't really do it. I'd get it out now and again to pose with it, but that was about it. But then, a few years later, I got into Faith No More, Flea from the Chili Peppers, Iron Maiden -- you know, the bass player from Iron Maiden is pretty cool when you're thirteen. Everyone else I knew played guitar, so I thought I'd pick up a bass. I was in a bunch of bands, but nothing worth mentioning...you know, just sitting around writing songs about Satan, probably. Being thirteen, being down with the devil. And then you grow up and realize what a pr--- you are."
Moving to Pontypridd, Stuart soon fell in wtih Ian and Lee, who were then playing in a band called Fleshbind. "We all used to go to the same clubs in Pontypridd, where you could be under eighteen and still get completely smashed," he remembers. "Terrible places. So we'd go there and hang out in the corner and try and look tough."
Uncertain of his future actually playing rock 'n' roll, Stuart set to work on a music technology course at college. "You know, I was trying to find a job just in case the band didn't work out," he explains. "This way, I could still be in music. So I got into producing. It was a way of ensuring I wouldn't have to get a real job. It was, like, prolong the dream as long as possible, you know?" A New Deal position placed him at Frontline Studios in Caerphilly, where he's recorded bands like Dopamine, Midasuno, Indifference, and When Reason Sleeps. Even now, when Lostprophets get time off, he's committed himself to dropping by the studio and taking control of the desk again. "I was a bit gutted Reading all fell through, but instead, I just threw myself into work. Mind you, with the new record coming out, I probably won't get a chance to do any more recording for the next two years. We hardly ever get any time off, but I'd still really like to do an album for someone."
Stuart joined the Lostprophets fold proper on bass in 2000, a few months before the recording of 'Fake Sound of Progress.' One of the few hard-drinking members of the band, he has flirted with abstinence, but fell off the wagon a couple of years back. "Yeah, I drink like a trooper now. I quit a few years ago. I didn't really know what straight-edge was, but I was listening to Minor Threat and Black Flag. I'd read Get In The Van, and I was like, well, Rollins doesn't need to drink, and he's a cool guy. But you know, I never really did it to be cool. Being straight-edge just to win you scene points...you know, f--- that."
In fact, it's fashion punks that really get Stuart's hackles up. "It's something we always used to get accused of," he spits. "But look, you see all these kids out there nowadays with their scarves on and their Toni and Guy haircuts."
"I went to see some local bands the other day and you now, you might as well just put on a Poison The Well CD and let them mime to it. All they're interested in is busting moves and who can do the craziest guitar twirl around the neck. It's mroe about fashion than the music."
--- from the official Lostprophets website