Past Participle, Future Perfect
Music - Rock
+ Aug 4, 2006 at 6:12pm
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"Part of where you're going is knowing where you're coming from."
So says Lostprophets front man Ian Watkins on "For All These Times Son, For All These Times," from his band's third and latest album, Liberation Transmission. The Welsh-born fivesome could call themselves experts on the validity of the saying, having become symbols of big sound and big bravado in modern rock while ironic remaining the same small-town kids at heart.
"We all grew up together, we all went to the same school, and we were the only circle of friends we had," says Watkins. "We weren't into sports or getting drunk on the weekends which is what the majority of people do in small towns. They work for the weekend and then on the weekend they get wasted to try and forget about everything. We wanted more than that."
Finding their own escape from the small town mentality, Watkins says of growing up with his band mates, "We immersed ourselves in music and we were obsessed with music." And soon enough, Watkins, along with guitarists Lee Gaze and Mike Lewis, keyboardist Jamie Oliver and bassist Stu Richardson, would take a more serious path of music as a career, something far removed from what was expected of them.
"For some reason, we just never gave up on it," Watkins says of his hobby-turned-profession. "Everybody's in a band at some point but I think a lot of people reach a point where they think, 'Ok, time to move on,' and they go on to do normal stuff but we never really did. We've kind of got a normal life around the idea of being in a band."
While those around the band may have been more content to settle into complacency and accept whatever the hand of fate may have dealt, Watkins and his band were set on a bigger goal. "We just wanted to get out and see more of the world," he says of their initial motivation. But soon enough, their unique brand of aggressive rock, coated with prog artfulness and filled with emotional intensity, would catch on enough for the band to start exploring the rest of that massive world they were yearning for.
While they could have easily settled into complacency there as well, meeting one goal meant setting a bigger one to work for, a theme that the band has taken through all three of their albums and a mantra they still adhere to today. "I like to think that I'll never be satisfied," Watkins says, adding, "Our goal has always been to reach as many people as we can, so you always keep moving the goal post."
The making of Liberation Transmission also proved to be another testament to the band's desire to continue to grow and improve themselves. "It was more collaborative with everyone," says Watkins of the songwriting process. "Everybody really stepped up to the plate and nobody was afraid to put their ideas forward. With [drummer Mike Chiplin] leaving, I think it brought the remaining members closer."
Richardson expands on this, saying, "The biggest thing with this record was that we weren't afraid to step on each other's toes and we weren't afraid to piss each other off, which, ultimately, was for the benefit of the songs. In the past, we'd held back a bit, we didn't want to upset anybody, this time everybody was honest."
"We looked at every song as if it was the only song we had," says Watkins. "There's a little more of a punk vibe with more pop sensibility," which he colorfully simplifies into adjective form as "crazy delicious."
The album is indeed a departure from the band's last two efforts, which this new approach could arguably have helped accomplish, but Watkins knows that's not what people always want to hear. "It's weird, there are some songs on there that sound like the
first album but then there are some songs that sound light years away from anything we've ever done," he says.
"When we write records, we don't think about anybody else. Maybe that's the wrong thing to do but all we think about is whether we like the songs or not. The first record was awesome, I can see why people like it but if we kept rehashing that record, then it wouldn't mean anything anymore. Fake Sound of Progress and Start Something were at those times being honest and this record is us now."
Luckily for Lostprophets and rock in general, they still haven't lost their love of defying norms, cultural or musical, and pigeonholes. While Start Something served as a sort of call to arms in their war against social apathy, Transmission is them actually taking to the battlefield.
"It's liberating yourself from anything you're unhappy with. Whether it's a relationship or a job or a state of mind, you've got to change it," Watkins explains of the album's message. "So many people just settle and they're afraid of change. Like, you've been in a relationship for so long that you're afraid of not having it but a lot of times you feel liberated and wish you'd done it sooner. I think
that idea carries through a lot of the songs on the record."
Writing the album proved to be a cathartic process for Watkins as well, saying, "A lot of the lyrics are about stuff I've been through and that was liberating for me to write."
While professing a parentally equal love for all the tracks on the album, he does take specific pride in some. "There are songs like "4:AM Forever" and "Always All Ways" which are about the feelings of coming out of a long term relationship that I wanted to address," he says. "It was hard. You feel kind of cheesy writing it, but I was like, fuck it, I don't want to be afraid of being cheesy. I like the fact that I did address those issues, I'm proud I had the balls to do it."
Finding the strength to embrace their collective pasts for all their rights and wrongs, Watkins shows that his band is very aware of where they come from and are nothing if not empowered by it. On "Rooftops," the album's lead single, he asks rhetorically if he and his fellow "liberators" will make their mark, and the members of Lostprophets can rest assured that whether or not they become rock icons, their commitment to their integrity is leaving a lasting impression in an even more meaningful way.
Assistant: Paul Mocey-Hanton
Equipment List: Nikon D2X, Profoto 7b