Before Lostprophets kicked off their current UK tour, lead guitarist Lee Gaze expressed his happiness at the band's alternative set-list: "We’ll probably do, like, six or seven songs that we haven’t played in a long time. We’re changing songs that we open with and it’s really exciting for us". However, he did warn that the news might not please everyone, "Some people who are not familiar with maybe some older stuff or some of the more obscure stuff might be a bit bored but we’ve got to keep it more fun for ourselves."
However with rave reviews applauding their combination of much-loved classics and under-rated tracks, Gaze's worries were probably unfounded. With the band set to unearth another commonly neglected song for Warped Tour UK (chosen by fans using a charity text vote), I spoke to Lee Gaze about re-visiting older material, returning to the US touring circuit and what the future holds for Lostprophets.
AJM: You're going to play a rarity during Warped Tour UK to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Obviously it’s for a fantastic charity but are you a bit nervous about playing a lesser known song at such a big show?
LG: That’s a good point really. Yeah, I mean, I guess so but then at the same time, there’s five songs and I think we know our fan base well enough that we can almost predict, at least out of the five songs, one or two that it’ll be, and it’s not likely to be one of the more obscure ones. I think the people that will vote, at least, fingers crossed, will vote for something that’s a bit more well-known I think.
So you spoke about re-visiting older material, and you also played the entirety of ‘Start Something’ earlier in the year in Cardiff, so is [playing older songs] something that you like doing at the moment?
LG: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we played 'I Don’t Know' in rehearsal and I think we’d ditched that song for the longest time and I think it was for the wrong reasons. We released it as a single in the US, which a lot of people don’t know, and we didn’t do it in the UK as it didn’t do very well and I think we were really hard on the song for that reason. “I hate that song, I hate that song”. And then we played it in rehearsal and we were like “This song is really good. It’s a really good song to play. It’s got really good parts and it’s almost like it’s aged really well”. With some songs, over time, they seem to deteriorate because maybe you were younger and a little less mature but that song just seems to have got better over time so that’s one example.
Speaking about the US and playing Warped Tour UK, how do you think that the UK one-off show can compare to the full US tour?
LG: It’s going to be different on so many different levels, I think. I mean the US was literally like you playing at a different time every day, seriously hot, a million bands and you know, it’s travelling all the time so it can be quite tiring whereas with the UK, you’ve got a set time. It’s almost going to be like one of our own shows but with a lot of bands that we know who were mates with and stuff so it’s going to be a lot of fun but we’ve got a [stage] time, we know when we’re on and it’s almost going to be a lot more organised. Having said that, the one in the US is full of young people and it’s nice to wake up at 9am and not having any clue where you’re playing or what time or anything.
You’ve got a roof here, thankfully, as well.
LG: Yeah, we did miss the structure at first on Warped Tour but after two weeks you’re like “This is kinda fun”. It definitely takes a couple of weeks to get used to it.
The lyrics of ‘Where We Belong’ are going to be inscribed in the pavements of your hometown [Pontypridd]. Now that’s quite an honour, how are you feeling about that?
LG: It’s crazy. You don’t expect these things to happen but, you know, it’s got to be a good thing for us so yeah, it’s cool.
Something like that is cementing you – please excuse the pun – but are there any smaller local bands that you feel…
LG: You were pleased when you came up with that one [pun] weren’t you?
In places like Ponty, it’s just really great to be recognised. I mean, we’ve been doing it so long it’s like there wasn’t much going on but certainly, as far as Welsh bands are concerned, when we started, and you know just UK bands, it was just really difficult to get out there and get any kind of success but we were determined. We got put off by so many people, “you’ll be lucky to sell three thousand records” or “you’ll be lucky to do this” or “your record label’s crap”. Well, you know what, we believe in ourselves. We were really happy with the album we wrote, obviously being ‘Fake Sound…’ at the time. Against all odds, we just got on with what we did and we’re still here 12 years later so we must have done something right.
Now while you’re obviously loved locally and you’ve kept up a loyal fanbase across the UK, what was it like going back to America after you couldn’t release [The Betrayed] there?
LG: It was daunting at first. I mean, it was the first time [we’d toured there] in six years and the last tour we did there was unpleasant to say the least. I mean we were playing to hardly anybody. We didn’t see it that way but I guessed it was going to go one or two ways – either we’d be even more obscure than we thought or, you know, thanks to brilliant things like the internet, we actually would have gathered a bit of speed and people would know of us and actually would have heard stuff and that’s how it worked out.
I mean, every time we played [Warped Tour], it seemed to gather more momentum and there’d be more people each day, like, coming to see us and check us out and people were travelling, like, three states [to see us]. I mean I wasn’t looking forward to it; I was really dreading going out there. You know, you see all these things about Warped Tour and obviously the fact that we hadn’t been there for so long but I had to eat my own words after we first gigged because it was really good.
It was nice to have so many people say “I haven’t seen you since you came out here on your second tour in 2003” and I’m like “What? That’s crazy that you’ve been waiting that long to see us”. So it gave us a lot of confidence and it made it worthwhile for us so yeah, it was really good.
But you’ve recorded in America so you must have felt connected to America?
LG: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I don’t think that anyone’s ever said that before but that’s the thing and I said that to a bunch of people it’s not like we don’t go there. I’m in America, I’ve been in America every year since 2000 without missing one single year. I’m always in LA doing stuff ‘cause the guys live there anyway but we always write our records there. It’s not for any other reason than that it’s just cheaper and it just happens to be that a lot of the producers we work with are based there. We normally end up writing in Wales, and then we’ll do some more writing out there and then we’ll record there but, yeah, there was always a connection. It wasn’t like we were not going there. It was just, you know, what kind of a response we were going to get being on the stage – that was the weird thing.
But are you generally pleased about how you’ve been received in America now?
LG: Yeah, but it was just really unexpected. And there was a lot of bands as well and because we don’t see ourselves as ‘old’ - which we are because we’ve been around for so long - but there were kids in other bands playing out there, American bands or British bands, coming up and saying “Oh yeah, I’ve been into your band for this long. You’ve influenced us” so that was really humbling for us to think and that made us realise that we’re actually a band out there, probably one of the oldest bands on the tour but in a good way – people wanted to come and see us who grew up listening to us and we didn’t even consider that. We just saw ourselves as the same as everyone else, which we were, but we didn’t realise how many bands were into us because we’ve been around so long and that was really nice.
Now your latest single from ‘Weapons’ is ‘Jesus Walks’. Are you thinking about releasing anymore singles or are you already thinking ahead to album #6?
LG: We’ve already been writing. It’s literally just what we do in rehearsals really. We’ve put together, like, six new songs in three days. I mean, I’m not saying that they’ll all make the new record but at least half of them have got the possibility of [being featured on] the new album. So we’re already kind of working on that now. We’ll probably continue working on that for 2013. We’ve just got to rehearse now and get on the road but it was nice to start playing some new stuff because we hadn’t jammed together in such a while, it was really nice and completely unplanned – all these ideas just popping out and it was good. Hopefully we can start putting together another record soon and release something else next year.
So is there anything else in store for Lostprophets next year?
LG: Next year? Well I’d say next year is pretty much going to be putting together a record although we’ll see. If it carries on at the rate that it did over the break that we just did some writing then we can do it quicker. It’d be nice to get it out next year and actually get back on the road next year. I think there’s nothing worse than completely missing a year. It’s nice to take some time out but having took three years to get ‘The Betrayed’ out, we’re really scarred by that and don’t want to do the same thing again.
We tried to do the last record [‘Weapons’] as quickly as we could and it took a lot less time than ‘The Betrayed’ but it was still a little longer than we’d like. So maybe this time around, we can get it done a bit quicker, perhaps put something out late Summer or Autumn and just get back on the road for, like, September, October.
So the plan’s to keep speeding up then?
LG: Well I think that’s the key these days, isn’t it? I think people have got a short attention span as there’s so much choice out there. You don’t want to be in people’s faces the whole time but at the same time, you’ve got keep the momentum up, otherwise people quickly forget. And we’re lacking any kind of decent TV show where bands can get on and play pretty much these days as well so it’s even harder. We’ll speed things up until we’re releasing an album every six months [laughs] Actually, I think that would definitely be a bad thing. I think one a year would be more than enough.
Otherwise you’ll end up being like those rappers who release mix tapes every week.
LG: Yeah, that wouldn’t be good would it? It’s quality control as well. We never want to write for the sake of it. If we don’t think a song is 100% what we would want it to be then we wouldn’t be so happy and that’s why it can take a long time because if you rush through things too quick then you don’t put enough effort into it. You’ve got to take a break sometimes to let the creative ideas get flowing again and so you’re not repeating yourselves.