Interview: Lostprophets

Victoria LeggettAs Welsh rockers the Lostprophets prepare for the launch of their fourth album and a world tour, guitarist Mike Lewis tells VICTORIA LEGGETT why he is always keen to come back to Norwich.Further listening: LostprophetsFurther listening: LostprophetsVictoria Leggett

As Welsh rockers the Lostprophets prepare for the launch of their fourth album and a world tour, guitarist Mike Lewis tells VICTORIA LEGGETT why he is always keen to come back to Norwich.

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The past few years haven't exactly gone to plan for the Lostprophets.

Scrapped recordings and fruitless studio sessions have left the band hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket - and two years behind schedule.

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But now, at last, new album The Betrayed is about to hit the shops - and the Welsh rockers are looking forward to playing their most honest record yet to a 'nuts' Norwich audience.

Guitarist Mike Lewis, an original member of the band which formed in 1997, says: 'The crowds are always nuts when we play Norwich. We've played it many times, from playing the Waterfront years and years ago to the UEA tonnes of times.

'The crowd always goes off. We always come back to Norwich because we always have a great time.'

Their latest show, at the UEA on February 22, is just one of 19 UK dates on a tour which will also take in Japan, Australia and much of Europe.

'We can't wait now,' says the 32-year-old. 'It's been a couple of years now since we've done a proper, full-on tour. It's going to be awesome to get back out there, wake up in a different town every day. We're really excited for people to listen to the record and play these songs live.'

And while the chance to spend a few weeks on the road will be welcomed by the guitarist and fellow band members Ian Watkins, Lee Gaze and Stuart Richardson, it is the fans who are really crying out for the new material.

The last Lostprophets album, Liberation Transmission, was released in 2006 and a series of setbacks have delayed the latest offering by more than two years.

Mike says: 'I think there's definitely been a hunger out there for some new material from us. By the time this record comes out it will have been 3.5 years since our last one which is a long time.'

That hunger has been created by a few 'false starts' in the making of The Betrayed, which the band began writing back in January 2007.

Original recordings with producer John Feldmann had to be scrapped at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds after the group decided they were not happy with it.

But Mike, who grew up in Pontypridd, South Wales, says, while it was frustrating to lose so much time and money on recordings which will never see the light of day, it was a worth-while experience - which ended with bassist Stuart Richardson taking over the reigns as producer.

'It's an expensive mistake to make but I think, ultimately, it turned out to be the best mistake we could have made,' he says.

'It made us discover that we could do it ourselves. If we hadn't gone in with John and just wanted to make the record ourselves when we first started writing, I don't think we could have done it.'

And, if there was any doubt they made the right choice, the guitarist says the finished product is proof they did.

He says: 'I think probably, because we did everything ourselves with no real outside influence, it's the truest Lostprophets album. It brought out a camaraderie between us, really influenced us. It was inspiring.'

That camaraderie has resulted in a much 'darker' album that their previous offerings. Gone are the rallying calls of 2004's Start Something that willed fans to 'get up and do something', replaced by front man Ian Watkins' more inward-looking lyrics.

'Ian has a side to him that a lot of people don't really see,' says his band mate. 'It came out in this record. He's singing about some personal things which he has never done before.'

First single, It's Not the End of the World, But I Can See It From Here, reached number 16 in the charts in October, while latest offering, Where We Belong, came out last week.

But Mike says anyone hoping for an album of similar sounding tracks will be disappointed.

'It's a typical Lostprophets album where it's all over the place,' he says. 'That's our band. We are six different guys that have different influences. We are all over the place. We are never going to put out an album of 11 songs which all sound the same.'

t Lostprophets play the UEA on February 22.

t The Betrayed is released on January 18.

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