Lostprophets: What Went Wrong With ‘The Betrayed’?
Metal Hammer spoke to Lostprophets’ Mike Lewis and Stuart Richardson as they head into writing the follow up to ‘The Betrayed’. They definitively discuss why ‘The Betrayed’ took so long and what went wrong.
How was ‘Liberation Transmission’ received?
Stu: It seemed to be one of our better received records.
Mike: We got good reviews in most magazines.
Stu: You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. We loved ‘The Betrayed’ but some people gave it shit reviews. And gave Liberation 10 out of 10.
‘Start Something’ was a massive record, and in particular was loved by the US, did ‘Liberation Transmission’ hope to build on that?
Mike: It started to but then it fell apart. We were with Columbia in the US and all the labels were on their arse – they still are – so it was literally two weeks before the album came out, 75% of the staff at the label got fired.
Stu: and that included lots of the staff that worked on our album.
Mike: Our album just got lost. And The Betrayed never came out in the states, but Liberation Transmission came out there and it did alright, it didn’t… we definitely wanted to step it up from Start Something. But ‘Liberation…’ just didn’t because of the label issues.
Stu: It was just shit bad luck. You can read any band’s biography and there’s always a chapter like this: the singer was on drugs or this or that happened. We went through it just like every other band’s gone through it. But some bands break up because of it.
What did you enter the next album cycle with in mind?
Mike: We were definitely frustrated for those reasons. We did that album and everyone was raving about it – label and management, on that level, not fans yet, thinking it was going to take us to the next level – so we went into ‘The Betrayed’ a bit frustrated. I think that came across in the writing of the music, we were a lot more pissed off, so when we started writing there was definitely that aggression in the writing – a darkness came out in the writing.
Stu: ‘AtroCity’ was the first song we wrote.
Mike: The first ten songs we wrote for The Betrayed would have been a metal album. If we had just kept those it would have been a full-on metal album.
What happened to those songs because ‘The Betrayed’ isn’t all as heavy as Ian suggested it would be three years ago.
Stu: We went with a producer that we didn’t get along with. No hard feelings towards him but there was a point during the record where we disagreed with him.
Mike: We’d written all these songs before we started recording and it would have been a metal album, definitely the heaviest thing we’d ever written. It was full-on, metal riffs and… we wrote songs way heavier than anything on the record. We just got bored of that. WE had all these tunes, we felt we’d got it all out of our system. But then when we listened to it back…
Stu: there were riffs just on one note.
Mike: as much as we’re metal kids, as much as we all love metal, we all love pop music as well. And I think that’s what makes Lostprophets the band we are. The balance of loving Anthrax but also loving Duran Duran. Running into ‘The Betrayed’ were definitely a bit light on the Anthrax… So we went and wrote a bunch more songs.
Why did it take so long?
Stu: We played our last show in August 2008, Download. And we were playing shows within a year. So it’s not like we were away for three years.
Mike: There was three and a half years in between albums but we toured Liberation Transmission for two years, then we started touring ‘The Betrayed’ even before it was out. The problem we had was that we started the process of writing ‘The Betrayed’ before we should have done. We should have talked about it before we started recording. We still have all these really raw demos of all this metal stuff.
Stu: The thing is that Ian likes to shoot his mouth off. We’ll write a riff and he’ll be like, ‘the new album’s amazing!’ it’s a riff! We’re like, ‘calm down, calm down’. He’s a little hypey monster!
Mike: He just gets excited. Before you know it he’s on the internet saying we’ve finished the album, and we’ve got five riffs. It took a long time because we wanted it to be right. We could have released an album in 2008 if we wanted to. We had it pretty much ready but we weren’t 100% behind it.
Stu: we finished the record in 2007 with John Feldman, but it just felt wrong. It wasn’t Duran Duran enough, haha. No, some of that shit he played us sounded more like Justin Bieber, haha. His production technique wasn’t for us.
How did that happen? Surely you’d just say ‘no, mate’…
Stu: the thing with a producer is you ask him for a different opinion, you don’t ask to be told what to do. There’s a respect, but he was like, ‘that’s wrong, that’s wrong’. We’d say ‘fuck you’ we like it, but the next day we come in and he’s changed it!
Mike: We did pretty much finish the album with him, we were about two weeks from finishing. But it is difficult when you’re in the middle of the creative process, working, because you’re in a bubble and the producer says, ‘trust me it’ll be alright, trust me it’ll be alright, trust me it’ll be alright’ and we’d say ‘ok’ just to see and before you know it, it’s three months later and the record’s finished and you’re like, this isn’t where I wanted it to go.
Stu: I can’t slag him off but we just picked the wrong guy.
What’s the opinion of ‘The Betrayed’ within the band?
Mike: I still back it. Whenever you do a new album you always think, ‘this is the best shit we’ve ever done’ and you have to think that. If you don’t think that then… It’s difficult, every album I feel is a good representative of where we were at the time. I stand by it and still love it?
Will we ever get to hear any of the tracks that didn’t make it?
Stu: No. Too much red tape. That’s the only reason. Otherwise we’d put it out there, who gives a shit. B-sides or whatever. Things like who the recordings belong to. I guess it’s not worth it. People need to get paid to finish things off and before you know it it’s cost you $100,000 for a b-side. Sorry, that’s the harsh truth…
Was it a case of Francis Ford Coppola’s famous quote about the making of Apocalypse Now: “We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane”? You were allowed to indulge.
Mike: there were definitely too many cooks. Not within the band but there were too many external opinions. People saying ‘we think you need this a bit more, or this a bit more’. We’ve never been a band to give a shit about what labels and managers want from us, we’ve always just done our thing, and that’s why all our records sound the way they do. It’s too many people… and it starts you thinking and doubting. And you don’t it to… but it puts doubts in your head.
Stu: Also the A&R in the US is different from the UK. They want different types of songs. They’re like, ‘this is big enough, we want something more like, Seether’ we’re like, ‘what?!’.
Mike: we’re like, ‘well then you have the wrong band’. Rick Rubin took over the label over there and our A&R said, ‘Oh Rick’s not really hearing anything’, and we’re saying ‘our A&R in the UK hears four singles’. A&R in this country gets our band, but in the US they want some big radio anthem – American rock.
Stu: so why the fuck have you signed a British band then?!
Mike: go to fucking Orange County and sign them up, there are fucking thousands of them!