The Lostprophets titled their second album Start Something for two reasons.
One was to motivate people out of complacency. "We spent the last three years touring and meeting loads of people who were like, 'I'd love to do this and that,' but they never had the drive to get up off their asses and do it," explained singer Ian Watkins. "Start something. Start anything."
The title's other meaning reflects the band's feeling that Start Something is their first musical step, despite releasing their debut album three years ago. They're neither trying to ignore 2001's The Fake Sound of Progress nor are they ashamed of it. It's just that the album, initially intended as a demo to help them land a recording contract, didn't accurately reflect their ability.
For starters, it was recorded in a mere week as opposed to the 10 months it took to write and track Start Something. The extra care and effort is evident in the latter album's songs, which are more fully realized with the addition of strings and orchestral arrangements. Those elements also appeared on The Fake Sound of Progress, but a cheap Casio keyboard doesn't compare to what the Welsh sextet devised for its latest effort, which was released February 3.
"We used strings to make the heavy guitars sound heavier," said guitarist Mike Lewis, shaking off any assumption that the Lostprophets' full-fledged studio album has forgone the edginess that helped The Fake Sound of Progress sell more than 120,000 copies in the United States.
For a band that calls Wales home, the Lostprophets' brand of melodic hard rock is closer to American bands like Linkin Park and Deftones than to Coldplay, Radiohead, Travis and other more typical "U.K. bands."
"Growing up, we never really cared where a band was from," Lewis said. "And when it comes to writing music, we're exactly the same. We don't care whether we sound English or American. We don't try to sound like anything, we just draw upon our influences."
"We kind of grew up listening to '80s new-wave stuff, like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and the Cure," added Watkins. "But we also mixed it up with thrash-metal stuff like Megadeth and Slayer. We also came from a punk and hardcore background, so we listened to a lot of New York and D.C. hardcore, like Fugazi and Gorilla Biscuits."
Start Something's first single, "Last Train Home," incorporates many of those elements, some more subtly than others, and has been a rock-radio staple for weeks. And though the song's mixture of crunchy guitars, hollered choruses and tension-mounting verses is on par with their contemporaries, its muse is a bit more time-tested.
"The inspiration was the old saying 'It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,' " Watkins said. "Whether you're in love, have ever been in love or are just kind of in the early stages, just be happy you have felt or are feeling something, and don't be all 'Woe is me!' and depressed about it. Just enjoy it and celebrate the fact that you're feeling something."
Watkins, Lewis, bassist Stuart Richardson, programmer Jamie Oliver, drummer Mike Chiplin and guitarist Lee Gaze will let rock fans see beyond the single when they embark on a five-week tour March 19 with Hoobastank and Ima Robot (see "Hoobastank, Lostprophets To Invade College Campuses"). The value of performing in front of a large U.S. audience isn't lost on the singer.
"[Touring] is the true test," he said. "When you do a record you think is good, maybe some of your friends will tell you it's good. But it's only when you get out and play those songs in front of people that you can tell whether people relate to them and whether they're actually into them or not."