The band formed in 1997 in the Welsh town of Pontypridd, 12 miles north of Cardiff. Lostprophets formed with two members of Public Disturbance, which featured drummer Ian Watkins and guitarist Mike Lewis. Neither member initially left Public Disturbance, although Watkins quit as soon as 1998. With Watkins taking over vocal duties and Lewis (who did not leave Public Disturbance until 2000) playing bass, the band also included guitarist Lee Gaze, Mike Chiplin on drums and DJ Stepzak on turntables.
Lostprophets started out as part of the fledgling South Wales scene — under the original spelling of the name: Lozt Prophetz — playing gigs at venues across Wales including T.J.'s in Newport. From there, they went on to tours on the UK's circuit. The band recorded two other demos during this time; Para Todas las Putas Celosas, which translates as "For all the jealous whores", and The Fake Sound of Progress. The first three tracks from their third demo were refined and re-recorded for the release of their debut album of the same name: the title track, "MOAC Supreme (A Thousand Apologies)" and "Stopquote (awkward)". All the EPs are out of print, and are very rare.
The band caught the attention of the two music publishers Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines both giving them glansing reviews. In 1999 they signed in with Independent label Visible Noise. The band spent most of 1999 working on new material with Stuart Richardson, who had joined the band as a bass player. From this point, Mike Lewis played rhythm guitar for Lostprophets, the part he still played with Public Disturbance, however, he quit that position a year later to focus on Lostprophets.
The band's first album Thefakesoundofprogress was released through Visible Noise in November. Recorded in less than two weeks for a mere £4000 the record drew on a wide range of influences, it would be re-released the following year through Columbia Records. Shortly after the completion of the album, DJ Stepzak decided he would not commit to the band and was replaced with Jamie Oliver, who was placed in the band simply because he got on so well with Ian Watkins and could not go on tour with them otherwise.
Thefakesoundofprogress featured many influences to 1980s pop-culture. In addition to the Duran Duran reference in the band's name, there was an image of Vengar from the Dungeons & Dragons TV series on the album sleeve notes, as well as song titles like "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja" and "Kobrakai". The first song's title was a reference to the video games Shinobi and Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja, while the second was an alternative spelling of Cobra Kai, the name of the karate dojo in the Karate Kid movies. Another reference is the use of the VF-1 Valkyrie in Battroid mode from the 1982 anime The Super Dimension Fortress Macross as part of the album illustration.
Q Prime management, who represent such acts as Metallica, assisted the band in courting America's top major labels. The band chose to sign with Columbia, a division of Sony Records, though in Europe their records continue to be released through Visible Noise. The band worked with renowned producer Michael Barbiero to remaster the album, and this new remastered version of the album was released in November 2001. The album appears to have divided the band's existing fan base where the first accusations of selling out were levelled at the band from the underground music scene within which they achieved their first success.
During this period, Lostprophets built up a strong live following with support slots to popular acts such as Linkin Park and Deftones, as well as several headlining stints of their own. They also took part in the successful Nu-Titans tour with Defenestration among other new UK Metal acts of the time. Co-headlining the 2002 Deconstruction Tour in London , supporting acts was Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Mad Caddies among others., Lostprophets featured on a bill consisting of more traditionally punk oriented acts. This provoked hostility from certain members of the audience, who were upset at Lostprophets inclusion on such a bill. The band subsequently toured with Ozzfest, played at Glastonbury and the Reading and Leeds Festival. They also appeared on a number of British TV shows, including Top of the Pops, CD:UK and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. They also performed as part of the 2002 NME Carling Awards tour.
After the extensive touring cycle for Thefakesoundofprogress finally ended, the band took a brief break before beginning the process of writing new material for Start Something at Frontline Studios in Caerphilly, Wales. They then entered Los Angeles's Bigfoot Studio for a recording process that lasted from March until September 2003, with producer Eric Valentine. Valentine had previously produced albums for Queens of the Stone Age and Good Charlotte.
The first single released from the album was the song "Burn Burn", the music video for which began receiving heavy rotation on satellite and cable channels like MTV2, Kerrang! TV and Scuzz in the UK. The song attracted some criticism, however, as the opening bore a striking resemblance to "Mother Mary", a song from the band Far's Water and Solutions album. The band themselves even conceded in interviews that the singing pattern bore an undeniable similarity to the Adamski song "Killer".
"Burn Burn" was released on 3 November 2003, and was originally scheduled to be closely followed by the release of the album. The release of the album was delayed several times and a headlining tour of the UK, was also postponed during this time. The band rescheduled the cancelled UK shows, with the exception of their scheduled appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, stating in magazine interviews that honouring those commitments would have meant leaving the recording studio while the album was only half completed.
The album was released in the UK on 2 February 2004, and was commercially successful, achieving number four in the UK Albums Chart. The album has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide according to BBC Wales. The critical response from mainstream magazines was mostly positive, though the response from rock publications such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Rock Sound was sometimes tepid. To promote the album, they toured North America, Europe and as part of the Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand. The tour for this record culminated on 21 November 2004, at a sold out show in Cardiff International Arena.
On 19 June 2005, founding member Mike Chiplin left the group to pursue other musical opportunities. Since then, Mike Chiplin has joined another band called The Unsung. He has also opened up his own practice studio for young people to start bands.
The remaining members began working on material for the next album. Due to the lengthy gap between Thefakesoundofprogress and Start Something , and the backlash that grew against the band because of it, the remaining band members stated in various interviews that they wanted to release their third album in early 2006. As with Start Something , the band wrote and recorded demo tracks for the album (with Ian Watkins playing the drums) in a UK recording studio before completing the album in America. Liberation Transmission was recorded in Hawaii, and saw the band work with Bob Rock. Drummer Josh Freese (of The Vandals and A Perfect Circle) recorded ten out of the twelve drum tracks for this album (Ilan Rubin recorded Everybody's Screaming and For All These Times Son, For All These Times).
The band returned to their roots, playing a series of small venues across South Wales. They also headlined Give it a Name, a two-day event with My Chemical Romance. These shows featured the first live appearance of then-17 year-old Ilan Rubin on drums and the live premiere of songs Rooftops, A Town Called Hypocrisy and The New Transmission. The album itself was released on 26 June 2006 (27 June in the USA), and became the first Lostprophets album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart. The album has seen the band adopt a more contemporary sound with far less emphasis on screaming than previous releases (with one exception being opening track "Everyday Combat".
Lostprophets began a full-fledged UK tour on 3 July 2006. As with their warm-up gigs prior to the album's release, the band selected South Wales-based support bands for this tour. The band followed this with another UK tour in November. They followed their UK dates with a European tour in France, Germany, and several other countries. The main support for this was The Blackout. They returned to the UK for an Arena tour in April 2007, from 18 April to 22nd. The scheduled venues were: Glasgow (SECC); Manchester (MEN Arena); Birmingham (NIA) & London (Wembley Arena). Lostprophets also played at the Full Ponty festival in Wales on 26 May 2007. The support acts included Taking Back Sunday and
Writing and recording the band's fourth studio album began in early 2007. Originally the band had said they wanted the album released in 2007, however due to both touring and being unhappy with the results of their work in the studio the band did not keep to their original release plan. However, they did work on and record a number of tracks throughout the year with producer John Feldmann in LA.
Ian Watkins stated he wanted the new album to be "nastier" and "darker" than previous efforts, with more energy and vibe than before. In a blog post, guitarist Mike Lewis suggested that Ilan Rubin was very much a large part of the writing/recording process. As for the drummer on the next album, the band has remained reluctant to name Rubin as a permanent band member, saying they would want to see how writing songs with him goes.
A number of new tracks began being performed throughout 2007, including "Next Stop Atrocity", "For he's a Jolly Good Felon", "Dead" and "Weapon" however the band announced that "Weapon" would not make the album, but a demo would be released on the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show. Towards the end of 2007, Watkins reported that 14 songs had been recorded with Feldmann, and the band would be 'taking a break' over the Christmas holiday.
In 2008, through Kerrang! magazine, further titles of new tracks that the band had worked on were announced, including "It's Not the End of the World but I can see it from Here", "Credible vs. Incredible", "The Mourning Reign", "What Seems to be the Problem Officer?", "She's with the Banned", "Save Yourself", and "If It wasn't for Hate We'd Be Dead by Now" Throughout 2008 the band continued working on their new album, performing a few dates, including Download Festival, V Festival and Rock am Ring and Rock im Park as well as a small amount of performances around the UK.
On 28 November 2008, the band released a new Studio Video Blog onto their MySpace page, which featured the band tracking drums and recording the track "For he's a Jolly Good Felon", the video also featured the band talking about the album's recording process and the reason behind the departure of Ilan Rubin leaving after the recording of the album to join Nine Inch Nails. Ian also said that the website would be revamped. The 31 December 2008, Ian held a special New Years Eve concert at Cardiff University in aid of the Kidney Wales Foundation. He announced the concert after being named as an ambassador for the charity. The concert featured Ian Watkins along with other Welsh bands The Blackout, Kids in Glass Houses and Attack! Attack!.
On 7 January 2009, Ian stated in an interview with Kerrang that there will be a single out in April, with the album out in June which is currently being recorded in Kingsize Soundlabs. He also stated that after problems with John Feldmann and Bob Rock not being able to produce the album, they are now self producing with Stuart Richardson bassist of the band the main producer. Watkins said the resultant recordings will be "the most honest album" the band have ever done. Watkins also said that they'd dropped their US Label stating it had been an "additional upheavel" and their last tour of the US was the worst 3 months of his life "It was soul destroying". Ian also mentioned that "there's two motown-y mod type songs but overall it's a lot grittier and sleazier". but also said "that's not to say it won't be catchy. There's still elements of optimism in there, but it won't be done in such a twee way".
On 22 January 2009, it was reported that Yellowcard drummer, Longineu "LP" Parsons III, would be joining Lostprophets, replacing Rubin. However, bassist Stuart Richardson has since hinted in a blog post that these reports are untrue, a stance that has been backed up by apparent intelligence directly from the band.[verification needed]