“That was the day I punched the windscreen.” Mike Lewis, guitarist for the Lostprophets is hoping that this trip to Oxford to speak at the Union is slightly less eventful than their first Oxford gig at the Wheatsheaf in 2001. “It was absolutely rammed, Ian passed out on stage.”
As for the windscreen: “We were lost around your wonderful one-way system. The promoter was trying to tell me directions over the phone and everyone else was in the back going, ‘straight on, straight on’ and I just went ‘shut up’ and punched the windscreen of the car.
“The drummer is a big lad – I just turned around and said ‘I owe you a new windscreen.’”
So to what does Oxford owe a second chance? Jamie Oliver, the keyboardist, explains: “We’ve been asked to come to the Union a couple of times… We are feisty and Welsh; we were worried we’d turn up to people expecting something like Uri Gellar debating the Weimar Republic.” Mike agrees: “This time we were told we could do it on our own terms, so we thought why not… We’ll be talking about our experience, hopefully some will be relevant.”
After all, the band has more experiences between them than most indie bands have hot dinners. A decade in the limelight includes four successful studio albums, Kerrang! awards and nominations, and becoming a mainstay of the British festival scene, notably Reading & Leeds, playing beneath Guns N’ Roses this year (though they managed to turn up on time and not be, like, rubbish).
Their latest offering The Betrayed has reached number three in the UK album charts, and has received much critical success, from sources as varied as Q and Kerrang!. Combined with two UK top-10 singles (‘Last Train Home’ and ‘Rooftops’) it is easy to see why the Union invited such a wildly successful band.
But is it difficult for a band if their fans are no longer the angst-ridden 14-year-old girls of 2001? “We’ve had people on this tour that have been there from the very beginning…they’ve grown up with us,” says Mike, but Jamie argues that new, young ‘uns are still coming to the gigs: “By having teenagers come to our show, it makes us still feel relevant.” So fourteen-year-olds are, in fact, a good thing? “Hold on now, let’s not twist our words here!”
Unfair insinuations aside, the band are currently writing a new album. “We have no plans, no deadlines or anything like that. So we can just get together and write music for the fun of it.” says Jamie. The completion of their contract also means that they are now on a major label in the UK. “We can now compete on the same level as some of the bigger bands and take control of our career. We can go to the next level.” says Mike.
But writing isn’t going quite to plan: “The house was supposed to be in the middle of nowhere but we were at the end of a busy street.” Jamie laughs: “There have been 30 kids from the village camped out on the driveway, and they’re like, ‘are you coming out, we’ve been waiting for four hours?’ ‘Why would I come out, this is where I live! I’m in my pants!’” Digging the hole further he blurts out: “You open the window in the morning in your bathrobe and you’re like ‘Woah!’” Mike agrees that “that doesn’t go very well with the 14-year-old comment”.
Despite ten years together, the band still seems to actually get on, punched windscreens and all. As they get up to leave I wish them luck with their speech and Ian Watkins cuts in: “Their speech? It will be all me. It’s going to be my Nuremburg!” Has the – previously quiet – lead singer been storing up all his energy for a Brian Blessed-esque monologue that will show the true difficulties within the band? In reality, they all take turns in the Union discussing their route to success, laughing like best mates as they once again regale us with that story about the windscreen.