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*2

::Closure - Fiction vs. Reality::

Friendships lost.

A legacy tainted forever.

Music and art forgotten and left to be swept under the rug or destroyed.

Denial.

Confusion.

Betrayal.

These are just some of the many thoughts that I’m sure all supporters/ex-supporters and friends of the alt metal Welsh band, Lostprophets, have been thinking about since lead singer, Ian Watkins plead guilty (approximately two weeks ago).

It’s been a sad, shocking, and turbulent two weeks on an emotional roller coaster ride. 

My warm thoughts and prayers go out to the band, their families and friends, Ian’s family, and anyone who was directly affected as well as those in similar situations.

It’s a very heart-breaking situation on many levels - not just for the families, but from a longtime supporter perspective - so many questions that may always remain unanswered keep popping up and cannot be pushed back further into the recesses of one’s brain.  

While I never considered the band or Watkins, himself, a ‘hero’ or that great inspiration, I did greatly respect and appreciate the band for their artistic integrity, intelligence, and passion.  I was very impressed on a personal note with Watkins’ and other band member’s writing style (yes, I was one of the few who eagerly would read the band’s MySpace messages and chuckle upon reading their website notes back many moons ago) and was heavily inspired by their boldness to even the smallest monikers, including all of the quirky and witty comments made in the band’s interviews. 

Their music was catchy, fun, energetic, intelligent, inspirational and along with their videos, was, overall, fairly clean content.  I also liked Watkin’s artwork for the albums and the phoenix had such a great meaning and was a very cool idea. I also respected the fact that Watkins did the artwork himself for the albums and the band’s merchandise.  I also thought his Made In Hell (MiH) wearable art (not to be confused with a clothing line) was a very unique and creative idea.  Hate Couture, indeed.

I also greatly appreciated and respected the band a lot as, at least, two of the band members (Ian and Jamie) , that I know of, had pursued higher education  prior to starting the band.  This really resonated with me on a personal note and it validated for me that you can pursue higher education (which is something I greatly value), and still follow your dreams, regardless if they deal with your educational or career pursuits.

Now…in the midst of this recent news and as more information is released on an ongoing basis, while I cannot muster to play a Lostprophets’ song, lyrics come and go inside of my head.  I beckon to question if some lyrics had greater hidden meanings - tracks like Can’t Get Enough and A Better Nothing, which are unarguably, in my opinion, perhaps two of the most darkest of Lostprophets’ songs re: lyrical content…were they not what  I thought they may be about? Do they discuss the very hidden agenda Watkins apparently had over the past few years?  Or, were they secretly cries for help from Watkins and no one suspected a thing?

The world may never know.

While many feel they’ve lost their ‘hero,’ I will say, for the record, for anyone reading this tonight, tomorrow, or whenever…let this be a lesson.

At the end of the day, a musical artist, and/or any artist or someone you look up or greatly admire  are still human.  Being human, we are all prone to make mistakes and/or can be inclined to make the wrong choices in life.

It can happen to any of us, you me, Bobby McGee, that kid next door, a teacher, a friend, a relative, an enemy…an admired musical artist, perhaps?

If you always act like a god, it is only in due time that the devil catches up with you and takes your hand to lead you in the opposite direction you are going.

Then, it is only in due time, justice will be served and you have to pay for the  consequences of your own actions.

Always remember, that as humans, we are all accountable for our own actions.  Not someone else, a Higher Power, or your cousin twice removed - you.  Just you.  People can always be succumbed to peer pressure, or they, perhaps, are just too arrogant and think that nothing can happen, or, maybe, just maybe, they may think that what they’re doing is not wrong, but actually, right. 

Regardless of what you do in life, especially in the art and/or music world, always remember to ensure that whatever path you choose and choices you make, go along with your beliefs and morals.  If you have to question your decisions or cannot ascertain whether the choice you are making is morally right or wrong, then that is when you need to seek guidance and help.  Talk to a parent, a trusted friend, mentor, teacher, counselor, religious leader, etc…

And, if you cannot do any of that for comfort’s sake or whatever reason you may have, then perhaps it is best to not make that decision in the first place and choose an alterative choice.

However, if you do feel the choice you are not making is not wrong, it’d be encouraged to still discuss it with someone - maybe they have another perspective for you to look at, and/or they can offer you some other advice, and/or if it is a morally wrong choice, that person you confide in can reach out and tell you that.

All of this aside,  I’d like to remember Lostprophets and their music and art in a positive light, despite the betrayal, hurt, anguish, denial, and confusion many, including me, are thinking.

I’d like to always remember Ian Watkins as the man and musical artist I thought he was, not the person he so horrifically became/was behind closed doors.

Best and may you always be guided down the right and moral path in life.

M:)

"If the first inward thought is not warded off, it will generate a desire, then the desire will generate a wish, and the wish will generate an intention, and the intention will generate the action, and the action will result in ruin and Divine wrath. So evil must be cut off at its root, which is when it is simply a thought that crosses the mind, from which all the other things follow on."

Imam Al-Ghazali, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences), 6/17

*2

::End of An Era - “To Every Broken Heart In Here…”::

Hey World::

I know I’m about 20 days too late on this…but better later than never, right?

As I’m sure you all know by now, Lostprophets, (or Wales’ finest as I used to call them many moons ago), announced on their Facebook page on October 1, 2013, that they decided to part ways and no longer be a band together, anymore.

Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in. 

I’ve been a large supporter of the group since around 2004.  I had known of them about a year ago before, and maybe even had seen snippets of Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja on MTV once, but I honestly cannot recall 100%.  I remember being into Chevelle (band, not car :), bee tea dubs, Wonder What’s Next is a good album), and seeing a picture of Lostprophets from Ozzfest.  My initial reaction, as my reaction had been to many bands in that time period, was, “who is this nu-metal crap band? They’re just trying to be like Incubus.”  I don’t even know still what ‘nu-metal,’ is…I just knew the term as that was this new genre back in the hey day of the early 2000s.

(Funny thing was, I also did not like Icubus originally either, but then I heard Pardon Me randomly on the radio and it just grew on me, but that’s another story for another day…)

Ha, that’s what has happened with a lot of music I listen to — I either love the song immediately or hate it.  Then, as fate always has it, I decide to listen to it again, and maybe after 1-5 spins (approximately) of repeat listening, I really start to enjoy it. (The same thing has happened with Black Veil Brides, Escape the Fate (specifically There’s No Sympathy For the Dead and anything pre-jail time for Ronnie Radke.)

Anyway, flash forward to 2004, and I kept seeing the end of this music video on Fuse.TV (remember when they used to play all rock and metal and had that show IMX? Good times…that music stock exchange was a genius concept - I never understood it, but it seemed genius.)  I remember watching a video and thinking "okay, this chorus has really trite lyrics… ‘still tomorrow/forget the sorrow’…what?"  …and, of course, after deciding one day to not flip channels, as I was curious to know who this band actually was, it turned out to be Lostprophets.

You can imagine my surprise as I thought to myself, “Wait, this is not nu-metal crap, at all! This is rock…I think I like this song!”

After learning more about that song (Last Train Home - a song that still means a lot to me, to this day), and researching a bit more about Lostprophets, I realized this band was not just your typical rock band… They were from a small mining town (Pontypridd, Wales), had intelligent responses in their interviews, had a sense of humor, and, what honestly impressed me the most, was that, along with getting higher education, I eventually found out, a few of them, (at least at that time), were something called ‘straight-edge.’ 

I remember reading an article about Last Train Home - I always felt I connected with the band in some way from that moment on.  Perhaps it was how the interviewer had typed something along the lines of that song sounding like the lead singer had his heart ripped out and had it thrown in the trash can, (which, coincidentally enough, had also been my same reaction when I first heard it) - or perhaps it was their sense of humor and, as I said, intelligence, integrity, and honesty as artists - but the band, as a whole, really meant and still does mean something special to me.  They were just ‘cool’, I guess, my far away ‘friends,’ even though I never have met them. 

They were also one of the first bands I got into that, well, screamed a bit in their work.  It was a bit surprising for me - as they sounded a bit different than some of the music I had been listening to (Blink 182, Incubus, Linkin Park, and, of course, long-time favorites, Matthew Good (formerly of Matthew Good Band) and Butch Walker (formerly of Marvelous 3).  Maybe, upon looking back, they were not all that different, but to me, at that time, they were. 

…What really sealed the deal, though, was, I remember, once doing my intermediate statistics (STAT 350) homework on the computer before I went to class, and I managed to find a copy of To Hell We Ride to listen to. 

I remember hearing it as I did my homework.

The song played.

And…believe it, or not, immediately after it ended, I hit ‘play,’ again. 

At that time, and perhaps, even now, it is very rare for me to like something immediately - first time, no questions asked and/or arguments in my head (e.g. ‘really, Maria, you like that?!).

So…that are  some of my first memories of

I’ve followed their work ever since - when they were on MySpace (hey, Tom), I eventually joined.  I also was on the band’s web message boards for a while.  I loved their bold way of writing to their fans, in particular. Later on, I was really impressed with the design work on their albums (that Pheonix still is pretty awesome), their clever song titles, and their honest and down-to-earth interviews minus the arrogance, or the ‘we want to be the best band ever,’ kind of vibe. 

I think at the end of the day, given the current circumstances, a choice had to be made…while situations like these can go one out of three ways, (e.g. either the band breaks up, they wait, and/or the band gets a new lead singer), I think as long as the band is collectively satisfied and in agreement with the choice they made as a band, then, at this time, that’s the right choice.  Sometimes you have to do, what you have to do.

Life is full of obstacles, challenges, moments of despair, loss, and confusion - the important thing is to be able to rise above all of these things and do what is best for you.

In this case, the band had to do what is best for them -  individually, collectively, and perhaps, most importantly, artistically and for the sake of their own artistic integrity. 

Despite all the hulabaloo, and chit chatter, the most important thing, here is, if the band can continue going on not just as artists, but people in whatever career paths they choose to go in and be there for their families, (as anyone else would do) - that’s the most important thing.

I wish Lee Gaze, Stu Richardson, Mike Lewis, Jamie Oliver, and Luke ‘Jocko’ Johnson and their families the best with their future endeavors.  Thanks for being my far away friends in the rock world and also inspiring me creatively - along with Matthew Good and Butch Walker, this band really taught me that concept of artistic integrity and helped me realize that musical artists are just that - they are artists creating music - however, they are people, too.  They are not ‘celebrities,’ or monkeys to sing and clap on command on stage - they have feelings, dreams, aspirations, morals, values, beliefs, and ideas just like the rest of us.

Now, if only the rest of the world realized this about any musical artist, actor, actress, and/or any ‘entertainer,’ think of how much nicer the rest of the world would be.

Really — think about it.

As for me, I have to go now - otherwise, I’m going to miss the last train home. 

xXx (I also learned this ‘x’ thing from Lostprophets -  I think it means ‘straight-edge,’ but I just do it, because maybe I think it cool - it’s the Maria way of showing just a little bit of affection - or, maybe, it means x marks the spot…? Hmmm…I’m still not sure :)

Thank you and until next time…(or as Lostprophets sang, “even through your doubts, we will still be here…”),

M:)

PS - To read the band’s departing statement, please go to www.facebook.com/lostprophets

*22
Styles change…people change.  
Picture change. Re-arrange.
You don’t wear the same clothes you did ten years ago, do you? 
That style was the ‘in-thing’ back then…I personally miss the short hair instead of the ‘my hair is in my face, let me help find you a book, though’ kind of look…but, those jackets are pretty rad and I do love to read. :)  Full support of the band; lack of understanding of hair styles, tight jeans, and just the entire fashion trend going on these days…but that’s another story.  
Kerrang mag, you are a funny one.  Is there a TV along with that sofa? 
Just wondering… :)
lostprophetsdaily:

THEN: Guffaw. Is that a sun visor? Baggy jeans, skate shoes and tight tees were the order of the day for the fresh-faces of Pontypridd sextet Lostprophets, back when they were still calling themselves Lozt Prophetz. Smiles were not allowed, but sofas in the middle of the street were obviously coo. And the look wouldn’t be complete without a cheap beaded chain around the neck, now, would it? Just what were they thinking? NOW: Dark pastels, woolen scarves, overcoats and waistcoats? The post-modern librarian look is so hot right now, at least as far as Lostprophets are concerned. A little make-up here and there to compliment the teased and tousled barnets helps too. Gotta keep the inexorable march of time at bay somehow, right guys?

Styles change…people change.  

Picture change. Re-arrange.

You don’t wear the same clothes you did ten years ago, do you? 

That style was the ‘in-thing’ back then…I personally miss the short hair instead of the ‘my hair is in my face, let me help find you a book, though’ kind of look…but, those jackets are pretty rad and I do love to read. :)  Full support of the band; lack of understanding of hair styles, tight jeans, and just the entire fashion trend going on these days…but that’s another story.  

Kerrang mag, you are a funny one.  Is there a TV along with that sofa? 

Just wondering… :)

lostprophetsdaily:

THEN: Guffaw. Is that a sun visor? Baggy jeans, skate shoes and tight tees were the order of the day for the fresh-faces of Pontypridd sextet Lostprophets, back when they were still calling themselves Lozt Prophetz. Smiles were not allowed, but sofas in the middle of the street were obviously coo. And the look wouldn’t be complete without a cheap beaded chain around the neck, now, would it? Just what were they thinking?

NOW: Dark pastels, woolen scarves, overcoats and waistcoats? The post-modern librarian look is so hot right now, at least as far as Lostprophets are concerned. A little make-up here and there to compliment the teased and tousled barnets helps too. Gotta keep the inexorable march of time at bay somehow, right guys?

(Source: tracy1)

*6

If anyone ever wanted to punch Ian Watkins, the lead singer of the amazing Welsh rock sextet, Lostprophets, then this is the video for you, my friend. In all seriousity, (uh…new word, coined? seriousness, I know, I know),Bring ‘Em Down, is the first video off of their soon to be released 5th album, Weapons. The album is due for release April 2, 2012. Different than their other videos, this video seems to tell not only somewhat of a story, but it’s the first video I’ve seen of them where there are no instruments or any scenes of the band actually playing. I’m personally a huge fan of story music videos, so to see them go in this direction, (even if it may be for only this video), is pretty awesome. I don’t know how they would all feel about acting, but I think they could pull something off really well.

This song is definitely a rocker — a combination of their nu-metal past (Fake Sound of Progress…Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja, anyone?) with a mix of their second debut, Start Something, and a pinch of Liberation Transmission (their 3rd album). I think it is a different sound in comparison to The Betrayed, their long awaited 4th album which came out in 2010; that album appeared to be more stripped down with heavy choruses (and awesomeness, might I add), and none of these special almost electronic sounding effects.

I really like how whenever a new album of theirs comes out, Lostprophets always seem to solidify in their first single (or maybe it’s in all their songs) that they’re back (from wherever they were, I guess) and surely here to stay…this video and song really exemplify these ideas, well — E.g. when Ian tells the camera and the audience "…Here we go again…" Classic. (Not to be confused with WhiteSnake, bee tea dubs, that song is pretty awesome, though, too.)

I can go on and on about this band, but I’ll save that mayhaps for other posts. I will say this, though —- I respect them greatly as musical artists and people. Their music has a lot of different themes (some very inspiring, might I add) and they do not appear to touch on the usual relationship topics seen in much alternative rock. (Or, well, if it does, I think it’s not exactly about the poppy boy meeting girl kind of scenarios, like it seems a lot of American rock goes towards.) I also really give them credit and props for always following their hearts and doing what they want to do as musicians. So oftentimes I feel musicians are either trapped or record songs even if they’re not a 100% to their liking - a lot of albums end up either sounding the same or are all full of ‘filler’ tracks. (However, I could be completely wrong here, and maybe that’s just how some bands make music…and maybe they like all their songs they do very much.) I do feel though many songs do tend to have similar tunes, beats, and lyrics, and that could be because everything is influenced by everything else and it all fuses together…and of course, one band’s work is bound to sound the same at times as, well, they’re the same band…! I am not trying to disrespect any bands, as there are several reasons definitely unknown to me as why musicians do what they do, say what they say, act how they act; this is just a mere observation.

I feel with the ‘Prophets, though, it’s different - their vibe, mentality, and always desiring to do more as artists - that consistent strive of perfection and even when much money (should I say lost profits…? oh come on, that was genius…ba-bum ching;) has gone down the drain, they still want to make an album to their liking. At the end of the day, they will play the songs they want to play and create what they want to create - it’s not a management or producer decision - it’s ultimately their (the artist’s) decision.

I think that’s really important - this idea of not giving in or trying to be a part of the status quo (is that selling out?). True, maybe you won’t sell “a million bajillion records,” (Rock Vocal Power, anyone? Butch Walker? Google it), but to create what you want and hone your craft on your own terms is a great concept and something I personally feel that deserves recognition and respect.

At the end of the day, Losprophets (and countless other bands) are not puppets here to amuse the audience, but they are here to play what they want and hope others like what they’re playing - and to put this into greater perspective, to of course, entertain whoever is listening. I think there’s a fine line between entertainment and musicianship, as most think it’s the same thing…but that’s another story for another post.

Until then, feel free to watch the video…as I saw on a review Jamie Oliver (keyboardist and backing vocals) of Lostprohets tweeted, Lostprophets fans unite!

Cheers::
Mar :)

PS - Post script - this song is recommended to anyone who like Lostprophets’ music, are a fan of UK rock, a fan of alternative rock, and/or music with great musicianship, interesting lyrics, and somewhat of an…edge (when you hear the song halfway through, you’ll know what I mean). It’s more upbeat than…down-beat…so fans of lighter music may not enjoy, but I would still recommend it’s worth a listen just so you can say you tried something new! Experience and Listen.:)