My interview with Lostprophets' Ian Watkins, the most hated man on earth

It’s a weird feeling, realizing that you’ve spent several minutes of your life casually chatting with a young man who, as it turns out, is one of the most vile human beings alive.

You may have already heard the news about Ian Watkins, the former frontman of ’90s rockers Lostprophets, who admitted yesterday in a court in Cardiff, Wales, that he had attempted to rape a baby and committed a number of other horrific sex crimes involving children.

“This investigation has uncovered the most shocking and harrowing child abuse evidence I’ve ever seen,” Crown prosecutor Christopher Clee told the court.

When I first heard about the story I thought the Lostprophets name rang a bell, but I’ve interviewed so many bands over the years that I wasn’t sure if I’d done them. So I went searching among my stacks of interview tapes last night and there it was, scribbled underneath B-side entries for Metallica, the Trews, and Southern Culture on the Skids: “Ian Watkins of Lost Prophets, April 22, 2004″.

I had talked to the monster after all.

When I discovered the tape I thought maybe I would transcribe it verbatim, as I’ve done when some of my favourite guitar heroes have suddenly passed on, in order to get a better feel for them. In this case, though, I decided I didn’t want to hear the scumball’s voice–or mine interacting with his.

At the time of the interview Watkins was 27 years old and Lostprophets—which would go on to sell roughly three-and-a-half million albums—were on the way up. Who knows what other evil acts he may have committed by that age, if any. In the 2004 story I wrote for the Straight, reproduced below, he certainly sounds just like any other successful recording artist as he talks about his band’s influences and their latest album.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to read it on principle, but here it is. 

Lostprophets vocalist Ian Watkins was just out of his teens in 2000 when his band recorded its debut CD, The Fake Sound of Progress. The indie release went on to sell 140,000 copies in the U.K. alone and earned the group best new British band honours from influential metal mag Kerrang!. Since then the youthful sextet has hooked up with heavyweight American management company Q Prime Inc. and scored distribution through Sony Music, which recently issued its sophomore disc, Start Something.

As Watkins explains from Dekalb, Illinois—where Lostprophets are performing with Hoobastank and Ima Robot on the MTV Campus Invasion Tour—the group’s career has snowballed since it formed in ’97 in the small town of Pontypridd, Wales. “We were just playin’ a lotta shows in England and getting a really good buzz,” he says, “because a lot of kids came out to our shows. So we ended up signing with an indie label, quickly recorded and put out our first album, and just toured on the back of that in a van.”

Lostprophets are still making the road their home; it’ll lead them to Richard’s on Richards on Tuesday (May 4), with guests Head Automatica (featuring Dan the Automator and former members of Glassjaw). Judging by the collage of candid snapshots in the Start Something CD booklet, Watkins and his mates know how to enjoy themselves on tour. There are photos of them skateboarding and goofing off all over the world, including one of guitarist Mike Lewis posing beside Don Johnson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Although he’s not a Miami Vice devotee himself, Watkins does point out that his group is hugely indebted to the music of the ’80s.“We all grew up as fans of Duran Duran, the Cure, Depeche Mode,” he says. “So we take influence from their melodies and stuff, but then we combine it with hard-rock guitars to get somethin’ a bit cooler.”

Start Something was recorded in L.A. over four months last year with producer-mixer Eric Valentine, noted for his work with Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth, and Good Charlotte. A couple of the Good C members actually dropped by the studio and lent backup vocals to the anthemic single “Last Train Home”.

Lostprophets also got a helping hand from Justin Timberlake, though not in a musical way. He’s the hooded, anonymous figure pictured on the CD’s cover, standing on a barren overpass in the midst of L.A.’s concrete jungle. “Our bassist knows him,” Watkins explains. “It’s funny, because we tell people [that it's Justin Timberlake] and nobody believes us. They go, ‘Oh… yeah.’ But I don’t really care whether people believe it or not.”

Watkins doesn’t seem fazed by much these days. He certainly doesn’t hesitate when asked what he thinks of the latest album by his management’s top client, Metallica. “I’m just like everybody else,” he says. “I didn’t like the sound. I love big-sounding records; I love The Black Album.”

While not a fan of Bob Rock’s production on St. Anger, Watkins does claim that he likes the songs themselves, which is good, since he’ll be hearing them night after night when Lostprophets open for the Bay Area ear busters on tour this summer. So how does he think the typical Metallica fan will react to his own group’s brand of adventurous metal, which smartly balances melody and thrash?

“I have no idea,” he replies flatly. “I think it’s just one of those things you have to do anyway. It’s like, you can’t turn it down. Whether it’s gonna be good or bad, it’s just an experience, you know.”

Ian Watkins will be sentenced on December 18.

Comments (20) Add New Comment
Rye Grantham
Good article but I'd refrain from referring to him as a "monster" and "evil", calling him a monster by nature means he can't be blamed for his actions, this is a man who made some awful choices and is a deeply disturbed human being. Read "On Evil" by Terry Eagleton
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Fuck
Ian Watkins. He is evil, and someone being a monster does not mean they aren't responsible for their actions -- "by nature" what are you talking about? I think you should read some other books, starting with Aristotle.
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Xtina
I hope Watkins talks about this situation so that we can glean an understanding of what this type of child abuse is. He may have been recruited--willingly or otherwise-- with a cult or a government-military programme. As awful as that sounds, casting a bright light into the dark corners will flush out the evil.
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A. MacInnis
Thanks for posting this, Steve... but no, I don't really need to read it. I scanned the article everyone else has read and stopped that short, too - it's hard to take in that there are humans that sick, that vile outside the comfortable world of the horror movie (A Serbian Film, anyone?). Watkins sounds like one of those rare cases where public execution would be warranted... wonder how he's ever going to get a fair trial when there's already a worldwide lynch mob growing on the internet?
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Derp
Never heard of this shitty band until he was arrested for being a diddler. I guess Gary Glitter can relinquish the crown of most hated UK musician and settle for second place
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James Savik
>>It’s a weird feeling, realizing that you’ve spent several minutes of your life casually chatting with a young man who, as it turns out, is one of the most vile human beings alive.

That you KNOW OF. There are thousands of these people. They are literally everywhere. He's not the first or the last that you will meet.
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Noor
Remove his manly bits and give him a lobotomy. Even that is too kind.
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anonymous joe
Bleh. This article sucks. Talk about a bait-and-switch. The headline makes it sound like the interview was within the last 2 days, not from 2004. Big fucking deal.
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Stephen
Great - you once interviewed someone who almost a decade later was arrested and pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

Also, struggling to recall whether you'd interviewed him based on the name sounded familiar made you sound like an arrogant fool.

Cheap journalism with no substance.
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Alan Layton
I'm not sticking up for him at all, but from what little I've read/seen, the majority of pedophiles, when interviewed, are completely obsessed with it and have been from an early age. It doesn't always arise from abuse either but is a very real condition that needs to be studied in detail. I think using old religion-based terms as 'evil' and 'monster' tends to prevent serious research since the repulsiveness of their actions puts pressure on authorities to merely punish. The instances of pedophilia have not changed one iota, despite the huge amount of media attention given to capturing and exposing pedophiles. Sometimes you have to just pinch your nose and be objective about the condition.
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Lily
Perhaps I am wrong here, but……I am deeply disappointed that some of the readers may be missing the fact that this miscreant has committed some of the most horrific, life altering acts that a “human being” can commit to ... innocent children. Who CARES if the title seems misleading, or if the writer uses the word “monster”? What exactly IS a monster then, if not this type of human. The word “monster” seems fitting, but more important - and what I kept personally thinking about - was his victims. Is that WHY he was so excited in the interview that so many kids came out to their shows, I wondered. I won’t think about his name after this, but I will wonder about those victims. Thank you for writing this, Mr. Newton.
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Kebo
This scumbag needs to kill himself..... quick. I hope he gets the opportunity.
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Heather
The last paragraph gives you a clue to the man:
“I have no idea,” he replies flatly. “I think it’s just one of those things you have to do anyway. It’s like, you can’t turn it down. Whether it’s gonna be good or bad, it’s just an experience, you know.”

Sounds like a sociopath to me!
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Cyril Squires
No doubt this piece of human excrement is in his nice warm cell masturbating 20 or more times a day until the realisation kicks in when his psychiatric drugs are gradually withdrawn and he understands fully that he going to be in prison for a very, very long time and he personally can't handle it all, the sad perverted bastard!!
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Totes
Lostprophets were not a 90's band.... 00's.
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Happy Jack
Ian's top of my 2014 death pools list. When he shuffles off his mortal coil (ably assisted by his fellow inmates), I might have a little party.
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Lisa
I'm still in shock it's unbeleivable what's he has done
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ian
He was born this way. He cant help it. He should be studied.
Putting him in prison to be murdered does nobody good. We have to learn
From it. Study his dna sequencing. Pedophiles, homos, murderers
, heteros, its congenital. I have no doubts about that. He should be punished. But in a different way.
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slim jim
he is a living legend, even in death he will be heiled a martyr and i plan on visiting him in jail to congratulate his activity and get an autograph, he is a rock god end of story!
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Mike H
I completely agree with the comment that said its not a choice, I know being homosexual isn't the same but in a sense the psychology is, he didn't just one day think "you know what, might just fiddle a kid today" it was probably a small thought that grew over many years until it became a truly dark reality, a fetush in a sense.. something which he felt would satisfy his dark urge, its sick and twisted, that's undeniable but I really think people with his mindset and thought process should be studied, and punished of course, but maybe we could develop a treatment? Just a thought.
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