Lostprophets are finding their way to pop success

POP-metal poster boys Lostprophets are one of those bands the music press love to hate.

Hailing from Pontypridd, a small Welsh town that's already down on the music map as the birthplace of Tom Jones, they stand accused of being little more than a glorified boy-band whose stylist dresses them.

It's hard not to see such accusations as a little unwarranted, however. After all, they're Britain's biggest pop-metal band of the last few years, and one of the few UK acts to have made serious inroads into the American market

But while there is - at least a perceived - sniping at them from certain quarters, the band themselves see no reason to start apologising for the way they look. "As sad as it may be, image is part of what we do. It's part of a package," explains guitarist Lee Gaze.

"The music is important, but image, too, has a part to play in being a band. So whether you're dressed like Justin from the Darkness or in tight jeans and T-shirts, it's still an image. Metallica and Slayer have had an image for the past ten years," he adds. "And if it's good enough for them it's good enough for us."

And good enough for the fans, too, it seems. Over the last six years, Lostprophets have gone from strength to strength, releasing a trio of albums - the 2000 debut Thefakesoundofprogress, 2004's Start Something and this year's mega-selling Liberation Transmission.

Named after a bootleg recording of a 1988 Duran Duran concert, Lostprophets formed in 1997, starting out as part of the fledgling south Wales hardcore scene, playing gigs at small venues across their home country. From there, they went on to conduct tours on the UK's small-scale circuit, before Start Something propelled the band into the big time, selling 2.5 million copies around the world.

Its follow-up, Liberation Transmission, has been their strongest album to date, knocking Keane off the top of the charts back in July this year to score the band their first UK No1.

The Welsh rockers' appearance at the Corn Exchange on Sunday follows another major triumph for the band, after they picked up gongs for the Best Band and Best Album categories for 2006 at the Kerrang Awards.

Despite their success, though, Lostprophets are still accused by some as being a band more concerned with their hair than their music, while others say they've gone too commercial.

"We always wanted to be commercial, though," laughs frontman Ian Watkins, who, to be fair, was once quoted as saying his band were writing for "interplanetary success".

"We always loved pop music anyway," he says. "To me The Clash were pop as well as punk. We just never knew how to make pop-rock songs before. We were just a bit s***."

The rock fraternity may opine that his band are too pop, but Watkins makes no apology for wearing his influences on his sleeve.

"I grew up listening to pop like everybody does," he says. "Nobody is born listening to underground music like garage rock or thrash metal. Everybody comes from pop."

So while they remain subject to a large amount of criticism by people who consider themselves 'rock fans,' Lostprophets are hardly likely to care. And who can blame them? After all, despite being derided by many as tragic fashion victims, they have proved themselves to be one of the most successful British bands of recent times. Which, in itself, is no mean feat.

Lostprophets, Corn Exchange, Newmarket Road, Sunday, 7pm, 16.50, 0131-477 3500

Week's highlights

Today

Dick McWhittington: Four-star panto fun at the Brunton Theatre

Saturday

Pinocchio: The Royal Lyceum's new adaptation of the age-old tale

Sunday

Lostprophets: The Welsh pop-metal boys rock the Corn Exchange

Monday

ChildLine Christmas Concert: Talented young Edinburgh musicians and singers join at the Usher Hall

Tuesday

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The fantasmagorical musical opens for a 12-week run at the Playhouse

Wednesday

Randy Crawford and The Joe Sample Trio: Jazz pianist Sample partners singer Crawford

Thursday

The Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe: The St Serfs Players present their annual pantomime.