The Lostprophets are not a lost cause

OJ WATSON believes that we can still listen to the Lostprophets even after the disgrace of Ian Watkins.

Disgrace Ian Watkins Lostprophets Music paedophilia Rothko thom yorke

While driving to work, with the Lostprophets playing loudly with the windows down, I noticed an elderly woman looking at me with disgust. It was probably the result of the noise pollution, but my first thoughts led me to believe she was judging me; listening to the music of the now disgraced singer Ian Watkins. So can we still listen to the Lostprophets?

For those unaware, Ian Watkins has been sentenced to 35 years for a string of child sex offences that have been described as the worst incidences of paedophilia seen in British courts. His former band members have admitted to having had no knowledge of his crimes, and are attempting to rescue their likely permanently ruined musical careers. The events surrounding this, however, made me remember an on edge interview with Radiohead’s front man Thom Yorke. Discussing how the image of an artist can distract from the underlying art, Yorke said:

“A lot of the time you confuse the personality with the piece of work… It ultimately doesn’t do anybody any favours. In a way it negates the work as well… – if you’re an artist like Rothko and you choose to kill yourself, then that colours the work forever more – which is totally not the point. Not only that, it destroys the work… There’s a Rothko room in the Tate in London, and when kids go in there they go: ‘wow, this is great!’, and all they see is the joy of the colours in the paintings. And all the adults see… is this poor sod who killed himself.’

Disgraced front man, Ian Watkins, of the Lostprophets; sentenced to 35 years over child sex offences

Disgraced front man, Ian Watkins, of the Lostprophets; sentenced to 35 years over child sex offences

Consequently HMV and the BBC have fully disassociated with the Lostprophets; with music whipped from the shelves and put on the “Gary Glitter list” respectively. This is unsurprising, but it raises the question about how we often entwine the art with the artist. Does the Lostprophets’ music have anything to do with paedophilia? In my opinion, no, in general (although its hard to watch “A Town Called Hypocrisy” without feeling it’s linked). I will admit that I may be biased; I was a huge fan of the Lostprophets as a teenager, but I would argue that the sudden disregard of the Lostprophets’ music on the grounds that its lead singer is not who we hoped him to be is an unfortunate case of throwing the champagne out with the cork.

Too close to the bone perhaps?

Ian Watkins, due to the largely teenage fan base, rightly had a social responsibility placed upon him. A responsibility earned by the celebrity status bestowed upon him by the fans of music that he was only one-fifth responsible for. Celebrities often argue that media attention is too intense and invades privacies. I’m not here to debate this, but what I find disturbing is how evident it is that the public, in their love of watching celebrities fall from their pedestals that they themselves have built for them, struggle to separate the art from the artist. You simply have to look at YouTube comments of his music videos to read a torrent of abuse from people who are arguably more interested in the scandal than who have actually been let down by his actions. I find his actions appalling; don’t get me wrong, but when the pop group Steps’ own Ian ‘H’ Watkins finds himself wrongly the recipient of abuse, it becomes obvious that some people simply want to hurl abuse for the sake of it, clearly never having heard of the man before.

Ian 'H' Watkins of Steps bears no resemblance to the fallen Lostprophets singer

Ian ‘H’ Watkins of Steps bears no resemblance to the fallen Lostprophets singer

Ian Watkins’ music, regardless of his horrendous crimes, is not as Twitter has branded “evil”. Watkins’ music was once responsible for the enjoyment of millions. It is now our choice as to how we proceed; do we enter that Rothko room as children, or as resigned adults, only able to see the demise of Ian Watkins. By appreciating the difference I believe we can minimize the damage caused. If not we simply perpetuate its repercussions.

By allowing ourselves to address the problem of how to move on from this devastating case, we do not allow this man’s actions to also drag the honest work of his colleagues and the enjoyment of an entire demographic down with him.