We Asked Lostprophets Fans How They Feel About Ian Watkins' Confession
Will they ever be able to separate the music they love from the man who abuses kids?
Yesterday, Ian Watkins pleaded guilty to almost all of the sexual offence charges levelled against him. During his hearing, he admitted – among other things – to the attempted rape of two babies, and it was revealed that his laptop password was "Ifuckkids".
His old band, Lostprophets, may have sold over 3.5 million records – and Watkins might still be arguing, bizarrely, that he doesn't recall abusing children because he was smoking so much meth at the time – but it's fair to assume that there's not much coming back after revelations like that.
I wanted to know if there were any Lostprophets fans out there who could separate Watkins' music from his awful crimes, so I had a look on Twitter to find out. Below are the people I spoke to, who we've kept anonymous because the public endorsement of a paedophile's output probably isn't the kind of thing you want in your digital footprint.
VICE: Hi there. How have you taken the news about Ian Watkins?
Male, 27: It's a hard process to accept. I don't endorse him and his acts. Ian was a role model to me – I believed I was him; I was Ian. And because I looked like him back then, Lostprophets and Ian Watkins were the centre of my attention. He looked good and the band has good music. I can say I was a Lostprophets-belieber [laughs].
Will you still listen to their music?
I'm a fan of Lostprophets, not Ian. But it's hard not to think that whatever he does is cool, because I used to think that. I won't delete their music from my computer.
Do you still like Ian as a person?
Ian's lyrics were witty... I liked that part of him. But I don't like Ian – how can I like someone who likes to rape children? I support [guitarist] Mike Lewis; he's the one.
Have your friends stopped listening to their music?
A friend of mine stopped listening to them altogether. I listen less, but I can't deny they have great tunes; "Last Summer", "The Disgraces", "Town Called Hypocrisy". I've listened to them since Ian was declared a convict – I listened to whole of Fake Sound of Progress and Start Something. What do you think of it? Should I listen to them more?
That one's up to you, mate.
Ian Watkins' recent mugshot
What do you think of Ian and the band now?
Female, 15: I don't think the band should be penalised for Ian's mistakes. I can't imagine what they must be going through, and I think they've been given a bad name in the press, being associated with him. As for Ian, I think what he did is disgusting and vile. And considering he was a role model to so many people, it was irresponsible, too.
So will you still listen to the band?
It's probably unrealistic to say I won't ever listen to them, because their music helped me through a lot. Plus, the band were involved in it as much as he was, and I still want to support them, I guess.
Are you a fan for life?
I can't say that I am. If the rest of the band carried on playing without Ian then I would obviously support them. But since they're not – and since Ian is still affiliated with them, as he didn't formally leave – I don't think I am a fan for life.
How has Ian Watkins' confession affected you?
Female, 16: I'll still listen to Lostprophets' music, but will probably be disgusted every time I hear it and not enjoy it at all.
So surely it makes sense not to listen to it?
It's a shame this had to happen, as I loved that band so much. I still have respect for the other members, as long as they had no idea what was going on.
Can you ever separate the music from Ian Watkins and his crimes?
I don't think I'll be able to separate them, as I really looked up to him. Every time I hear his voice my mind will go straight to what he has done.
How have your friends reacted?
My friends will be absolutely disgusted and not listen to him any more. As for fans in general, I suppose it's up to each person.
A court sketch of Ian Watkins
Hi there. Do you still like Ian Watkins as a person?
Female, 15: Well, before the trial I did still like him as I didn't quite believe it all. But now he's pleaded guilty, it's difficult to like someone who's done that. So I don't still like him as a person, but I doubt many people do. As an artist, he is good, but I don't think anyone is gonna see him the same. But that doesn't change how their music sounds – it's still good.
Are you worried what people will say if they catch you listening to Lostprophets?
No, I'm not bothered about what they say – if they even say anything – because the music is completely different to what's happened with Ian. My mate and her sister like them, and I think they'll probably still listen to the music, too.
What would it take you to stop listening to somebody's music?
Well, I see the music as a completely different thing. I don't know how bad something would have to be, really. Obviously it's wrong what Ian's done, but the rest of the band haven't done anything so it shouldn't stop me from listening to them.
Hey. So you told me you'll still listen to Lostprophets – are you worried about what your friends will say?
Male, 21: I'd imagine my friends who were also fans in the past would say nothing. Any friends who didn't listen may make jokes or comments, but it won't change my opinion on the music. I think what Ian Watkins did is disgusting and he deserves the sentence he receives, but I still feel an emotional attachment to the music they produced and will still listen to it. Is it tainted? Yes. Does it still mean something to me? So very much.
What would it take to stop you from listening to somebody's music?
It's hard to think of something that would stop me listening to an artist that in some way shaped me as a person, but if an artist committed horrendous crimes and it was obvious in their music then I would struggle to listen to them comfortably.
Do you still respect Watkins?
No, I think what he did is unforgivable, and any future music I would stray away from. I can't say that he's not a fantastic singer – because he is – but his personal actions have ruined him as an individual.
Follow Jak on Twitter: @Jak_TH