The question of whether or not you completely abandon an artist’s work once that artist has proven themselves to be a despicable person is an ongoing cultural debate to which we may never have a satisfying answer.
For one thing, if we were to disregard the work of anyone we consider objectionable, we’d have to excise huge chunks of literature, film, music, and art from civilisation. But sometimes, the sheer enormity of the artist’s atrocities do the job for us.
In 2012, the name of Welsh band Lostprophets was indelibly besmirched after frontman Ian Watkins’ sickening child sex crimes were made public. In October 2013, the band announced they would dissolve Lostprophets and months later Watkins was sentenced to 29 years in prison.
In a statement, the band claimed that they had no knowledge of Watkins’ crimes, only finding out as the public did and received outpourings of support. The band effectively became collateral damage to their frontman’s crimes.
Fans too were drawn into a dilemma. Many who’d admired the band since high school took to social media to renounce the group and discuss how difficult it now was to even mention the band, let alone listen to their music.
That’s why a classified recently posted to Gumtree has drawn such criticism and indeed some utterly perplexed sentiments. If genuine, there is a Lostprophets tribute band in Notting Hill, London currently looking for a lead vocalist.
The ad doesn’t feature many details, just an image of the band, including Watkins, and a short missive reading, “Vocalist wanted for new Lostprophets tribute band. Please email with details if you’re interested. Thanks.”
Several outlets, including Tone Deaf, have contacted the alleged band to confirm whether or not the ad is legitimate. If it is indeed real, the group can expect to cop plenty of criticism for what may be the most inappropriate tribute band ever.
Writing for Mosh, Callum Thomson lambasted the idea of wanting to start a tribute band that would essentially honour the musical legacy of a man who was imprisoned for some of the most sickening crimes imaginable.
“Let’s put this rather bluntly, Lostprophets as a name is garbage,” Thomson writes. “There is not a single moment when you’re going to hear that name and not immediately think about the horrific things that so-called human being Ian Watkins did.”
“So why in the ever living fuck would you want to create a tribute band for them?” he continues. “There is something inherently wrong for wanting someone to essentially pretend to be a paedophile for the sake of entertainment.”
“That man should be left to rot in a cell for the rest of his days and forgotten, instead of remembered and still, in a way, idolised.” Thomson closes by appealing to the band to let the Lostprophets name “slip into obscurity”.
Interestingly, and perhaps disturbingly, enough, this is apparently not the first time someone has attempted to start a group in tribute to Lostprophets, as a Gawker column from 2014 reveals.
Writing into Gawker’s Thatz Not Okay column, an unidentified scribe asked the column author if it would be okay if their musician boyfriend joined a band mired in a child sex scandal, presumed to be Lostprophets.
“Playing in a tribute band is a pretty strong endorsement of the band,” the columnist replied. “Your boyfriend may indeed believe that it is wrong to have sex with minors, but it seems his more strongly held belief is that Lostprophets RULE.”
While in some cases one can divorce the artist from their work, the extent of the charges against Watkins should ultimately seal his fate. It leads one to wonder how anyone could think a tribute to the man’s band could be a good or even morally appropriate idea?