Former Lostprophets guitarists Mike Lewis and Lee Gaze have broken their silence on the range of emotions they feel after disgraced singer Ian Watkins was jailed for 29 years for child abuse.
They say they’re angry that he lied to them when accusations first surfaced, they’re horrified over what he did to his victims, family and friends – and they’re heartbroken that they can never take pride in the band’s achievements over 15 years.
Watkins began serving his sentence last year after being found guilty of a string of serious sexual offences against children. He’d denied his guilt until late in the legal proceedings.
Lewis and Gaze have spoken for the first time since appealing for unknown victims to come forward ahead of his trial.
Lewis, who’d known Watkins since the pair were five years old, tells the Sunday Times: “I’ve thought about it long and hard – and I have no interest in ever speaking to him again.
“I feel incredibly bad for his mother and his whole family, and the stigma they have to endure. But I have no interest in questioning him about it. Never.
“I tried reading the judge’s report – I couldn’t finish it. I find it utterly unbelievable that he was capable of doing these things. Obviously he did, but I don’t understand it.”
The band had previously admitted their relationship with Watkins was breaking down before the scandal broke, as he sank deeper into a world of perversion and drug abuse.
Gaze admits he was concerned about the bandmate he describes as a “coward” as the trial continued. He says: “To be in prison, where he’s going to be the guy from the rock band with those charges – I was worried. But then I reached a point where real resentment set in.”
He also says he won’t communicate with Watkins again: “I don’t think I’d get the answers I wanted – and I don’t know what knowing answers would give me now.”
He recalls that in the run-up to his conviction, the singer “spent the longest time trying to convince us that someone was trying to get revenge on him. He’d created such a web of people, bouncing these women off each other; it was perfectly feasible that one of them hated him so much she wanted to catch him out.”
The remaining members of Lostprophets – including keyboardist Jamie Oliver, bassist Stuart Richardson and drummer Luke Johnson – are working on a new project with Thursday and United Nations singer Geoff Rickly, while a police investigation is underway to discover whether Watkins’ celebrity status made it more difficult to catch him.
Looking back on his former band’s history, Lewis says: “You work for 15 years on something – and your entire legacy is wiped away in an instant. Everything you’ve done and achieve is something that’s hard to be proud of any more.”