Prodigy Articles

Kerrang, May, 97
Kerrang March, 97
Kerrang Janurary, 97
Kerrange June, 96
Kerrang November, 96
NME May, 97
NME Feburary, 97
NME June 95
MTV Blah Blah Blah, April 96
MTV Blah Blah Blah, Dec. 96
Sky, May 96
Sky, Dec. 96
Melody May 97
The Mix March 97
Guest List Jan, 97
Pointcast Dec. 96
News of the World Dec 97
Channel 4 Teletext Nov 96
Daily Star Nov, 96
Times Nov, 96
Hotpress 95
Road Rage

Kerrang May, 1997

According to guitarist Gizz Butt, we can expect a few surprises on the new LP.     "It will shock a few people," Gizz tells Kerrang!, "because it's a lot heavier than they might have expected. There's a lot of guitar on it."    Industry insiders who've heard the album describe it as 'stunning'. One major music business source even claimed in trade paper 'Music Week': "Some people are going 'round saying The Prodigy are going to be the biggest band in the world. From what we heard (of the LP), they may not be far wrong. The album is stunning, everything you would wish it to be."

Kerrang March 1997

It started with 'Smak My Bitch Up' , ended with a flame-haired madman threatening to start a fire, and sent 35,000 people absolutely mental - THE PRODIGY have destroyed Australia. Morat goes access all areas with the most intense band on earth to find out why the rest of the world is next... It's 4.30 AM and Kerrang! is slumped in the hotel bar at Coogee Beach, just outside Sydney, with a couple of amiable members of The Prodigy's road crew. The barman called last orders. This is the end. Tomorrow, we 'll go our separate ways after four days of living it large Down Under. The Prodigy are in Australia seeing off all opposition at the Big Day Out festival, and cramming in as many club gigs as possible along the way. Joining them on the tour is like stepping onto a turbo-charged merry-go-round that runs 24 hours a day. After six years together, The Prodigy are far from jaded by the lifestyle. There's always something new to see and do. So where to begin ?... Sunday evening. Blue-haired Prodigy guitarist Gizz Butt has spent all day getting tattooed with Fear Factory. We hook up at the hotel bar, where he's trying to find out how to get to tonight's Beastie Boy's gig. It turns out to have been an early show, and the rest of the band have already gone, so we cab it across town to where Supergrass are playing. The rest of The Prodge are already there, having gone straight from one gig to the next. There's an aftershow party with free beer, and then it's time to hit the clubs. A Prodigy 'Access All Areas' pass will, it seems, gain us free entry to just about anywhere, so a posse of 10 people heads out to sample Sydney's night-life. In the first club we're ushered to a corner table, plied with free champagne, and sit watching some sort of bizarre tribal performance. In the next, we take a lift down into the club, where aside from a bar and a dancefloor, there are pool tables and motorbike racing machins. Orange-haired Prodigy frontman Keith Flint gets a thrashing from Kerrang! on the latter. In the real world, he owns a race-tuned Honda Fireblade and was clocked by motorbike mag 'Motorcycle News' doing 167mph up a drag strip. We vaguelly recall stopping off for the Aussie equivalent of a kebab, and the bus driver taking a lump out of a car on the drive back to the hotel. A few of us head to Keith's room for a final smoke; then, as the sun starts to rise, Kerrang! shuffles off to bed. When we leave, Keith Flint is still very much awake. Sleep is not a necessity in his life. Later the same day, the Big Day Out arrives in Sydney. Our first glimpse of The Prodigy is beneath the late afternoon sun. They emerge from their dressing room in full battle dress, looking like a cross between an explosion in a paint factory and happy hour at a body piercing studio. Frankly, they look the fucking business. For the next hour, they simply destroy the Big Day Out. Kicking off with the awesome 'Smak My Bitch Up', blasting out 'Firestarter', sending the 35,000 Aussies absolutely mental. "Australian crowds are pretty full-on, aren't they?" observes keyboard whizz/songwriter Liam Howlett later. "Festival-goers here are more hardcore than they are in England. They're mad. "Sometimes people wanna hear the older stuff - tracks off the first album - but we got fucked off with playing that. And because we only come here once a year, we want to update people. Otherwise they'll think we're still a rave act." Last year, The Prodigy headlined the Big Day Out's dance stage - a vast shed aptly named The Boiler Room. No other band has been invited back to the festival two years in a row. "This year, it was either play the main stage or not come," explains Liam. "So we checked out the line-up and thought it was good. We're quite into Soundgarden's music, even though the live show's a bit boring... But we love Australia, and we had a good time last year and made a lot of friends." It's hard to imagine The Prodigy making enemies. While they don't take any shit, they're not a band who go looking for trouble. But last time they were in Australia, frontman Maxim Reality and dancer Leeroy Thornhill got a lot of grief in a tattoo studio for the colour of their skin. "They just made us feel uncomfortable," recalls Leeroy. "You know, when you're made to feel like you're not suppossed to be somewhere." "They were a bunch of rednecks," sneers Liam. "I was told that Sydney and Melbourne were quite cosmopolitan," adds Maxim. It's when you go to Canberra and Adelaide - they're just little redneck towns. But I was talking to this guy from the Gold Coast yesterday and he told me he gets just as much grief for having red hair. He said, 'You don't know what it means to me, you lot coming down here and breaking so many barriers'." In their own strange, apolitical way, The Prodigy are doing as much to combat racism as the likes of Rage Against The Machine. Just by being there. "I like Rage Against The Machine," smiles Liam, "they're one of my favourite bands. But maybe that's for shallow reasons - I think their music really kicks and they're just so tight onstage. "But by having black and white in a band you're saying enough. We don't give a fuck about anything, and it's cool to have a mixture 'cos it shows you don't care." "That's the way it should be," nods Maxim. "When we get onstage, there's five of us and it's just about music. You're supposed to be colour blind." The Prodigy have also crossed over musically - on their last UK tour kids in Sepultura T-shirts rubbed shoulders with rave funs. "It's nice now, 'cos more and more you look out and see a whole variety of people - especially since 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe'," says Leeroy. "I expect a crowd to like us," says Maxim. "They're just a bunch of people - not this scene or that scene, regardless of whether they've got dreads or mohicans or pink hair." And even travelling first class around the world, The Prodigy are breaking down the odd barrier. "We were on a British Airays plane the other day," grins Leeroy, "and the stewardess was like, 'Can I see your seat ticket ?'. I went, 'Oh no, I forgot to put my suit and tie on !'. After that it was cool. She said, 'Oh God, you lot are going to give me grief the whole flight', and we had a laugh. "In a way, it's nice to be able to just turn round and laugh at them. Maybe they 'll think differently in future, know what I mean ?" The day after the Big Day Out, The Prodigy are headlining a sell-out show at the Metro club. Kerrang! takes Fear Factory down to the show, and naturally it's a cracker, with Keith and Maxim risking life and limb by leaping into the venue's photo pit, getting right in people's faces. "It's all part of it," says Maxim. "You get a little bit of that off the girls," he adds, rubbing his crotch. "Actually, I can remember when we were in San Francisco and him and Keith got a little stroke off the blokes !" hoots Leeroy. "After that, both of them backed off. It turned out it was this gay bikers' bar." "But it's cool to go out into the crowd," says Maxim, "'cos we're not untouchable, and I don't wanna create the vibe that we're 20 feet away and nobody touches us. "Yeah, there's a danger that they're gonna try and pull you apart. But when you're in someone's face shouting at them and they're backing off, they ain't forgetting it, you know what I mean ?" Indeed we do. The following night they're at it again, selling out the Metro once more. After the usual lack of sleep, they spend the day of the gig doing press and radio interviews and the like, heading to the venue a mere half-hour before they're due onstage. "Tonight might be pretty similar to last night," admits Liam, "cos there's a lot of the same people coming to the show. I'm going for one." He needn't have worried. Despite the fact that The Prodigy play the same set, the show itself is totally different. This time, Keith disappears into the crowd like the bastard son of Iggy Pop. "What's mad about Keith is people expect him to be how he is onstage when they meet him and he's actually pretty laid-back," ponders Liam. "That's what freaks people out, the way he's so polite when he looks like such a nutter... Well, he is a nutter, but it throws people. "But he's so spontaneous, he 'll just go off the fucking handle. You 'll meet him and he's really mellow, then you hang around with him a bit longer and he 'll just do something that makes you think, 'Yeah, he is completely mad !'. "The amount of times Keith's just gone off at people... Like, there was this dude in Braintree, where we live, and he's sitting in town with a couple of birds and he saw Keith and starts shouting, 'Oi! Firestarter!'. There's a load of people around Keith going like, 'Yeah, okay'. Then, 10 minutes later he's at it again - 'Oi! Firestarter!'. So Keith just went up to him and started shouting, 'Don't you fucking speak to me, you twat!'. Completely embarrassing him in front of his birds, Keith's going, 'You wanna see what it's like when people keep fucking shouting at you ?!'." "The rest of us are laughing now we've got Keith with the orange hair," grins Leeroy. "The other day at the airport, there's all these little kids going, 'Oi! Firestarter!'. Keith's just woken up and he's trying not to turn his head, cos once you've clocked 'em you 've gotta stop. But he ended up turning his head - and that's it, they swarmed around him. And the rest of us just kept going through customs." "Yeah, Keith always gets collared and we just walk off," cackles Liam. Last year, Keith Flint came second to Marilyn Manson in the 'Nutter Of The Year' category in the Kerrang! Readers' Poll. Do The Prodigy think he should have won ? "I don't know, I haven't met Marilyn Manson," shrugs Liam. "There's a lot of hype around the whole thing and I 'm not really convinced yet. "We've proved quite a lot and Marilyn Manson haven't proved anything in England yet - they haven't had hard records in the charts. Nothing we've done has been hype, cos we've proved ourselves for five or six years and we're always building on that. We haven't come out of nowhere... "But then, Marilyn Manson might 've been around for a while in America, so it might be the same vibe between them and us." In America, MTV has discovered the 'Firestarter' video and is playing it on heavy rotation. And with an alleged two million pound deal with Madonna's Maverick label in the bag, The Prodigy are set to become the next big thing in the US. "I 'm not into the whole American thing, to be honest," says Liam bluntly. "It's shit and it costs too much money to do things in a big way, so we're just gonna go over there and try to do it ourselves in the same way we did it in England. We 'll just see how it goes, and try to keep it on a small level and have a good time." You don't think with a rock and dance audience you could be bigger than Mettalica, then ? "No, we're not in the same league," Liam reasons. "We're good at what we do in our own way, but there's no point in trying to compare us to those bands because it's something completely different. "In America, there's a lot of people saying everyone's waiting for something new. That makes me a bit wary. They're saying, 'This could be it' - and I don't want to be 'it'. The minute I see that happening, we're not going to bother over there. We don't want to be the most fashionable band or the most popular. "It's good to have people who really don't like what we do, but if they come to a show they get into it," he notes. "I 'm pretty sure that anyone who's into hard music and a rock 'n' roll performance would be into what we do." So, how do you stop yourselves from getting complacent when the whole world seems to be gagging for your band ? "We've always gotta try and prove something," says Liam. "And when we're onstage, we've always gotta prove that we're a hard band. As soon as you start saying, 'Yeah, we're doing it', you start losing it. You've always gotta be hungry."

Kerrang Janurary 1997

IT TAKES a while for people to notice, but then suddenly you see the looks on their faces change. Another sell-out audience is winding itself up for the arrival of the greatest live band on the earth, The Prodigy. Whisles are blowing and banging techno, neatly spliced with The Clash and The Sex Pistols, is keeping the rave kids dancing while the rock fans - still outnumbered but steadily increasing their ranks - lurk near the bar. In amongst it all stands Liam Howlett, the genius behind the music that drew them all here, just checking out the night's vibe.  At first, they're not sure if it's him or not; they nudge each other and try to look round without staring. Eventually they're sure, and a few of them drift over. The first lot are cool, they ask when the new albums coming out, mention a few favourite songs, then wander off. But then some pubescent girls, the legacy of The Prodigy's pop past, get all over excited and Liam disappears backstage to get away from them.  It's hard to know what's more remarkable - the fact that Liam was out in the crowd at one of his own gigs, or that he managed it for so long without getting recognised or hassled. It's a luxury he seems keen to hang on to. OF COURSE, this probably wouldn't happen with the rest of the band. Their new punk rock guitarist Gizz Butt can only get away with it for so long. Leeroy, their six-foot-something dancer, and frontman Maxim Reality - he of the rattlesnake eyes and silver teeth - are both instantly recognisable.  And then there's Keith Flint. So much the public face of the band that most magazines call him Keith Prodge, he's been in your front room, scaring the pants off your granny, sneering and scowling at her from some darkened underground tunnel. He is, in fact, the Firestarter.  But what exactly is it like to be the most recognisable rock star in Britain? Rumour has it that Keith freaked out when 'Firestarter' crashed into the charts at Number One last March. How does he deal with it now?  "It's a pain in the arse sometimes, but I'm not really bothered," he shrugs, igniting a potent spliff in one of Reading Rivermead's dressing rooms. "Sometimes people like to show how into it they are, but if they get too excited I can't relate to it, and I'm probably not polite about it."  "If someone starts talking shit and bouncing all over you, you just think, 'It's doing my head in, I've got to go'. I can't deal with that. They're like, 'What can I say next to keep it flowing?', and they talk your fucking nuts off." "But I think our fans sort of respect us," says Liam. "If they know the band, then they know that we're not the sort of people who appreciate all that shit. Most of the people who come up to us are sensible and just go, 'Oh nice one', and that's it."  What do you think of the clones? I've seen quite a few green-haired 'Keiths' on this tour.  "I don't know how to take that," replies Keith.  "I laugh," grins Liam. "Especially when you see the little kids. They never get the hair quite right. But there was a funny one the other day; people don't recognise me, which is cool, but they recognise Keith, and these people were going, 'Look at him, he thinks he's the Firestarter! He thinks he's Prodigy Man!'." IN FACT, offstage the Firestarter is nothing like you'd expect him to be. Rather than blow-torching anyone who crosses his path, before the show he wanders around amiably chatting to people, toking on some potent weed and chilling out.  "I'm really pleased that I'm quite mellow in myself, 'cos I think that's just as shocking for people 'cos it's confusing," ponders Keith.  "They're almost sitting there waiting for me to explode. But that's me - and what I'm like onstage, that's me too."  "It's like when people say, 'Tell me about your image'. Well, it's just me. I didn't design it for the band, but the band allows me to do it. Anything I do now is for the band, 'cos the bands my life. But I don't do it for the band in the first place, do you know what I mean? Like, if I had another tattoo it would appear onstage, but I'd be happy to have it under my sleeve for the rest of my life."  In many ways, The Prodigy seem to have captured the 'live fast, die young' spirit without having to kick the bucket to prove the point. The vibe, quite rightly, is live for now. But what about the future? Will there be a Prodigy in 10 years' time?  "I hope so, yeah," nods Keith.  "But whether The Prodigy will be what you're seeing now or something in a different form, who knows?" considers Liam. "I'll always be into music, but you can't say if The Prodigy will even be here next year."  "I sometimes look at the bands who've split up and think, 'Why the fuck did they split up when they were so fucking good?'. I know it's slightly different, but with Nirvana, when Kurt Cobain killed himself, you thought, 'How could something that fucking good go wrong?'. We're all buzzing at the moment, but who knows, it could all go wrong. Let's just have it all now!" HAVING SAID that, The Prodigy are doing a damn fine job of staying in control. Despite enormous pressure when 'Firestarter' hit Number One, they refused to do 'Top Of The Pops', Now that the new single, 'Breathe', has also stormed to the top of the charts, the same rules apply. "We're not doing any telly," affirms Liam. "We just said bollocks, because we like to use everyone else's mistakes to improve our own thing. You know, just watching other bands on telly and seeing how shit they come across, because you can't project yourself the way you want on TV."  "If the cameraman thinks he's on a flashy day, you've got no control," agrees Keith. "And BBC soundmen think they're the gods of sound, so they broadcast the music the way they think it should sound."  "The videos are there to project the band, so are the live shows and the festivals," says Liam. "I reckon that's all people need really. I don't think people need to see us on telly talking about a load of shit when they've got the music to listen to and the videos to watch. People can have too much knowledge of a band too quickly."  Does is concern you that you might be seen as aloof and distant because you don't do to many interviews?  "I'm not gonna start doing loads of interviews because not doing them helps me to write music," shrugs Liam. "If you know everything about the band it becomes too predictable, and you know what type of songs they're gonna write."  Liam is currently writing new songs. One new Prodigy track will feature Skunk Anansie's Skin on vocals, although you may have to wait a while to hear it. Liam sent Skin a tape of the music and she wrote a set of lyrics that, according to Howlett, "changed that particular song into too much of a pop song".  "The vocals are wicked," he adds, "but I need to write another song for them. I've put it on hold for the moment until I've thought exactly what I wanna do with it."  Some of the other collaborations Howlett has involved himself in are even more bizarre.  "One of the tracks on the album I'm doing just for something completely different," he begins. "It's a collaboration of Kula Shaker, something really psychedelic. It's only with their vocalist (Crispin Mills), not the whole band, and it's gonna be one of those tracks that's a complete contrast on the album, like '3 Kilos' off '…Jilted Generation'."  GOD KNOWS when the new Prodigy album will actually be finished. Initial rumours suggested May of this year, then September, and now it seems like January '97 is a distinct possibility. You'll just have to wait.  Right now, only one question remains. Are The Prodigy really the punk rock band of the '90s? Enter new guitarist Gizz Butt, a man fully qualified to give the definitive answer, since he's served time with the UK punk veterans The Destructors and the English Dogs.  "The best punk gigs always had an underground intensity and a dangerous feel to them," he reckons. "And Prodigy gigs have always had a positive euphoria with a compelling link to the underground. It feels so right!  Don't forget, The Prodigy were, first and foremost, a dance band, and it was  the integration of other ideas that has given birth to what is ultimately a modern punk band."  We'll take that as a 'yes'. Keith?  "Only if it's because of the excitement of punk, and because of the fact that it was quite an original scene that just sprang up and exploded," he shrugs.  "Punk rock is an attitude," concludes Liam. "Our attitude is, 'Here we are, you can fucking take it or leave it'. If that's punk rock, then we're punk rock."  "We just do our own thing. Of course people will look at Keith and Gizz and say, 'Well, they've got a couple of dudes with spiky, coloured hair', but that's just the surface, and that's just fucking shit. People have to look deeper, look at what we've done and what we're not doing, like all the TV we've turned down. And the attitude of the band - the music, the things we take risks with. To me, that's what it's all about."  So never mind the bollocks, here's The Prodigy. 
The Prodigy's new guitarist Gizz Butt has a long punk rock history, playing in bands like The Destructors, Wardance and English Dogs.  He was used to playing small, snotty club gigs. So what's it like when you first gig with your new band is in front of 50,000 people at Glasgow's T In The Park Festival? "I was super fucking sharp, as it goes," insists Gizz. "I checked afterwards and I'd managed not to shit my pants."  And what's the most mental thing he's seen with The Prodigy so far? "Every bleeding gig there's something going on," he hoots. "But five of us on billboards being chased by the police was pretty mad."

Kerrang June 1996

-- Generation Terrorists --
They're the ultimate rock 'n' roll experience - utterly crazed, terrifyingly heavy and fearsomely intense. They are The Prodigy, and as Mðrat explains, they're going to tear your little world apart... A WILD-eyed maniac called Keith Flint crashes across the stage inside a weird, see-through plastic ball. He seems utterly crazed and completely out of control. With his flaming orange hair and the set of chains that he's pierced through his face, he looks like a cartoon psycho from an apocalyptic place somewhere between the 'Blade Runner' and 'Batman' movies. As the bass and drums kick in harder, whipping up a tribal thunder that you as much as you can hear, a black guy with the eyes of Satan appears and begins to tear his lunatic cohort free from the ball. The second frontman is Maxim Reality. He turns his mad eyes on the vast crowd. All around, for at least a mile in each direction, punks, ravers, bikers and every other tribe you care tom mention are losing their minds and dancing relentlessly. The atmosphere is so electric you could light up a small city with it; the sound coming up from the stage is so intense it makes your blood boil. This is The Prodigy at Glastonbury. FOR MANY of us, Glastonbury '95 was where it all started; this was where we saw The Prodigy for the first time. It was the moment when our mild curiosity about the band developed into the kind of respect and fevered enthusiasm usually reserved for bands like Sepultura and Machine Head. The beauty of festivals - aside from the fact that you can get wasted with thousands of like-minded loonies - is that you can check out bands you wouldn't normally pay to see. You might have heard The Prodigy's classic second album, 'Music For The Jilted Generation', you may have been told they were pretty good live, but you probably still hadn't forgiven them for their dire debut single, 'Charly'. And, well, most of that techno stuff's crap, isn't it? At Glastonbury '95, we'd watched The Black Crowes play on the Pyramid Stage as the sun went down, and we wandered into another field to check out The Prodigy. The wait was so long that all the drugs and alcohol had nearly worn off, and we were ready to give up and head off to watch something else. Then The Prodigy exploded onto the stage. They were, and are, the ultimate live experience. THERE HAS been a lot of debate recently about whether Kerrang! should cover The Prodigy in its hallowed pages. The band have followed it; their White Zombie/Pantera-obsessed guitarist, Jim Davis, buys the magazine every week. "Some people seem to be with us and some are against us," notes Liam Howlett, the man responsible for writing most of The Prodigy's music. Doubtless after this, the second feature on The Prodigy, there will be a lot more letters. But before you put poison pen to bog roll, let us state the case for the defence. Firstly, The Prodigy are not a techno band. True, they're not a metal band either, but then there isn't a name for what they're doing ("I just call it Prodigy music," shrugs Liam). But whatever you call it, it's been progressively heavier and more guitar-oriented, and according to Liam, will continue to do so. Which is why they're about to add an as-yet-undisclosed L7 track to their live set. They're also working on a new track with Skunk Anansie's Skin, while the likes of Fear Factory, Biohazard and Pitch Shifter fall over themselves to get The Prodigy to remix one of their tracks. "I'd really like to meet those guys," says Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares. "The Prodigy's kind of doing what I wanna do with their guitars. I can't wait to hear what their new record sounds like." NOW, YOU might claim that The Prodigy haven't always had this rock a bit handbag - but check out Ministry's woefully lightweight debut album, 'With Sympathy', if you want to see how a band can evolve from muppets to messiahs. If anything, The Prodigy's gradual transformation gives the band more credibility, because you know they're doing it for real. They don't need to make heavy music. They were doing very nicely thank you very much - all of their singles have hit the Top 20, and their records were selling by the shitload. So why risk going all heavy if they weren't really into it? "When we first started, we were sort of narrow-minded," says Liam. "We just liked hip-hop and techno. That was, like, 1991 to '92. Then we began doing more college events, where they played lots of types of music, and we got to hear different, heavier bands. You know, guitar stuff. That's when we started getting into it." "We could appreciate the attitude they were giving off," continues Maxim Reality. "We were coming from the same angle, but from the dance side." Since then, The Prodigy's evolution has been completed by the addition of Jim Davis, who recruited himself after hearing The Prodigy soundcheck. They've gone on to play shows with everyone from Sepultura to Rage Against The Machine, Porno For Pyros to Dog Eat Dog. Now that 'Firestarter' has been a Number One phenomenon, both Smashing Pumpkins and The Presidents Of The United States Of America can cover the song at their gigs, and the whole crowd will sing along. "It makes you laugh, though," says Liam. "Just because we've been doing a few festivals, the weekly papers are suddenly saying, 'Prodigy are rock and roll!'. Where the f**k does that come from? We've always been doing what we're doing now; high energy, hard shows." ROCK AND roll or not, part of The Prodigy's appeal is their relentless enthusiasm. They're so totally into what they do, you can't help but join in. Of course, it also helps that their gigs are ridiculously loud - they literally shook the dust from the ceiling a the Ilford Island last year. "None of us are up there trying to look good or anything," says Keith Flint, the Devil's own court jester and a man who smokes spliffs powerful enough to fell an elephant. "We're just having a laugh and trying to coax people into letting go." And everyone is welcome on Planet Prodigy... "It's a culmination of everyone liking so many different styles of music nowadays," says Leeroy, their dancer. "It used to be you had to be a mod or a rocker, or whatever, and if you listened to anything else your mates would give you shit. But if you listen to hard music, it doesn't matter what you look like does it?" So Kerrang! hasn't gone soft. I've seen The Prodigy play everywhere from vast festivals to tiny clubs, and every time, they're terrifyingly heavy. Ask Max Cavalera or Dino Cazares, and they'll tell you the same thing. And if you really need any more convincing, just remember that the 'Firestarter' promo got more complaints that any other video in TV history when it was screened on 'Top Of The Pops'. Now that is rock and roll. And this is the future.

Kerrang November 1996

-- Punk Rockers! Hip Hoppers, Pill Poppers, and Show Stoppers --
Pick a night, any night, and the level of noise and excitement is insane as the compere bounds on-stage with these galvanising opening words and introduces the greatest live band on the face of the planet. The Prodigy enter in a blur of madness and volume, their bass sounds a vast sonic BOOM! that shakes through the whole building and which, at Ilford Island, has even bought dust down from the ceiling. Frontmen Keith Flint and Maxim Reality, respectively a deranged clown released as part of a care in the community programme and a wild eyed satanic ringmaster, writhe and cavort, imbibing the energy and mayhem and spitting it right back out again. Their opening gambit is a live-wire fusion of hip-hop, techno, punk-rock and gloriously un-PC chaos entitled "Smack My Bitch Up". Welcome once more to the Prodigy Experience..... Having played to some 50,000 people on their recent sell-out UK tour and headlined Reading, Phoenix, T in the Park and dozens of European festivals, there can be no doubt Prodigy fever is spreading like a contagious and incurable disease. But while many of the population have been infected for five years or more, every one of the band's singles having made the UK Top 15, the fever was at least limited to the rave scene. But on March 24, 1996, a song called 'Firestarter' entered the charts at Number One and caused an epidemic. It sold half-a-million copies in the UK alone, and stayed at the top of the charts for 3 weeks. The video provoked a record number of complaints when it was aired on TV, and the lyrics sparked outrage among tabloid newspapers who supplied headlines like the 'Mail on Sundays "Ban This Sick Fire Record". During their spring UK dates, both the Smashing Pumpkins and the Presidents of The USA played the song live and received a rapturous response.  Like some glorious sci-fi monster, The Prodigy had mutated beyond recognition, added a genuine punk rock guitarist, Gizz Butt, to their line-up and turning into a terrifying awesome hybrid of everything that makes music exciting. It matters very little that The Prodigy have a dubious, some say embarrassing past. What matters is now, and right now there is no one who can touch them. Trouble is, no one can talk to them either, since they don't like doing interviews and aren't planning to do any until the end of next year at the earliest. Unless of course, you follow them around the country, get pissed with them, and ask them to sit down in front of a large tape recorder and talk. Which is what Kerrang has done... We join them backstage at the final show of their UK Tour, at Readings Rivermead Centre. The atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed, considering the air of fevered expectation inside the venue itself. Maxim, Gizz and dancer Leeroy Thornhill are of chillin out. Flint and Liam Howlett, the genius behind The Prodigys music, are sitting in a spartan room reflecting on their increasingly heavy direction. Like Moby, The Prodigy saw less and less energy in the dance scene, and having played with the likes of Sepultra and Biohazard, turned their attention to the rock scene. "I guess you get influenced by what you see", says Howlett, "We just got bored with the typical sound of the dance scene and wanted to expand on that, and that just happens to be the way we went. It wasn't like a decision to get heavier."  "Now, we don't have to blend in with anything", adds Keith, "we can be as heavy as we like." And The Prodigy like it very heavy. It's almost like the Es have worn off and they have realised they don't really love everyone after all. In the past two years, they've gone from "One Love" to the aforementioned "Smack My Bitch Up". "There were no lyrics before, so it's not as if they've changed", argues Keith, "We've just got some now that's all!"  "As far as writing happy tunes goes, that's just not my buzz," says Liam. "I have to write angry music - not like Rage against the Machine, politically angry, but just a reaction to the energy of the music that comes from angry, hard sounds." Was it annoying that it took 'Firestarter' to arouse so much attention, when previous material off your last album had been so successful? "Not for me," reasons Liam, "because it's the only song we've had in the charts apart from 'Poison' and 'Voodoo People' that I can hear again and get the same buzz. With all the other stuff, of course I get a buzz from it, but it sounds old and dated now. Whereas 'Firestarter' still sounds fresh if I hear it on the radio." Or, increasingly, on the TV. It has even been used on 'Eastenders' to soundtrack one of Joe Wicks many breakdowns. "Yeah, that was pretty funny - especially as they used it as if it was the song that was making him go mad." chuckles Liam. But what of the controversy that surrounded 'Firestarter' - at one point questions were asked in Parliament as to whether you were advocating arson? "It didn't get as far as the Houses of Parliament did it ?" frowns Keith.  Apparently. "That's cool !" grins the loon with the multi-coloured hair. "It's a joke though ,innit? I mean, if you did write a song which said something as blatant as that, and it did happen, then you'd write songs that said  'Give me money, give me fucking money,  give me really nice clothes,  give me really cool drugs, give me money'  You know, if it was that easy to get everyone to go along with something................." The sentence remains unfinished. Point made! One of the main reasons The Prodigy work so well as a rock band is the simple fact they didn't start off as one. They're operating without any of the influences or boundaries which limit their contemporaries. "Yeah I think so." Nods Liam. "We're not trying to say we are better cause we're not copying anyone, because of course I get influences from Rage against the Machine and stuff like that. But I might also take influences that no one else has looked at. I mean I've always been into Hip-hop, so I'll never leave those beats, and if I'd just been into rock I wouldn't have that knowledge. To me, by adding guitar onto stuff in Jilted like 'Voodoo People', we weren't trying to say 'Right, were now a rock band', it was just natural progression. Rock music is an attitude - it's not about the fact that you have to have guitars. I mean there are so many good electronic bands who are as heavy as rock bands." "I think one of our blessing in disguise is that no one could ever really put a name on what we do," ponders Keith. "Maybe we had that techno thing at first, but now no ones able to place us, cos we've got one track like this and one that that's like that, and it's all just what we do." Trouble is, The Prodigy do it so well that venues just aren't big enough for them anymore. They have just done two nights at Brixton Academy and they could have easily sold it out twice again. So where the hell do they go next? Arenas? Stadiums? "I'd rather keep it at the size we are now," says Liam. "The festivals are a buzz, but we definitely don't want to get too big. Stadiums are shit. The problem is when you leave Brixton and go on to do stadiums, you suddenly get all this authority coming in and moaning about noise levels. And you know how important that is to us." The Prodigy are a terrifyingly load band, but some people still aren't convinced that they belong in Kerrang. Their appearance has provoked more controversy than any band since Nirvana were first featured. I've even received death threats fro writing about them. Tell this Liam and he'll respond with a look that tells you he doesn't give a fuck what anyone thinks. "We don't want to appeal to everyone," he shrugs, "It's good for Kerrang to write about us cause it opens up a lot of minds. But I think people like to have their own scene, and they don't like bands to come along who haven't got that rock history. We can appreciate that and we don't want to come along and say 'Yeah, we are the new rock gods!'. people can either accept us or not. I mean when the Sex Pistols came out a lot of people in rock music said 'What the fuck is this shit.' Didn't they?"  "Now they all swear they were at their first concert," hoots Keith. "At the end of the day, we are not a trendy band and I think that's cool, because we wont come and go with the trends. We haven't relied upon being arty and hanging out with all the celebs. We're out there doing it because we love it!" Talking of the Sex Pistols, there seems to be a hint of Johnny Rottens infamous sneer in Keith's vocals on the Prodigys brilliant new single 'Breathe'. "I don't think Keith's got it in him to copy anyone." insists Liam.  "I am not clever enough to pull it off." cackles Keith.  "Well I didn't want to say that, but that's what I meant," says Liam "I don't think there is anything wrong in taking your inspiration from certain things, but I still think we have released something that's original with 'Breathe' ." Whether you love them or despise them, there's no denying that The Prodigy have moved on from their dance roots. The stunning, menacing promo video for Breathe is more Marilyn Manson than Orbital.  "Hopefully, our fans can grow with us ," considers Liam. "I've grown up, and the fans don't stay 16 forever. I mean all the friends I was hanging out with at raves and parties have all grown out of that sort of music and now got into more rocky stuff. Now, they're coming up and saying 'fucking hell', I like the new stuff."  "More to the point, if we're not buzzing on-stage then the people who follow us will think we've lost something," says Keith "But when we do 'Fuel my Fire' (the demented L7 cover version) you just feel like 'Here we fucking go'. That's why we do it - not because someone's said it'll be the next single if we put it in the set, but because its suck a fucking buzz. Before we went on-stage at Brixton, you couldn't have injected me with any drug that would've made me feel better than that. Any more than that and I would've felt ill - my head wouldn't have been able to handle it. It was like tripping to the max!"  " I can't explain it any better than that, but that's why you do it. I mean, I'm seriously frightened of becoming Gary Glitter, cos I reckon I'll be firestarting until I'm 60, with this beer belly, thinking I've still got it. I won't have to shave my head down the middle cause it will be bald."  "Fuel my Fire is more of a punk rock sound, and ending on that note is just like , fucking have this!," interjects Liam. "That says it all. There will probably be tunes on the new album (which is due early next year) which some may not particularly like, but you have to remember that on an album I like to build a whole picture up. 'Jilted' had its mellower moments. But to get the maximum high, you have to have the lows too..."  An hour later, The Prodigy explode onto the stage. As ever, tonight's show is immense, beyond description. You should kill to see them. Afterwards, soaked in sweat, Keith Flint is already gagging for the next show, the next assault. "To walk offstage one day and think that's your last show seems more frightening than death..........." he says.  "Fucking prolonged death."

NME May 1997

-- Prodigy and Rage get "Serial" --
THE PRODIGY are in Chicago this week working with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist TOM MORELLO.     Morello is adding guitar lines to  'Serial Thrilla', the last track to be complete for the new Prodigy  album, 'The Fat Of The Land', due out on XL on June 30. Liam Howlett  has described the track as a cross between 'Firestarter' and  'Breathe'. It's expected to be released as a single and could herald  the opening shot in the band's campaign to break America this year.  Morello got the call from Howlett late last week.   Rage's spokesman  told NME that the guitarist might also be  contributing a guitar track to The Prodigy's cover of L7's 'Fuel My Fire', which features a duet with Keith Flint and Republica's Saffron.  The full tracklisting for the Prodigy LP has now been confirmed.   It is: 'Smack My Bitch Up', 'Breathe', 'Diesel Power', 'Funky Shit', 'Serial Thrilla', 'Mindfields', 'Narayan', 'Firestarter', 'Climbatize' and 'Fuel My Fire'.    The Prodigy began their North American tour last Sunday  (May 25)  in Toronto. The venue was upgraded after the initial 1,500-seater they were playing sold out in seven minutes.

NME Feburary 1997

-- Prodigy Pump Up The Volume --
New album details THE PRODIGY's new album, due out early in the summer, will be called 'The Fat Of The Land'. It will feature their Number One singles 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe', plus the band's long-awaited collaboration with Crispian Mills (Kula Shaker.) The album was recorded at Liam Howlett's 'Earthbound' studio in Braintree, where the band are currently applying the finishing touches. No release date has yet been set. It is the follow-up to 1995's 'Music For The Jilted Generation', and will feature new tracks with vocals by Keith Flint and Maxim. It will also include a track called 'Diesel Power', with lyrics and vocals by Kool Keith, aka Mo'Wax's Doctor Octagon. A spokesman for the band said: "The album's more varied than 'Jilted Generation', and there's more stuff with vocals on it. But it's not all vocals; a lot of it is still straight-ahead dance music. There's still some fairly bruising stuff on there." He added, however, that there was nothing that would shock fans, considering that 'Breathe', one of the Prodigy's hardest songs had now sold more than 700,000 copies in the UK alone. The spokesman added that the band were likely to play Glastonbury, though nothing had yet been confirmed. He said that because of their increasing popularity in the US, their timetable for this year was being changed constantly. "I shouldn't be at all surprised if they end up playing Glastonbury. But nothing's 100 per cent at the moment. Whatever, the band won't be playing as much here as they did last year," the spokesman concluded.

NME June 1995

-- Tor De False --
Glasto In Your Living Room Can't make it to Glastonbury this year? Mum wouldn't allow you near the place, huh, or is it, as you've told your friends, you were backpacking in the Andes when the tickets went on sale? Either way, KEITH from THE PRODIGY, a, uh, prodigious festival goer, can help you turn your living room into your own private Glaso. JOHNNY CIGARETTES gulps down Nice Nigella's non-alcoholic natural soya lager substitute. Flash in the portaloo: STEVE DOUBLE So you've tried everything. The ticket office 70 miles away sold its last two minutes before you arrived, to an insurance clerk in a Simple Minds T-shirt. You ring the advert in the paper and they're asking 200 quid for a pair of probable forgeries. You can't face the prospect of walking ten miles round the fields to try and jump over the wall, only to get the shit kicked out of you by security guards. You don't know anyone within blagging distance of any guest list. DO NOT DESPAIR! Don't even leave your armchair, in fact. Because we're here to tell you how to GLASTO IN YOUR LIVING ROOM Robert Smith (The Cure) and Ian Brown (Stone Roses) were both desparate to model for us, but at the last minute both were called away on urgent world tours, and couldn't make it down to our semi-derelict "typical NME reader's living room" on the North Peckham estate. We needed someone who wasn't afraid to get mud up his nose in the name of art. Keith Prodigy, flame-haired temptress of the thinking raver, is the man, and he, and no-one else, knows what festivals are all about. "I'm well into the idea of getting right in there and getting dirty," says Keith. "It does you a lot of good sometimes. I actually like sleeping out in the open, finding your own little spot, building a fire and getting charcoal all over your face and clothes. I find it incredibly romantic." That's right. And while can't show you how to sleep in the open, we can find you a secluded space (the living room floor) a fire (some firewood, some petrol and some matches - take care not to set the entire house alight), and tons of dirt (from your back garden, or perhaps buy some Gro-bags from the garden shop).. The rest is up to your imagination. But let us imagine it for you. Now you're going to look a bit of a tool without a tent, so invest half of what you would have paid for a Glasto ticket at a camping shop. Make sure you spend three hours putting it up, last thing on Friday night, having ploughed through imaginary traffic jams that go all the back to Bristol, for the last 15 hours. Also, be sure to put the tent up while completely stoned, in a corner of the living room which you will never remember, so that you will never be able to find it again without an electronic homing device. You might wish to invite drug-crazed strangers into your living room, while you're at it... "Last time I went to Glastonbury," remembers Keith, "we gave a lift to this girl who said she was meeting someone down there. She did loads of acid and when we got there she stumbled off to meet these 'friends'. Then almost a day later she comes back to our tent telling us she'd found the answers to human existance. "Anyway, she ended up in the healing tent completely naked, and the people from this text were trying to get rid of her. So we ended up having to carry her all the way across Glastonbury, then we got in the car, drove back and we were trying to chill her out before we had to take her back to her mum. On the way back we went past Stonehenge and she was trying to scramble out of the car shouting 'HENGE! HENGE!'. It was a bit mad. "Then come one o'clock in the morning we're just driving into Braintree, ready to drop her off, and she starts taking all her clothes off again! And there's us, four dirty looking guys in a matt-black Rover, with a naked girl in the back of the car who didn't look any old than 16! Great times, though..." If this sounds like your idea of great times, why not ring up someone with a Scouse or Welsh accent to come round and act shifty in the entrance to your living room and shout "Tripsh! Whizzh! Black 'ash! E'sh!"? Or perhaps not... "Take yer own drugs, I reckon," says Keith. "But don't forget to try the hash fudge, if you find some honest looking travellers. That's some wicked stuff, man. Otherwise, a bit of hydro-bud (a type of grass grown in water, it seems - Clueless Drugs Ed) will sort you out." But man cannot live on rock'n'roll and weed alone. You need some grub. For true authenticity, why not try heating a tin of baked beans with a "three for £1" lighter, imagining it's rained and the wood is too wet to light? Or perhaps just stick to bread and peanut butter. But be sure to sprinkle it liberally with the virgin soil, for that uniquely gritty Glasto flavour. Glasto wouldn't be Glasto, however, without music. Real music, made on the land, by real people with real instruments. Why not buy a cheap acoustic guitar from your local junk shop and play it at all hours of the night, keeping yourself awake? It doesn't matter if you can play, just strum along and wail. It's not the tune, it's the "vibe" that's important. "If you're going to have a guitar at Glastonbury, you've got to play 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd over and over again," says Keith, as he fails spectacularly to pick out an A minor and then forgets all the lyrics, as is only right and proper in the circumstances. If you are so inclined, you could also construct a stone-circle in your mini-Glasto. These should be situated on ley lines (if you can't find any, paint some on the carpet), for reasons that Sir Keith will now attempt to explain. "Well, there must be more to life than the very mechanical lifestyle we lead. We're all animals, aren't we, controlled by the moon and weather and seasons and nature, it does control us... "Anyway, if you think that years ago, each village would follow the ley lines to their nearest stone circle on a full moon, have, like, a party on it, using the full moon as the light, and their energy would go along the ley line to the next stone circle, where the next party was, and the collective energy would replenish the Earth...well, that's what they say, innit?" They do, and you can no doubt replenish your carpet by pouring mud all over it and dancing around painted ley lines. There's always the question of sanitary facilities, of course, but dig a hole in your floor, stick a bucket in it and you should be alright. Be sure to nick the bog roll the first time you go, so that on subsequent visits you have to use a soggy copy of The Sun or something. Finally, though, we need ROCK'N'ROLL. We need the living, breathing live rock experience in your living room. "Our manager nearly managed it recently," beams Keith, ever eager to help. "He had 5K in his back garden, and 1K in his living room, and the place was bangin'! I think he had the neighbours bound and gagged beforehand, though..." Alternatively, turn on Channel 4, turn on your radio, tune in and drop owt that makes your eyes melt. Don't come out 'til you've found the secret to all human existence. And if you see The Stone Roses, kill them.

MTV Blah Blah Blah April 1996

-- A Quick Interview at The MTV Awards --
"Why we doin this" says Liam, looking like James MOWAX Lavelles punky older brother. "You dissed us" ARSE "Did. It was you, wasn't it?" Did not. Then someone spills beer on the tape-recorder. Keith, Maxim and Leeroy pile thorugh the door. So suddenly it is lager,lager shouting. Ho ho. SO, PRODGE, whos your hero of 96. "Dennis Pennis" says Keith." I said it last year and its the same this year." AND ZERO? "All the bastards in the music business that try and sell fucking pop music" spits Leeroy. You're bitter men. "No, we just like the real deal" "Gina G, shes my zero" says Liam What happened to LANDSLIDE, the single that was meant to come out after Firestarter? A great song!! "You mean Minefields?" says Liam. Ah yeah, sorry its the lights and the beer e.t.c "Cos its an album track. Don't you like Breathe?" Its fine, but the Monkey Mafia mix of Minefields was stormin. "Nah, it aint all that" "We're more into Mudslide," says Leeroy ," that's the next track" Oh, very funny. Anyway we blame you for the Britpop/Dance crossover - youve got Crispy from KULA SHAKER on your album...... "Well, there the best band here today aint they?" says Liam NO "Along with the Smashing Pumpkins" says Maxim You've also got Jasmine from Republica on the board...... beery silence.. Jasmine int it? "Actually its Saffron" says Liam. "I love Saffron" says Keith. Musically or on curries??? "Musically and personally" :Keith "She did some backing vocals on a track we do live. But it wont be on the album" :Liam Leeory - why do you wear kilts? "Why not, they are comfy!" Have you any scottish in ya? "No" Ah-hah - do you want some! "Get the fuck outta here, Im 200% bleck fool!!" You played every festival on the planet this year. Which was the best? "Glastonbury" says Keith That was last year!! "Oh, ...urm Monsters of Bock" WHAT! "Monsters of Bock .. - I run its, cos its my event." How many people were there? "Um..35, I think. Leeroy was doin a park'n'ride service" What about KNOBWERTH? "Nedworth was cool" says Keith. " But my favourite was our own show on Friday night at Brixton academy." "Can I ask you a question," says MAxim, "Where did you actually get your trousers?" These are authentic, signed on the inner thigh by Jarv FARAH trews. Maxim: " Oh, FARAH trews. I wore them when I was a kid. I slit them up the sides" Liam: " See, I couldn't afford them. Mine were Sarahs!" Maxim: "Naaaoooow! You can't admit that!" Keith: " Can I just say that I think Becks new album is really exciting" Liam: " Can I just say, I need album titles" Keith: " Oh I've worked it out. I've got one" Liam: " What??" Keith: "Its a secret!" So who is the most famous person you have met tonight?? Liam: "Keith"

MTV December 1996

They're back! Back with 'Firestarter', their first new material in two and a half years! Back with a reputation as the wildest fastest turbo-nutter punk-dance outfit in Britain! But they're already back on holiday ….it must be great being THE PRODIGY
Halfway up a snow-covered mountain, in a picturesque, Swiss ski resort not far from Lake Geneva, The Prodigy are playing house. Keith Flint greets guests at their luxury, three-storey, wooden chalet fresh from a stint in the sauna. Dressed casually in jogging bottoms and jumper, his multi-coloured spikes of hair drooping lamely, he looks nothing like the demented dancer who fronts the band's live show, or rolls around the stage in a transparent, plastic ball. Cuddling the chalet's resident pet, a white, Persian cat called Figaro, Keith slumps down on a sofa and raises his legs to show off some designer slippers.  "Air Perrys, if you don't mind," he demurs, in a very well-mannered voice. "Everyone on the slopes is wearing them this season." The Prodigy have come to the tourist town of Leysin to feature in the second series of Channel 4's snowboarding show, Boardstupid. Other artists invited to spend a similar four days here include Goldie, who arrives tomorrow, The Chemical Brothers. Jamiroquai and Gabrielle. That The Prodigy are first on is a mark of their well-publicised interest the sport. The whole band took up snowboarding two years ago, after songwriter Liam Howlett bought his first board.  "I went round Liam's house one day." says Keith, "and caught him carpet-surfing. He was in the lounge, standing on what I thought was his" nan's ironing board. I told him to sit down. breathe deeply and I'd make him a nice cup of tea. Then he explained what it was and showed me a couple of videos. Straight away, I was hooked."  Since then, The Prodigy have been to France, Switzerland and Colorado in search of the perfect piste. Liam, who has been practising on dry slopes in England, is probably the best, although all admit to being pretty, poor, thanks to a relentless tour schedule over the last 18 months. What The Prodigy lack in experience, however, they make up for in enthusiasm.  "On our first day," recalls Liam, "we were so keen that we started riding down the mountain before finding out the route. God knows where we went. It took us hours to get back. At one stage, when we were miles off- piste, I seriously considered absailing.  "I enjoy the adventure of cross-country. I like being out in the wilds, reading the terrain and the chaos of trying to avoid trees. It's a lot like motorcross, which I used to be into, but without the noise and fumes." Clearly, Keith is as mad on the slopes as he is on the stage. The other members' snowboarding styles also reflect their personalities. Liam, who grew up on BMXs and skateboards, prefers the technical aspect of leaming to do tricks and jumps. Maxim Reality, the band's MC, is into the adrenaline rush of fast, downhill speeds. Leeroy, Keith's 6'4" dance partner, enjoys the challenge and sense of achievement. All share the same pet hates - 'fashionable', fluorescent gear (none will wear the designer label clothes they get sent for free), show-off snowboarders and, worst of all, skiers. " We don't get involved in the rivalry with skiers," claims Keith, unconvincingly. "At least, we don't hit them on purpose, it's only 'cos we're crap. Alfhough if I am going to collide with a skier, I'll make sure my elbows go out. "I ran into one woman skier in Colorado and got lodged between her legs. I'm not sure how it happened, but I got stuck facing backwards, crouching down. We must have gone a hundred yards together. When I stood up, people were holding up cards and clapping. They thought we were the next Torvill and Dean." The Prodigy are a band on a boys-own adventure. Tight-knit and self- sufficient, they never seem to tire of each other's company. On tour. they travel, hang out and explore foreign cities together. On evenings off, they go out to clubs or concerts with one another. All still live in their hometown of Braintree in Essex, while Keith and Liam's last holiday was spent snowboarding together in Colorado.  The band's line-up has remained unchanged since the summer of 1991, when The Prodigy scored a Top Three hit with their second release, the Public Service advertisement-sampling, rave record 'Charly'. A manic, E-infested, parent-scaring single, focus for the exploitation of rave culture, and 19-year-old Liam the very scene that had inspired him.  Little over a year later, The Prodigy's debut album, Experience, a complex mix of samples and breakbeats, was proof that the band had moved on, although still the rave tag stuck. Moreover, their music remained slightly out of step with fashion. It was too mainstream for the techno purists, too hardcore for the pop lot. Despite continued commercial success, The Prodigy stayed industry outsiders. But if the press didn't want to write about them and the radio wouldn't play their records, the band could keep in touch with their fans through their shows. At a time when most dance acts thought that playing live meant miming to an E'd-up crowd on a tiny club stage, the size of The Prodigy's audience allowed them large capacity venues favoured by guitar bands and, instead of relying solely on a light show and on a proper performance. So Boardstupid thought they'd have no problem performing at a 500-capacity club in Leysin. However, since all of their equipment is in Australia (where the band recently took part in the Big Day Out, the Antipodean equivalent of Lollapolooza) the programme's producers tried to come up with an alternative, suggesting that The Prodigy should record an acoustic session inside the chalet.  "Someone obviously forgot to mention that we're not too impressive unplugged." laughs Liam. "Had they warned us in advance, Leeroy would have brought along his tap shoes. That's about as good as it gets."  Unfortunately, getting out of their TV interview, scheduled for tomorrow morning, is not quite as easy. At one end of the chalet's spacious sitting-room, the finishing touches are being put to a makeshift studio set. False walls have been filled with insulating foam. burnt to give a 'cratered' effect, then painted a lurid mix of scarlet, lime green, bright blue and acid pink. "If you could turn this set into fabric," notes Keith wryly, crossing the purple carpet and slumping down on a brightly-coloured sofa, "you'd probably make the top ski outfit of all time."  The Prodigy finally shed the last of their rave roots in 1993 when they began working on their second album, Music For The Jilted Generation.  "I stopped writing all that hands-in-the-air bollocks," explains Liam. "The spirit of the rave scene stayed in that it was still good-time music you could dance to, but the songs had a new attitude and energy and hardness. It wasn't a conscious decision to change. I just wasn't listening to much dance music anymore and most techno bored me. Rock became a bigger influence. I liked its energy. I think The Smashing Pumpkins are wicked and I was really into the Chilli Peppers."  In addition, Maxim had turned Liam onto Wu Tang Clan, Leeroy liked '60s soul and Keith discovered Stone Temple Pilots. Guitar samples, deep dub, jungle and hip hop were packed into a string of successful singles. 'No Good (Start The Dance)', 'One Love', 'Voodoo People' and anti-Criminal Justice Bill anthem 'Their Law', featuring Pop Will Eat Itself, all made the Top 20. Inevitably, critical plaudits followed with the band being nominated for a Mercury Award. Meanwhile, The Prodigy's live show had absorbed all the attitude and energy of the music.  "Go to a Sepultura concert," says Keith. "and it might be loud and the singer may say he wants to go out and kill children, but it's not necessarily hard. Our show kicks ass. The crowd really let off. They jump around manically for a couple of hours and they remember that night for a long time to come. You can sit around at home and listen to music for years, but it'll never drive you to leap around the lounge like that. "The real challenge for us is to rock people who think they don't want to be rocked. Before The Prodigy, I used to hang out with a bunch of strict metalheads. We'd go to real rock venues and if I danced, I was dissed. I was suppressed by my mates. You could smoke a ton of draw, drink 14 Special Brews and fall over, but if you shuffled your feet, that was the end of you. Now metalheads come to our concerts and don't notice they're not listening to traditional music. "They start moving around without even realising. Suddenly they're like, 'Oh my God, what am I doing? I'm dancing!" "The live act is what we're all about. We've dedicated the last five years of our lives to it, so we don't just want a polite round of applause at the end of a show. We want to stir people up so much that they have to be carried out, exhausted, on a stretcher. To watch thousands of Oasis fans trample down 500 tents to get into our field at Glastonbury was a dream come true."  The Prodigy's triumphant Glastonbury gig, easily the highlight of last year's festival, altered the band's status overnight. For the first time, they became both a mainstream act and achingly hip.  "We actually asked to play Glastonbury the previous year," says Liam, "but the organisers wouldn't let us. They said we weren't big enough and got Orbital instead. We just wanted to take part. We offered to do it for free, even pay our own expenses. but they preferred to bore the audience with some so-called 'cool bands. That really annoyed me. If people want to see a nice light show, they can go to the Planetarium. I don't like putting other bands down. but you'd need to be on 30 mushrooms and at least a couple of Acid to have fun watching that."  It's hard to imagine Liam Howlett getting angry, in spite of a nose-ring and brightly-dyed hair that make him look almost as manic as Keith. He is polite. softly-spoken and thoughtful. He'll chat only if Keith lets him get a word in edgeways and is suprisingly content to let the others speak for him, even on the subject of his songwriting. The only business-minded member of the band, Liam insists that The Prodigy have never sought commercial success, and recently turned down a major label offer, preferring to stay on dance label XL where he has total control over the band's output. His only aim, he says, is to write songs that the whole band are happy with and, most importantly, to keep his music credible. Nevertheless, platinum sales of Music For The Jilted Generation have made Liam more than enough money to indulge his passions for fast cars and snowboarding. He has also installed a studio in his converted coachhouse home. It is where he is supposed to be right now, finishing The Prodigy's third album, originally due out in May, but already put back to the summer. Liam, it seems, is in no hurry. Tracks already and two of them are single. Anyway, it amuses me that we became so successful last year without releasing any new music at all. I may wait until 1997 to put out another record. If I can old out 'til then, we should be massive." Liam describes his new songs as similar to 'Poison', the fifth and final single from Jilted and The Prodigy's only output last year.  "There's definitely more attitude coming through in the music," he says. "It's still hard, but there's not that many big breakdowns. I'm constantly coming across tunes that give me inspiration. That's why I'm always out and about watching bands at festival. At the moment. I'm really into the Chemical Brothers. I think that whole breakbeat with acid and hip hop scene is pretty cool. It's the little things I usually pick up on though. For example, someone put on a DJ Shadow record this afternoon and the beats were wicked. So I stole them. Shit! Can I take that back? Now DJ Shadow will be scouring our record for his beats. He'll be ringing up, demanding royalties."  Despite delaying the release of the album, Liam insists that he doesn't feel under pressure to better his own success. The only pressure," he says. "is to progress the music. I want to surprise people every time a Prodigy record comes out. That's what I'm thinking while I write." The band's new single. 'Firestarter'. Out this month, contains the first surprise for Prodigy fans. It features Keith Flint on vocals. "To most people, Keith is just that mad bloke who has been wiggling his legs about on stage for the last five years," says Liam. "Now he's having a go at some lyrics. That came about by accident. 'Firestarter' was a good instrumental track but I knew it was missing the usual Prodigy hook that sticks in your head. Keith came into the studio, said he'd like to try singing on it and went away and wrote some words. What's a firestarter? Isn't that obvious? It's Keith - it's his personality ." 'Firestarter' loops a distant 'hey, hey, hey' sample from Art Of Noise's '80s pop hit Close To The Edit', and is slightly slower paced than the bulk of Jilted. Keith's twisted lyrics and punky, staccato style recall Flowered Up's more animated moments.  "Who on earth are Flowered Up?" asks Keith.  "We've never heard of them. Are they still around?"  You remember Flowered Up. Third wave of baggy. One great single ('Weekender') and a  Bez-like attraction called Barry Mooncult who liked dressing up as a giant daisy. They self- destructed after too many drugs and the singer ended up flogging dodgy tapes down Camden Market.  "Wow, cool." exclaims Keith. "Not that we're into drugs ourselves. Honestly. We've been a drug-free zone for a number of years now. That's why we're strong on stage, not all mashed up. I mean, we might be stoned every now and again - alright. most of the time - but weed's not a drug. It s a plant. We're on a natural trip, man."  Tonight, the only stimulant available is alcohol. After a meal in the chalet, The Prodigy head out to a club in Leysin. They are clearly unimpressed by the resort's social facilities. Yesterday evening, they spent three hours in a "shit restaurant", before going on to a hip hop club that turned out to be empty. Tonight's funkclub is scarcely more exciting. The music is barely audible and no-one dances all night. While the rest of the band drink beer, Liam, who has decided to rename the town Bored Stupid, sinks a succession of straight tequilas.  The next day, the TV production crew wait patiently for the band to appear. They play Prodigy CDs on the chalet's stereo system and dance about their paudy set in Arnet shades. It is 10am. An hour or so later, Keith, Leeroy and Maxim stumble downstairs. Liam, who has been throwing up for hours, locks himself in the toilet and refuses to come out. At noon, the interview takes place without him. "So what's happened to Liam?" asks one of the programme's two presenters. "We could tell you," begins Keith, "that he's up in the mountains. getting in some early morning snowboarding. But we won't."  "We'll just say," continues Leeroy, "that he's upstairs, praying to the bowl."  Both presenters look bemused.  "Oh, okay," stammers one. "Can someone tell us a Prodigy story then?"  Immediately. Keith is off.  "We were at this festival in Scotland last summer, he says. when these two kids got arrested. It was awful. One was caught drinking acid from a car battery and the other was found breaking up fireworks and snorting the powder." The presenters look appalled.  Conveniently, as soon as the interview is over, Liam appears, insisting that an hour up on the slopes will make him feel better before the flight back to England. As The Prodigy get out of a cable car at the top of the mountain, a Japanese rider recognises Leeroy and points him out to a friend. Trying to exptain who he is. the boy starts singing 'Poison' in an Oriental accent.  "I don't betieve it," cries Keith. "he really does know who Leeroy is. Yesterday someone mistook Maxim for Coolio, and Liam got told he looks like that bloke from East 17. It's not nearly as bad as what someone said to me though."  Keith lowers his voice and checks to see who is around. "You don't think I look like Leo sayer do you?"

Sky May 1996

Who needs jangly guitairs when you're a "harder-than-Oasis" dance band with a pink-haired mad bloke for a lead singer ? The Prodigy certainly don't. Sylvia Patterson samples the even-better-than-Glastonbury live experience...  One word to describe The Prodigy Live Experience ? Deafening. Literally. Several persons aged 12 to 25 are bawling their appraisal for the preceding 90 of beserk techno-rock-hip-hop-beakbeat-tension-dance-thrash and no one can hear a bloody thing that anyone else is saying.  It may be winter outside - minus 20 in bastard-hard Livingston, Scotland - but in our ears it's Niagara Falls, Canada in spring as a collective bloodstream whooshes in PA-pummlled defeat.  We have witnessed, as one punter put it, "the kind of thing that makes you think 'I'm getting the fuck out of this shit-hole'" The kind of thing, then, that changes lives... Five years ago The Prodigy released the 987 bpm rave classic Charly, and instantly became the titans of comedy tots' techno. Today "rave" is a word used only by TV newsreaders in association with ecstasy and dead teenagers and The Prodigy are hailed as The Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band In The World. It was the live set entitled The Greatest Show On Earth that did it and Glastonbury 95 that rumbled them. As the crowds staggered away from Oasis' lumbering headline appearance they sought the NME stage alternative : The Prodigy. It was everything Oasis wasn't : a spectacle. Keith Flint, scariest man in noise dementia since that bloke from Killing Joke used to stand on his organ and pretent to be the devil, was anointed the irrefutable King Of Rock'n'Roll and the one-time insular festival/dance circuits were forced to offer up their favourite sons as All Of The Peoples Heroes. Tonight, on stage in Livingston, in the first PBP (post-Brit-pop™), no one is up there playing dated music in a parka zipped up to the bristling eyebrows. Everyone up there is gurning gleefully at the past that's become our present, hurtling straight through the nostalgia barrier and into the future proper. Already, The Prodigy look like the first men of the new millennium.  "Ah-gat-the-poiznnnn, ah-gat-the-remedeeee !!" "There's nothing pop about The Prodigy whatsoever. We might be... popular... but that's a total accident - we didn't go out there looking for it" - mad Keith  Livingston is cuffed off its axis to Poison as Liam Howlett, technological tune whizz, guffaws behind his bank of glittering decks, rapper MC Maxim stalks off the stage, neon-blue-and-yellow Devil's Cat's contact lenses ablaze, while Leeroy, six foot six, and Keith - adorned in a silver and black shredded shirt-and-jacket number, twirling and leering like some speed-fried drag queen straight off the limo from Saturn - both shreik yelps of "Hey !" "Yaaargh !" and "Oh my Gaaaaad !". And Keith has his first attempt at lyrical "singing" in the metal-fierce hip-hop pound of superb new Firestarter. The huge, transparent atlasphere which once hosted Keith's entrance has, sadly, had it's day, but you don't need gimmicks when you've got more lunatic stage-diving tomfoolery on display than the collective personnel of Billy Smart's Circus on a headful of hallucinogenics. One word to describe the bar staff of the Hilton Hotel bar ? Nervous. Very. Like most visually-terrifying people, of course, The Prodigy are harm-free children you could entrust with new-born pups. Put your hands in the air (like you just don't care) for... Maxim ! Aka Keeti, rapper, one-time reggae-toaster, believer in ghosts (who's seen loads to prove it), currently whistling into one of those "novelty" miked-up pint glasses causing endless public feedback rumpus.  Leeroy ! Tallest man in pop, dancer, electrician, old chum of Keith's, currently going on about how much he hated Christmas: "You have to change you life for it, don't you ? Just for some geezer in a red suit. 'I don't care who you are you fat bastard, get your reindeer off me roof!'"  Keith ! Dancer, rapper, ex-traveller, parachuting enthusiast, nose-and-tongue-bolted/purple-and-green-haired icon immortalised on at least on fan's back in tattoo form. He once stage-dived right out of his trousers, boxers included, and surfed on the heads of the crowd who tried to "grab his lunch," talks like Jools Holland and looks like Vyvian off The Young Ones. Is currently impersonating a Rottweiler while wresting your repoerter's white fluffy coat to the ground. Liam ! Teenage musical "prodigy" (hence the band's moniker), player of the piano since six years old, lover of hip-hop at 14, sports car collector and currently the essence of wide-open, huge-grinned charm, he met Keith while DJing at a beach party in the summer of 1990. The band all posses a of wide-open, huge-grinned charm, in actual fact, and they are all exceptionally good-looking despite their attempts to make you believe otherwise. And they are, frankly, hopeless at explaining their own staggeringly successful phenomenon without resorting to rock'n'roll cliché-dom. To wit : "The press just build you up to tear you down." "I don't write for anyone else except myself." "We'd love to be able to go and see ourselves." "You'll never ever be able to manufacture what we've got." "We're not into categorisation, it's just Prodigy music." In other words, they are punk rockers.  So. The Prodigy. The Greatest Show On Earth eh ? "Oh God," weeps Liam, genuinely appalled at the accusation, "I wish people would stop saying that... We're not saying that..." he cringes, "ans we've been doing it for the last five years. We're just out there to rock a crowd and that's all we care about. We're just a hard dance band with rock inspiration, anything that has the energy, know what I mean ? Expectations, man... we don't want to let anybody down." "What it is," continues Liam, "is the dance scene always thought 'The Prodigy are ours', and they never gave a fuck who else knew about us. Now things are opening up, and the dance snobbery's going, same with the festivals and their rock snobbery. They never used to want to dance acts, now you've got Tricky, loads of 'em. Even in 1994 we approached Glastonbury and they said we wern't big enough, know what I mean ? Which made us want to say 'Bollocks to 95' Not that we think we're big..." The Prodigy are incapable that they always knew they were special ("No no no ! Not even that, not at all, we never thought about it, we just did it !", though Keith, thankfully has a theory. "We started off wanting to play at the clubs we used to go to," he sta tes, "but because we've all been in loads of different scenes - I've been playing in rock scenes, know what I mean ? - what was much better was playing the places we shouldn't be playing at. And that's what did it. We thought 'fuck it,' got on the bill with Senser, Biohazard, Helmet, Suicidal Tendancies, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Barbed wire round the stage, no glo-sticks, no Vicks, people spitting everywhere, brilliant. We went there, rocked it and held our heads up. There's nothing pop about The Prodigy whatsoever. We might be... popular... but that's a total accident - we didn't go out looking for it. OK, you can't avoid success sometimes, unless you... split up ! But it's about whether you take the piss or not. We could've done tours with Harvey Goldsmith, and he's involved with Smash Hits awards so if you do that then you're in Smash Hits." They were after you for a front cover about a year ago, I believe.  Keeti : "Really ? Not having that, man. Really ?"  Liam : "Well, you'd get a picture of my nuts on the front cover." The Prodigy must prepare to "rock the crowd." In the modest dressing room, littered with crisps and beer cans, Liam takes an unfeasible shine to you reporter's taste-free flourescent orange shirt and "borrows" it for the show (on is obliged to whip the thing off behind a still-erect Christmas tree in exchange for a purple piped white T-shirt. Which ran after one wash. Cheers). There are no buxon lovelies here waiting to snort cocaine off Keeti's remarkable thighs. Or anything like it (although a superbly "refreshed" woman such as myself). It's the start of a year of touring right around Planet Earth and Keith, for one, cannot wait. "It's ideal for me," he chirps, "I love being surrounded by people." Keith Flint, ages six-and-a-half, swigs some water and transforms himself into the Liberace of hard man's dance as Liam turns the talk to the good folks of pop he actually admires. Nirvana, Green Day, Skunk Anansie. Björk, Oasis, Phil Collins. Phil Collins ? Hello ? "I've got a lof of respect for Phil Collins actually," he guffaws. "He doesn't give a fuck, does he ? Heheh. But Noel's cool. And he gave me the respect and came up to us at Earl's Court and said 'I like what you do'."  At the same time, Liam Gallagher said The Prodigy's music "does me head in because it's too hard."  "At least he's honest !" grins Liam.  Do you understand why they allow themselves to be popstars ?  The Prodigy in unison : "Money." Really ?  In unison : "Yeah !"  Leeroy : "Why else would they approve at £12 calendar in Our Price ?"  So there isn't a 1996 Prodigy topless calendar extravaganza wingin it's way into the shops as we speak ? Keith : "Well, I've actually done a hose edition where I do fireman poses in a very tight leather G-string holding the hose in various interesting positions..."  Leeroy : "And then there's me in the lycra Spiderman's suit..."  Maxim : "And the cowboy suit..."  Keith : "With the hole in the buttocks..."  Liam : "And the long-jump towards the camera naked..." Somewhere in Essex an accountant curses their name as several million guarenteed merchandising nicker evaporates into the ether. And the Prodigy laugh their multi-coloured heads off.

Sky December 1996

-- The Living Room Set --
Two weeks - that's two weeks - before their tour began, the Prodigy were shown ideas for this years stage set, mostly industrial-design based, as seen in recent years. Their reaction "Nah, bored with that. Lets do a living room." Enter the peacable Alan Chester from specialist design company, HangMan. He was about to become very ill indeed... 1) Fish Tank:- "This was Liam's idea. There's two things you should never have on-stage and that's glass and water, and we had both. It's okay, they're not real. Real fish may have demanded their own dressing room. Insisted on a specific kind of weed on their rider." 2) Bank of 70's TVs:- "Very difficult to get hold of, very hard to transport. but they are the proper period pieces; oh yes, everything had to be right. And switched to static, of course." 3) Telephone:- "Pink fun fur - from a telephone which also featured on a single sleeve. It's all continuity, y'know!" 4) Framed Pictures:- "The Firestarter Granny, the Ant picture. And then more wall designs like the little lights with the jewel shades, which are horrible and great - or both, probably." 5) Windows:- "Designed to have projections shine through the back of the frames... Yes, the lighting man is never left out." 6) Three Fish Flying Up The Wall:- "They're made with a carved base covered with lycra for the reflective effect. From the Breathe Single." 7) Gigantic Lampshades:- "Very theatrical and there's real light sources coming from them. An idea nicked from Blur? Oh no, no. I don't know who you're talking about." 8) Carpet:- "Goes between the staircases up to the higher level (where Keith goes berserk). They wanted an authentic nasty 70's brown, purple and orange carpet. They just don't exist, so we ended up getting any carpet and just dyeing it ourselves." Confessions of a Prodigy Crowd-Surfer [Andrew Diprose] "I've never put myself in that heavy rockin' mutha category of dancing. A backspin on a fresh piece of lino always beats the hell out of a head-banging mosh in a Metallica Gig. Distanced from the grim world of the studded bracelet and the biker jacket, crowd-surfing was definetely in the realm of the 'metaller'. "At the Brixton Academy, 11 October, it all changed. The Prodge came on-stage and at the sound of the first breakbeat, it all went off. Girls were fainting, the sane were making a quick exit from the stage area, everyone moved together, a huge pogoing mess of ravers. I turned to my brother (also going mental behind me) - he stopped jumping and offered up clasped hands, ready to propel me skyward. "Suddenly it all changed, hands appeared from nowhere, there was a feeling of relief, somehow the crowd was supporting me, hands passed me on with enthusiasm and a fear of getting my boot in their face. Call me a deluded fool, but for one brief moment every eye was on me, grinning and flailing - the whole audience laid out before me, hands in the air. The crowd weakened and then I dipped to chest height - screaming at the crowd seemed to work. "Within seconds, my feet had overtaken my head and I was pushed head-height all the way to the stage and the 'Welcoming' arms of the bouncers. "You want views? You want a rush? You want to show off? Just crowd-surf." The Gig Brixton Academy All-Nighter, 11 October 1996 That show, song by song 1 "Smack My Bitch Up" The Clash's "London's Burning" and the Ruts' "Babylon's Burning" fades out into... lights, cam 'awn then, action! Keith boings, Maxim shouts, "Yaaargh! yaaargh!" and lots of things about drugs and sex, presumably - and Liam's computer flickers out to match his grin, straight into the next dimension. 2 "Voodoo People" Maxim bares his chest and the first 27 rows keel over in desire... possibly . The whole world turns red. Keith's kilt swings like a pendulum. 3 "Breathe" "Release the presshah!" shrieks Maxim. "Don't play the game!" agrees Keith in this, their bonkerspunkmayhemakimbo Sex Pistols-gone-techno James Bond theme tune anthem for the "Fuck you" generation. You couldn't ask for more. You get it - Gizz, the guitarist, appears; flame of hair, leather of jacket, punk of rock - he is Keith with a guitar. 4 "Poison" They've got the remedy! They've got London shifting on its axis with the flamed frenetic hip-hop calamity. The first 27 rows forget about swooning and surf on each other's heads. 5 "Funky Shit" No kidding, buster, and here's Leeroy to prove it - a man who appears to be on casters, such is the smoothness of his comedy-tail-wind-surfing windmill routine. 6 "Weather Experience" "Hands in the air! Show your appreciation!!" hollers Maxim, the man with the Devil's eyes. No-one argues with him. 7 "Their Law" Up the revolution. Gizz reappears and Jimi Hendrix grins in approval from the Heavens. 8 "Beats" Thus far, it's only a provisionally titled, unfinished, crunchophonic "Test Tune". Keith alights the stairways to the platform level above and gives it large, as a man would who once said, "When I'm on stage, my body screams. If I could burst into flames, I would." 9 "Mine Fields" Mind flails, more like... 10 "Firestarter" "I'm the trouble starter, I'm the instigator!" barks Keith - and a universe bursts into flames along with him. 11 "Rock'n'Roll" "An' a rollin' rock!" blusters Maxim - and he's not talking about beer with limes in. 12 "No Good (Start the Dance)" 5000 people with javelins in their necks move as a oneness three feet into the air, back down again, and up and down and up and down... DON'T! NEED! NO! ONE! THATS! NO! GOODFORME!! and breaks the Brixton Academy. Quite literally. For the first time in its history, the false flooring down the front where a stage used to be in the olden days has cracked and given way. Four inches. If it cracks any more, the Mosh-pit are looking at a six-foot drop... The show stops dead. An announcement: "This is a security alert!" The front rows, MOVE BACK!". Fifteen minutes of chaotic confusion later, the show resumes. No one's died. Luckily. 13 "Fuel my Fire" The encore. Metal mayhem. Gizz gives it knees all the way down to Rio. 14 "Gabba" Another "test-tune" homage to Gabba techno (the Dutch-based mad techno with over 200bpm). London astrally projects round the rings of Saturn. Keith and his inner flame hold their arms aloft and we salute the human gyroscope who once said, "You can't grow old and think 'Why didn't I, why didn't I?' Just do it." You heard the man. Gizz, The Punk Rock Guitarist On paper it seems like the strangest thing, but when a guitarist - that's guitarist - wanders onstage to join the Prodigy live experience, it becomes the most brilliant thing. The man in question is one Gizzard Puke, named after the Kenny Everett character. In the music biz since he was fifteen, Gizz got the call from the Prodigy during the Summer and hasn't looked back since. Not afraid of dnace purists who look down on guitars in dance, he says, "The guitar's just another dimension. Anyway, if people don't like it, fuck 'em." His future, for now, remains open-ended: "The Prodigy had a guitarist for eighteen months who left for whatever reasons, and they got me in. I'm just doing it, really enjoying it..."

Melody May 1997

THE PRODIGY have released full details of their new album, "The Fat Of The Land", released on June 30 by XL Recordings. The tracklisting is: "Smack My Bitch Up", "Breathe", "Diesel Power", "Funky Shit", "Serial Thrilla", "Mindfields", "Narayan" (with Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills), "Climbatize" and "Fuel My Fire". There will be no single before the album. The first single will appear in September, with another to follow before the end of the year.     Discussions are still going on about the first single. As reported  last week, "Smack My Bitch Up" had been Liam Howlett's choice. However, that idea is now being reconsidered because of potential airplay problems, even though the title phrase - sampled from "Give The Drummer Some" by Prodigy rapper Kool Keith's old group Ultramagnetic MCs - is the only lyric on the track.  Work on the album continued until late last week, and as we went to press, even the band's spokesman hadn't heard "Climbatize", the last track to be completed. He gave us the following rundown on the other previously unreleased tracks.
* SMACK MY BITCH UP: "It's based on a sample from Ultramagnetic MC's
'Critical Beat Down' LP, which has long been one of Liam's
favourites. There's also a very striking Indian vocal from a singer
called Shahin Bada, which changes the track from being big beat to something more mellow."

* DIESEL POWER: "The hip-hop track, with vocals from Kool Keith, now
also known as Dr Octagon. It's a real heavy grinding track with a lyrical flow."

* FUNKY SHIT: "Based on a sample from 'Root Down' from 'Ill

Communication' by The Beastie Boys - the one that goes 'Oh my god,
that's some funky  shit'! The track lives up to that."

* SERIAL THRILLA: "It has Keith on vocals, but doesn't really sound
like 'Firestarter', it's harder and faster. It's more about the
experience of being Keith onstage."

* MINEFIELDS: "More of a Maxim song than a Keith song. It's probably
the nearest thing on this album to 'Poison' on the last album - it's
long, dark, down-tempo and moody."
* NARAYAN: "The Crispian track! It delivers the often promised
psychedelic vibe that Liam has always wanted. It breaks down about
two-thirds of the way to a big swelling chant of 'Narayan' which is
repeated until the beats come back."

* FUEL MY FIRE: "The famous thrash metal number - a cover of the L7
song. It's based on another Keith vocal, and the immortal chorus,
'People like you just fuel my fire.'"

The band are in Canada, where they were due to begin a tour at the 6,000-capacity Toronto Hall on Monday (May 26).

The Mix March 1997

-- Playing With Fire --
In '96 they went into orbit with 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe', but there's a lot more to come from The Prodigy, according to musical main man Liam Howlett. Robin Green meets one of dance music's finest producers... Think of some of Britain's finest dance programmers, and Liam Howlett should come into the equation somewhere. From a bedroom in Chelmsford, the young Liam produced such smashers as 'Everybody in the place' and the infamous 'Charlie Says', and having annoyed his father sufficiently, he moved out just before 'Charlie' was released. 'Charlie Says' was the source of many evils. With its sample of the 70's advert depicting an annoying child and an equally annoying cat who told kids not to talk to strangers - something from a shared TV culture that stuck out in the minds of the rave generation from their childhood years - the track struck a chord with most people. Of course, it was also pretty amusing to hear in a club. An influx of kids' TV rave anthems like 'Sesame Street' followed... "I never regret writing anything. When I wrote that record, I did it at my dad's house in my bedroom. I heard that advert one weekend in the break during an old 70's programme called 'Double Deckers', and I asked my step brother to record it for me, and I got up one morning and I thought, 'Yeah, I 'll make a track with it.' When I did it, I thought , 'It's pretty corny, but it's mad!'" Growing up around Chelmsford in Essex, Liam was always turned on by hip-hop. The earliest music to turn his head was Grandmaster Flash when Liam was about 14 years old, and his friend had built what he called a 'scratching deck'... "I thought, 'Fucking hell, I'd love to get into that - creating your own music and mixing it up'. He was a DJ who hired his decks out, and I used to go along with him sometimes. Then he bought this multi-tracker and I borrowed it off him, and all the stuff I was doing was better than what he was doing, even though it was his machine. "I was listening to a hip-hop show on Capital Radio, and they had a mixing competition. I entered one mix which I liked, and I decided a week later that it wasn't vey good and I sent another one, and I came first and third. It all started from there, really." Then came a kind of hip-hop band that consisted merely of two DJ's and two rappers, and minor success in the local area spurred them onwards. "We pulled in quite a few people around Southend and Chelmsford. It was quite a good scene then, know what I mean?" remembers the prodigal producer. "It wasn't very big - just a couple of hundred people in a building with a nice sound system just playing hip-hop and vibing out. "I was still doing stuff on the multi-tracker, but all I was doing was trying to loop rare groove tracks and backing tracks on a multi-tracker, spinning from track one to track two, and back to track one again. It was a bit of a joke, really, but it was god fun as far as demos are concerned. Then I saved up for some decks, got into DJ'ing, and bought the W30 after that." Perhaps the Roland W30 is not considered a legend, but the workstation was an important part of the early Prodigy sound. A keyboard with an on-board sequencer and sampling capabilities, the W30 was Liam's first instrument, and to this day he utilises its rough-around-the-edges sound. "I think the W30 as a sampler is in some ways way ahead of other samplers," claims Liam. "For some people, the quality's not good enough; but for me, it's so raw, and it has looping facilities like the Alter function, which makes the sample go forward, then spins it round and makes it come back again. It's a really handy feature for getting a smooth sound, and I've used that in loads of tracks where people would imagine that it's just a sound, but the looping makes it sound like that." It was actually the sound of W30 that helped shape the Prodigy's rough-and-ready tunes... "I'm really into the filters on the W30, and I think you can put any sound into that machine and make something good out of it. Because that was the only machine I had when I started writing music, it made me so creative. That's why I still use it, because I owe a lot of respect to it! "The sequencing is so primitive that's a joke, really. Basically I did the first demos which got us the record deal, I did 'Charlie' on it, and I did 'Everybody In The Place' on it. When I did 'Everybody', I used the W30, a Roland TR909 and a Roland U220 sound module, which was all I had." "After that I bought an Akai S1000, but I still used the W30. Unfortunately you couldn't expand the W30's memory, so I needed another sampler. I still used the sequencer on the W30, right up until everything on Jilted as well. I went on to Cubase from 'Firestarter'." Having finally beaten the fear, Liam progressed to Cubase on a Mac, and has managed to translate his trademark programming style without too many serious glitches. "The thing with Cubase is, I was scared to go on to it. It wasn't because I was against it, I was just scared. I thought it would change the sound and change the way I write music. "My music's hand-built. I don't copy sections. I always looked at it as being hand-built on the W30. I write every fucking thing, even little cymbal patterns that I'll sit and tap out for five minutes! Different notes come out at different velocities that way, and I thought that Cubase would take all that away. "When I use Cubase, I turn off Cycle mode and use it as I would have used the W30. Now I've got over the fear. I can't get into doing an eight-bar section and then arrange it from there. I have to do it as I'm going along. For something mechanical, it works, and it's obviously good for dance music because most dance music just repeats anyway. "I try to make the tracks a bit more song based, which helps me get out of the routine of having eight bars and eight bars there.Because it's up in the screen, it's too easy to get into that." Breakbeats have always been an integral part of Prodigy tracks, and an integral part of thousands of hardcore and jungle tracks that came out of the rave era. The groove and attitude of some of these tracks can only have originated from the 70's breakbeats they used. Liam is a great fan of breakbeats, and I wondered how he came across so many original breaks. "I get my beats from everywhere. One of my friends, Neil, is like me and he was into hip-hop from Grandmaster Flash times. He always collected the 70's breaks, especially on some of the new hip-hop albums like Dre and Wu Tang - they list all the breaks they've used, and we'd go to all the old record shops, spend hours in there and listen to breaks. We were digging deep for beats other people hadn't heard, and chopping them around. "One thing about jungle: I respect the programming, because it's very musical, but people will recycle the same breaks over and over again. Why go to the effort of being so creative on the programming, when you could just change the sound and end up with something even more original? "As far as my beats go, I'm not into working as fast as jungle. I prefer slower tempos, because I like the funk in the drums. You can't get any soul into the drums when you're working at jungle tempo. That's where the 70's thing comes from - the groove in the drums and the raw sound." A lot of Prodigy records have a very dirty sound. When you play one of Liam's tracks next to a techno production, the techno track will inevitably sound clean... "It's quite funny. I was in a club in France about two months ago, and a techno DJ was spinning, and he was playing loads of clean stuff. Then he puts this track on, and the beats were wicked. I thought, 'Yeah, what's this track?' Then I realised it was 'Breathe'. I was so used to hearing all the other stuff that I didn't recognise it, and it stood out as being so dirty compared to the other tracks. "I can't produce clean music. Maybe it's the way I mix things... I just don't know." It's well nigh impossible for you to have missed 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe' in 1996. You would have to have been on the moon to avoid 'Firestarter'. And with the addition of guitarist Giz to the live set, the Prodigy are now fusing a host of elements into their adrenaline-fuelled peformance. The emergence of the band's Keith Flint as a front man has helped push the Prodigy in a new direction. Looking something like a cross between a punk rocker and a spaceman, Keith leaps around with Giz and Leeroy at the front of the stage. Liam explains what it's like to gig with the Prodigy... "The thing I like about playing live is that it's spontaneous. I like the fact that I'm the background figurehead and everyone else does their thing around me. Obviously Keith's the front man, and Leeroy sort of dances around! Leeroy's quite happy dancing. Everyone said to me 'What's Leeroy going to do?' I mean I didn't tell Keith to get on the mic. Keith got on the mic because he wanted to. If Leeroy feels like he wants to learn the guitar or something, then he'll do it." Guitars are becoming an integral part of the Prodigy sound, as Liam explains... "We've had quite a few guitarists in the band. We've had a couple of dudes - local guys who could play average but couldn't perform. Then we had this guy called Jim Davies who is a wicked guitar player, probably the best I know, along with Giz. He was the guy with long hair who played on 'Breathe', and played on 'Firestarter', too. Giz hasn't actually played on a single thing yet, which he hopefully will do on the new album. Jim is probably the best guitar player I know, or certainly the most experimental. "Jim looked a bit shy on stage as far as letting off goes. Everyone in the band decided, even though he's a good mate - you see, that's the difficult thing, when friendship and business clash. We felt that we needed someone like Giz on stage to have a good performance with Keith, you know. "Jim was nervous - I don't know whether Keith made him a bit nervous or something. He's still an excellent guitar player. Every time I see him, he surprises me with different things that are so cool. I'll probably still use him from time to time. "Then Giz came along, and we held the auditions in London with about six or seven people. A few good people came along. Most of them were a load of shit, but there were three guys who stood out - one of them was obviously Giz. Just from his background, being in the English Dogs, he was a wicked player, and above all, he can perform on stage. All of a sudden, things can open up wide. "I hope, in the future, me and Giz will write things together anyway, and maybe him and Keith could both do vocals. The possibilities are endless. That's better than me on my own trying to produce the same thing with different sounds. I'm not like a Noel Gallagher, who can knock stuff out over and over again. I do have tight quality control. The Jilted album was hard, but I enjoyed doing it, and this album was hard, but I enjoyed doing that." The manic sound of 'Firestarter' was partially due to the huge guitar on the track, and also Keith's rough vocals (if indeed you can tell them vocals). He certainly didn't sing them - it's more of a punk-oriented rap, which is the way most of the old punk bands sung their tracks. Liam produced 'Fiestarter' in his own studio, where they recorded a rough take of the vocal. Although it didn't sound quite right, Liam could hear that it would work, so he recorded the whole backing track to DAT, transferred it to 2-inch and did all the vocal takes at the Strongroom studio. Then he sampled the vocals off, and finally he completed the track at Strongroom. "For 'Firestarter', we did the old trick of recording it onto tape, turning the tape over and getting all the reverse reverb effects. I love that effect. I've never found a processor that can produce the same effect. "In the Strongroom, they've got the Eventide Ultra-Harmoniser. It's five grand's worth, but it's wicked for vocals. That does some mental things. "For 'Breathe' , I finished the instrumental here, did the same thing, but actually compiled it back in this studio on the Akai DR8." Liam likes to think that he can make some of the live tracks sound different to the album. For example, 'Poison' changes quite dramatically. "For the live version of 'Poison', we get to the point and bang straight in, whereas the album version is more stretched out. 'Firestarter' has been stripped down, and Giz plays another guitar riff, which works well. People know it when it comes in, then it kind of changes. "We do another track which is only for the live show, called 'Rock In Roll', which is just a jam with beats and guitar. It's a good track, but it still needs a lot of work. Of course, it's still important for people to come along and recognise songs. I speak to Darren Emerson from Underworld, and I think he gets bored with the music. They're more interested in creating different versions of the songs rather than just a different mix. When they do 'Rez' live, it sounds totally different. To me, it's important to play songs with elements of the original, because that's why the punters are there." "How do you handle the live sound?" I enquired... "When we play live, both Akais are full all the time, and I have to load things through the set. I take a Mackie 1604 out live. As far as I'm concerned, Mackie are the best desks for dance production. I had a Tascam 32 channel, and I sold it to Shades Of Rhythm, and I had done as much as I could do with it. Mackie has much more headroom. I went from a 16 channel Mackie to buying that Tascam and after a year, I still couldn't get a good sound out of it. So I went back to basics - like two 16 channel Mackies. Then I was happy again! "Now I have my Mackie 32, and I've got extra EQ too. I've got TLA stereo valve EQ which doesn't go particularly low in frequency, but it really adds warmth." The Prodigy have an impressive kitlist nowadays - a far cry from their 'Everybody In The Place' period. With his own studio, Liam has the luxury of writing and recording tunes whenever he feels the urge. I also noticed that Liam had a Korg Prophecy among his collection, and couldn't resist asking what he thought of it. "You know how it is when companies give you free equipment and you say good things about it? Korg Prophecy - there you go! It's got some good sounds in it, but it's far from an analogue keyboard. It hasn't got the fatness, and it's so fucking awkward to program. Korg will probably shoot me, but you're asking me, and I've got to tell the truth. I like it, but I don't find it user-friendly, whereas the Nord is user-friendly, because it's like an analogue technique. You've got the dials in front of you. Maybe I'm stupid! I just prefer the analogue stuff." For this kind of music, nothing can beat the old stuff. Companies always say that they've got the next thing to top analogue, and they never truly do it... "Roland are bringing this new Jupiter thing out. They're giving me one of the promo ones, and I'm quite excited about it. I just hope they don't go down the same route as the Prophecy did. "I've got the JD 990, and it's one of my main sound sources for strings and stuff. With me, I build up my collection of equipment, and even though a synth is multi-timbral, you might only use one sound on it. With the U220, it's got my favourite string sound on, and I don't use anything else off it. "With the 990, I've programmed all my own sounds in there - all the well-known Prodigy sounds like the opening riff to 'Poison' and the 'Voodoo People' riff. I hate hearing preset sounds on tracks.

The Guest List 1997

-- Prodigy Exclusive With Liam Howlett --
Prodigy interview This year everyone was tuned in and was turned on by  The Prodigy. Whether you're blown away by their amazing  live shows, enticed by Prod culture or simply rock to  them musically, there's one good reason for it -  they're as cool as fuck! Over the past five years have defied all boundaries  that distinguish musical genres, constantly miles ahead  of their nearest contender and each release sounding as  mind blowing as their last, as will be revealed on  their new album set for release in March '97. IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, LIAM HOWLETT COMMENTS ON THE  YEAR THAT WAS...'THE YEAR OF THE PRODIGY'.  It seems over the past 5 years, The Prodigy have  surpassed everyone's expectations, is this what you had  imagined for yourself back in 1990?  "No, to us we are still the same band that we we were  five years ago, it's just everyone else's perception of  us has changed. Back in 1991 we hadn't set ourselves  any goals and we weren't looking too far into the  future. It was more a case of capturing the moment  musically." This year alone you've already had 2 Number 1 singles  in as little as 8 months, something Oasis haven't  achieved. Comment!  "I'm sure it won't be too long before Oasis are as big  as us, give 'em a couple more years."  What was your favourite gig this year (either by The  Prodigy or another artist)?  "Rage Against The Machine in Melbourne Australia on the  The Big Day Out Festival." Sum up your new album in 5 words?  "A load of noisy bollocks." What thing has fame allowed you?  "The ability to travel the world, meet different people  and experience different cultures."  What thing has fame denied you?  "Not being able to have a pet dog due to being away so  much." So what kind of dog would you like?  "A Dalmation." What were this year's highlights for you?  "The ones in my hair. And also roaring down the  mountains in Colorado snow boarding and not having to  explain to people what it felt like to be No. 1 with  'Firestarter'." If there was one perception of The Prodigy created by  the media that you could quash what would it be?  "I wish our local paper would stop calling us 'the  Braintree ravers'." You've always called yourself a "hard dance" group, so  what do you think of all the terms bandied about  branding you as "technopunk", "punkrock" and "the new  Sex Pistols"?  "My job is to write the music and it's the press' job  to come up with these musical sub-cultures."  This year The Prodigy have courted very public  "disagreements' with both Goldie and CJ Bolland. Do you  think this does either artist any harm, or are you  getting the upper hand of the media and gaining more  column inches?  "If both sides are clever enough they'll use it to the  best advantage as good exposure, as long as it doesn't  get personal." 1996 was most definitely the year of The Prodigy. What  plans do you have for 1997 and how do you see The  Prodigy developing?  "We've started a new band and have already recorded 5  tracks. We're called the Theatre of Blood, it's a  thrash band where none of us can play our instruments  particularly well, we make cool noise."

Pointcast December 1996

TALENT: THE PRODIGY December 10, 1996, 7:13 AM EST Music Week, November 30, 1996 TARGETING THE US AFTER WINNING OVER A WIDE UK AUDIENCE Two number one singles on the trot have confirmed The Prodigy as the hottest dance property in the UK. They've also become the hippest act in the country, appealing to everyone from streetsmart club types to dyed-in-the-wool punks. But, while Firestarter and Breathe have made the band one of the most recognisable in the UK, they still seem like an overnight sensation to many. In fact, the Essex band have had eight Top 10 hits in total while Breathe is their 10th consecutive Top 15 entry. And in a year when alternative dance music has crossed over like never before, The Prodigy are the undisputed leaders of a pack of top-notch acts including Underworld, Orbital and The Chemical Brothers. It is their across-the-board appeal that separates them from the rest of the crop. Everyone loves them. Kerrang! editor Phil Alexander says, "They really appeal to our readers because they're such an exciting live act. And their attitude is also very attractive to rock fans." Melody Maker editor Alan Jones agrees, "They're more rock'n'roll than rock'n'roll." The band's mainman Liam Howlett has always been eager to break down boundaries by working with a wide variety of artists. This includes collaborations with Skin from Skunk Anansie and Kula Shaker already this year, and the fruits of those labours could be seen on their next album which is slated for next March. Although The Prodigy's appeal to Kerrang! readers is obvious, their market is much wider. Emma Cochrane, deputy editor of teen mag Smash Hits, believes the band are perfect for its readers, too, if not for their parents. She says, "They're definitely a Smash Hits band. They're great to party to and I know little kids love jumping up and down to them because they're so exciting." But mums and dads think differently. She says, "We get a lot of complaints from parents when we feature them, because they say they're really offensive and scary." XL managing director, Richard Russell, who signed The Prodigy seven years ago, believes he understands their appeal. He says, "They have two great frontmen in Keith and Maxim, who's really going to become a face with the Breathe video. But they're also both innovative and populist." The manic-eyed and strangely coiffured Keith Skint explains a lot of their populism and his mad bastard antics appeal to the child in every adult and the nutter in small children. But what is surprising is the fact that the two singles which have brought them their biggest success have been among their noisiest. Russell says, "They're not a very whistle-along kind of band, but they really do connect with a lot of people. I feel Liam as a producer and musician is just a genius. He's doing something that's completely sonically different and out there." Kerrang!'s Alexander adds, "The Prodigy are at the forefront of a breakdown of boundaries. There's a point where the heavy end of techno meets the industrial end of metal and The Prodigy are right there at the cutting edge." Another factor in the rise of The Prodigy is their excellent live performances. They were the highlight of Glastonbury in 1994 and were only let down at this year's Reading by poor sound quality. The criticism in the past of dance acts was that they couldn't do it live and were over-reliant on backing tapes and technical trickery. None of this applies to The Prodigy, says Russell. "The band have never done things the rock way," he says. "When they started, they'd record during the week and then play a rave at the weekend. They never got caught up in the slow timeframe of rock and have basically been on tour for six years. They have played everywhere, which explains why they're huge in places like Poland, Iceland, Scandinavia and Germany." The next step is for the band to crack the US, where they've achieved cult status, but have yet to have a hit. Russell is currently in the US finalising a "tripartite deal between XL, Mute and a large US company", which will put more promotional clout behind the band. And Firestarter, which is currently being repromoted in the US, will be added to MTV's Buzzbin on December 9, which could give them the kickstart they need. Russell says, "The general feeling is that Firestarter could be a very big hit in the States. The alternative market is very staid there and The Prodigy and acts like them could fill the gap." The US has never had a mainstream dance scene as such, which explains why The Prodigy have never had crossover success there. But Firestarter has already sold 80,000 copies through word-of-mouth, which shows they have a promising fanbase to build on. And, when the sight of Keith Skint going doolally on the promo starts being beamed into the nation's homes, it's only a matter of time before American kids go mad for them, too

News of the World December 1996

-- Beauty and the Beast's Secret Love --
From The Goss - The Biz by Claudia Connell FEARSOME-looking Prodigy star Keith Flint is dating a model known to millions as The Gorgeous Girl. Stunning Catalina appears on the Chris Evans telly show TFI Friday as the stunner rejected by self-confessed Ugly Blokes. One possible candidate who couldn't say no is Keith, spikey-haired singer of wild dance act The Prodigy, who followed up Firestarter with their second No. 1, Breathe. He and Cat have been secretly dating for three months and are now inseparable. He is so smitten that he has bought her a ring, fuelling rumours they will tie the knot. Keith, 26, comes with dozens of tattoos, a bolt through his nose and six earrings. Pals of the unlikely couple dub them Beauty and the Beast. When The Prodigy first appeared on Top Of The Pops, hundreds of parents wrote in saying their children suffered nightmares after seeing Keith. But one friend tells me: "In reality, Keith is lovely. You'd cross the road if you saw him coming, but you couldn't meet a more down-to-earth guy. And he's an old romantic!" Facially-challenged male fans of TFI Friday write in to Evans asking to star in its "Ugly Bloke" slot. He makes their dreams come true by getting Cat to proposition them for a hot date - giving the Ugly Bloke a rare opportunity to turn down a stunner.

Channel 4 Teletext November 1996

-- The Prodigy chat to club 440 on Channel 4's Teletext --
With their single Breathe rocketing to the top of the charts this week the prodigy have become the nations favourite alternative dance band. DJ Chris Evans hates them, they refuse to do Top of the Pops, but have still sold 5 milllion records. How?? "We've bulit up our audience by playing festivals for the past 5 years" says liam Howlett the musical genius behind the PRODIGY. "We are probably the only band who have a problem with playing TOTP. We are in our element on stage and we dont want to be misrepresented on TV." "We dont do Smash Hits either because there is no way I want The Prodigy featured next to east 17." "We wont be manipulated. We are still here cause the people who follow us believe we are still there." The Prodigy dont even consider themselves a dnace act. " The British dance act is all jungle and house and we are not a part of it" says manic dancer Keith Flint. "The only people with longevity are DJs, there is no room for acts. If you make more than 3 records then DJs stop playing your songs" "Its obvious Keith cant sing "says Liam graciously " but its just punk spirit" So who does buy Prodigy records? "People in siuts, people in dance gear, even Hells Angels " says Liam confidently. "10 years ago that wouldn't have happened. The whole idea of the Prodigy is to shatter distinctions." "I'm trying to destroy the idea that if you're a black man then you have to behave in one way, and if you're white then you have to behave in another way"

The Daily Star November 1996

-- The Rock Star From Hell --
HE BOASTS enough body-piercings to set off X-ray machines at airports and his flesh is covered in demonic tattoos that he collects in every city he visits. He looks so frightening, with his double-Mohican, Devil's horns haircut and scary leer, that children burst into tears at the very sight of him. Without doubt manic Keith Flint - lead singer of Britain's chart-toppers The Prodigy - is the nation's scariest pop star. Even though his Essex-based band are too much for daytime TV and most radio stations, their record, Breathe, has booted golden oldies Robson & Jerome off the top and they have again injected mayhem at No 1. But crazy Keith, 26, whose mental dancing and angry teeth-baring antics pack in the fans at The Prodigy's shows, says he's lapping up every second. The Nineties punk, whose dad was a civil servant and whose mum worked as a school secretary, says he's sniggering "all the way to the bank". He has just notched up his first £1million - the band's rave anthem Firestarter was a huge smash back in March - and he was vowed to live the rock'n'raunch lifestyle to the full. "When, and if, I get to 65, I'd like to be able to say that I did everything - the lot," he yells. "I'd like to think I bedded loads of babes and lived out my ultimate sex fantasies". "I'd like to think that I'd been through every colour with my hair and everywhere that could have been pierced on my body and been pierced. Even if all my beloved tattoos have gone saggy by then, at least I can stand up and say, I did it". "Anyhow," he grins, "can you think of any other job I could do?" "My school results were terrible and I don't know how to wallpaper or do anything else". "Without this group and this job, I could be making lives a little more miserable for everyone by being the nasty one on the counter at a McDonald's somewhere. Think about it." Apart from scaring the nation, Keith's favourite pusuits include..... GOING out on all-night wild benders. PHOTOCOPYING his bum to embarrass shop assistants. MAKING up songs from his disgusting "body noises" as the band travels around in their VIP van. RANTING at the top of his voice to "get his energy levels flowing". Keith has already caused a huge headache for BBC's Top Of The Pops, who received a marathon number of complaints after broadcasting the video for Firestarter. Parents phoned and wrote to the Beeb to say their children were so frightened of Keith's image that they had burst into tears. It was also suggested the song encouraged arsonists. Now the producer of Top Of The Pops is sweating at the thought of a similar reaction to the band's new video - which will be shown because the group have refused to appear live. In the gruesome four minute pop promo for Breathe, the four members of the band are seen in a Hammer House Of Horrors setting where they are chased by filthy cockroaches, millipedes and alligators as the frantic rock anthem builds up. And Keith, who is dressed in a black slashed bondage suit, shows off his body covered in Satanic tattoos. One TOTP insider says: "As The Prodigy are at No 1, we have no option but to play it, even though it is even scarier than the last one." "We expect criticism - but the trendies love it." Keith just smiles manically and boasts: "I'm sorry if I offend little kids, but this is just me. What you see is what you get. I just love it when I see the faces of these stuffy executives who look me up and down wherever I go." He sniggers: "When I'm driving a flash sports car they automatically think I must have stolen it." "And when I get in the lift at their hotels, they jump out. they're afraid to be alone with me." "I think it's a hoot to get up their noses." Keith was an odd-job man without a career before joining The Prodigy - which also features songwriter Liam Howlett, 24, Maxim Reality and dancer Leeroy Thornhill, both 26 - back in October 1990. He is resting this week before heading off to Germany at the weekend to continue the group's sellout European tour. The other band members complain that he's late for everything and would forget to turn up for his own funeral. But Keith says he won't change and the group, who last week picked up the prestigious MTV Award for Best Dance Act of 1996, adamantly refuse to tone down their act for anyone. The fiery star, who boasts Noel Gallagher and Bono among his big fans, says: "We have an energy and need to keep exploring that energy if the group is to continue growing, being creative." "Sometimes it makes me giggle to think we could have more power than politicians, the way people take notice of us." "But life is for living."

Times November 1996

-- Please Don't Call Us Techno --
Oasis may have been the band of the year, but it would be folly to try to argue that the record of 1996 belonged to anyone other than the Prodigy. Firestarter was the musical equivalent of ball lightning. It arrived out of nowhere; tense, compressed, chaotic, a distillation of techno sounds, hip-hop rhythms and punkish rock energy, the likes of which had simply never been heard before. It leapt straight to No 1 in the singles chart and stayed there for three weeks, despite the group's continued refusal to appear on television. The hastily produced video that Top of the Pops showed in their stead went on to produce a record number of complaints. Allegedly, the scenes of their "singer", Keith Flint, shivering and shaking (some would say dancing) frightened small children. Off-stage Flint is anything but intimidating - The Face described him as a cross between Max Wall, Uncle Fester, Private Godfrey from Dad's Army, Crusty the Clown and Sid Vicious's hair. Put him on a stage, though, and he is electric. Even before Firestarter, no artists other than Oasis and, perhaps, Pulp, were being mentioned by their peers as regularly in these pages as the Prodigy. One theatre director called their show at Glastonbury last year "the best piece of theatre i saw all year." Afterwards, Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant found himself wondering, "I mean, is Firestarter a song? You couldn't sit down and play it on the piano, but it's a bloomin' great record." He concluded that 1996 "would be remembered for Firestarter more than the guitar bands." The much-pierced quartet's musical leader, Liam howlett, does consider his composition to be a song. We know this because he has privately asked: "How d'you follow a song like that?" - a question that a second single, Breathe, will finally be attempting to answer when it is issued a week tomorrow. Where did it come from? Nobody would have predicted Howlett's current defining role at the heart of pop culture when he and his mates shuffled out of Braintree in Essex five years ago. Then they were a rave act, specialising in slight but effective club anthems. Before the end of 1993, they had scored six hit singles (including Charly at No 2 and Everybody in the Place at No 3) and a top 20 album, Experience. In retrospect, Howlett performed his role as the high priest of good-time nonsense witha panache that the copyists who followed him never displayed, but at the time this was less apparent. Howlett was blamed for the rise of "toytown techno" and in the last analysis his tunes were soundtracks to a drug experience. Howlett began to suspect that he could knock these tunes off in his sleep. He had money and a measure of success, but no respect. One night at a dance party in Scotland, he looked down from the stage and thought: "What am I doing here?" He resolved to change direction. "I liked the energy (of rave), but not the corniness," he says. "In the early years, I was surprised to at how many times we managed to pull it off. I decided that the next record was going to be something for me." In 1994, Howlett introduced us to that record. Though still in instrumental nature, Music for the Jilted Generation didn't work the way other dance albums worked. Its wild but tightly focused energy was more suggestive of rock than anything you heard in british clubs at the time, and it became one of the first to be fully embraced by the rock press, though Howlett and his band were still widely misunderstood: when critics tried to paint Jilted Generation as a protest statement against the Criminal Justice Act, Howlett poured scorn on the idea. Asked who he will be voting for in the up-coming election, he replies that "the only thing i give a fuck about is whether I have to pay more tax or not, so whoever brings the cheapest tax rates, I'll be voting for them." You can take the boy out of Essex, but you can't take the Essex out of the boy. Though, actually, Howlett still lives there. There have been many "new" rock'n'rolls dwon the years - among them comedy and cookery - but the Prodigy's success suggests that the true inheritor is techno. Until recently, with a relatively few exceptions, 1990s rock bands mostly wanted to be thought of as "pop." Pop is more supportive of irony. Even the name militates against taking itself too seriously: it's punchy, clever and has good dress sense. It can borrow and mix ideas with impurity. Not like dumb old rock, which has to be pitched just right in order to avoid reminding everyone of a scene from Spinal Tap. You will never hear Jarvis Cocker refer to Pulp as a "band." They are always a "group." Techno is different. To start with, it is made almost exclusively by boys and the more serious(or, if you like, sad) fans are boys. Increasingly, techno bands have drawn on the chaotic, transporting energy of the ebst rock bands and, like the Prodigy, put on extravegantly entertaining live shows. Oasis just stand there, but you cant take your eyes off the Prodigy as the frontline trio of Flint, MC Maxim Reality and dancer Leeroy Thornhill confront Howlett's strident riffs and rhythms. They even have costume changes. So, when Flint approached Howlett with the idea of doing a vocal track, something they had never done before, it made sense. This led to Firestarter and its invigorating sibling, Breathe. An album, originally due about now, will be released early next year. The past six months have left Howlett, whose hobbies include fast cars and skateboarding, with some difficult choices to make. he does not regard the Prodigy as a techno group. Howlett may have begun as a purveyor of tunes to the discerning raver, but he mistrusts, even despises, club music now. What kind of act does he want to be? "We've always said in interviews that we don't want to be a techno band," he says. "We don't want to give up writing good dance music and start writing dodgy rock'n'roll music, but that's the energy were interested in at the moment. I wanted to make something more anarchic. You see, I didn't really expect Firestarter to be accepted so well." The mistake, according to Howlett, is to see his music as futuristic. You can see his point. As on Firestarter, the earth-shaking rush of the bass on Breathe, the crunchy guitars, otherworldly, electronic instrumentation and Flint's demented vocal, combine the ethereal dance experience with the visceral thrill of rock - all things that have been heard before, but never before in quite this way. Like all the best things in life, the Prodigy defy definition - and, incidentally, the new video is every bit as scary as the last.

Hot Press 1995

-- Lord Of The Dance --
THE PRODIGY may be one of the biggest dance acts in the world but, increasingly, they've been developing a rock 'n' roll attitude. As the band line up for their Friday night headlining slot at Féile, techno guru LIAM HOWLETT talks to STUART CLARK. OOPSY DAISY! I think I may have committed a bit of a journalistic faux-pas. Having spent the past 15 minutes pleasantly chatting to Liam Howlett about everything from Coronation Street to roast chicken - cutting edge stuff or what? - The Prodigy mainman has taken grave exception to the suggestion that he displays trainspotterish tendancies. "That really fucking pisses me off," he snaps sounding, er, really fucking pissed off. "We did a tour with Richie Hawkin and Moby and they were sitting in the front of the bus with all these Kraftwerk videos going, 'wow, this is the roots of techno', and I'm saying, 'maybe but it's crap'. Seriously, anyone who puts robots up on stage to perform for them and will only communicate by FAX has to be pretty sad. "Certain members of the dance fraternity might aspire to that level of electronic obsessiveness but -to use a cliché -we've got a rock 'n' roll attitude. I love jungle and hip hop because they're human and I also love loud wailing guitars. In fact, a mate of mine who's into Pantera and Soundgarden has started playing guitar with us on stage and it feels totally natural." In fairness, a quick perusal of Howlett's bijou Braintree residence -which touchingly is just round the corner from his Dad's -reveals no trace of a furry-hooded parka. And if he does spend days, nay, weeks hunched over the sequencers and samplers in his home studio that's because Liam, like all artists of substance, won't settle for adequate. The Prodigy have to be the best. This leads us neatly onto another of the 23-year-old's surprisingly few pet hates which doctors have christened 'faceless techno band with two ample-breasted dancers to compensate for their lack of charisma' syndrome. Very nasty. "I really don't know how to say this without seeming big-headed but I look at those acts and think, 'how fucking sad!' This thing of having a wailing female vocalist and a couple of not totally unattractive women wiggling their bottoms is so formula -not to mention insulting. There's a calculated attitude, spreading all the way down from the boardroom to certain parts of the underground, that if you throw enough shit at the dancefloor it'll stick because people are too bombed out to know if it's good or not. "That might possibly have been the case during the height of the illegal rave scene when the buzz was as important as the sounds," Howlett continues, "but the only place where that fuck-the-music-let's-pop-another-E attitude exists nowadays is in Scotland. 90% of the clubs there are drugged-up young kids jerking to nosebleed techno with their white gloves and designer tops on and that's not what we're about. Perhaps I'm getting old but for me it has to be deeper and more mature." It may appear to those of you whose knowledge of The Prodigy begins and ends with the nursery-rhymish 'Charly', that Liam is talking through a large orifice in his bottom but, lo, slap on a copy of last year's Music For The Jilted Generation and you'll realise that these particular Essex boys are as far removed from 2-Unlimited as Tramore on a wet Monday is from Waikikki Beach. "I think singles need to be pretty 'up', though as 'Poison' proved you don't need to do things at a hundred million miles an hour to get that sense of energy and power. An album's different because you don't have to pack everything into a four minute tune -you've got time and space to experiment and demonstrate your full range of ideas. The first LP did that with a couple of tracks, ...Jilted... took it a step further and the next one's going to be half typical Prodigy songs and half weird shit that you'll have to work harder to get into." This doesn't sound entirely dissimilar to what Messrs. Gilmour, Mason and Waters might've said at the start of the '70s. "It's kind of scary that maybe we'll wake up one day and people won't be able to connect with what we're doing but the only way to avoid that is playing safe which, as far as I'm concerned, isn't an option. "I'm not sure about us being the new Pink Floyd," he laughs, "but I hope that our fans would be broad-minded enough to appreciate that we can't make the same record over and over again." Not something that has caused The Wedding Present sleepless nights but an admirable sentiment. As readers of Right-On And Angsty Teenagers Monthly will tell you, Music For The Jilted Generation derives much of its inspiration and a good deal of its bile from that masterpiece of fascist legislation otherwise known as Britain's Criminal Justice Bill. Not that it's without its supporters -Nora Owen likes it so much she's trying to bring in her own version here. Come to think of it, have you ever seen the TD for Dublin North in the same room as Michael Howard? Thought not! "It's a fact of life that every time the Conservatives are doing badly in the polls, they bring in some outrageous piece of legislation to prove to middle-class voters in the Home Counties that they're the party that's 'tough' on law and order. Whatever else they are, they're not stupid. Remember that big riot which took place in London during the CJB protests? When the police went in to make their arrests they made sure it was in front of the TV cameras. They knew it was going to cause aggro but pictures of ravers and travellers attacking poor defenceless police horses on the 9 O'Clock News was just the sort of propaganda they needed to sway public opinion. The lack of tolerance in the UK towards different lifestyles is frightening." If anything positive could've come out of Stephen McMillan's recent E-related death, it would've been a reasoned debate on how to equip people with the pharmaceutical facts of life that might just prevent future tragedies. Unfortunately, Owen and Co. have massaged the public's understandable fears to justify a knee-jerk package of measures that's big on detection but skilfully glosses over the need for a non-sermonising drugs awareness programme. If Liam Howlett was somehow given a platform from which to address the 'ordinary' law-abiding citizens of Ireland what would he say to them to put the Ecstasy issue into perspective? "We've played the Point a couple times, so I know the venue, and the death of anyone in those circumstances has got to be a cause for concern. Those guy's parents are obviously grieving right now and my heart goes out to them but you're not going to magically solve the problem by banning raves. Because it's become so sociable people have forgottten that if you're stupid or unlucky, drugtaking can kill you. "Generally, though, when you consider how many Es are being necked every week, the number of deaths and injuries is pretty small." While Liam admits that The Prodigy still engage in the "sensible" ingestion of illicit substances, the group's drug of choice these days is adrenaline, with snowboarding top of the athletic thrills list. Not a pursuit that's easy to follow when you're living in Braintree but, hey, when you can afford to flip over to Colorado for the weekend, no problemo! "Yeah, I'm afraid it's my one concession to flash bastard-ness," Liam admits as he subjects the English language to a spot of GBH. "The scene in the States is a bit too posey for my liking but the snow there is brilliant -you can hurtle down the side of a mountain at God knows what speed, fall over and usually not break anything because it's so powdery and soft. If you're starting off, though, I'd recommend France or Switzerland 'cos they're into having a laugh." Thank you Judith Chalmers. Word has it that Island have banned Dolores O'Riordan from skiing, absailing, pot-holing and, indeed, any other dangerous sport following her ligament-tearing antics on those same Colorado slopes. Has anyone ever tried to persuade The Prodigy that it's not in their contractual interests to go down a mountain at 60 mph on what is basically a plank? "No, XL were well aware of our deathwish when they signed us, so apart from the odd, 'be careful lads', they don't give us any hassle. To be honest, we're more likely to do ourselves in on stage -especially Keith who announced recently that he wants to set himself on fire as part of the show. Diving into the crowd's bad enough -I mean, there isn't an insurance company in the country who'll give him cover - but dousing yourself in fucking paraffin!" As yes, Keith Palmer. Him of the spiky-hair, barbell through the nose and studded dog collar. A man who is to restraint what Shane MacGowan is to sobriety and proud executor of the sort of aerobic workouts that even Jane Fonda would find knackering. "The bloke is a complete lunatic," Howlett enthuses. "When I met him five or six years ago, he was driving round in this battered up old Ford Escort and there was one night we went out doing three-point turns in the snow, off our faces on E and mushrooms. I'm not saying this was acceptable behaviour -in fact it was fucking stupid -but it'll give you an idea of where our heads were at at the time." Amazingly enough still attached to their shoulders. Accepting the fact that journalists are sadistic swine, who are never happier than when they're destroying careers and promoting human misery, it's remarkable that I can't remember seeing a single bit of press this year which slags them off. Even the most hardened of dancophobes have a good 250 words to say about them, suggesting that a) XL have an inordinate amount of showbiz sherbet with which to grease the right nostrils or b) The Prodigy are the canine's testicles. "We've never consciously thought, 'we have to cross over', but as the music's progressed, more and more of a rock 'n' roll attitude's crept into it. There was a time when dance fans wanted nothing to do with the indie scene or vice versa but you only had to be at Glastonbury last month -which is probably the best gig we've ever done -to see that that sort of snobbery is on the way out. Punks, hippies, rockers, bikers, mods -you name 'em, they were down the front going mental. "It definitely helps that instead of just standing behind a bank of keyboards, we've got Keith, Leroy and Maxim out front putting on a show. And as for getting so much press coverage, it has to be said we give pretty good interview!" That they do and, rest assured lads, we're swallowing the lot! While their Glasto appearance was notable mainly for its sensory-overloading brilliance, The Prodigy were caught up in some authentic mad-nutter-on-stage drama when they played their other major headliner of the year at Vince Power's Tribal Gathering in Oxfordshire. "Yeah," Liam winces. "We still don't know how it happened but this guy, who was completely out of his head, climbed onto the stage and ran towards where I was. He didn't make any attempt to be violent but he stumbled onto me, fell and knocked all my gear over. The music stopped and I was left standing there thinking, 'fuck, I'm going to be stabbed!', but security got hold of him and threw him back into the crowd. That proved to be a mistake because later on he went into one of the tents and beat two girls up. "Apart from that, though, The Tribal Gathering was great. I spent all day walking round, checking out what was happening and never got any hassle. It's the nearest you're going to get to an illegal dance party without the police turning up at three in the morning to cart you off to the nick." In a moment of perfect synchronicity, the timer on Liam's oven goes 'ping' at precisely the same moment as the Coronation Street theme strikes up on the telly. Chicken & Chips, Derek Wilton's gnome and girlfriend Ange await on the sofa, so a few final words please on The Prodigy's trip to Pairc Ui Chaoimh? "Park E what?" Young Mr. Howlett may have an Irish name but he's not much cop when it comes to waxing lyrical as Gaelige. "Nah, I'll never get my tongue round that "We've hit a patch where every gig is better than the last one, so if Glastonbury was good, Cork should be a fucking riot!" Kids, local residents and G.A.A. committee members, you have been warned!

Road Rage

The Prodigy have taken live dance music to another level, incorporating rock iconography, parent-quaking hair and a fiercely loyal audience. Kris Needs reports from the moshpits, decks and hotels of their European tour. In August, 1995, I went to Iceland for that ill-fated Journey To The Centre Of The World festival, caned it big time and, on getting to the airport, discovered I'd left my passport and plane ticket at the site. Had to buy a new ticket and ended up in the business class lounge with The Prodigy, who'd provided the festival with its most exciting moments. Now my deejaying at the festival had been fairly reflective of my bollocksed state. 'Christmas in Smurfland', 'Hi Ho Silver Lining', 'One-Eyed Trousersnake' and a smattering of rock'n'roll and bangers. Got talking to the group who found my state rather amusing. Liam asked if I'd like to DJ at their Ilford Island gig in October - "as long as you don't play the Smurfs". Turned out the request wasn't made on the basis of Iceland anyway but the Social-predating anything-goes set on the '94 Primal Scream tour. So I did Ilford and played the Clash and Stooges amidst the stormers. Then he asked me to play the '95 Christmas gigs at Blackpool and Ilford. They went okay too with 'Anarchy In The UK' bringing on the band at Brixton. That's how I ended up as a Prodigy DJ and I haven't been the same since. It's one thing springing from techno and big beat dives to the massive halls and rock group-style presentation but it just put everything into perspective. I love underground clubs and obscure dubs that 50 spotters will buy but not since the heyday of The Clash have I witnessed anything like The Prodigy. They haven't comprimised an inch yet every single storms in at pole position - a couple of years after Mixmag had Liam on the cover accused of killing rave. They have a sound and image which cuts across the board from indie wester to nuttered raver. They are a genuine force which seems to grow stronger with each passing Prod-event. They have an identifiable image to latch onto, a bollock-blowing aural holocaust for their funk and a genuine adult-alarming punk'tude. They've never stopped gigging since they started and it shows in the deadly presentation and fierce devotion of the fans. So here I am, 20 years to the week that I first hitched up with The Clash, about to embark on their UK Breathe tour. It feels like a marriage made in wherever you like and by a few dates I felt like I'd gained a new family. Opening night and to Glasgow. Meet Pat, who has the enviable job of driving me and other DJ Jon Carter around in his blacked-out Merc, at the Luton roundabout on the M1. Carter's unconscious in the back cos he's been up all night doing a Kula Shaker remix. Pleasent drive, lots of scenery, first of lots of motorway food. The Prodigy are already on their way up in their compact but comfortable bus. Not for them the big sleeper with all on board. They like a bit of space and travel with just tour manager John Fairs for company. Pat's a nice bloke although he boasts one of the worst coughs ever. Chainsmoking doesn't help. Hope we'll all make the end of the tour. Hit Glasgow several hours later after some stunning Scottish scenery. Check into the Hilton and head down to the Barrowlands. Fuck me with a blunt doughnut look at that stage! A giant pink and black living room with furry dice speakers, gigantic lampshades over the stage, goldfish bowl, armchairs, furry phone and tuned-out TVs. Garish, tacky and totally at odds with the apocalyptic party animals about to gatecrash through the wardrobe. Keith's onstage running through 'Fuel My Fire', a cover of an old L7 tune which is the furthest yet that they've delved into full-octane punk rock. Keith's got flu, which is already working its way through the touring party. Me and Carter sit down at a table and meet a wonderful Mouse and her catering squad. Over barbecue chicken we say hello to the group. Liam comes down from the stage after fine-tuning his battery of keyboards. The musical force behind the band and a seriously nice bloke. In fact they all are. Four personalities - Liam the quiet genius and hip hop fanatic who watches over the whole operation with an eye for every detail. Maxim the ferocious MC onstage but calm offstage with a real interest in my old punk stories. I don't normally do the come and sit on my knee routine (and don't here!) but later that night in the hotel bar tell hime about Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders for an hour. Leeroy is the dancer and proverbial life and soul of the dressing room with an unparalleled line in toilet humour. If the gig's gone well he'll be sitting there spinning tales about mutual mates and their escapades while the assembled company fall about. Then theres Keith who, since pruning his locks to a technicolour mutation of the '76 Sue Catwoman style, has become a major face and, with 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe' its singing voice. Top bloke - even when I barely knew the group he took the rouble to say hello to everyone of my mates and is always ready with a hysterical antic or comment. The Prodigy is a very close-knit unit. Essex family, best mates and you get the impression all the close crew members also have to fit a bill of being mates as well as being good at the job. Jon Carter takes to the decks as the doors open and the cavernous Barrowlands gradually fills up to his patent blend of ruffneck beats and Socialist mayhem. The crowd talk, sit down, some are already dancing and it's already obvious that me and Jon are warming up in rock gig style as opposed to the 'continuous dance party' vibe favoured by some. I go on - theres no support - and launch into the mad, Stay Up Forever-style trouser tackle. Tunes like my A&E Dept remix, Kelli Hand's 'Metoh' remix, 'Energy Flash' and erm 'Blitzkrieg Bop' by the Ramones. The Screams 'Rocks' gets everyone singing along. Finally, with the crowd starting to resemble a large volcano on the point of eruption, I'm given the ten minute warning and whip out the Sonic Stiffie. Me and my studio partner Henry 'D.A.V.E The Drummer' Cullen went in and recorded a tune with the express intention of building it up for The Prodigy. One copy on dub plate littered with sirens, a bit of the Stones at Altamont, 'Londons Burning' by The Clash, the Scream's 'Get Yer Rocks Off' and a whole lot of acid mayhem. It does the job and as it winds up with a barrage of explosions production manager Graham Cochrane leads a team into taking down the large black curtain which hides the set. A cup final roar goes up and theres Liam sending out some synth chords. A beat starts up like its coming out of a transistor radio next door and Maxim bounces on in a kilt, fur jacket and shades. Then here's Keith in his 'Dirty Dozen' t-shirt and sawn-off strides. They continue prancing about to the distant beat, teasing a crowd in danger of complete meltdown. Finally here it comes. BOOM! The first bass note and were off into 'Smack My Bitch Up' the 'politically-correct' new album track which sees Maxim exhorting and Keith whipping 'em up. The whole hall is going crazy and howl with the knowledge that the next 90 minutes is going to be the roller coaster of their lives. 'Voodoo People' comes next and Leeroy makes his entrance. Backstage before they go on is a hotbed of warm up exercises and psyching up. In that heat, under those lights and at the full-on intensity it's hardly surprising that oxygen tanks stand at the side of the stage (and, in case you're wondering, a good smoke is the only stimulant on hand. They even save the beer for after the show). Then its 'Breathe' - being played before its release as a single. The bass hits you in the ribcage like a road drill on heat. It really is loud and my one regret is possibly not wearing earplugs, although I kept trying it. Wasn't the same though. Maxim introduces 'Poison' with a hearty 'this one goes out to CJ Bolland' before adding 'you can't bite my style'. I join in the cheers. How can Bolland say he never heard 'Sugar Daddy' and that dreadful 'Sugar is Sweeter' IS fuckin 'Poison'. Sauce! By the end the whole place is jumping on Maxim's command. Another new one, 'Funky Shit' follows and it's already pretty evident that slamming sub-savaged hip hop is providing the bedrock for the new Prod tackle. 'Weather Experience' from htr first album provides its intro and the gig's true hands in the air moment. 'Their Law' brings on the latest weapon in the Prodigy arsenal - guitarist Gizz Butt from Peterborough. Normally tobe found in the punk group the English Dogs. Gizz provides a wired punk visual with his spiketop and leathers and splatters riff-rage all over the shop. Bouncing off the others he provides a raucous counterpart and further affirms the Prod's Electronic Punks tag. A new tune simply called 'Beats' and featuring Keith gyrating like he's being electrocuted by the brutal electricity droning out of the mega-speakers gives way to 'Minefields' - another dark funker - before all hell breaks loose with the intro to 'Firestarter'. Keith's back in bondage gear and all over the place. Outrageous. The new Rock'n'Roll maintains the pressure before they go out with the oldest tune on offer, 'No Good (Start The Dance)', which sees some of the crowd being invited up to cavort with the boys. Interestingly it's usually the ladies in the skimpiest tops who get hoisted up. 'Fuel My Fire' works a treat as a first encore before it all goes out on the controlled mania of 'Gabba'. With the place in uproar I decide that the only record to close the night can be 'Born Slippy'. Back in the dressing room the group chill and dissect the new show. Of course there were gremlins and Keith felt like shit but overall it's a thumbs-up and back to the hotel bar. Next day Carter and I - inevitably and possibly fatally partners-in-crime - go to the Soma offices and meet Dave Clark, Orde Meikle and the boys. Lunch in a brilliant Indian restaurant, few beers and over to Rub-A-Dub Records where I spend the previous night's wages. That night it's my turn to go on first so I go for the slower stuff - Wu dubs, old school hip hop like Cutmaster DC and my Boo Radleys remixes. Carter comes on and continues the breaks before housing up. "I haven't got any bangers", he says, looking a bit worried as the mania level increases so I lend him my Sonic Stiffie. On come the Prod and we're off again. Afterwards Orde turns up and I don't get to bed until eight in the morning. Three hours later Pat's on the trombone, I fall out of bed into the car and we're off to Manchester. Manchester Apollo with the seats taken out and hordes of whistle-blowers. I'm pissed off cos my mates on the guest list had to buy tickets off bouncers. Happens the next night too. After the show I lay blame for my demise squarely at the feet of this editorial figureheads. After a few drinks in the hotel we hotfooted over to Bugged Out, caught the end of Justin Robertson and then made off to someone's house for one of those Friday nighters. Then hit the pub. Finally, at five o'clock the next afternoon with much silliness accomplished. I decide I'd better get over to the gig as I'm on at seven. Pat's having kittens but I feel great. It's Carter who's got to get to London to do the Social. He simply hails a cab and relieves himself of 150 quid. Tonight the excellent Jamie Smart is playing instead of Jon, another Essex boy currently forging ahead with the mighty Empirion. It is pointed out that the volume for the DJs is particularly low. I have a word with Liam, who says he'll sort it out. Afterwards I do make it to bed. End of the first clump. Wolverhampton next and I drive up with the lovely Jenny. On good behaviour. In fact take the stage totally sober! It is a good idea - jenny reckons I play much better, which has to be true. Also it's great remembering your set! What with the volume up and the most beserk crowd so far it all adds up to the best one yet. Meet tour support Eboman from Amsterdam. Rampant big beat acid funk with crazed climaxes and very nice people. Quiet drink in the hotel bar while Keith leads the charge to a local fish'n'chip shop. If theres no travel next day you usually find the lads propping up the bar. Next day I wave goodbye to Jenny and it's Brighton and the 5000 capacity centre. We know it's gonna be insane and it is. Jamie's up again and I'm happy to see Throb from Primal Scream and his lovely wife Anita plus my mates Nick and Scott. By now the tour's in full swing. Teething problems are particularly ironed and the band are settling in to on-the-road activities - like zooming up and down the street at the back of the venue on jet-packed scooters! Punters flocking to the gig are most surprised to see Keith and Maxim whizzing past at a rate of knots. In the distance I can see the multi-storey car park out of the window and there's Keith's familiar barnet circling right to the top and back down again. The gig is indeed mad. I drop 'Anarchy' before the Sonic Stiffie and do a bit of a clapalong cheerleader shit, much to the amusement of the Scream posse. I wander the hall and notice how young the crowd is. I remember what it was like when I saw Hendrix and the Stones at fourteen. Was never the same again. Hendrix had a few amplifiers and a small PA so what mark will this major spectacle leave? A day off then it's the big one - Brixton Academy. The first night's an early finish. I must confess to some stomach flutterings - especially when me and Jenny get to the Tower Hotel and realise Pat has my records in the back of his car and is currently somewhere in London. I call his mobile and, after a mad dash, make it with minutes to spare. Carter's there anyway. Phew. The gig goes well although I'm not sure about the early finish. I usually do about ten minutes after the group too. Sometimes the crowd files out immediately and occasionally they start cavorting to 'Born Slippy' or - new closer - Vapourspace's 'Gravitational Arc Of Ten'. Saturday's the big one - the Brixton all-nighter. Me and Jen spend the afternoon doing tourist stuff and I buy a 'Baywatch' t-shirt at the London Dungeon. A real calm-before-storm situation. I'm doing 90 minutes before the group and, predictably the crowd is the maddest yet. They scream for 'Anarchy', erupt during the 'London's Burning' bit and imitate a volcano when the band take the stage. Nothing short of awesome tonight. Near the end the levelled up dancefloor caves in, revealing a six foot drop below. Luckily nobody falls in but the show is stopped for a few minutes while its fixed. After the Prod, Jamie, DJ Hype and Carter - fresh and pissed after the Social - see things out until six. The dressing room is all whoopee, mates and champagne. Monday and it's Portsmouth. I go down with Pat and we have a fun time getting lost. His flu is raging now. It's pissing it down. Nice hotel though. The gig at the Guildhall goes fine and afterwards we adjourn to the Marriott hotel. Haven't seen Carter for a few days so a sesh develops in the bar. At one point he's on the other side of it serving while the barman goes for a piss. So it is the two of us end up in the swimming pool at five in the morning and then something funny happens. I stagger back to Jon's room for a nightcap and pass out. Wake up busting for a leak, hit the bog and return to the room. It's dark and, in my somewhat tired condition, I think I'm in my room and clamber into bed. Funny, I don't remember Jen coming to this one. I muse as I drift off. It's only when this deep voice booms "NEEDS!" that I realise I'm still in Carter's room. Worse, I'm in Carter's bed. With Carter. Luckily he sees the funny side, which doesn't stop a severe amount of pisstaking the following day. Of course the band find out. Slightly hungover next morning I fall into Pat's car for the long drive to Exeter. The car's full - me, Carter keeping a safe distance and the irrepressible Gizz, who keeps doing his Jimmy Saville impersonation. Across hill and dale and narrow country road we sail and arrive in the pituresque city of Exeter. Everyone goes shopping and I nab a quick Guinness with John Fairs. Top bloke, John. He has this quietly authoritative way of organising every minor detail without a flap. The Prodigy have every department stacked. The gig's at the University. It's fun. Early night then off to Doncaster and it's big dome. By now I'm a well-oiled machine (Titter not!). Got me set primed about right for maximum build up. Swap the punk ones about a bit. It's mainly underground acid techno from lables like Stay Up Forever and Routemaster with a sprinkling of classics and the banging mix of 'Pearls Girl' always does it. Prodigy fans waiting for their heroes have got no time for minimal techno monotony. They want to explode and, during that unbearable wait, be totally detonated! Same here. Next day me and Pat drive down to Newport for a day off and Jenny's there. It's so nice to see her after all the chaos. The gig is at the local leisure centre and Carter's there with all his mates, who nutter about while he's playing. Nice gig although I fall over and bash my knee. Agony for the rest of the tour. Liam gives me a DAT of bits for 'Fuel My Fire', which I'm going to remix. I really want to have a bash at some 90s electronic punk and it's one of the tracks he's not one hundred per cent with. There's a lot of anticipation for the new Prodigy album but he's not gonna release it until it's perfect. Tracks are scrapped, like the Skunk Anansie collaboration might not make it on, but the Kula Shaker will. When you're gigging every weekend it's hard to devote large chunks of time to the record. That's what he does in the week and it won't come out until that moment when they know it's right. Imagine the pressure he's under now... Next day me and Jen drive to Cambridge for the gig at the Corn Exchange. I go on from the doors opening and welcome the chance to slip in some hip hop before upping gear. The crowd is mainly students and noticeably less mental than usual. The group has got all their relatives and close mates there on a special balcony as its the nearest gig to Braintree. Next day it's Reading and the last date of the UK leg. The huge Rivermead Centre and this one goes off big time. Mad from the word go and I'm much happier cos the whistle brigade is back in force! I'm also a little sad cos, like I said and without wishing to sound corny, the band and crew have become like a new family. We have a little knees up at the end (The last tune of the tour is my Age Of Love remix). I get presented with a torch - they must've spotted me peering into my record box like Mr Magoo! Anyway, it's not quite the end. Two days later I'm in the studio with Gizz doing 'Fuel My Fire' and I'm pleased with the results even though we don't finish it. I'm making a punk-inspired record later this year with all my mates and he's gonna play on some tracks. Then I do four German dates which are all in five-six thousand capacity hangers. Not like the good old Brit crowds. When they get impatient the glasses start coming and when I drop punk stuff they think it's the intro! The funny thing is the band themselves go a lot madder and stay up much later than in the UK jaunt. It's like two days away Brits abroad and there are too many laughs to relate here. I should mention that I was doing the German dates right in the middle of the Aloof tour that I started immediately after The Prod. I knew it was ambitious - cane it with those lunatics all week and then hop on a plane to Germany for more insanity. After Liverpool I'd stayed up all night at Clare and Sam Voodoo's, got a cab to Manchester airport and flown down to Heathrow where the Prod were recovering from the previous night's MTV Awards, where they won Best Dance Act. In Munich we a had a bit of a sesh and I slept through all the wake up calls and missed the plane. Made The Aloof gig in Edinburgh - last night of their tour! - with seconds to spare. And then there was Ireland. Dublin and Belfast and more full-on berserkness climaxing in a girl getting the hump when nobody was interested in her and drunkenly informing the police she'd been raped. Consequently the group woke up to find armed police in their rooms and the tabloids lapped it up. You can bet that, with Oasis seemingly behaving, the Prodigy are gonna have a bit of a year at the hands of the press tossers. And that's about the size of it. 1997 sees them in Australia, the USA, some biggies in the UK, festivals, another full-on tour, Europe, the biggest album of the year and another 12 months in the life of the unstoppable juggernaut. I'm just so glad that there's a group that big this great. And having viewed the whole remarkable operation from the eye of the hurricane I know they're not gonna blow it either.
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