I had the chance to interview Liam, Keith and Maxim each during the week of the release of their ‘Their Law, The Singles 1990 – 2005′ album while they were on tour in Scandinavia. The outcome is a set of extensive interviews aimed at the fans, covering the time spent taking the last album “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned” onto the road, releasing “Their Law The Singles 1990 – 2005″, plans for the tour, their own web site and the next album.
(19th October 2005 – Copenhagen)
Neko: So you released the Their Law – The Singles album … I’d quite to talk to you through the selection on disc 2. For example Voodoo Beats, which has been quite a favourite with the fans. What made you bring it back? Have you had it sit around already or was there some reason it got selected?
Liam Howlett: To be honest, not all the choices of what records were on that 2nd CD were down to the fans, but that particular one was. I kind of thought, you know, people still like that track, but it’s not really anything that could have developed into anything else, it’s a kind of a live show thing, you know what I mean. So I thought this was a good place to put it, on that second CD, it’s a good bonus track.
I think a lot of people were asking about the samples – I changed the samples in it. It used to have a sample in it ‘my style is unorthodox, but of course it rocks’, do you remember that? Now it’s the Kool Keith thing, because we couldn’t clear that sample, so we’re using Kool Keith now.
Neko: Is that Kool Keith sample from the ‘wake up call’ full vocals version? Are you ever going to release that?
LH: Yeah, that will become available, even if it’s on our new web site. We’re putting a lot of effort into that, we’re definitely making sure it’s going to be the best one we’ve had, it’s going to be a platform to let people hear [thinks] kind of shit that’s not ever gonna be released, but people should hear, you know. We’re going to put tracks on there every month or something, just so people can hear stuff. So maybe that track “Wake Up” might appear on there at some point, or maybe not. I don’t know yet.
Neko: The track ‘Back to School’ is also on the album. When I asked you about that last year in the interview, when it was still the ‘Leeds intro’, you said it never worked out in the studio.
LH: Yeah, basically it was never destined to be an actual track. It was written for the Leeds thing, you know, as an intro. The actual track was written quite long before that, it was written in 1998. It’s quite old skool sounding. It was just written and put on a DAT tape in a cupboard! And then when we did the Leeds thing, I pulled it out of there. Do you remember what year that was?
LH: Yeah, so it was already a couple of years old. So it just, kind of developed from there really. It’s a track we like doing live, it works live; you know what I mean.
It’s a track I really like it, it captures a kind of 1996 spirit, it’s really old school for us, it works for us. We play it live because it’s different, it still evolves. Did you notice today? We just fuck around really. It’s a hard track to record and put on a record, I didn’t want to turn it into a full vocal track, I kind of just wanted to capture the best kind of arrangement for that version.
Neko: Was it called Gun Release at some point?
LH: Nah… I don’t know. ‘Gun Release’ was something the fans made up. There’s no such thing, that’s a myth. It was never called ‘Gun Release’, but there is a track called ‘Gun Reprise’. That’s the track I played tonight after Climbatize.
Neko: The Osaka fill …
LH: Yeah, exactly, the Osaka fill – that’s ‘Gun Reprise’.
Neko: Audio Bullys did a remix for Out of Space.
LH: I love it. I know it’s not very popular. But I love it.
Neko: In the credits it says you did some additional production on it. Did you rework it a lot?
LH: Not really, I edited it and reprogrammed it a bit. To be honest, what happened was, they gave me a mix, and to me it was a bit too club based. So I kind of chopped it down, did some edit on some of the beats, did some minimal work on it, just edited it down and chopped the beats around.
Yeah, not many people like that, but I do really like it! I like it, because they’ve taken an old track and just stamped their authority on it, stamped what they’re about on the track.
You can’t beat the original, the original is a classic now. But I really like their track
Neko: Initially when you had these two remixes there was talk that you may release a series of 12” around the album release.
LH: Well, there’s lots of remixes around – but I don’t know whether they are gonna come out. We obviously had Voodoo People Pendulum, OOS, we had SMBU Subfocus, the drum n’bass thing. There was a no good mix and another VP mix, the wonder kind – did you hear the wonder kind mix?
All in all, there’s about seven remixes floating around, some of which we didn’t use. The thing with this record is, we didn’t kind of want to do the usual thing and release a token new track and put it out as a single, everyone does that. For me It was about the past, it wasn’t about selling it of the back of that.There won’t be anymore singles off that record. People must be happy we’re back in the studio recording brand new material – new shit.
Neko: You have Razor on the album – what made it stand out from the other Flint tracks on the album?
LH: I like the groove, it’s got a militant groove; I like that.I really like Keith’s vocals on it. And it seemed like a good place to put that track, you know what I mean, it was worthy to make it on the record.
Neko: Did you do this version earlier or specifically for the album?
LH: No ,not especially .i recorded it a year ago and we played it live a few times .I don’t know whether it necessarily works live or not. It’s kind of too linear. I just finished it and I liked it, enough to put it on the record. And we talked about it and it had a place on there.
Neko: How about “The way it is live remix” …
LH: That’s exactly what it says it is. I know people were a bit confused and thought it was a live recording of that track. It’s basically just the version, when we play it live off the laptop at the gigs. It’s a chopped up version of that. After going back to the studio and reworking some of the always outnumbered tracks – that was what that was.
Neko: You had Brixton 97 on there – why did you choose that set? Why not something newer or also older stuff, or from different eras, for example?
LH: that was a good recording of a pinicle moment. we’d recorded that show and it’s basically the audio to the visual on the DVD, did you know that?
Of course we have lots of different shows, but it was good to have some continuity, I like that show. I like Firestarter, I like how the album starts with Firestarter and ends with Firestarter. ‘Thats your fucking lot!’- ha! I luv that shit, it always makes me smile that bit.
So yeah, that just seemed to make sense for us. I’m always a bit sceptical with Prodigy live recorded tracks, but these work, and we’ve got Spitfire from Pinkpop.
Neko: Why are you sceptical with the Prodigy live recorded tracks?
LH: They never capture the energy. We always said from day one that if anyone wants to see us it has to be live.
I think the DVD, we’ve waited a long time to release something like this, but we finally went “ok, we’re doing this thing, lets try and make it something that’s cool”.
And I think the DVD, it incorporates a lot of shit, it’s not just a bunch of videos, we got the live thing, some making of some of the tracks and the real videos.
But people really need to come to the gigs, to know what it’s about.
Neko: Is that why you’re quite wary of live recordings on the internet?
LH: I don’t mind – it’s all cool, but stuff we put out is stuff we think is quality. We can’t control anyone else.
Neko: I interviewed you a year ago and there you hinted at that you were going to do this ‘best of’, you said you wanted it be a “cool special package for the people”…
LH: [laughs] bullshit, haha.
Neko: … with “new tracks, remixes and unheard demo”’. Was that because you knew you had to do this ‘best of’?
LH: Do you think I back tracked from that slightly? (grins)
The thing is with the record company, album number five was always going to be the ‘Greatest Hits ‘ – I don’t want to call it a fucking ‘Greatest Hits’ though.
It was in my contract from 1992, you know! In 1992 we were just like “haha, Greatest Hits, what a bunch of cunts, we’re never going to go that far”.
As soon as Always Outnumbered was done the record company we’re like “ok, so next year should be this package”.
I was like ‘”fucks sake, that’s shit, I just want to do another album!”
They were like “no no no, it’s a good time to do it, it’s a good summary of what you’ve done”.
So I gradually grew to the idea that it might be cool if we can be creative with it. Me being selfish aswell ,I wanted to hold a record in my hand that had all my best work on
It was up to us to pull together something we were happy with. But when it came to it,. there was no way I was gonna pull in some of the new tracks, some of the new ideas we’ve got that were developing, just to stick them on there.they r too good just for bonus shit.
It was always about the past, about what we’d done before.
Neko: So, the inevitable ‘No Souvenirs’ question – you did once say people were going to hear it in all versions and obviously you’ve changed your mind again.
LH: Where did I say that – Was I drunk?
The trouble with that track is – and I don’t know whether I’m a bit paranoid about it – it’s gone on so long, and it’s had so much build up. The only person outside the band who’s heard it is Martin James. At the time I played it to him he thought it was one of the best prodigy tunes he’s ever heard. But it wasn’t ready. I could go on and on talking about it. The lyrics were written at a time when they meant something to rob, but those lyrics are no longer relevant, you know what I mean. The chorus lyrics are relevant, but the actual verses aren’t.
I try to be as honest as I can – with that track, it’s got so much attention to it, it’s only going to lead to disappointment, which is not what I want to put myself in the position of it now. I know I’m not happy with it now, but it’s got something. I think people should just fucking forget about it!
It’s a very different thing, it’s like a song, it’s got a chorus and verses, its got a beginning, a middle and an end. It is a Prodigy track, but it’s more of a song. It was always 60 – 70% there, but when we finished it, it was just like, yeah, it’s really cool, but it’s not quite there. It’s the hardest thing I ever tried to finish.
Neko: You’ve done this video for Voodoo People Pendulum Remix, where you have people blindfolded run around in a forest. Who came out with this idea?
LH: The director.
Neko: Sure you must have had different treatments proposed to you, what made you choose this particular one?
LH: The reason why is the remix has constant movement. And to do a car chase is just dull, it’s really obvious, you know. The original track, Voodoo People, the video we had for that had constant movement, with the slightly naff James Bond rip off we did. We laugh at it now but it’s kind of cool. We had a good time doing it, you know. It was funny watching it.
The idea was to keep the movement there. The idea is actually from a Spanish movie, I can’t remember the name, but it’s from a Spanish film. And it’s pretty straightforward. We were not going to be in it. – but then we had a few stupid cameo roles, you know.
I felt – not uncomfortable – but I felt really kind of detached from that remix, cause it’s got nothing to do with me, know what I mean?
So it’s odd, it felt a bit bizarre being in that video, it’s weird doing a video for a remix of my band.
I wish I’d done the mix. But, I can’t remix my own songs; it’s the fucking hardest thing for me to do. Because the originals are what they are, I can’t do a better mix of it, you know. I can make it sound better – but I can’t make a completely different version of it, it’s the hardest thing, I always come back to what it was. It’s a weird thing for us to be in that video, it’s not something I’d do again.
Neko: And Sharkey makes an appearance as well …
LH: Yeah, I was surprised how many people actually noticed that. We were going to put a competition up, saying “did anyone notice anything about the video?” Because I didn’t realise people would actually recognise her! Sharkey works with John now, she’s great, she’s a really good friend of us still.
Neko: And no Motorola sponsorship …
LH: OK, that’s shite, I had to laugh when you said that!
I actually don’t know – I never looked at it that way. The guy just handed me this mobile phone and said “use this!”
Neko: He probably had a deal.
LH: I didn’t get a phone out of it! I’m pure Nokia. But no one can ask me that – that’s insulting, ha ha. No one will sponsor me.
I was insulted when someone said I was sponsored by Korg. But as I told you earlier, I’ve upset them now. Because in an interview I just speak my mind. You know they always give me free stuff – or they used to. So I was doing an interview for a key board magazine and someone asked me “Do you get given lots of free shit?” I was like “yeah, Korg give me lots of free stuff, but its stacking up in my attic!” Ha ha ha. I was really just taking the piss, I was having a laugh.
So apparently some head dude from Japan was on the phone to the UK one day “we had never one of our artists say anything like this, what’s going on?”. They are very fucking angry with me!
Neko: Last question about the video. What’s in the bag?
LH: [laughs then silence] It’s a 12 inch dildo – that’s why Sharkey looks very happy!
Neko: You also had a DVD coming out…
LH: It’s in the fucking shops, I can’t believe it, I saw a copy today!
It is in every shop I’ve been in, it was in HMV in Stansted airport yesterday morning.
That was a fuck up really – it was no ones fault. I tell you what happened. It’s obviously built to be the ‘Best Of The Prodigy’, but the first thing you see – it’s really stupid – when you put your DVD in when the interface comes up, the first thing you see is “The Prodigy live at Brixton”. So what they say is; what is it? Is it a live video or is it a compilation of videos? So basically they made us change it.
Neko: Is that what it is? Everyone thought it was about Smack My Bitch Up …
LH: No no no, nothing to do with that. It’s to do with the fact that what comes up when you put it in, so what they’re saying is, it can be confusing to a buyer. Is it a compilation or is it a live video. But it’s going to make the versions that are out there now worth some money, because all those have gone out now and they are wrong. It’s always with things like that, in 5 years time when all the correct version is out people will want to have the original version.
Neko: On the DVD, you also have a hidden extra the “Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned demo mix” with sections of Trigger / Shootdown / Gun Reprise.
LH: No Souvenirs was on there but I took it out, the chorus was on there. I took it out because it involves Rob and I didn’t ask Rob whether I could do that and I didn’t want to get into that cause you never know what’s going to happen in the future with that track.
Neko: What else is on that demo mix?
LH: Just bits and pieces from the very early stages of recording the album. All these visuals, they were done at that point as well. We had this guy Jimmy, who also did the BGAT artwork, he had all these really cool visuals, but his end result for the cover didn’t cut it for me, it wasn’t quite right.
He had all those windmill ideas, and then to my fucking horror the Gorillaz had that windmill thing. Because I thought that was a really cool thing, we had this dude, that had a windmill on his head, a mad character. We might bring that back, cause he was really cool. So if people wonder what those windmills are, they’re from that period.
The tracks on there, they’re all like demos, bits and pieces that fans may be interested in.
Neko: The Gun Reprise track, you once told me it was a part of Shoot Down at some point …
LH: Basically, that was an orchestral version with strings of bits of shoot down, it was originally going to be on the album, but in the end I just didn’t bother.
Neko: Are going to do anything with it, you played it live tonight…
LH: It’s got good musical value. it’s got a slight Massive Attack kind of feel. So I don’t know,it’s kind of tied to the other album. As I said before, the new album will be more melodic, so there might be the odd track with that kind of flavour.
Neko: You’ve just released a DVD. Are you planning to release other DVDs in future, like a dedicated live DVD for example?
LH: Yeah, we’re going to record the tour we’ve got coming up. We were just discussing tonight which dates we are going to record when we do our tour in November / December. We will hopefully get one wicked thing out of it, but I don’t know if that’s something people want to get, you know?
I think just a live DVD, I don’t know, I’d like to give people a bit more, so we might do something clever with it in the future. Maybe when we do our new material, we could tie it in, maybe when we do our new album, it could be a double album and the other disc could be the DVD. Just putting the live thing out, to me, wouldn’t really be good value for money.
Neko: You’re confirmed to release a “Back to mine” compilation in January, have you got any special tracks planned for that?
LH: Yes, I can confirm, the “Wake the fuck up” that will be the first track on that album. Basically, this album, don’t expect it to be like Dirtchamber, cause it’s not mixed. At some point there will be another mix album from me, but that will be after the new record, because that’s what I’m concentrating on at the moment. Back to Mine is basically the shit I play when I’m at my house having a party. It’s a selection of tracks that mean something to me over the years, there’s lots of different shit. Some of it is obvious, but they are tracks I really like. There’s no Sex Pistols on there.
Public Enemy, Specials, The Stranglers, Vatican DC, QOTSA, Method Man mix Prodigy, Dolly Parton ‘Jolene’!
Yeah, Dolly Parton – I freak my friends out when we’re at my house having a party. I stick that on and watch their faces. It’s got no bass on it, no bass whatsoever, and her voice is just wicked. It had to go on there.
And I put “The Jam – in the city” on there for Keith.
Neko: And the “Wake the fuck up Jam” are you only going to put it on the back to mine, or on a new Prodigy album as well?
LH: Nah, not on a new Prodigy album, no. It’s exclusive to this record and that’s that. Cause it is a chop up, it’s a remix obviously of a few different tracks – it’s got bits of Wake up in it, it’s got bits of Spitfire in it, it’s not a track that has got any more development, do you know what I mean, it is what it is. It’s a track I love though, I love doing it live!
And that’s the thing, when we do the tour, we probably won’t do Warning on that tour, because it’s not relevant at all to the Singles album, and that shit. So we want to put in some old stuff, but Wake the fuck up is not one I want to drop, because I fuckin love it. The thing with the tour though is that I don’t want it to be a nostalgic trip, you know, I still want it to have an edge.
I’m not saying I’m just playing loads of new stuff, but the old stuff needs to have a bit of a twist, it can’t be straight
Neko: You’ve already spoken about new material and that it will be ‘more melodic’. How does that fit into the Prodigy sound?
LH: People must understand that when I say that – it will still be equally as tough and it won’t loose anything of what we’re about. It will be more the melodic value the first and second album had, but maybe the third didn’t have that much. Cause I think the first album had quite a lot of musical value, do you know what I mean, but I think as time has gone on that has taken a bit of a back seat, but I think the new stuff definitely has more musical value.
Neko: How are ‘Warning’ and ‘Dead ken beats’ going to fall into that category?
LH: Dead ken beats will definitely be on that record, we were talking about it tonight. Dead ken is a track we really like, we like the groove and the beat and it’s really fucking tough.its stil developing. It’s a different groove; it’s really kind of fresh sounding. It’s a track im really going to have to go and find the right vocal for, which is one of the things I am doing right now.
We decided tonight 5 minutes before the show – let’s not do Wake up, lets do Dead Ken, let’s just do a jam. And I don’t know whether you noticed tonight at the show it was a mish mash. These little shows are cool, be cause they really give us the opportunity to fuck around, you know. The big shows when you got lots of people there you really got to plan it out more and figure out the set. Tonight was more making up as we go along. No arrangements in Dead Ken at all, lets just fucking jam!
Neko: As it’s the Their Law The Singles tour, have you got any more old stuff you’re bringing back?
LH: I see you’ve got Jericho written down there, that’s definitely coming back.
Neko: When I asked you last year, you told me off about asking you about bringing back the old tracks….
LH: Well, Out of Space has obviously been in the set since Dublin, I know you were there, and that was a great fucking moment, but now it’s like the position it is in the set is really good, it is a great way to finish the set.
But with the other tracks, the thing is we’ve got Charly and EITP. I think we’ve got to try and somehow incorporate at least one of these tracks into the set, I don’t know how yet (pauses) I really don’t know. (pauses) I really fucking don’t know!
Neko: With Death of the Prodigy Dancer, you had told me a while ago that you had lost the studio version … [it is on the new Prodigy web site now]
LH: Haha, yeah, I found it!
I found it in the DATs in the studio. I was flicking through the drawer, and I pulled it out – fucking hell, that’s the only copy I’ve got of it right there. And at the end of it, because I didn’t press stop on the DAT quick enough on the DAT a bit of the next track comes in, ha ha.
But like I said, you know, and we will be more on it this time with the web site, hopefully each month we will be giving out old unreleased shit. Trigger instrumental might be the next one, maybe.
Neko: When you are playing the next shows now, is it going to be a set building up or more just tracks dropping in and out again?
LH: Yeah, it’s always building it up. Like now, I know I’ve got like four tracks in my head, that I’m working towards when we’re on that tour. John [the band’s tour manager] is disgusted with me that they’re not in there now, but I’m like chill out man, by the time we get to England they will be fresh for everyone. I want it to be fucking fresh, do you know what I mean, I don’t want to do it now, I want it to be fucking fresh, for us as well. So the fact is like, I’ve got quite a lot of work to do. So maybe the next few gigs, people will gradually hear one of the tracks creep in. I played Jericho at the sound check the other day, and Keith was like “What’s that tune man?” – I was like “it’s fucking Jericho man!”
Neko: Do you feel that going away from festivals gives you more space to experiment?
LH: Yeah, absolutely. It’s so much more room to be much more experimental at these gigs. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the fans, I don’t know. It’s good for us. I personally think that if people come to a show and see a live jam of Dead Ken made up on the spot, then that ain’t gonna happen a lot, that is never gonna happen on the tour. By the time we’re on that tour it will be a proper arrangement, you know. And people should value that they can say ‘I was there’.
Neko: What do you like about touring?
LH: I love the fatigue of touring, you know when you’re completely fucked and you just go on and on and on and on…. I love that.
I hate travelling, I hate sitting on an airplane, I hate getting up early in the morning, I hate everything about it apart from walking on stage and going ‘yeah – this is what we do’.
I hate tour buses… we did tour buses a couple of months ago – you didn’t come to those eastern European gigs, did you? We did tour buses there and it was fucking miserable. They’re just like coffins, these bunks, and I was just awake all night thinking the bus is going to crash, you know!
Neko: You got a new web site and said you were going to upload some stuff now …
LH: People should be happy with that, it took a lot of work!
Actually, people hacked into the site the night before it was finished. And I was like to the guy from Rockstar who did it, “come on, make it a bit more secure, for fucks sake”. It was only still work in progress and people were already posting and moaning “oh it’s not this, it’s not that”. It’s just one fucking lunatic who has hacked into it not everyone was doing it, it was one person.
Two weeks ago it still wasn’t together, but we were talking about it one month ago we said we wanted a past, present and future. It’s all set up now, any archive stuff we’ve got goes in there, any news stuff we’ve got goes in there and any future stuff goes in there. I may well upload 10 or 20 seconds of new tracks on there, so people can vibe off that.it’s a good platform to do that. I don’t think we had that on any web site we had before. It’s all there now, all the holes are there to be filled.
Neko: How about your own ‘personal messages’ on there, do you enjoy that?
LH: Oh yeah, I always do that when I’m pissed. Always! I love them, I always do them late at night, at 12 I’m sitting there going … [pretends to type] … I get very involved you know, I get very passionate.
Neko: So we were talking about that you are going to upload some rare tracks on the web site… how about the recording of Diesel Power live with Kool Keith, can we reveal you have this recorded?
LH: I have got a recording – but I wouldn’t say its good enough. In Australia…. Ha ha ha. Let’s just live the moment, for people who were there, that’s all I can say. That won’t be on.
With the new web site, I am really keen on putting some stuff on that people are really interested in, for example I may put on these two mixes when I did this competition when I was still DJing. And I think that may be funny for people to hear. It’s definitely going on at some point; it’s kind of got historic values!
Neko: Talking about historic values, and thinking back your career and also the last few years, anything you would have done differently now?
LH: Nothing. Not one thing. Well maybe the green and white costumes at the beginning …. [quiet] what the fuck was I thinking.
Neko: I saw you on some MTV show the other day commenting on the wind it up video…
LH: Yeah… that period, I didn’t want to release Wind it Up, I felt like Michael Jackson, who just caned his album and released every fucking single off that, I didn’t really want to release any more singles, I didn’t want to release Wind it up, but the record company was like ‘yeah, we should do it’. So that was it for me, wind it up period – I hated the video… I liked the track, but I hated the idea of releasing it as a single, you know what I mean, I was over that, I was over the rave period.
Wind it up was recorded probably a year before it came out, so for me it was like releasing an old track. Actually when the video was shot in LA, that was when I first heard Rage Against the Machine’s first album and as soon as I heard that it blew my mind. And I went back to London to the studio, with that in my head, fresh, and recorded Their Law and Poison. They were the first tracks that kind of inspired that anger and that new sound that came out.
Neko: Is there a new angle you have now with the new material. With the last album you had a new program you used Reason that influenced you, is there a specific new influence now?
LH: You know the Reason thing was just a way forward for me to write music. Reason is a good platform to get ideas going, but it is not necessarily the platform to finish tracks on, for me. It is good for me to go into a hotel room and quickly get an idea down, that’s what its good for.
There is no angle, just angry beats and noise. Keith and Maxim are going to be on this record.
They wont be on every track, but they will be on a few.
We’ve been through some tough times like any band, the Babys Got a Temper period was fucking dangerous for this band, it was nearly the end for me. None of us were speaking to each other, it was just bad communication.
Neko: How did you resolve that?
LH: The music resolved it, because that’s the common denominator between us guys. We don’t necessarily hang out, we don’t have the same group of friends, but the music brought us back together. Once the album was done we knew …
I always knew we would play it live, but I didn’t know how we’d do it, I’d had it pictured in my head, obviously weren’t going to play the whole album. But that worked well, we all went back together in the studio, we all talked to each other again about the show. When we first stepped on stage in Greece – even though it wasn’t really the best gig we ever did, we’d kind of come off, knowing it was all cool, and that we had a future, knowing we had the fire still. And now its like, it’s all about, writing new tracks, if its not firing ,its not coming out.
Neko: When you did the last album you didn’t do any live shows, but now you’re back on the road while writing, do you think that’s a positive thing?
LH: Absolutely. I’ve said before, this band cannot survive without doing gigs, you know what I mean. That’s the end of it. We have to play gigs. We now start booking gigs for next year, and that’s a good thing. We may try out things during the sound check, we may drop something new in the set, you know. We won’t be doing a lot of UK gigs next year. One or two at the most.
Because when we come back we will be on fire with loads of fresh music. There’s no point being in people’s faces all the time. It’s better to come back with like six brand new tunes, killer tunes, you know, and bust them out straight there, rather than do a few UK gigs with no point.
Neko: I’ve got a fan question from James Jupiter for you …. Why the name change from The Prodigy, to Prodigy and then back to The Prodigy?
Do you know what? I have no actual explanation for that!
I really have no explanation…. All I can say is, right, it’s to do with the logo, ha ha, it wouldn’t have fit in properly. Honestly, that’s the truth.
Because when we had like ‘Prodigy’ when we were in the BGAT period it was like a square, so there was no space for the ‘the’, it was something as fucking stupid as that. But it always has been ‘The Prodigy’ in my head.
Neko: Another one by JJ…apart from the Earthbound releases, did you ever release any others as white labels?
LH: That is for me to know. The answer is yes, but I’m not going to tell no one about that. They are not big tracks, but there is one other white label out there that people will know, but won’t know it’s me.
Neko: Next year… what is it going to be about for you, is it going to be about touring, recording the new album?
LH: It’s going to be about recording, writing and recording the new record. We started fucking around now, but because we have been so busy on tour we haven’t really gone hard into it. It’s really about putting the time in; you really have to give yourself that time. So next year, we’re not doing any gigs in January, so we’re going to be recording in January. February we’re going to be in Japan, big tour, we might do like 6 or 7, 8 gigs. March we’re going back to America, we’re doing the Miami Music conference, which really is like a dance event. Basically, our tour will evolve around that. We’ll probably do Washington, New York… we probably won’t go West, we will stay on the East coast.
The rest of the year will be sporadic gigs, you know like we did a couple of months ago when we were just here and there.
(20th October 2005 – Gothenburg)
Neko: When you started touring again a year ago it was probably a bit different than usual, because Liam wrote Always Outnumbered pretty much on his own…
Keith: Correct. But I’ve been there throughout his process, well not entirely but sort of I got the tunes when they were ideas and then maybe when they were at the next stage with the vocal on or as a more complete piece of music. So I sort of felt like I’d known some of the pieces for some time anyway, so it wasn’t like suddenly there was an album and I had to get with it. It didn’t feel alien, it still felt like a Prodigy process, it was just that I wasn’t going to be on the album as far as like doing vocals etc. So it wasn’t like I’ve been there when the Experience was being written, so it was no different to that, in some respects.
Neko: So how was it for you to adapt to this material?
Keith: To be honest it was an exciting process to… you know because it was different, we knew we were going out on tour and that these were the tracks that were taking us there. So to start again, to work on them tracks and just the whole momentum starting… what it takes… suddenly you’re talking to Fairsie [band tour manager] everyday and Mike Champion [band manager], Liam is ringin’ about this and saying “oh I just had a thought about that” and I am saying “should I do this or should I do that?”. You feel the energy and the momentum of the band starting again.
So it is actually quite exciting. But even if I didn’t like any of the tracks on the album or I didn’t like the tracks that I was going to get behind like Hotride etc… We went in and did Warning. That for me was exciting because it started the process. I love doing Hotride more than any other track at the moment. I love doing it like nothing else, so it doesn’t matter to me that I didn’t do the original vocal on there, not in the slightest. At the end of the day it is not an ego thing being in the Prodigy. We are sort of really powerful sort of driven people grown very stubborn and very think what we want to think and do what we want to do but there is no time for ego. You just got to get up there and join the forces and become fighters.
Neko: Do you think the whole process is easier now that you’ve been touring again for a year and spent more time together?
Keith: I think it is much easier to write, because everything seems to be written ultimately to go on stage, so sort to be fresh off the stage with that hunger to be back on it, it is so much easier than to be reflecting what it was like to be on the stage. Certainly when we were writing the last album there was a bigger period that we ever had off. To be away is hard work when it is what you do and it is your life. There is never a non-Prodigy day; I am always in the Prodigy. It is always a Prodigy day and then other bits happen. Every day, every minute is dedicated to it. It is like you’re on call out all the time. Whatever happens … I might not even be at my own funeral if a gig gets booked up, it is in my will that I get taken in the coffin to the gig and I have to get propped up in the corner and then I can be buried. That is what people don’t realize, everything you do, every minute when you’re partying till midday the next day you’re making sure you still have some energy left for the next show. Every time you think of a word or a phrase you write it down in case it becomes lyrics or something.
Neko: When you had the long break, did you miss all that?
Keith: Oh yeah, like nothing else. After 8 years of touring we were kind of needing it, because we were fuckin’ battered. You’d have to have done it to understand it, cause the preconception what being in the band is all about, you know shaggin’ birds, doing drugs and whatever. And that there is a teleporter that gets you around the world, you don’t have to get on the flight, you don’t have to spend 2 hours at one airport, 3 hours in a car. As if everything magically happens around you at the highest level. They don’t see the shit hotels that you’re staying in with cockroaches and then they bring you up some mouldy old shit to eat. People think it is this massive glamour; the glamour is the tightness of the band and the fun of making every situation work for us. Yeah it is mega things that you do. We always make the best of it. We do have fun and we do party and we do rock on.
So we needed that time off first, and then suddenly it wasn’t just time off. It was time to start that momentum going, but because it was such a tidal wave, it was like stopping a tsunami and then having to somehow shake the earth again to get it going. It is fucking hard work. For me I am pretty useless to myself, I need to be driven by something. This is my life this is my therapy, without this I am just self destructive and just fucking mental. I am useless to myself for myself. This is what drives me. And I can’t do things that I am told to do. It is very rare for me to have this sort of dedication, or this love for something, this very one thing. That is not what I do.
[The door opens and Liam steps in with a glass of champagne – takes a sip and goes “aaaaaah” - and leaves again]
That is not part of my make up. It is probably the only thing I have ever cherished so I am not going to fuck this up.
Neko: You also had a band called Flint, and Razor got used on the Singles album
Keith: That’s right
Neko: how did it evolve into the Prodigy track?
Keith: Obviously Liam knows the album, he listened to it, we’d discussed it and he just really loved it, loved the song, loved what it was about. He was really into it, he wanted to use it, he wanted to turn it into a Prodigy track. I was like “yeah man lets do it lets rock on”. He did and it worked. We did it live a few times and we dropped it from the set but it certainly stood up on the record. Yeah I was buzzing about that. I am looking forward to writing new tracks; I am really up for it at the moment. The energy is there and we’re ready to go!
Neko: You’ve also got a track called Warning, which you’ve played for a year now.
Keith: Something like that is probably – due to the internet and blah di blah – tracks like Nuclear and Trigger, they’ve been raped. I don’t know, depends, but Warning might never be anything other than what it is at the moment. Which is cool, I enjoy doing it, I love doing I actually I really do. Unfortunately they are good songs that never get the chance to develop into album tracks. Once they are out in their sort of rawer form they seem to burn out quickly, they never get the chance to evolve.
Neko: Do you think that’s because they’re out on the Internet?
Keith: I do because the Prodigy used to be about – sometimes you have to be careful with stuff like that. It is a good medium for keeping in touch and serving the people that keep you going – But the band used to, Liam would use to write a track, and I would beg him to play it even though he thought it wasn’t ready yet. Then when he dropped it he was like “yeah I need to do this to it”, and he’d drop it and be like “I need to do this” and drop it again and then it would be ready. But now you can’t do that because people are going “oh the beats don’t sound right and Keith doesn’t sound like he is doing that”. Noone fucking gives it a chance. It is like what do you want, new shit or …. you know what I mean? That perfectionism that we have doesn’t allow us to put out second hand stuff… Not second hand but you know. It is not good if something is being recorded very badly on a mobile phone that also isn’t finished. The Prodigy has got to blow your speakers up and that won’t happen if it is being recorded on a Sony-Ericsson.
Neko: You are also bringing back some older live stuff into the set, are you enjoying that?
Keith: I love what Liam has been doing with old tracks. That could be the next album. It just shows Prodigy don’t write songs for DJs. They are not disposable songs that are just there to be played by some DJs standing on front of the stage going “yeah I am the bollocks”! They are proper timeless tracks. They stand out. You’d think I’d be fucking bored with them but as soon as they come on I am like “fucking hell this is the bomb!” I really respect that, it just shows what a genius he is.
Neko: So what can we expect from the ‘Their Law’ tour?
Keith: For me I’d say expect Prodigy. On fire, tight, in action. Every country we go to we do an interview while we’re there and everyone is like “what should we expect from the show tonight?”. It is like this isn’t Britney Spears “The Cadillac tour” or “The Popcorn tour” or “The Lollipop tour” where everyone dresses up in like lollipops with 3000 marching band and a sparkling chandelier. We are a band that just goes out there and rocks it, drops as many thumping tunes as we can. It has got to sound fucking mega. It is the people who bring the energy and the vibe. It is the vibe really isn’t it. It doesn’t matter how many glitter balls you have up there, they don’t make a good show do they? They are just made in a factory whereas The Prodigy isn’t. It is nothing to expect, I am sorry it is not that we don’t give a shit, but there is just going to be 5 people on the stage, Rob, Kieron, myself, Maxim and Liam and that is it. We’re going to rock our fucking socks off, give a 110% and sweat our fucking nuts off and do it until we’re fucking sick and give everything! And the more we get back the more we will give. And it will sound fucking nuts, it will be loud and it will be thumping. And that is all I can promise. People always bring the energy, so bring that and we’ll have some fun.
Neko: You’ve gone through different eras with the different albums – do you have a particular favourite time in the last 15 years?
Keith: No not really. I must admit, I never read anything, I’ve got no memorabilia, I don’t collect anything, I don’t take photos. I am just like…. my last memory is the last show. It is not cause I don’t give a shit, I do give a shit, I’d fight to death for the band and for the people in it 100% but I am not memorabilia man. I just look to the next thing. I love every minute of it, each part of it is the most special time and the most special thing ever, but it is a progression and everything progresses. If you dwell on too much you don’t look forward… you become kind of bit slowed down… I don’t know I didn’t put that right into words. I just keep moving on, I am excited about the next album. That is it. I put on all the albums, I love them all. I think they are all mega. Each album, each era and each part is very much different and very much unique. I still live each day like it is the last and that is it. You never know where you stand. You’re only as good as your last show
Neko: A question I asked all three of you, in the Voodoo People video you did, what’s in the bag?
Keith: It is for people to make up their own mind. I think it is the demos for the next album.
Neko: Are you working on that?
Keith: Yeah we are. We’ve got like 4 tracks done, there is plenty of music, loads and loads of music there. 4 tracks is not for another 8, 12 and maybe you got an album. That is 4 tracks out of 30 or 40 we got to write, that is how you get to pick a good album. It is not here but it is on its way. And the people involved are hungry to do it. They’ve got the passion and the drive. It has been a good year for us, a lot of energy and fire breathed into the band, so we’re ready to go. Everything seems at a really good point at the moment, you know a really good feeling, so it is on it is way. It won’t be 7 years, that I do know.
(22nd October 2005 – Phone)
Neko: Over the last year you’ve played quite a lot of live shows. The year actually started when you started touring for Always Outnumbered last October, which Liam wrote pretty much on his own. At the time, was that more difficult for you to kind of adapt to these new materials, whereas maybe now where you’re working all together on new material.
Maxim: What do you mean, actually performing it?
Neko: Yeah when you look at the live show.
Maxim: Not really, no. Like I’ve said in numerous interviews it was important for us to go back in the studio and reconstruct those tracks, but once we did that it was totally cool. I’ve always stood by that point. It’s important for Keith and myself to put our personalities in the tracks rather than just tracks be written and us not having any kind of connection to them. Obviously it was a difficult period when that album was written. The contact between us wasn’t really as close as it was on previous albums, being on the road and whatever. So Liam was in the studio writing the album on his own. I used to go down to the studio and see what he was doing, but because we weren’t touring during that period it didn’t really grow with us, it just appeared.
Neko: Do you think it’s easier or different now when obviously you’re in more contact now when Liam is writing new stuff when you’re actually straight there?
Maxim: Yeah it’s a lot easier now, that’s what I’m saying. Once you’re on the road, and once you’re in the flow it’s a lot easier, things just evolve slowly, do you know what I mean? Whereas that album just kind of appeared on my doorstep… like “here’s 12 tracks”. Even though certain tracks I did see him develop in the studio as Liam was writing them. But it was just like formulated in a different way than it works best really. And how it works best is when you’re on the road and you’re touring and things just develop slowly and tunes develop while you’re trying them out in the set or whatever. And then you add little bits and you’re like, “oh that bit was good, let’s try that bit again”. And that’s the best way tunes develop really for me.
Neko: One of the tracks that has developed over the last year is Back 2 Skool. You brought it back about a year ago, and it’s changed quite a lot. At first it was just you doing your vocals and now it’s become quite different with Keith also, and it’s on the Their Law The Singles album. Is this one of the tracks you think has evolved quite a bit?
Maxim: Yeah, I mean that was like an intro track, wasn’t it?
Maxim: I think it was at Reading or something.
Neko: Yeah it was the “Leeds intro”, that’s what it was called.
Maxim: It was just like a small little intro, but it kind of slams. And then we just introduced it slowly, and I can’t even remember how it actually got into the set to tell you the truth. I think we were just using it as a little link in the middle of the set but it kind of dropped really well and obviously it developed into what it is now. And even in the last couple of days we did, I don’t know if you noticed, on the end of Back 2 Skool Liam slows the beats down now and we’re just working on something different at the end there. So it’s still developing now.
Neko: Dead Ken Beats is another track you’ve been playing live for about a year.
Maxim: Oh yeah.
Neko: How’s that one evolving?
Maxim: It’s not! (laughs)
No, it’s kind of like thrown in the set, taken out. Thrown in, taken out. Thrown in, taken out (laughs). It’s such a strong tune you know, but we can’t really find the right hook to go on it yet and it just needs that one hook. Sometimes I think when you analyze tunes too much, if you try too hard, and try and force a hook on it, it never happens. Sometimes you just have to leave it and let it develop itself.
Obviously I do some lyrics on there but they’re not really the lyrics for that tune… they’re just lyrics which kind of fit on it at the moment, do you know what I mean? But we need a strong hook on it really because it’s a strong tune.
Neko: Do you think now that you’re playing smaller venues again it’s going to give you more of a chance to experiment a bit more on stage than when you’re doing the big festivals?
Maxim: Yeah, it’s better. The first two shows… did you come to the first 2 shows? [Oslo and Copenhagen]
Neko: Yeah, I came to Copenhagen.
Maxim: Yeah, because I did see you, you were on the right hand side wasn’t you? Or I mean the stage left. But yeah I love doing shows like that you know because it is a totally different performance. And you don’t have to work too hard trying to cover the stage so you’ve got more time to think and you can experiment and mess around with the lyrics and the tunes and maybe try different things out on the smaller stage. Even smaller venues, like a 1,000. I love doing venues like that. Plus, for me at the moment, I can’t really move that much because I’ve done my leg in!
Neko: When did that happen? On this tour?
Maxim: Yeah, in Macedonia. I was having this massage, and this guy was stretching me and I don’t know what he’s done. He just snapped something in my leg (laughs). It just started to swell up and it hasn’t gotten any better.
So I’ve just been struggling all this tour. The worst thing will be if it gets to the point where I say, “ok maybe we shouldn’t do these dates”.
Neko: With the big UK tour coming up…
Maxim: Yeah so it’s kind of like I’ve got a couple weeks literally hopefully to get better. The thing with knees is there’s nothing you can do about them really. You just have to let them rest. So who knows? But yeah you know, performance wise I haven’t really been performing as I’d like to. So in a way being more static gives you more thinking time. It gives you a chance to; you know, experiment vocally and try different things out.
Neko: Do you think doing your own stuff has influenced the way you do Prodigy? In the way you might have experimented more with vocals, or something like that?
Maxim: Nah not at all (laughs). When I write lyrics or when we do stuff with Prodigy it’s a totally different thing than when I do my own stuff. But the actual delivery is quite similar. I like to always use double entendre lyrics, things with two different meanings and stuff. I kind of brought some of that vibe into the Prodigy. When you use less lyrics they have to be a bit more obvious and a bit more instant. If you’re writing a song you don’t have to make a point really straight away. But when you got one line, two lines in a tune they have to be instant. So I suppose it’s a bit harder really.
Neko: Is there any particular track in the current live set that you enjoy the most, or kind of a favourite of yours?
Maxim: Yeah, Spitfire. Spitfire is the ultimate track at the moment. It sums up the band. That’s exactly where we are; the sound, the vibe, you know? It’s like every tune has its moment and represents a time, and I think Spitfire just kind of represents us in this particular time. Just like when Firestarter was released, that was us at that particular time.
Neko: Which other old tracks would you like to bring back currently?
Maxim: Umm… well we can’t bring back too many old tunes because they’re too fast! (laughs) We’re not going to be able to keep up with them! (laughs) But there’s quite a few fillers you know like Benny Blanco, maybe things like that. We’re going to bring that back for the singles tour.
Neko: That’s cool.
Maxim: I’d say the singles tour is going be good once we get all the tunes in and stuff. Doing the old tunes… umm… don’t know how we’re going to get Charly in (laughs).
Neko: Liam said that as well actually.
Maxim: What, that he doesn’t know how to get Charly in? (laughs) I’m thinking that Charly and Everybody In The Place… they’re just so fast! Start The Dance you know, that’s going to be quite easy to do. As you know we do a bit of it already. Think we’ll do a longer version. And we’re going to bring in Break & Enter as well… and Jericho. So hopefully… Jericho we’re going to do tonight.
But I won’t be doing much (laughs).
Neko: I’m always missing the good ones, aren’t I?
Maxim: You’re not coming tonight?
Neko: No, I’m in London.
Maxim: Oh dear… well we’re hopefully going to do Jericho tonight. But yeah I think it’s good to bring old tunes back. But obviously the key is not to just bring them back the way they are, but to freshen them up a little bit. It makes it interesting for us as well.
Neko: What do you think about the tracks on the singles album – disc 2?
Maxim: Ahh… disc 2. The live tracks and stuff… Spitfire Live. There was another Spitfire… but I’m not too sure. When I listen to live tracks I always think, “I can do better” or “there’s better live tracks out there”. You know what I mean? I’m never happy with live tracks.
On recordings, I always listen to my own voice. I suppose most artists are like that. But I always hear myself on live tracks and think, “ah we can do a better recording than that”. In a way it would have been good to have something like Radio 1 kind of tracks or versions on there, but obviously that’s a lot later. Bit too late for that. But that kind of version is just a lot tighter. But no, I’m quite happy with the tunes that are on there really.
Neko: How do you feel about the remixes that have come out as singles?
Maxim: The remixes… the Pendulum mix and the…
Neko: Yeah, and the Out Of Space one.
Maxim: I think the remixes are really good. I was expecting something a bit different to what the Audio Bullys did with the Out of Space mix, but my favorite remix is the Pendulum one. It’s a drum & bass style with an electro feel. Pendulum are really good and I like their latest single too. I think the video really fits the tune.
Neko: How did you enjoy the video?
Maxim: It was good. It was cool because the whole idea was not to be in it really. And it kind of came across right. It was more like um… obviously because it’s a remix tune it’s not totally about us being in the video. The concept of the whole tune… ‘cause you know the tune is quite a like “moving tune”, It’s kind of like a movie soundtrack tune, I think. And it was important to have something that represented that, whether it was a car chase or whatever, and I think the director picked the right thing there. Now I was glad I wasn’t in it really. It was the quickest video shoot I’ve ever done (laughs). That’s my acting debut as well… not very good as you can see (laughs). No it’s cool, I’m really pleased with it.
Neko: What was in the bag?
Maxim: What’s in the bag?
Maxim: My bag?
Neko: No, the one at the end… the prize.
Maxim: Oh… don’t you know?
Maxim: It’s drugs (laughs).
Neko: Is it?
Maxim: I didn’t even notice a bag at the end.
Neko: Everybody’s wondering what was in the bag.
Maxim: Whatcha mean?
Neko: At the end you know when Sharkey runs up, she gets a bag, it’s a prize.
Maxim: Yeah but it’s money, isn’t it?
Neko: You don’t know.
Neko: It’s a mystery.
Maxim: We’re gonna have a sequel. (laughs) To be continued…
Neko: Ok looking forward to it. Just one last thing, you’re quite involved in the whole website stuff. Are you quite involved in also the whole, you know, what’s on the website, and that kind of stuff?
Maxim: Kind of go through phases, you know. We all try to get involved. You know we’re not really like website people, are we? As far as technology goes I’m probably the most connected in that way to computers. I mean Liam’s become more and more computer orientated now. But I remember years ago when we’d try to get him onto Logic. It would be like, “come on man you’ve got to get Logic”. And he’d be like, “no, no”. But like now he’s more computerized. But Keith’s not really that inclined you know. But we try to get our input in on the website stuff. We kind of just relay the information to Theresa and she puts things on there. But it’s more important just for the fans, you know what I mean? To give them something back. It’s important I know to try and update it and whatever (laughs). You know that’s the hardest part for us!
As you know because obviously you’ve got your website and whatever, you know it’s kind of like… we wanted to let people know… because one of the things is when you see things in the media and so forth, and people read about certain things that are going on in the band “the band’s splitting up” or “they’re not going to do another album”. It’s kind of important that the fans see it, hear it from the horse’s mouth. That’s the whole idea of the website really. Let people know what’s happening, and just put it up there to give the real information, and keep it fresh. That’s the reason we updated it and slightly changed it again.
And we’re going to have this thing where we can actually take pictures on the road and put it on the website.
So you can send it from your phone, no matter where you are. And I’ve got this phone, this Nokia phone at the moment… this bad phone. Although you probably see I’m never off it. But it’s good to take pictures on the road and then we can put them on the website and the fans can see exactly what’s happening on the road, do you know what I mean? (laughs) So don’t be surprised if you’re on there! (laughs)
But you know you can send it straight to the website and it’s up there like instantly, rather than having to wait to get back home and putting it on. So hopefully that will be in place in a couple of weeks. And also we can send texts and videos as well. Little clips of videos and stuff. So literally as we come off stage we can be like “this is the crowd, we’re in so forth and so forth” and put it straight up there you know, instantly.
So yeah I suppose websites are quite important, especially in these times where everything is quite global and everything is so instant and the world has just shrunk. Russia doesn’t seem as far anymore, Lithuania doesn’t seem as far, Australia doesn’t seem as far. People can get in contact with you really quickly. So world wide it’s important to have a good website.
All interviews by Andrea Schnepf aka neko.
Thanks for help with transcribing to ‘bigsugar316′ and ‘ant4000b’