(Below is my feature interview with The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett ahead of the Dublin date of their 2015 tour)
Born out of rave culture – and showing it in being equal parts heady beats and ill-disguised rage – The Prodigy’s greatest achievement is arguably pushing their music into post-90s endurance. While rave culture dragged its way towards the mainstream through lyrics about popping pills in Hampshire fields (Pulp – Sorted for E’s and Whizz) and movies like ‘Human Traffic’ and ‘24 Hour Party People’, The Prodigy converted the chart popularity of ‘Music For A Jilted Generation’ and ‘The Fat Of The Land’ into new millennium beats that see them work with Britain’s angriest modern-day chart-botherers Sleaford Mods and largely eschew nostalgia in favour of a revamped version of themselves. ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ has nods towards the old days, sure, but it’s glory sits in less-than-subtle moments of social commentary.
Even in an interview undertaken through email, Liam Howlett’s attitude still shines through. The moog-loving Prodigy-founder answers questions in block capitals riddled with bizarre, colourful punctuation. He happily throws in the odd implication that it’s not really his place to answer questions on what The Prodigy are – journalists can work that out for themselves. If Howlett’s done any of the media training that modern-day bands often seem to have been funnelled through before being let loose with the press, he certainly doesn’t show it. “I’m way past caring,” he says of media portrayals (lack of block capitals our own), “I don’t read any press, and I haven’t for years.” In terms of straight talking, at least, he seems far better for it.
Up against a pop-dominated chart scene, Howlett takes obvious pleasure in The Prodigy’s stand-out status. Talking of ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ and EP ‘Wild Frontier’, he says “It is a reaction to what’s around us, but creative shit always is for me, so nothing is different there to any other release. I’m not frustrated at all, I don’t really care what other people are doing, but I will say that people tend to know electronic music as pop music now, so for us, when we come out it’s important that we show the flip side of that and draw the lines clearly between the two. We’re 100% original rave power and proud.”
This year’s releases, perhaps, are embedded with that sense of not needing to fit in. The Prodigy are still comfortably an arena level band, but put out albums when they’re ready – just five more full-length studio releases in the 23 years that have followed debut ‘Experience’. Every one of them since that debut has gone in at number one in their native UK, so it’s hard to argue there’s anything to ‘fix’.