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Interview with Keith Flint and Liam Howlett of Prodigy By Gabriella

November 1997

Prodigy is certainly one of the most colorful bands around, not only their music but Keith Flint’s outrageous and ever-changing hair (which has gone from canary yellow over frog green to fire-engine red and back). Athough Keith gets most of the attention, it’s the man in back, Liam Howlett, who is the creative force behind the band. Other members include Maxim (aka Keeti Palmer), who is the “Master of Ceremony” and Leeroy Thornhill who, along with Keith, dances and provides the group’s visual attraction.

Prodigy is evolving at warp speed and the intense pace seems to be the key to the band’s success. Their new album The Fat of the Land has topped the charts in over 40 countries worldwide. Not bad for a group that was once called a one-hit wonder...


NY Rock:

Liam, is it true that you were trained as a classical pianist although you can’t read notes on a musical scale?

Liam:

I went through eight years of classical piano lessons without being able to read notes. I only have to hear a melody to be able to play it. It used to freak my piano teacher out when he finally noticed that notes don’t make any sense to me and that I played by ear.

NY Rock:

In the U.S., you’re signed on Madonna’s Maverick label, but there were some rumors that you were extremely difficult when it came to doing promotional tours.

Keith:
Prodigy

They wanted us to do a rather huge press and promotion tour. We’ve cut it down to a minimum but it was still a lot. We’re not going anywhere just to do promotion. If we’re going somewhere, we’re going on tour and we’re going to play. That’s the whole thing about being in a band like Prodigy: To go out and play.

NY Rock:

Prodigy has undergone quite a few changes since you started as a dance act.

Laim:

I simply recognized that the band must go on in the development. I needed to go back to the music, to the roots and move forward with the music itself. The British dance scene has become anemic, washed out and simply beat orientated. I think our fans grew with us and they respect that we approach new avenues and play around with different ideas. Our sound has become harder, more guitar orientated. Even my old friends from the dance scene are listening to a harder sound. I think it’s our energy and our strive forward that attracts our fans.

Keith:
Prodigy
Liam Howlett
Keith Flint

We didn’t want to repeat ourselves; we wanted to sound different and our fans want us to sound different. We’re not like Elton John or Simply Red where you know what you’ll get. We’re trying to do different stuff and that’s what Prodigy stands for. We’re always moving forward, always moving into a new direction. We’re doing the unexpected but that’s what our music is all about.

NY Rock:

The new song “Diesel Power” is one of your most drastic changes. Its dark industrial Rap was never typical of Prodigy.

Keith:

There is no such thing as a typical Prodigy song. The only thing typical about Prodigy is that it kicks, it rocks. There are a couple of elements like a rough sound and a hard rhythm that will always be there.

NY Rock:

Liam, you’ve produced acts like Jesus Jones, Front 242 and Art of Noise, but their styles are very different from what you do with Prodigy.

Liam:
Prodigy

Personally I think that working with a lot of different artists and styles has helped me to define my own style. I have always thrived to integrate new influences but at the same time I wanted to keep my own musical identity. If you look at Prodigy, we really have our own identity.

NY Rock:

You’re sometimes labeled as post-punks, but you always stress that your music is strictly non-political. Do you see yourself as post-punks?

Liam:
Prodigy
Prodigy
Keith Flint
Liam Howlett

I’m not sure, in my book punk is a life-style, a way of thinking. Our outlook is: Here we are, love us or hate us. If that’s punk then we’re punks. We just do what we do. People should look behind the surface. We stay at home quite a lot and watch other musicians on TV, try to learn from them and avoid the mistakes they’re making. You know the way they present people on TV usually has nothing to do with their musical identity.

Keith:
Prodigy

TV is for us the medium where our videos get played and we worked hard on our videos but we’re not open for talk-shows and stuff like that. Our aim was never to be one of the biggest bands. OK more people might say, “Oh Prodigy are cool,” but I doubt that they’d really know Prodigy. We’re not easy listening or entertainment for the breaks.


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