Liam Howlett Of The Prodigy: “Any Fool Can Operate An iPod”
Perhaps one of the most notorious and aggressive electronic bands to hit the radio waves, The Prodigy were never ones to shy from controversy or shock. The release of their newest album, The Day Is My Enemy, has been hailed as the, “…most exciting – and most angrily British – album of the year” by Kerrang and their shows are selling out left and right. Their return is a much needed kick in the ass and we at Bloody are thrilled to see them back!
We got the opportunity to speak with composer/keyboardist/programmer/all around wizard Liam Howlett, who founded the group in 1990, to discuss the band and their current plans, the kind of horror movie he’d like to score, the infamously controversial “Smack My Bitch Up” music video, and which horror director he’d like to see create a video for one of their tracks! Head on down for this exclusive chat.
You can order your copy of The Day Is My Enemy via the band’s Official Store.
The first three full length albums had relatively short amounts of time between their release dates. Then, there was suddenly a seven year gap and each new album took quite a while. Apart from the band breaking up, what else would you say was the reason for the longer delays in between albums?
Yo, yes you are right! I must admit I never noticed, time flies when you’re having fun!
‘The Day Is My Enemy’ has received high acclaim, with many critics hailing it as “a return to form” and the best album, “…since The ‘Fat of the Land'”. Did this take you by surprise, considering that the two albums prior received somewhat more mixed reviews?
I never read the reviews. All we know is we are real happy with this album and I think the album and the live performance of it have totally aligned. It feels solid all the way through. It carries what we have been about but without sounding retro or nostalgic.
The album feels very angry and aggressive, more so than usual. Where did this energy, this emotion come from?
It’s just the way it came out naturally. It’s a reaction to what went on in the band internally and around us, and we felt the need for it to be more violent sounding in order to draw the line clearly from a lot of other shite that is out there.
The electronic music sound has seeped into pop music and hip hop, so it was important for us as a band to represent the more abrasive end of electronic music.
We feel it should be a band and not a DJ out there.
It was six years between ‘Invaders Must Die’ and ‘The Day Is My Enemy’. Do you anticipate that fans will have to endure another long wait before another album or are plans already in motion for the next chapter of The Prodigy?
The next chapter is taking this record live. I’ve got a couple of secret things hidden up my sleeve tho. Fans will buzz off.
In an interview with The Guardian, you spoke very strong about, “…mindless fucking jokers that arrive in their Learjets, pull a USB stick out of their pockets, plug it in and wave their hands in the air to a pre-programmed mix.” Unfortunately, it seems that more and more these days the music comes well before the performance and the artist, which surprises me as the artist should be defined by their music. What, in your opinion, can be done to wake people up to the mediocrity they are embracing so passionately?
I’ve got nothing against Learjets. I’ll get in one if it’s offered, trust me!
There are still good things going on and good music getting written, so we live in hope that some producer pops up with a game changing record that can wake people up. If it doesn’t happen then it deserves to eat itself into mediocrity.
It’s the laziness I can’t stand. Any fool can operate an iPod.
I want to discuss the music video for “Smack My Bitch Up”, which is still the subject of controversy. In my opinion, it’s a wickedly smart video that subverts stereotypes and plays around with expectations, especially with the ending. Looking back at that video, what thoughts run through your head? What do you think of all the discussion it brought up?
Is it still controversial? Really? In 2015? I don’t think so. It’s just a great video. It has bold energy, violence, humour, and it’s a trip. I loved the people discussing and debating it because it just made it more popular. We wanted to push the boundaries and take the piss at the censorship laws that were being enforced at the time.
The ending was my idea. I’m taking credit for that.
I want to change subjects to the topic of horror. Most people associate metal and horror together. However, The Prodigy has appeared on the soundtracks to ‘House Of Wax’ and ‘The Unborn’, both very different styles of horror movies. I personally feel that electronic music can be just as aggressive, exhilarating, and vicious as metal, making it perfect for horror movies. If you were offered the chance to score a horror movie, what kind of film would you want it to be?
Yes, I would really love to score a horror film. It would have to be independent and I’d have to work with the director closely.
The type of horror would be a mixture of old school Halloween mixed with ‘The Chase’ and danger of, say, ’28 Days Later’ with the intenseness of ‘The Babadook’.
Speaking of horror, have you got any favorite horror movies?
I haven’t seen anything that really freaked me out lately. The last time I was scared, I think, was when the first ‘Paranormal Activity’ came out. That stayed with me for a bit.
I saw ‘Wolf Creek 2′ the other day and that was kinda amusing but a great film nonetheless.
If you could have a horror director write and direct a music video for you, which director would you want to direct which song?
Eli Roth, please! We actually chatted the other day. Not about directing, unfortunately, but he can choose any of our tunes he wants. His level of sickness is appreciated!
Coming back to the band, what do you have in store for the future?
Right now, it’s all about playing the new album live. So, we are on the road doing gigs and festivals. Lovin’ it! It’s what The Prodigy is here for.