Rare LH interviews: ATN & Mixmag
Once known in dance circles as a techno outfit, The Prodigy reinvented itself, and its sound, and for the moment at least, is the hottest band in the world. Now meet Liam Howlett, the brains behind The Prodigy.
Tell me you didn’t react in some way to Prodigy when you first saw or heard “Firestarter.” Tell me you didn’t either think to yourself, I can’t stand this fucker with the weird hair, or, I can’t take my eyes off this video.
Tell me Prodigy didn’t stop you in your tracks, for one reason or another.
Now, you can’t ignore them. Their latest single, “Breathe,” airs on MTV around the clock. Manic “singer” Keith Flint stars on the cover of national magazines.
The group, as it were, consists of leader Liam Howlett, a studio wizard who creates all the music in his Earthbound Studios, which is attached to his home in Essex, England, singer/dancers Flint and Maxim Reality, and dancer Leeroy Thornhill.
Once a techno outfit playing dance clubs and raves, Prodigy, formed in 1990, became truly interesting with their second album, Music For The Jilted Generation, released in 1995. With that album, Howlett began to mix punk, hip-hop and rock elements into their sound, creating the beginnings of a new kind of rock ‘n’ roll.
With “Firestarter,” the group’s breakthrough single, Howlett had refined the sound. That song took Prodigy out of danceland forever, making them international rock stars. “Once I’d written ‘Firestarter,’ it was like a springboard for the next album,” said Howlett. “It was like right now I’m ready to start this album. We’ve got something new here. This is a progression.”
The Fat Of The Land, one of the best albums released thus far in 1997, is something else again. Howlett himself calls it a new kind of rock ‘n’ roll, and he’s right. “Breathe” is up close, in your face punk, only punk riding on electo- dance rhythms. And with cameos from the worlds of hip-hop (Kool Keith) and rock (Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills), Howlett has underlined the one-world nature of the sound he’s created.
I spoke with Howlett in late July, a few days after he’d arrived in the U. S. for Prodigy’s Lollapalooza dates. I found him to be articulate and frank about the group’s sudden success, the roots of their sound, and what they’re about.
Addicted To Noise: First of all, I think a lot of people’s minds were blown when Fat of the Land debuted at #1 in the U.S. What did you think?
Liam Howlett: The initial shock was a real surprise, you know. Definitely surprised. We were really happy because it just confirmed what we always thought. We knew it would work in the U.S. It worked everywhere else. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. So we were just really happy. We were shocked, to be honest. We knew it was gonna go in to the top 10 and possibly in the top 5, judging on the amount of sales we did in that week and stuff. But, I mean, to go into #1, maybe people will take us seriously.
ATN: What did you do when you heard the news?
Howlett: [pause] I can’t really remember. It was about one in the morning. Richard [Russell] from XL [XL-Recordings, the English label the group is signed to] phoned me up and he told me. I think I spent like about an hour phoning people around, just saying “Yeah, what’d you think about that?”
ATN: Were you up all night after that? Was it hard to sleep?
“We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band for the ’90s.”
Howlett: No, not really, no. I went to sleep about an hour and a half later but I had to enjoy it and just chilled out and went to bed. That was about it.
ATN: The album debuted at #1 in I guess 22 countries?
ATN: In terms of the label, when the record went #1, did [Maverick Records head] Madonna send you anything or send you a note or call or anything?
Howlett: Yeah. She asked me to produce her album.
ATN: Oh really. Is that something you’re considering?
Howlett: No. Absolutely not. I’m not going to produce her album. There’s no way that I’d commercialize our sound. I wouldn’t give our sound away. There’s no way I would even think about that. Obviously I’m flattered for her to think that. But it’s our thing. It’s our own thing that we created. It’s not anyone else’s and to give that to Madonna is like selling my soul to the devil. It’s like absolutely no good.
ATN: Does the success of this album take the pressure off you at this point? Or does it put more pressure on?
Howlett: I feel completely relaxed now. I mean, the pressure was fully on when I was recording it. The last two months of recording the album was quite difficult for me. I was feeling a lot of pressure. I knew I was gonna get it done but I just didn’t know when, you know? It was just a question of getting in the studio and just battling it out. I don’t like going into the studio unless I’m inspired. But it was like I had to go in there to finish this record. And I just don’t like that situation. The last two months was quite difficult. Once it was finished, it was like a big cloud that just lifted off my head. Have you seen that film Groundhog Day?
“‘Breathe’ is basically like a full-on, almost punk dance track.”
Howlett: That was me. Getting up everyday…album, album, album, same thing for like four or five months. Most days I didn’t even go in there ’cause I was just like, I don’t want to write anything today, I can’t get into it. Then I might hear something and I might get a bit of inspiration and go and write something, even if it was just a rhythm part for a track or something like that. It’s just inspiration. That’s the way I work. I can’t get into the studio unless I’ve got a vibe.
ATN: Can you give me a specific example of where something inspired you, where you say, “Okay, I’m going in today to do something.”
Howlett: Well, it’s different for every track, obviously. Take “Firestarter,” for example. I was listening to the Foo Fighters album and I think it’s track #7, “Weenie Beenie,” the punk track on the album. This is on the first album not the second one. I listened to it and I don’t know where I was. I think it was either Macao or something like that. I had the album on and I was listening to it. And I was thinking it was a good track. The track is not a ground breaking track. It’s just a good, solid rock track and I had that in my head. I don’t know. I went into the studio to get something that had a similar type of energy. It wasn’t like I want to write something like that because the two tracks are so different anyway.
Howlett: I just basically laid the drums down first and tried to get the drums sounding really live and really big and basically getting the drum sound sounding as real as it could. And not too mechanical. With a good groove and stuff. Basically laid the drums down, laid the bass down. Then I think [singer/dancer] Keith [Flint] came ’round after that and he listened to the track. And basically we said this is an instrumental for the album. It’s gonna be like an instrumental track, whatever. And he said to me, “Yeah, I really like that. I’d like to put some vocals on it. Can we have some vocals on it?” We were sitting there. “You want to do vocals?” And he was like “Yeah, yeah, I want to try and express myself on this track.” And it was like, well, fuck it, let’s have a go at it.
Basically he wrote about five lines and then just kept repeating it over and over again on the mic. Then we both decided it worked. He went away. And that night I basically brought out lots more guitar sounds I had recorded before and basically laid them on the track and everything seemed to come together really quickly. And by the next day I finished the instrumental. And Keith came back around and we laid the vocals down and it was done in about three days.
With some of the other tracks it took much longer. For example, “Breathe.” We recorded that straight after “Firestarter.” And it was an instrumental for ages. We were playing it on stage and the guys were just dancing to it and stuff. It was just like an instrumental track. And I thought that it was so obvious to put a vocal on it and I think what happened is they came around and they knew the track anyway. They’d been listening to it for about three months. To tell you the truth, I think I wrote “Breathe” before I did “Firestarter.” I wrote the instrumental of “Breathe” about two months before “Firestarter.” And then about three or four months later I came around and literally set up a mic in the studio. I went into the lounge for about half an hour, watched telly, come back and they’d done the vocals. It was quite a quick sort of thing really. It was just a matter of sorting a couple of syllables out, getting them to fit in right with the beats and then it was just plain sailing, it was done.
ATN: I think that’s just an incredibly strong piece of music.
Howlett: It wasn’t thrown together. Some things literally don’t take long, you know. If you get a vibe, then you flow. Once I get something I like, I just do it until it’s done. I usually record most of the stuff at night. I start like about 10 at night. I’ll stay until 10 the next day and then just go to sleep the next day. ‘Cause once you’re in that flow, you don’t want to break that. You want to keep on it. ‘Cause the next day, there might be something else, you know?
ATN: Do you remember what was the first inspiration for you to go into the studio and start working on the “Breathe” instrumental?
Howlett: Literally for that track it was just like going in and experimenting with a couple of sounds. The first opening line is like a really twangy old guitar sound, really monotone sort of guitar sound. I made that and that was made about six months before we actually recorded the vocals. And it was just literally that, with a beat on it. And all I did was throw some loops down on a DAT. I basically just did that guitar part. [sings] That riff and just threw a beat on there. And just put it down as a loop onto DAT.
Basically, if I can’t get any tracks working, I just work on little vibes, like one sound and a beat and just put it into DAT for later. Just reference more than anything. And I was listening back to that part because I thought yeah, that works. It’s got a certain groove to it. And so I lifted it back off my tape and I restructured it again. And then five months later, after we actually put that down, I think we came back and started to build. I think I experimented with a few different beats and stuff and eventually got a good groove with that song and the bassline going. And it just all sort of pulled together really easily.
ATN: What do you think that song’s about?
“When we first started [Prodigy], we were literally ravers. We used to go out every weekend, have a good time, take some drugs and basically dance.”
Howlett: When we did the song, it was about confrontation between [singer/dancer] Maxim and Keith. There was no deep meaning. It was like, you want to taste me, come over here and taste me. And then Maxim was like, breathe me, breathe me… It was just more of a confrontational thing between them two. When they do it on stage, that comes across really obviously. I’m not gonna sit here and try and think of some deep meaning because it just hasn’t got one. “Firestarter” has but “Breathe” hasn’t. It’s basically like a full-on, almost punk dance track. It’s kind of got the energy of our other tracks but it’s also got the edge of “Firestarter” in a way. When you see it live, it’s really confrontational between them two. We just wanted to get that on record and it just captured that live part of the show, you know?
ATN: I misheard the line that Keith delivers where he’s actually singing, “Come play my game.” But I heard it as “down, bye bye, die.”
Howlett: [laughs] What’s that mean?
ATN: The song has a really ominous, dangerous feel to it. It seemed like it could be about someone getting accosted. It could be about a rape. It seemed like there were a lot of things that it could be about. I heard that line and…
Howlett: A lot of the stuff we write, we never want it to be direct. The music in itself is direct. The musical sounds, the beat are pretty direct, the arrangement…The vocals…we never want them to be direct. There’s always got to be head space for people to take in and to think about what exactly what they want it to be themselves. We’re not into doing full vocals on tracks, really. We did the L7 thing. And “Firestarter” was really a once-only track. And on the album we also did “Serial Thrilla,” which is more sparse. But basically we believe that if you use fewer vocals, it leaves more room for head space to be able to think about different things and what the vocals can possibly mean. We’ve got our meanings but people can relate to it in different ways really.
ATN: I like the real lyric now that I know what it is. But I also like the way I heard it too. The thing about that song and other things that you’ve done is it really seems that you have brought together punk and dance and techno. Is that something that you wanted to do for a long time?
Howlett: Basically, there’s three different levels to the Prodigy. When we first started, we were literally ravers. We used to go out every weekend, have a good time, take some drugs and basically dance. All we wanted to do when we first started was play the clubs we would go into. And so at the end of the day we did that. We did that for three years and unfortunately the English party scene…it began to go downhill. It just became boring. It wasn’t cool. It became really stale. And we just fell out of it really. We didn’t really enjoy it musically. Always just getting very bored of what I was hearing, you know. We just felt it was time for a change. I think the first thing I wrote which was slightly different…I did a remix for Front 242. And this was the start of the second level. It was like changing the formula of how I always wrote music and not using so many samples, basically just bringing a real darker side to the music.
ATN: What was the Front 242 song you did the remix on?
Howlett: It was called “Burn You Down.” And I basically did two mixes, both really dark. One was like a real heavy sort of techno remix and the other one was like a dark break beat vibe. They were both sort of quite demonic in a way. And basically what happened after that is I started work on Music For The Jilted Generation, the second album. That was like, no rules. It was like, right, I’m gonna make an album I wanna make and hear now. Because when we first came out, we didn’t get slagged off but we didn’t get the respect we deserved from doing that type of music, the rave style of music. To be honest with you, it was good when we were doing it. But looking back on it now, it became really monotonous. I much prefer what we do now by a long shot. It didn’t really have a lot of substance to it but it was important because it was the foundation of what we were doing. All Prodigy music has always been about the beats and the groove of the tune. That’s the foundation of all the songs.
With Jilted Generation, I basically just wanted to forget about all the formulas of the dance music. In the dance you’ve got lots of different categories: jungle, techno, whatever. And each category has their rules, as it were, like you should use certain sounds, you shouldn’t use guitars, you shouldn’t use slow beats, all this crap. I just threw that out the window. I thought, “No, I really don’t care about whether people slag this record off or not. I’m just gonna write something how I want to say it.” And that’s what I did. And that’s basically what came out.
For me there’s still tracks there I wasn’t happy with. I wasn’t happy to put the more techno tracks on there like “Full Throttle” and “One Love” and stuff like that. It took quite a long time to produce the album. And I felt that it was sort of an end to something we were doing before and the start of something new. It wasn’t just a whole new album with all new direction. It was important to still have some tracks that the old Prodigy fans could relate to still, you know? So with tracks like “Their Law” which were a bit more extreme and “Poison” and stuff like that, it was kind of like a new direction and “Voodoo People” and stuff like that. It was like forget about all the rules of dance music and here’s something new that sort of captures something along with the rock side as well, just bringing that through a bit. We didn’t want to change into a rock band. I think about the same time as we left the rave scene, we started to play like festivals and college dates and stuff, just stuff with other bands, guitar bands. And just being around that environment just inspired me to harden up the sound. It was the environment I was in.
ATN: You grew up listening to hip-hop stuff but I assume you also grew up listening to punk.
Howlett: No I didn’t actually. I’m too young to do that.
ATN: How old are you?
“It was like changing the formula of how I always wrote music and not using so many samples, basically just bringing a real darker side to the music.”
Howlett: I’m 25. Basically the punk scene was happening ’76, ’77. I remember being at primary school and I remember my teacher… She was quite young. She must have been about 22 or something, 23. She was basically saying she was gonna go see the Sex Pistols. I was young and all I saw on the telly was these nutters jumping around and I couldn’t understand it. So obviously as you get older it all makes sense. The first type of music I got into — I must have been about 14 — was ska like the Specials and stuff like that. I just liked them ’cause they were like a gang. They were like a hard gang that would produce this hard music. It wasn’t like pop music. It was just tough. And I just really got into all that stuff, the [English] Beat, the Specials, the Selector, all the ska stuff from England. That was just really happening for me.
And then from that I guess the hip-hop sort of thing came along and I think the first thing I heard from that was Grand Master Flash and the Wheels of Steel, “The Adventures of Grand Master Flash and the Wheels of Steel.” Grand Master Flash mixing on two decks and he just put it onto the record. And that was basically like such a do-it-yourself record. It was like, if I bought a couple of decks I could have made that record myself. I couldn’t believe that someone scratching on a record that was mixing other people’s songs could actually have it on a record. For me it was such a DIY thing. I really respected that. I thought yeah, I’ve got to get some turntables. I’ve got to learn this thing. It’s so new and I just really got into the whole culture. And with the hip-hop thing, it never really took over England in a huge way. But it was like really underground and you had breakdancing and we used to do that. I think the breakdancing was the first thing I got into. This must have been like in 1985 or something like that.
ATN: When you first got some turntables, how old were you?
Howlett: I was 15. I basically just did it for myself in my bedroom and I spent like a year just learning the techniques, going to mixing competitions watching people, listening to stuff and just picking it up. And then I think I entered a couple of mixing competitions. I entered a mixing competition on a London radio station and entered a mix under one name and two weeks later I thought no, it has these bad points, I’m gonna do another one. So I entered another mix under another name and I came first and third with both those mixes. It just took off from there. But I never thought “Yeah, I want to be in this big band!”
ATN: So while other kids would be learning how to play a guitar or something, you had taken this as your instrument.
Howlett: Yeah, to be honest, the turntables were my instrument basically. I played the piano too. It annoys me sometimes. The press keeps picking up on this classically trained pianist thing. I did play the piano when I was young. I played it from when I was like about eight to 14 or something. My dad made me go when I was young. I never enjoyed it. Looking back on it now, I guess I’m glad he made me go but I never really got into it. It was just something to please my dad. By the time I was like about 14, I’d had enough. I was like, “Look, I don’t want to do this anymore, dad. I’ve had enough of this shit.” And he basically just said, “Oh well, you’ve done it for that amount of time, hopefully you might do it later on or something.”
ATN: Now when you’re making tracks and stuff, obviously you’re grabbing samples but are you adding keyboard bits with the synthesizer?
“All Prodigy music has always been about the beats and the groove of the tune. That’s the foundation of all the songs.”
Howlett: Basically from Jilted, that was when I decided to stop sampling so much. And a lot of people get confused about sampling. When I talk about sampling, I’m not actually talking about taking a chunk of someone else’s record and using it in my song. I did that quite a lot on the first album but everything from like the Front 242 mixes was just using sounds, manipulating sounds. It isn’t about taking a chunk of someone else’s work. It’s about manipulating a sound and being creative with that sound. That’s basically what I do, you know. All the time now I’m playing everything you hear. Like I even played bass guitar on the tracks and stuff. Basically, I work on the sampler. The sampler is my tool.
ATN: What about the guitar part that was the beginning of “Breathe”? Was that something you found or was that something that you played?
Howlett: I made that. We had a guitarist called Jim [Davies]. He was our last guitarist. We’ve got a different guy now. I just got him into the studio and he played a couple of notes. I just took those single notes and basically put them through the sampler… If you knew the process…
ATN: You constructed the riff, in other words.
Howlett: Everything you hear on the tracks is basically from my head, you know. All the riffs are mine. I’ve never sampled a whole riff of someone else’s stuff. A lot of people get confused ’cause they think when they hear “sampler,” all they can think about is sampling other people’s tracks, you know. It’s not like it used to be, like with “Pump Up The Volume,” when it was just built around someone else’s track, you know. This is actually rock music written on electronic equipment, you know? With “Breathe,” with that riff, it was just…I made the riff, you know.
ATN: I assume you have in your studio a lot of different instruments that you grab sounds from. Is that true?
Howlett: Certainly, yeah.
ATN: What’s the range of stuff that you have lying around?
“I think about the same time as we left the rave scene, we started to play like festivals and college dates and stuff, just stuff with other bands, guitar bands. And just being around that environment just inspired me to harden up the sound. “
Howlett: Well, I’ve got a lot of old stuff. I’ve got a lot of old ARP and Moog synthesizers. I’m really into the old warmth, the old sound that cannot be created in any new equipment that comes out. All the recording equipment is modern. And the actual sequencing computers, I write on an Apple Mac. Basically all that stuff is modern. While the actual sound sources are old. Like I’ve got a lot of old synths that are basically Midi compatible and I’ve had retrofitted and stuff. The filters are so much bigger and fatter on the old synths that you just get much fatter sounds. That’s basically the sound source. And just being from the hip-hop scene, from the roots of hip-hop, which were like for me were like ’70s grooves, the ’70s breaks, the DJs who used to spin back-to-back on decks.
Howlett: And basically all the ’70s grooves that were coming out of America. I’d buy a lot of records like that and just get inspiration off of those, just the roots of where hip-hop came from. You know, the roots of DJs spinning back-to-back on turntables, old ’70s instrumental breaks on records and stuff. And just basically buying a lot of that stuff even when I’m over here doing Lollapalooza, I’ll go to record shops and just stand there for a couple of hours just searching for the records, listening to stuff. Just something new that hasn’t been used before and just taking the breaks and just manipulating some small parts of records sometimes and using them in my production. It’s stuff you wouldn’t recognize. I just change it so much from the original form that you wouldn’t actually recognize, even if it’s just a snare for a beat or a bass drum or a bass sound or something like that.
ATN: What inspired you to bring the punk thing in?
Howlett: Basically, it was about 1994 I think and we were doing a lot of shows and the live show had become a lot tougher. We were playing a lot of small venues. We were playing a lot of clubs that were like rock venues, but they’d hold like about 2,000 people. A lot of people would come up to us, a lot of older people, saying your show has a futuristic edge, but it has like a punk energy to it. It’s like a real get up there and just come on, let’s go, a real DIY ethic to the music, like someone could buy a set of samplers and some keyboards and could write this music.
And the whole thing just suddenly made sense to me. Then I started to get into what was the punk thing. I could see the resemblance in some of the stuff. With Keith as well… It wasn’t calculated in any way. It was just a natural progression. It was just like Keith’s performance became more and more extreme and eventually led to doing vocals. It was just a total progression for him. It wasn’t just like a complete change. He’s always been the guy that jumps around like a nutter on stage. And it just seemed like a natural progression for him to do what he’s done, you know. And it’s the energy in the music really, more than anything… There wasn’t a lot of real hard energy going in the dance scene, in the clubs and stuff…
House music was coming out and we weren’t really into that. The jungle scene was something completely different to what we were about. It all made sense. And you get a few publications in England like NME calling us a punk band and then everyone thinks it’s punk. But we actually never said, in the early stages, that we thought we were punk. It’s just publications. Because we don’t really put labels on ourselves. As soon as you start doing that, a year later, someone will turn around and say you’re not this, you’re not that. So it’s important for us to keep it fresh and to keep it unlabeled, really.
ATN: At this point, do you look at Prodigy as a rock ‘n’ roll band?
Howlett: Absolutely, yeah. We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band for the ’90s. Rock ‘n’ roll is… Like I said before, the music I write is rock music played on electronic equipment. It isn’t techno. It isn’t trip-hop. It’s Prodigy and that’s what we’re about. We just incorporate that sound. For me it’s something new. It’s the start of something new. A lot of bands are gonna get on this now. You watch. Like the Smashing Pumpkins… You listen to the drums on their new track [“The End Is The Beginning Is The End,” on the Batman & Robin soundtrack]. They’re electronic. That’s the way you can freshen the sound up.
I’m into the retro thing. I’m into the sounds. But to have old sounds with 1990s hard production is cool, definitely cool. It’s just what we’re into. As far as whether other people call us a band or not, that I don’t know. It’s like two vocalists, a dancer and a musician on stage and a guitarist. I don’t know whether you call that a band or not. Whatever you call it, it works for us. We won’t ever get drums on stage. We won’t ever make that move because once you’ve made that move you’ve kind of gone around in a circle and then you’ve ended up being something quite normal. We don’t really want to bring a bass guitarist on stage or a drummer. It works the way it is at the moment.
We’ve only done two Lollapalooza shows [as of when this interview was conducted, in late July]. The first couple of songs they stand there and then all of a sudden it just makes sense to them. Then everyone gets into it. But they need a couple of songs just to get what’s going on. I guess having a guy in the back usually means he’s a DJ. Usually he’s a DJ, like when you watch a Snoop Dogg show. He’s got the DJ in the back. People have to realize that I’m not actually a DJ. I’m not just playing stuff off a record or something like that. This is actually running live and it’s running spontaneous and it can be changed. It can be chopped and changed. Anything can happen. If we had enough of that song we could start the next song. It’s really accessible. You can change and sculpture the show to whatever you need. If the song isn’t working, you just throw something else in and see if that works.
ATN: When you were working on Jilted and then later when you were working on tracks that showed up on Fat of the Land, did you sort of dig out old Sex Pistols records or punk stuff just to listen to rock stuff?
Howlett: No. I never did that. And I never listened to any dance records either. I basically just heard what was around me. I went to clubs and stuff. I didn’t sort of study. I’ve never been the person to sort of dig out songs and study what that was about. I just absorbed whatever’s been going on around me. Like if I was in a club, I wouldn’t go there and go out to get inspired. I’d just go out, have a drink and just absorb what was going on and just have a good time. Then whatever happened the next day would happen. Some of the tracks from the album were born like that. To be honest with you, every time I go into the studio, I go in to write the same track. Then it just comes out different. I go in to write a track that had the same energy or a certain groove and basically I always want to try and achieve that sound and it just comes out different every time.
ATN: Is there one song — not something that you necessarily wrote — but one song that’s a favorite song of yours of all time that you want to capture that energy when you make your own music?
“I heard ‘The Adventures of Grand Master Flash and the Wheels of Steel.’ Grand Master Flash mixing on two decks… That was such a do-it-yourself record. [I thought] if I bought a couple of decks I could have made that record myself.”
Howlett: It’s a very hard question. There’s lots of songs that stick in my mind. Renegade Soundwave, “Phantom.” Meat Beat Manifesto, “Radio Babylon.” Sex Pistols’ “Bodies,” Joey Beltran, “Energy Flash.” Any Rage Against The Machine album. They’re my favorite band. Those records I mentioned — Renegade Soundwave and the Meat Beat Manifesto — they were like the start of the breakbeat scene and the dance scene so that was kind of the foundations of what we’re from. They were the records that were being played when we were going out. They’ve always stuck in my mind. Basically they were the records that inspired me first of all and they still do. When I listen to them, they still have the energy that we put in our music now.
ATN: How do you feel about this whole electronica media thing?
Howlett: We want to distance ourselves from it, to be honest. We’re wise to hype. We’ve been doing this for seven years now. We know if something’s hyped up too much and it hasn’t got any substance then it falls flat on its face. To be honest, after being at #1, I think this helps a lot. A lot of people will take us seriously now. It’s almost like we had to have that to let people realize that we’re not about hype. The Chemical Brothers did pretty well to get to #14 in the American charts. But at the end of the day when you actually look at the quantity of records sold, it isn’t a great deal, to be honest. It’s like 200,000 the first week. We sold twice as many in England in the first week. It’s like not that many records, to be honest. We were really pleased to be at #1. We were surprised. Everyone in England gets the impression that in the American market you need a million records to be at #1. The market isn’t like what it used to be; it isn’t the same. Two hundred thousand records [in one week] is not that many. You don’t expect it to be #1. Number one in itself helps us, you know.
ATN: The fact is, in four weeks, you’ve sold over 525,000 copies in the U.S.
“This is actually rock music written on electronic equipment, you know?”
ATN: I talked to someone over at Reprise Records [which distributes Maverick, the label the Prodigy are signed to in the U. S.] and they were like, “This record is absolutely gonna sell a million copies within the next month or so…”
Howlett: That’s cool. That’s really cool. We’re really happy. We don’t want to be part of the electronica scene. When we came across for our last tour, everyone was talking about this is a new thing from England. It was like Brit-pop or something. And I’ve always said that Prodigy, we’re on our own. We don’t come from a scene. There isn’t a scene in England which incorporates Leftfield, the Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Prodigy and Underworld and bands like that. We’ve always done our own thing.
We don’t wanna get caught up in the fact of being involved in like an invasion of electronic music. We’re strong enough to stand up on our own here. That’s why we’re doing Lollapalooza. That’s why we’re playing this thing. That’s why we’re playing on the stage with rock bands. That’s why we can do it. Our show enables us to do it. We don’t want to get caught up in something that might blow out.
For me, the dance scene will never take off in America. It will never take off. People are into rock music too much. I know a lot of people on MTV were talking crap about “Oh forget about rock music, this is the new thing.” You can never forget about rock music because that is the foundation of what we’re about. To replace rock music with two guys on keyboards, to replace a powerful rock band, certain rock bands that are cool with two guys on keyboards isn’t cool at all. That’s never gonna happen. I don’t know why MTV and certain people are trying to say this.
People should just realize what’s cool and realize what isn’t. It seems to me in America a lot of things are pushed in people’s faces too much. That’s why on our last tour, we sold a lot of the shows out in 10 minutes. And basically we could’ve sold the venues to like twice the amount but we wanted to keep the thing really low key. We want to play the thing down because we want people to feel like they discovered it and get it for nothing, you know. We want people to feel like they were there with 1,500 people when we first came back to America with The Fat of the Land. And that is special for those people. That’s like they discovered it again.
It’s not like come in, cash in. I mean U2 asked us to support them on their tour, the Pop tour. Absolutely no way. There’s no fucking way we’d do that. We probably would have sold a lot more records if we’d done that, I would imagine, if we’d done that tour. But that’s just not what it’s about for us. It’s about doing it right. It’s about getting on the right label, releasing the right songs, the right videos and just doing the right gigs. That’s what it’s always been about. It’s about having a good time really as well.
“We probably will turn something around that will cause us to self-destruct,”
Addicted To Noise: Are you going to continue to put all your creative producing energy into the Prodigy?
Liam Howlett: Well, anything I do at the moment is for Prodigy. This is what’s happening for us. I shouldn’t be detracted in any way from what I’m doing here at the moment. Now that it’s on a roll, it’s important to sculpture it right and make sure it’s pushed right. I think that I’m not doing any more remixing. So no one ask. I’ll probably do some collaboration work; like for example, I would find it interesting collaborating with a band like, say, Korn. You know Korn? Extreme sort of electronic music with a groove, metal, sort of heavy sound would interest me. That would be good. As far as spreading myself around producing other people, that’s something I see happening once the band starts going down, you know. Maybe people won’t want me then. But at the end of the day, I can’t be detracted from what I’m doing now with this. I’m not one of these people that feels like he has to spread himself out too much. I’m doing this thing and that’s good enough for me.
ATN: Are you going to do a collaboration with Korn or has that happened already?
Howlett: We spoke about it last night. I would imagine if all of the guys are into it… I spoke to a couple of them. I spoke to the bass player and another guy and they were up for doing something. I would imagine at some point I would like to get together with them. I’ve done a collaboration for the Spawn soundtrack with Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. Have you heard this track yet?
ATN: It’s pretty cool.
Howlett: It’s a very simple track. People shouldn’t hype it up too much. I hate that when everyone says “Oh, this is the best thing” or whatever. It’s a very simple track. It’s just like Tom and me grooving on this track. He’s very experimental. He’s got some scratchy stuff he does with a guitar and it’s quite a slow groove. It was written for the film. It’s nothing too complicated. I literally had about four days so it was kind of rushed. I was happy with the results but I wish I had another week on it to really sculpture it. Yeah, it sounds good. I’m happy with it.
ATN: Do you have a goal for the Prodigy, something you really want to accomplish with this? You’ve been at it now for seven years.
Howlett: Well, to be honest, as soon as we stop progressing, the band stops. We’re not one of these bands that want to flog a dead horse. Me personally, I don’t want to be going on forever doing the same thing. But at the moment, it’s rolling under its own momentum. America — it’s all so new here. When we play on stage, it all seems so new. It’s a good vibe. At the moment I don’t want to do another album. I’m not prepared to put myself through committing to another album. For the moment, this is the last album. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the band. It just means for the moment, I’m not thinking that in the next year I’m gonna start a new record. I think that’s just something I say just to make myself feel comfortable.
ATN: Kind of take the pressure off.
Howlett: Yeah, just have the pressure off myself. I don’t even want to be thinking about that. So if the record companies come to me and say we should start thinking about a new album, I’ve told them there isn’t one. I never allow myself to look ahead more than a year anyway. In the next months what I imagine we’ll do is release maybe one, at the most two records off this album and do some interesting mixes, record some new material, put out some new singles. But basically not commit myself to another album. It’s such a big step to do another album. Unless I feel all the steps are right, there’s no point in doing one.
ATN: This last album took two years of your life.
Howlett: It didn’t really. It appeared that way. It basically took a year and two months to write. But in that time was a lot of gigging. I went on holiday twice, snowboarding. I went on holiday with my girlfriend. I spent a lot of time out in the studio. It isn’t like I’m actually in the studio everyday. In some weeks, I might only go in there one day a week just to catch a vibe of what I’m doing. I only actually go in there when I’ve got inspiration off of something. People were a bit unfair when they were saying it took two years. When Jilted was released, I didn’t literally go in the studio the day it was released to start the new record. I waited a long time. After Jilted I said that that’s the last record. I don’t want to do another one. But then once I’d written “Firestarter,” it was like a springboard for the next album. It was like, “Right now I’m ready to start this album. We’ve got something new here. This is a progression.” And “Firestarter” was a springboard for Prodigy.
“You wouldn’t think the Prodigy are about beating their girlfriends up and shit like that.”
ATN: On the first Prodigy album, you did a version of the old Arthur Brown song, “Fire.” And on Jilted there was “The Heat [The Energy].” I wondered about this fire theme…
Howlett: Pure coincidence, pure coincidence. A lot of people ask me that. I had some nutter come around the house at three in the morning, knocking on my door, asking me if I was obsessed with hell and fire and stuff. He was like, “It seems like you’re into the devil. You must be obsessed with hell because you’ve got ‘Firestarter.’ You’ve got ‘Fire,’ ‘I’m the god of hell fire..’ and all that crap.” And I was just like, “You’ve completely lost it, just fuck off.” I actually ended up having a fight in my driveway with this guy at three in the morning, some local guy. He wasn’t drunk. He might have been out of his head on acid or something. It was quite absurd. To be honest, the whole fire thing… It’s just a pure coincidence. When we did “Firestarter,” “Firestarter” seemed like the right lyric for that song. It describes what Keith does. It describes Keith’s personality. It describes the live shows. It describes what he does on stage.
ATN: What’s your interpretation of that song?
Howlett: Keith’s personality. The song is Keith’s personality. That’s it. Plain and simple. A lot of people can relate to different lyrics in that song but I know when he was writing that song, he was talking about himself. Like the lyric “mind detonator.” Speaking about Keith. He’ll think about something until it just does his head in so much that it’ll be a big problem. Keith thinks a lot; he thinks too much, you know. He used to smoke too much weed. He’s calmed down now. “Mind detonator” is a lyric that just describes Keith really well.
ATN: You collaborated with Crispian Mills of Kula Shaker on the nine minute long “Narayan.” Why him?
Howlett: I approached Perry Farrell a year and a half ago to do a track. I’d written a track I thought was a really good instrumental. It had a real psychedelic feel about it. And I just liked Perry’s voice. I think he’s got a really unusual voice. It was gonna be like an album track. It wasn’t gonna be a single. It was gonna be a track that had a certain psychedelic feel about it, just like a breather for one track amongst all this other hard music. I pictured it working really well. And basically Perry’s voice fit the track perfectly and I couldn’t think of anyone else whose voice would work.
I got in touch with Perry. I sent him the track. He really loved the track. It was at the time when the last Lollapalooza [the 1996 tour] was going on. He didn’t have anything to do with that. He’d left the Lollapalooza to do his own festival called Enit. He’d already agreed to do the track. He was like, “Yeah, I really like the track, I really want to get together and we can do it.” I was like, “Great, OK. Let’s start recording it. Let’s go into the studio and do it.” And he said, “If I agree to do this track, can you play at my festival, the Enit festival.” And we were like, “OK, we’ll check the dates out, make sure they work and then we’ll do it, we’ll do that.” It seemed to me funny at the time that he was trying to strike up some kind of deal. We were like, “Well, let’s go back and check out the dates.” We went back to check on the dates and unfortunately, we had like Phoenix, Redding, a lot of big English festivals which were important to us. So I just got back to him and said, “Look, I can’t do this Enit thing because we’ve got other bookings.” And he basically said, “Well, I can’t do the track then.” He turned the track down.
And that to me wasn’t cool. It’s like you should be into the music for the right reasons. And that seems like it was being too much of a deal going on and it just wasn’t right. In the end, I just threw the track away.
*Perry Farrell was not available to comment at press time.
And then I heard “Tattva” by Kula Shaker and I didn’t know anything about the band. But I got a similar type of vibe. It wasn’t quite the same. But I got a similar feeling that if I used Crispian in the way he delivered the vocal [on “Tattva”] on some beats and stuff, it could have a similar vibe. And as always, things turned out different from the original idea. But I think that track did the right thing. It has a real cinematic, building feel to it and it’s really big. It’s in the right place on the album. It’s kind of a listening track. It’s kind of like a journey. Basically that’s the way the whole track came about. I didn’t know anything about Kula Shaker. We basically did the track and we were both happy with it.
“To replace a powerful rock band that’s cool with two guys on keyboards isn’t cool at all. That’s never gonna happen.”
To be honest, I’m not really a fan of Kula Shaker. I’ve got to be honest. I think that I’m not really into what they do. I think some of their tracks are good but I’m not really into the Indian influence. I used the Indian vocal on “Smack My Bitch Up” and also on “Narayan” but not in a really over-the-top way. It’s just like a mantra to me, just another sound I use. They really play the Indian and the acidic vibe too much for me. That kind of took it away from the music a bit. But Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills was in, no problem, man!
ATN: You told NME when they asked you about “Smack My Bitch Up,” you said “it’s probably the most pointless song I’ve ever written. I’ve got no explanation as to why I’ve got that lyric in there.”
Howlett: That song is probably the most pointless song I’ve ever written. But live, it works. It works well. Sometimes things can be so fucking simple and you don’t need an explanation of the lyrics. Why explain the lyrics? It either works or it doesn’t. And for us, it works well live. It’s a really exciting track and it’s just a good hard track.
To be honest, there’s a few angles on this sample thing. Like “Smack My Bitch Up.” I was into hip-hop and I was into the fact that MCs could rap about anything, they could rap about smacking women up and it’d just be more comical than anything else. You wouldn’t actually take it serious. You wouldn’t think the Prodigy are about beating their girlfriends up and shit like that. It has a certain amount of b-boy style in the actual song. It’s just basically bringing that through.
It’s obvious that “Firestarter” is not about starting fires. It’s about Keith’s personality. I thought, “Well, if people are going to kick up a fuss about this, then they’re really gonna kick up a fuss about ‘Smack My Bitch Up.’ ” It was kind of a joke on the English press in a way, as well. There’s lots of different angles. The main angle is it works and it’s a simple track and it’s got hard vibe. That’s why I use that lyric. The other vibe is what I was saying about the press. To be honest, we’re ready for whatever is thrown us. You can’t not be ready and use a lyric like that. To be honest, people, if they think that song is about smacking girlfriends up, then they’re pretty brainless.
ATN: Were you in a sense mocking some of the gangster rap vibe?
Howlett: Not mocking it. I’m not mocking gangster rap. It was a respect to that. I was mocking the English press. In fact, I knew, when I wrote that track — it wasn’t the main reason — but it became apparent to me afterwards, after I’d written the track, that it would be a real piss take on the English press the fact that they will pick up on it and create something out of it. If you can create that much trouble in one vocal then let’s create some trouble. For us, it’s just about doing what we want, doing it our way, having fun. That’s our way of just having fun. But it’s serious in other ways. It’s not a joke. This song isn’t meant to be taken like a joke. It’s a hard song. The sample just works. There’s not really one explanation why I put it in there. When I was young and I was listening to Ultramagnetic MCs, Public Enemy, Schooly D about guns, drugs and women, it just had a good vibe. I just liked the vibe it had and tried to pick some of that up in that song, really. The whole album to me has got a more b-boy feel running through it than Jilted had. It’s much more rhythmatic and I worked with drums a lot more. The whole vibe has a strong almost hip-hop element running through it.
ATN: Was it exciting for you to work with Kool Keith?
Howlett: Yeah, very exciting. It’s even more exciting to work with him than doing the Kula Shaker thing. I’ve been into the Ultramagnetic MCs since ’86 or something like that. When I heard that he was up for doing the track, I got a good buzz off that. The original version of the track I sent him — it was a really simple hip- hop track, much like the one on the album. And he sent the vocals back. And it was like, “I think I want to take the vocals off this track and write a new track and just do something different.” My original idea was to put lots of synthesizers and make it complicated. I tried it. It just didn’t work. I didn’t really get the feeling it was what I wanted to do. Once I’d simplified the track — I’d taken all the elements off — I just had these really raw sounds going quite hypnotic through the whole track and just using his voice to pick up on the flow of the whole tune. It’s [“Diesel Power”] a very simple track on the album. But I don’t know. It’s the track I always put on in my car. It’s the track I always play at home. It’s just a real head nodding track and when I put it on, it’s just raw, you know. And it has the right vibe for what we wanted to accomplish.
“Kool Keith (AKA Dr. Octagon) is the best MC on the planet without a doubt.”
ATN: So he didn’t come to your studio. You sent him something and then he cut the vocal and then sent it back.
Howlett: Yeah. Basically what happened was I’d done an interview with Urb magazine in San Francisco about two years ago, three years ago. And a friend of mine was over there from England and he knows Keith and he basically writes for a hip-hop magazine in England. His name is Angus Batey. He read the article. In an interview with us I was saying I would like to work with Kool Keith, do a track for the new album and stuff. But I don’t know if he’d be up for doing it, you know because he’s more sort of dance-oriented stuff. He phoned Keith up and he basically asked him. He said, “You know these guys have got this track…” Kool Keith said, “Yeah, I know ‘Poison.’ ” He knew the records, which is quite surprising.
“That’s what’s punk about it, the fact that Keith can’t sing and he’s up there, he’s up on stage. It makes people think that they could get up on stage.”
I sent him a track and he liked the track. And obviously he couldn’t agree to doing a track unless he heard what we wanted to do. He wouldn’t just agree to doing it. But once he’d heard the track I produced, he liked it and he put the vocals on it. He was really happy. It was interesting working with him. He did send the vocals across on a tape and that’s the way it worked. I’m really strange when it comes to working. I like to do everything myself. I can’t have anyone else in the studio. The first embryonic stage of writing a track and starting the music, I have to be on my own. I have to be stumbling around in the studio, catching a vibe with no one else around. That’s the way it works best really.
ATN: Have you hung with Keith or talked with him much since?
Howlett: Yeah, I spoke to him loads. Yeah, he’s kind of strange. He’s like really out there. He’s definitely the best MC on the planet without a doubt.
ATN: You’ve got these political slogans or mock political slogans in the CD booklet. “We have no butter, but I ask you, would you rather have butter or guns? Shall we import lard or steel? Let me tell you preparedness makes us powerful. Butter merely makes us fat. Steel? Lard?” What’s that about?
“This is actually like a Nazi quote,”
Howlett: Do you know where that came from? This is actually like a Nazi quote. It’s like Hermann Goering, Hitler’s right hand man. This is the quote he made during the war. Now a lot of people have picked up on this in England. You can imagine what the press have been like, “Oh the Prodigy are Nazis…” All this crap, you know. To simply answer that question: yes, the quote is a Nazi quote and no, we’re not Nazis. Obviously we’ve got two black guys in the band. So to even suggest that is totally brainless anyway. To be honest, that quote is like me using a sample. I look upon that quote as like a sample. I take it out of its original context, put it in my own context and it means something completely different. I look at that quote and that’s like a b-boy quote. That’s like someone out of a hip-hop scene could have said that. And that’s the reason I used it ’cause it’s a totally different context. It’s like a completely different thing. And it just works well. It has power and it has the right message for what we want. It has nothing to do with what it’s originally about.
ATN: What’s the message that you’re communicating?
Howlett: It isn’t really a simple message. It’s just a vibe it has. It has power. For me, it just made me laugh. This is like the first b-boy quote. Do you know what I mean? It’s like something that was made in 1946 or ’47 by a German can be related to 1997 in kind of a hip-hop community. It’s really kind of quite humorous in a way. I guess I thought it had the right vibe. It wasn’t like that message is so what we’re about. It wasn’t like that message is what we’re about. It just had the right feeling really.
“We’re not the new Sex Pistols.”
ATN: At least at face value, it seems like you’re talking about governments spending money on guns and ammo and ignoring the fact that there are people that are hungry, homeless. That’s one interpretation.
Howlett: One interpretation, but the wrong one. Basically, we’re not political. We don’t even talk about stuff like that. Like I was saying before, certain people can pick up certain things and it’s up to me to sort of like let people do that or give them a new direction of thought of what that track’s about or whatever that vocal’s about or that quote, whatever. But we’re up for letting people deciding for themselves and letting them bring the vocals into their own head space, their own world and letting the vocals mean something to themselves. Basically, if I sit here and explain exactly how it is, it doesn’t leave any room for head space. It basically works in our world of sort of like the b-boy feel of the album. It has the hardness and the vibe we want to put across on the album. There isn’t any deep meaning or explanation of why we used that quote, to be honest. And I’m not gonna pretend there is.
ATN: Do you think Prodigy is subversive?
Howlett: You might want to explain a bit more.
ATN: I said this earlier but there’s this kind of dangerous vibe to what you do…
Howlett: Prodigy will actually probably end up self- destructing ’cause we build so many things up, then we turn it around. And we probably will turn it around to our death. We probably will turn something around that will cause us to self- destruct. That’s just the way we are. And that’s the whole fun of it. It is dangerous. It is playing a game… It’s not a safe path. That’s what keeps it alive, I think. That’s what we’re about. It’s what keeps the whole thing alive. It’s about taking risks and really throwing things in people’s faces and pushing it and pushing limits. It’s not about playing the whole thing really safe.
During our show, we play most of the tracks from the album. We do the whole show playing some old stuff, some new stuff. And at the end of the show, as an encore, we do “Fuel My Fire,” which is an L7 cover, which is the last track on our album. We almost build up the whole show of all this solid dance music and then we destroy it with one song. We destroy the whole show with one single punk rock song that probably most people won’t like.
We started doing this because at the end of the show we’d finish with “Firestarter” or another well-known song and people would be shouting “Out Of Space” and “No Good (Start the Dance)” and old stuff that doesn’t really fit into the show. To fuck them off we’d do this song and it would almost destroy the whole set we built up. That’s how self-destructive we are. We kind of get a buzz out of that.
Sex Pistols aren’t an influence. Sure they aren’t.
It’s really hard to explain but that’s just what it’s about for us. We’re about turning it around at the last minute and not playing it totally safe by doing an encore that was going to get a real huge reaction. It was like, well yeah, we build up the whole set with all these songs, the hits, “Firestarter,” “Breathe,” whatever, tracks from the album, old tracks, “Voodoo People,” and basically just coming in with one last track that we imagine people can’t really dance to and they can’t really get the vibe because it’s not a dance song and it’s just totally different to the rest of the music in the set. It still has the same energy but it’s a different energy. We really enjoy doing it. We wouldn’t play any songs we don’t enjoy, but I’m just saying that basically, it was like almost destroying the whole set with that one song and in our way, it’s quite self-destructive. And I think that’s the way we’ll always be and that’s the way we are.
ATN: Is Prodigy the Sex Pistols of the late ’90s?
Howlett: No. Prodigy’s the Prodigy of the ’90s. It always annoys me when people need that security of relating something to what was going on before. Like, for example, the new Rolling Stones, the new this, the new that. Obviously not us but other bands, they like to have that safeness or that security in saying this is the new Sex Pistols or Keith’s the new Johnny Rotten.
We’re not the new Sex Pistols. There hasn’t been any bands like us before. There’s never been any electronic bands that have done what we’ve done, that have incorporated this style of music. This is something new. So when people say that to me, it does annoy me slightly. I think people will have to accept that this is something new. This is something happening now. This is something that’s coming out now. Certain elements of it have relations to the Sex Pistols or punk rock or certain attitudes in that scene, but you really cannot compare what we do to the Sex Pistols.
“People, if they think that song [“Smack My Bitch Up”] is about smacking girlfriends up, then they’re pretty brainless,”
Just because Keith’s got spiky hair does not mean he’s John Lydon. People who say he sounds similar, he doesn’t sound similar. I’m a fan of Lydon and Keith doesn’t sound anything like Lydon. He doesn’t have the same depth. Keith cannot sing. Simple as that. Keith cannot sing. Lydon can sing maybe five percent. Keith cannot sing one percent. That’s what’s punk about it, the fact that he can’t sing and he’s up there, he’s up on stage. It makes people think that they could get up on stage and do that. They can get up on stage and be Keith or whatever. That’s just the way it is. Simple. He’s not standing on stage thinking he’s a singer. He’s standing on stage because he can get up there and he can do it. This is his chance to do that. That’s basically the whole vibe. That’s what’s punk rock about it.
ATN: Obviously it’s not your intention to inspire people but do you dig the fact that people can get that out of Prodigy?
Howlett: Absolutely, yeah. That’s probably one of the most important things, that people can draw that from the band. Just to take that element and draw from that. I think it’s important, really important.
Howlett said he’s met stars like Bono and Bowie, and they’re just like you and I. Well, if you and I had egos the size of stadiums.
ATN: So pissing on the idea of rock stars…
“We destroy the whole show with one single punk rock song that probably most people won’t like.”
Howlett: Absolutely, absolutely. At the end of the day we’ve never been on the vibe that we’re different from anyone else. I’ve met most of the biggest rock stars in the world. I’ve met Bono, I’ve met David Bowie, I’ve met these people. They aren’t any different to us. And we’re just saying that it makes us laugh when people think they’re different. When I was younger, I’d go to Glastonbury when I was young and I’d be thinking “Man, what goes on behind that back stage? What goes on behind the stage? It must be a big party. It must be crazy shit going on.” Being there, it isn’t like that. It’s just so fucking normal. For example, we’re in a club two, three years ago. Jilted was at #1 in the charts. We’re in Germany or somewhere like that. It’s at #1 in the German charts. We were just in there getting drunk in this club. Totally inconspicuous.
We were just chilling with a few friends. There’s quite a few people in there. Then all of a sudden all these bouncers come in, clearing everyone out of the way. They clear the way for this dude, meant to be this big rock star. And he sits at a table. We’ve never heard of this guy. He’s got a hit in the charts. It’s about #78 or something. He’s never had any records out before. It’s his first record but he’s a star now and he’s arrived in this limousine and he’s arrived with all these bouncers around him.
Basically, it’s like a record company attempt to make this guy seem like he’s big. So any photographers that were in that club take pictures of him turning up in that limo, take pictures of him in the club with all these girls and these bouncers. We just sauntered up to him. We were like, “Who are you?” He was like, “Don’t you know? I’ve got this record out. I’m in the charts.” We’re like, “Yes, so what?” He just felt such an idiot after we told him who we were. He just got embarrassed. He left. That’s always stuck in my mind, that story. Anyone who thinks they’re a star just needs to realize that it’s not all about that. It’s about the substance of what you’re doing. We’ve always been totally against that. For us it’s just not what it’s about.
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