Neko: interview with LH (19th October 2005)
(19th October 2005 – Copenhagen)
Neko: So you released the Their Law The Singles album Id 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 its not really anything that could have developed into anything else, its 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, its 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 its the Kool Keith thing, because we couldnt clear that sample, so were 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 its on our new web site. Were putting a lot of effort into that, were definitely making sure its going to be the best one weve had, its going to be a platform to let people hear [thinks] kind of shit thats not ever gonna be released, but people should hear, you know. Were 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 dont 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. Its 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. Its a track we like doing live, it works live; you know what I mean.
Its a track I really like it, it captures a kind of 1996 spirit, its really old school for us, it works for us. We play it live because its different, it still evolves. Did you notice today? We just fuck around really. Its a hard track to record and put on a record, I didnt 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 dont know. Gun Release was something the fans made up. Theres no such thing, thats a myth. It was never called Gun Release, but there is a track called Gun Reprise. Thats the track I played tonight after Climbatize.
Neko: The Osaka fill
LH: Yeah, exactly, the Osaka fill thats Gun Reprise.
Neko: Audio Bullys did a remix for Out of Space.
LH: I love it. I know its 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 theyve taken an old track and just stamped their authority on it, stamped what theyre about on the track.
You cant 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, theres lots of remixes around but I dont know whether they are gonna come out. We obviously had Voodoo People Pendulum, OOS, we had SMBU Subfocus, the drum nbass thing. There was a no good mix and another VP mix, the wonder kind did you hear the wonder kind mix?
All in all, theres about seven remixes floating around, some of which we didnt use. The thing with this record is, we didnt 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 wasnt about selling it of the back of that.There wont be anymore singles off that record. People must be happy were 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, its got a militant groove; I like that.I really like Keiths 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 dont know whether it necessarily works live or not. Its 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: Thats exactly what it says it is. I know people were a bit confused and thought it was a live recording of that track. Its basically just the version, when we play it live off the laptop at the gigs. Its 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. wed recorded that show and its 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. Im always a bit sceptical with Prodigy live recorded tracks, but these work, and weve 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, weve waited a long time to release something like this, but we finally went ok, were doing this thing, lets try and make it something thats cool.
And I think the DVD, it incorporates a lot of shit, its 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 its about.
Neko: Is that why youre quite wary of live recordings on the internet?
LH: I dont mind its all cool, but stuff we put out is stuff we think is quality. We cant 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 dont 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, were never going to go that far.
As soon as Always Outnumbered was done the record company were like ok, so next year should be this package.
I was like fucks sake, thats shit, I just want to do another album!
They were like no no no, its a good time to do it, its a good summary of what youve 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 weve 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 wed done before.
Neko: So, the inevitable No Souvenirs question you did once say people were going to hear it in all versions and obviously youve changed your mind again.
LH: Where did I say that – Was I drunk?
The trouble with that track is and I dont know whether Im a bit paranoid about it – its gone on so long, and its had so much build up. The only person outside the band whos heard it is Martin James. At the time I played it to him he thought it was one of the best prodigy tunes hes ever heard. But it wasnt 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 arent.
I try to be as honest as I can – with that track, its got so much attention to it, its only going to lead to disappointment, which is not what I want to put myself in the position of it now. I know Im not happy with it now, but its got something. I think people should just fucking forget about it!
Its a very different thing, its like a song, its got a chorus and verses, its got a beginning, a middle and an end. It is a Prodigy track, but its more of a song. It was always 60 70% there, but when we finished it, it was just like, yeah, its really cool, but its not quite there. Its the hardest thing I ever tried to finish.
Neko: Youve 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, its 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 its 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 cant remember the name, but its from a Spanish film. And its 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 its got nothing to do with me, know what I mean?
So its odd, it felt a bit bizarre being in that video, its weird doing a video for a remix of my band.
I wish Id done the mix. But, I cant remix my own songs; its the fucking hardest thing for me to do. Because the originals are what they are, I cant do a better mix of it, you know. I can make it sound better but I cant make a completely different version of it, its the hardest thing, I always come back to what it was. Its a weird thing for us to be in that video, its not something Id 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 didnt realise people would actually recognise her! Sharkey works with John now, shes great, shes a really good friend of us still.
Neko: And no Motorola sponsorship
LH: OK, thats shite, I had to laugh when you said that!
I actually dont 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 didnt get a phone out of it! Im pure Nokia. But no one can ask me that thats 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, Ive 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, whats going on?. They are very fucking angry with me!
Neko: Last question about the video. Whats in the bag?
LH: [laughs then silence] Its a 12 inch dildo thats why Sharkey looks very happy!
Neko: You also had a DVD coming out
LH: Its in the fucking shops, I cant believe it, I saw a copy today!
It is in every shop Ive 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. Its obviously built to be the Best Of The Prodigy, but the first thing you see its 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. Its to do with the fact that what comes up when you put it in, so what theyre saying is, it can be confusing to a buyer. Is it a compilation or is it a live video. But its going to make the versions that are out there now worth some money, because all those have gone out now and they are wrong. Its 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 didnt ask Rob whether I could do that and I didnt want to get into that cause you never know whats 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 didnt cut it for me, it wasnt 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, theyre from that period.
The tracks on there, theyre 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 didnt bother.
Neko: Are going to do anything with it, you played it live tonight
LH: Its got good musical value. its got a slight Massive Attack kind of feel. So I dont know,its 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: Youve just released a DVD. Are you planning to release other DVDs in future, like a dedicated live DVD for example?
LH: Yeah, were going to record the tour weve 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 dont know if thats something people want to get, you know?
I think just a live DVD, I dont know, Id 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, wouldnt really be good value for money.
Neko: Youre 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, dont expect it to be like Dirtchamber, cause its not mixed. At some point there will be another mix album from me, but that will be after the new record, because thats what Im concentrating on at the moment. Back to Mine is basically the shit I play when Im at my house having a party. Its a selection of tracks that mean something to me over the years, theres lots of different shit. Some of it is obvious, but they are tracks I really like. Theres 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 were at my house having a party. I stick that on and watch their faces. Its 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. Its exclusive to this record and thats that. Cause it is a chop up, its a remix obviously of a few different tracks its got bits of Wake up in it, its got bits of Spitfire in it, its not a track that has got any more development, do you know what I mean, it is what it is. Its a track I love though, I love doing it live!
And thats the thing, when we do the tour, we probably wont do Warning on that tour, because its 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 dont want it to be a nostalgic trip, you know, I still want it to have an edge.
Im not saying Im just playing loads of new stuff, but the old stuff needs to have a bit of a twist, it cant be straight
Neko: Youve 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 wont loose anything of what were about. It will be more the melodic value the first and second album had, but maybe the third didnt 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 its really fucking tough.its stil developing. Its a different groove; its really kind of fresh sounding. Its 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 lets not do Wake up, lets do Dead Ken, lets just do a jam. And I dont 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 its the Their Law The Singles tour, have you got any more old stuff youre bringing back?
LH: I see youve got Jericho written down there, thats 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 its 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 weve got Charly and EITP. I think weve got to try and somehow incorporate at least one of these tracks into the set, I dont know how yet (pauses) I really dont know. (pauses) I really fucking dont 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, thats the only copy Ive got of it right there. And at the end of it, because I didnt 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, its always building it up. Like now, I know Ive got like four tracks in my head, that Im working towards when were on that tour. John [the bands tour manager] is disgusted with me that theyre not in there now, but Im 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 dont want to do it now, I want it to be fucking fresh, for us as well. So the fact is like, Ive 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 Whats that tune man? I was like its fucking Jericho man!
Neko: Do you feel that going away from festivals gives you more space to experiment?
LH: Yeah, absolutely. Its so much more room to be much more experimental at these gigs. Whether thats a good thing or a bad thing for the fans, I dont know. Its 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 aint gonna happen a lot, that is never gonna happen on the tour. By the time were 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 youre 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 didnt come to those eastern European gigs, did you? We did tour buses there and it was fucking miserable. Theyre 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 its not this, its not that. Its just one fucking lunatic who has hacked into it not everyone was doing it, it was one person.
Two weeks ago it still wasnt together, but we were talking about it one month ago we said we wanted a past, present and future. Its all set up now, any archive stuff weve got goes in there, any news stuff weve 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.its a good platform to do that. I dont think we had that on any web site we had before. Its 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 Im pissed. Always! I love them, I always do them late at night, at 12 Im 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 wouldnt say its good enough. In Australia. Ha ha ha. Lets just live the moment, for people who were there, thats all I can say. That wont 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. Its definitely going on at some point; its 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 didnt want to release Wind it Up, I felt like Michael Jackson, who just caned his album and released every fucking single off that, I didnt really want to release any more singles, I didnt 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 Machines 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, thats 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.
Weve 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 thats the common denominator between us guys. We dont necessarily hang out, we dont 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 didnt know how wed do it, Id had it pictured in my head, obviously werent 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 wasnt really the best gig we ever did, wed 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, its all about, writing new tracks, if its not firing ,its not coming out.
Neko: When you did the last album you didnt do any live shows, but now youre back on the road while writing, do you think thats a positive thing?
LH: Absolutely. Ive said before, this band cannot survive without doing gigs, you know what I mean. Thats the end of it. We have to play gigs. We now start booking gigs for next year, and thats a good thing. We may try out things during the sound check, we may drop something new in the set, you know. We wont 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. Theres no point being in peoples faces all the time. Its 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: Ive 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, its to do with the logo, ha ha, it wouldnt have fit in properly. Honestly, thats 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 JJapart 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 Im 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 wont know its 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: Its 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 havent really gone hard into it. Its really about putting the time in; you really have to give yourself that time. So next year, were not doing any gigs in January, so were going to be recording in January. February were going to be in Japan, big tour, we might do like 6 or 7, 8 gigs. March were going back to America, were doing the Miami Music conference, which really is like a dance event. Basically, our tour will evolve around that. Well probably do Washington, New York we probably wont 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.
Liam Howlett was interviewed by Andrea Schnepf aka neko (www.nekozine.co.uk) on 19th October after The Prodigys show in Copenhagen.