Neko: interview with The Prodigy (6th March 2009)
MUNICH March 6th 2009 – Neko interviews Keith, Maxim, Liam
So, your album is at number 1, congratulations!
All: yeah, thanks!
Keith: It is easy to dismiss it but it is really respectful of all the guys still out there for us and are into it.
Liam: I am sure our fans are happy for us and we are happy for them that it is number 1. You know what I mean; it’s for everyone to be happy about… people who are into the band want [it to be number 1]. If no one bought the records then people wouldn’t be into us. It is kind of a hard thing to go “Yeah yeah we’re really excited we’re number one”. We are like feeling like we’re coming from the underdog angle. People totally wrote us off in the UK. Not fans but a fucking general negative vibe in the air.
Keith: It is never a goal [to be number 1] you just want to be heard and that is it!
Maxim: It is funny I was just saying to Liam at the airport “It is really weird I’ve never really thought about being number 1”. Yeah, it is respectful but never really analyzed it and really thought about it.
Keith: It is not about that. When you look back at having done Australia and then having done these gigs [European Tour] and the sort of progression, maybe since we did Gatecrasher and Warriors Dance and what that moment seemed to turn in to, how it gelled the album and the live show. I reflect on that and that feels awesome.
You must have seen it yourself that there is that kind of energy back. It is not just people coming to see their favourite band; it is people coming to fucking rock again! That just sets me alight!
So, it’s more the live show then, where you actually see the feedback, rather than an album being number 1 on the chart?
Maxim: Australia was like, “fucking hell man!”
Liam: ‘Cause Australia was, it led into it as the album was released.
Keith: See that was pre-album. People were really getting the music as it happened.
Liam: I don’t think we we’ve ever been in a situation before, of starting the tour as the album is coming out. It has been a different experience.
Keith: Yeah, it’s been buzzing!
The album is called ‘Invaders Must Die’. Where did that come from?
Liam: It is definitely first of all a statement of intent, like most Prodigy records. On a ground level really abrasive and really sets the head thinking “What the fuck is that about?”. Which I think any good album title should do; but it is much deeper than that.
Its kinda biographical of the last 8 years , the rough period we went through, the pre “Baby’s got a temper” time. You know, we were reflecting back on that, talking about it 2 years ago one of the guys said ‘those Invaders Must Die’ referring to the infiltrators, and I was like that’s the album title right there.
Keith: The people that did more to help things disband than to bring things together. Negativity. They’re the invaders.
Maxim: All the negativity, it’s disbanding all the negativity. It is people who spread negativity and all the things which hold us back from where we are now.
Liam: It probably means something different to each one of us. It is definitely a bit of paranoia in there. Maybe times when you feel like in your head things aren’t quite going right.
Keith: Yeah, definitely! I was thinking about how the band has a really good subliminal way… when people ask you about causing controversy or how did you make this happen… We never think about anything in real literal kind of like “IT-list” kind of like…. “Abrasive – check! Controversy – check!” We never do that.
Liam: It is quite a positive album. We didn’t set up like, …. And it sounds really shit when you explain it and that’s why I don’t really like explaining it, sort of the songs, you can’t really pinpoint stuff.
But ‘Colours’ is kind of almost like a call to the troops. It has a positive message behind it. The whole album is more ‘up’ than we thought it would be. It took us by surprise ourselves. We weren’t trying to make an ‘up’ record. We think it feels quite ‘up’.
Maxim: It is the excitement of being in the studio and doing the shows and being together again. We are closer than ever. And I think that just comes through and shines through the tracks on the record.
You said that on the last album ‘Spitfire’ was the defining track of the record and before that ‘Firestarter’. Is there like a defining track on this album?
Liam: I don’t think we know yet. We didn’t know at the beginning when we did those records. But I like ‘Take Me To The Hospital’. Fuck knows!
Maxim: Yeah! That seems to be standing out more and more.
Liam: And ‘Warriors Dance’ obviously.
Keith: ‘Warriors Dance’ is a trigger track. I saw Liam really have a freedom in the studio and he was writing like Liam wrote, he was just writing and spilling out ideas.
Liam: It was a mixture of that and moving upstairs where all the baggage had been just dropped off.
Keith: And all the shit stayed at the bottom and all the good went out at the top and then we just had to condense it.
Liam: The studio is really small. It’s this big [shows in relation to the small room we’re in] It is like an old bedroom.
Maxim: But while we’re talking about standout tracks, on the previous albums there were some stand out tracks and some tracks that worked on different levels but I think on this album all the tracks are on the same level.
Your online presence is much more intense nowadays. Facebook and Myspace and you’ve done blogs and things like that.
Keith: I don’t. I’ve done a couple of blogs, I think.
Liam: I am on the blog. I think what it was, to summarize it, we’ve decided at the beginning, before Facebook and that fucking nonsense, that we would take Duggers, he’s our film guy, on the road with us more.
Because we really liked him as he is really fun to hang out with and he was a photographer and we thought we’d just take him along to take some snaps and all that. And then we started to make the little films. And that just came out of nowhere; we didn’t say “c’mon lets make some films” he was just our friend and he just started making some films. And we thought like “cool, we’ll put one online” so that kind of started the communication and we really got into that thing.
Keith: I personally thought it was good communication, because I don’t blog. And I wish I did – I got to make a statement that it is not disrespectful to the fans, it is just not what I do well. And I think if I got into it I’d probably fuck it up somehow so I must stay away.
Maxim: It is important, you know from our previous web sites and stuff, to stay in contact with our fans and kind of move on with times rather than just go “fuck it, website is over there” and leave it alone.
Liam: Yeah you got to make the effort!
Keith: I am certainly behind all the films and keeping the momentum of that going.
Maxim: Obviously there are fans out there who are into what we’re doing so it is just keeping them in touch, you know.
Liam: But I’m really really also on making sure that it doesn’t go too far the other way where it feels like too corporate. It doesn’t at the moment, but we got to keep it like [cool]… I just go on it when I can be arsed.
Keith: We always talk about things we could do for our fans but then we kind of back it up a bit and we’re not Radiohead or Coldplay, where you’re kind of giving your album away and free tickets and you could choose what clothes I wear. [laughter] That is just never gonna happen. I’ve got a spare room, fan of the week that lives in the spare room and really I am in touch [laughter].
Maxim: [joking] well, I would actually set that up, you know, for a couple of grand. I wouldn’t actually tell you about it. [laughs]
Liam: Yeah, it is finding the right balance isn’t it.
You did the radio show on Radio 1. I thought that was really good!
Maxim: That was alright.
Keith: We enjoyed it.
Liam: I fucking shit it…. It was scary. The first 15min I was like “oh no!”.
I remember you talking about it on the UK tour in December and what you were going to do on it…
Liam: Yeah…after about 20 minutes it was alright, wasn’t it!
Maxim: I loved it!
Liam: We did have a laugh! I must say, Pete Tong helped us out and he was really good.
Keith: Did you hear the Damon Albarn one?
Liam: No! Did you?
Keith: No, I was just wondering how it was.
Liam: He is probably pretty good at that sort of shit, he’s a librarian. I am not really good at public speaking, so it was funny.
Maxim: Nor am I!
So what happened to that competition that you guys promised? [When live on the radio 1 show]
Liam: Yeah, we were talking about that.
Keith: It is still running! The thing was, what happened there was…
Liam: I was drunk!
Keith: Liam was drunk, and then we bumped into some law about radio gaming and all that gaming stuff.
Keith: Yeah, competition.
Liam: The producer was like “No, No! We can’t do competitions on Radio 1! We’re not allowed to do that”
Keith: We’re sourcing the information we need to pick a winner at the moment.
Liam: No, we haven’t even asked the question yet have we?! I thought we are still going to do that.
Keith: I thought it was name the tour!
Liam: If we give the 303 away, they have to take all my shit out away from my attic! It comes with all those boxes!
Keith: It is in a box… covered in shit! [laughter]
Liam: They have to take everything! Haha
Keith: Old toys, clothes, furniture and lamps and records and broken stereos!
So what do you guys listen to at the moment?
Liam: I listen to a lot of dance music. Just music in general.
Keith: I am a shuffle man. Ipod shuffle! I must admit, every ten tracks I go “what the fuck is this? I didn’t know I had that!” and I love that. Cause it makes it to your ipod for a reason and it is in the right bracket or genre or whatever. So that is what I do.
Maxim: Old school hip-hop man; that is where it is for me!
Keith: Whilst we were doing the album there was a little time, that I would ring Liam and tell him to check this track and he’d do the same. It was a sort of track sharing of stuff that was going on.
Liam: Maybe I am more in contact with the freshest shit on the dance side of things. When Deadmau5 first came out I was really into that. ‘The Spell’ that track is fucking wicked. And Noisia. You know, they did the remix of Omen.
Keith: Cool guys actually. We met them yesterday.
Liam: That kind of whole ‘noise’ shit happened. Like more dark electronic dance shit that is really good. And even drum’n’bass… I’ve never really been into drum’n’bass before. There have always been key tracks but… I just really like it again. It has really got up another level I reckon. It is more like a production thing. I am more listening to the production. Drums sounds and the way bass works. Cause we can all learn from each other still.
Before Christmas I saw you say in an interview that you’ve got to finish some tracks that didn’t make it on the album…
Liam: There is lots and lots of stuff left over from the record. Some people have heard it. The obvious one is ‘Mescaline’ and, what else, ‘AWOL’ which people haven’t heard. It is probably an album worth of stuff that hasn’t made it on the album, which some of it needs to be finished.
People probably still want to hear ‘Dead Ken’. None of these tracks are going be saved for a new record. They need to come out before we start on the new album because you have to start fresh, you know. Whatever the singles three and four are, that is going to be a good opportunity to stick on some of those tracks.
Do you know what the next singles will be?
Liam: ‘Warriors Dance’ is next! But people already know that, yeah?
Maxim: Is it? [Laughs]
Liam: But for single three we’re still thinking about that. We like ‘Take Me To The Hospital’. And I could remix that as well, so I am kind of looking forward to doing a good remix of that tune.
What about ‘Thunder’ …
Liam: Yeah ‘Thunder’ is a single track. The singles pick themselves for this record. As we were writing it, we knew that was fucking strong. We want to play ‘Thunder’ [live] at some point. We are doing ‘Colours’ tonight [Munich]. Doing a tour like this, it is a good opportunity to try out little bits and pieces. Like we’re really enjoying doing ‘Comanche’ at the moment.
Maxim: Tiring! [laughs]
I really love ‘Run With The Wolves’ as well. To me it has similar vibe that ‘Warning’ had. It is kind of taking it up to that next level.
Keith: Yeah yeah.
Liam: I’m glad you say that, because I think it is much stronger than ‘Warning’. Warning was one of those tracks that we were playing around with for a long time and it did actually get better didn’t it.
Keith: Yeah, it did! You need to believe in the track like… take the doubt out of it. I love doing ‘Run [with the wolves]’. Like I said to Liam earlier on, I can’t change, am I not growing up? Because I can’t not just buzz off that. I just want to just submerge myself into the people, and get stamped to death by them…and that’s my everything…
Liam: I think where ‘Warning’ was going originally it never quite got there. And we were still talking about how it could make it on the album but then it was like “naah…”
Keith: [about ‘Run with the Wolves’] I mean when that riff drops… It’s just insane!
Liam: I remember being in the studio when I wrote that tune [Run with the wolves] and it is like the whole tune was finally done but I was still looking for the bit… you know, Dave had done the drums and I got the drums sounding pretty good, but I still had that riff, that da da da da da….
Keith: You were doing some riffs. And then you kind of had a riff didn’t you. Then I left, and I went back to the flat.
Liam: I think I texted you “oh man, I’ve got the riff now”
Keith: Yeah yeah, then the next minute I am listening to it, down the phone.
Liam: I had two studios at that stage. I have the small studio, which is my main studio and then there was the old, bigger studio which was downstairs. I was like, I am going to pop upstairs and I was like “no the riff is still not fucking right, it doesn’t have the fucking energy”. And then I went up and wrote that and as soon as I finished it I was like “oh man that is fucking… yeah that is it!”
Keith: Yeah, it was just like “fucking hell, when this goes live – ferocious!”
Liam: That is what we always wanted ‘Warning’ to be. So I am happy about that.
Colours was the first track that you did for this album. To me when I first heard it was the one that reminded me the most of ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’…
Liam: Yeah, I agree!
Liam: ‘Colours’ was written in the time, the latter part of the last wave of the band. It was written when were sort of thinking more about songs. Right at the beginning, and it was the first track we’ve finished.
Keith: It was written on the guitar wasn’t it? We were searching for new ways of writing and it became a song but then we stripped it back. Fuck, we’re doing it tonight, I just remembered. [laughs]
On ‘Omen’ the vocals are quiet different to your previous vocals – they are more singing. How did that come about?
Liam: Maxim just pulled that out of the bag. It was like a completely new thing. I think Keith was happy but I was like “whatever happens on this record we should try and not lose what we had before”. It was really important that Keith is being Keith on the record and Maxim is being Maxim. But let’s try to up it a bit and see where it goes. Yeah, I think lots of people were surprised by it. It is much more melodic. You know, the new album has room for it, it can’t just be one thing can it?
Keith: Absolutely not.
Liam: We debated for a long time whether that should be the first single or not. Because we’ve done ‘Invaders’ and that to us was never a single. We just wanted to give that away as a download. That was not meant to be seen as like the first single. First single is ‘Omen’. That is the one we are launching our record off! But ‘Invaders’ got the name out there more than anything else you know. We debated for ages whether it should be ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ or ‘Omen’. Even up to the last stage I was still like “Hmm I don’t know”. But it seems to have set the pace alright.
You’ve done a live video for it, which I thought worked really well.
Keith: Yeah. Because we’ve been doing the films with Duggers it just felt like… for the fans it would sort of feel like the progression of that.
Liam: It captured it really well. The energy of Brixton. I am not a great fan of live videos personally. But we made the decision to do it and it rolled off from all the live things we did with Duggers. I think it was cool to do.
Keith: So little bits and little spin offs. It shows the band as the band is known. That is all the part of the album.
Liam: It is important to remind people that it is the three of us! So that did that job well.
And you said earlier something about two versions of Omen?
Liam: Yeah, basically, the way I was writing this album, it wasn’t like I did for Fat of The Land, where it was like, wrote a tune, finished it, next. With this record, I wrote something, got a bit bored of it, wrote something else. And, that was the way a lot of the tracks were recorded, I had these different ideas.
And originally, ‘Omen’ was on a completely different piece of music. It was on a – it would be interesting actually to put that old version up, because it is completely different. It’s got the same vocal in it, but it’s got a different key to the music. But we really liked the vocal. When we got towards the end, sort of three quarters through the record, I was like “I really like this vocal and I could see what the actual tune had to sound like”.
And then ‘Stand Up’ was a complete surprise. I remember when I first heard it I was like “what?”!
Liam: Yeah we wanted to…
Keith: On that note I am leaving! [laughter] I can just ‘stand up’ and go because that is what it was written for. [Keith has to leave to get ready for the gig]
Liam: When we used to go out in the rave scene the DJ would always play like… the music would always stop and people would go like “one more tune!” and he would always play something slower or totally different and kind of uplifting cause he wanted people to leave on a high. ‘Stand Up’ was originally written as instrumental for maybe a vocal collaboration for the record. Then we realized we weren’t going do any collaborations vocally. Because the album was a band album, you know what I mean?
And then I just saw this as a really different way to end the album. You know things like ‘Narcotic Suite’, there is always something on the album which maybe is different and people don’t expect. ‘Weather Experience’, ‘Narcotic Suite’ and I guess this is that one. We’ll probably never do it live – that is why we play it at the end. The DJ plays it as we walk off. I am expecting a lot of people not to like it – but that is half the fun of it!
MUNICH March 6th 2009 – Neko interviews Liam
You said in an Australian interview that you “probably wasted a lot of time at the beginning working with another producer” and that it was a “complete waste of time”.
Liam: And you want to know who that is?
Liam: Jagz! He is a good friend of mine so I am not disrespecting him but me and Jagz were talking about… I respected him from the Primal Scream stuff he’d done and I’ve known about his production for a long time. John [Fairs] was friends with him. And he was like “man, get Jagz in – he is really into what you’re doing”. And it was just one of those things where we were just like “Wow this is going to be fucking great”.
It looked good on paper, but it just didn’t work. It was pretty much a waste of time for about month and half, when we were just trying to make it work but it just didn’t came together. He is a good guy but it was just another one of those things that made me think “I am doing this on my own now”.
At the beginning of the record we didn’t want to fall into the old track – we wanted to be really open and maybe get, no one well known, but get a guitarist in, get maybe different people in and trying to record some shit and just do something different. When really it is down to the drums and the bass – old school! That is what we get excited about.
So has your approach in the studio actually changed or has it kind of gone back to how you worked before?
Liam: Came back right to the beginning. I’ve got round in a complete circle.
So you’re done with the whole Reason thing?
Liam: Oh no! For the geeks I use Logic, Ableton Live and Reason all plugged in together through one computer. I think I am able now to bin an idea if it ain’t working… whereas before like couple of years ago I went through a period where I would really try to make something work and force it. Now I think in my headspace I could see if it is going to work and if it didn’t work throw it away – and get a new idea straight away! And not dwell on an old idea too much.
Obviously your attitude to the online has changed quite a lot – are you getting more comfortable now playing and trying stuff live? Because I know you were a bit paranoid about it.
Liam: Yeah I think I was for a bit. But I think that was more to do with the time of the band. I don’t think we were… with the ‘Always Outnumbered’ album it was quiet turbulent. Before that, me and Keith weren’t speaking. We did sort of like work our way through it. When ‘AONO’ was released and we did that first set of gigs on the back of that record, it was totally cool. We were back to normal and it was fine. I just didn’t really like the fact that I couldn’t just try a beat out and people would rip it apart. Whereas now I don’t give a fuck – I am back to that. That is the way it should be.
Because a lot of stuff is now on YouTube and I know you have this company ‘Web Sheriff‘ looking into this all too…
Liam: Yeah, the record company brought that in. Because, people have to understand, we signed to a new label, Cooking Vinyl are a small label. We went through the whole major [label] thing and a couple of majors were after us. And it was a weird time, because I didn’t have really much of an album together when we were looking for a record deal. And I was always on like “XL were a fucking brilliant label, we needed to find another label that’s at least as half as good as them”.
And actually Cooking Vinyl, and what they’re about now, they are just as good as them, they’re fucking brilliant. The way we’ve brought this record out, everything is on par if not better, than with XL.
But Cooking Vinyl are responsible for the web sherriff thing, because they put everything into this album. They didn’t want anything fucking it up. They had literally put their whole company on the line to do this album, which we’ve got so much respect for. It’s the biggest thing they have ever done.
But I think a lot of people liked the way the web sherriff people were working – they were working with the fans, you know. Which is cool, it wasn’t like “we are going to sue your ass, take that down!”. That’s not cool.
And you’ve now obviously got your own label under Cooking Vinyl, have you signed anyone yet?
Liam: No, not yet. I’m talking to a couple of people, or one set of people specifically. But I’m not sure yet whether that’s right or not. I didn’t plan to do anything at all until the album is finished. But, I think we’re definitely going to start thinking about it.
What kind of artists are you thinking of? Similar to you, or totally different?
Liam: Somebody who can represent the label, but…it doesn’t have to be electronic, but it has to be really different, with potential!
Would you think about producing them as well?
Liam: Me? Nah, I wouldn’t do a Puff Daddy, definitely not! Ideally it would come as a full package. It’s weird, you know, taking on a bit of an A&R man type of role. That’s not really what I want to do. But hopefully people might find a bit of value in my opinion…If they want me to be involved in some of the production then maybe that would be good, but I’m not saying I’d have to.
A lot of your fans are also into making music themselves….
Liam: Yeah, the future is out there, isn’t it, it’s out there somewhere!
Do you check out bands on MySpace and stuff?
Liam: Yeah, all the time, all the time.
One suggestion from the people who posted on the nekosite forum was for you to do a remix competition; is this something you would consider doing?
Liam: Yeah, I am really up for that! Really up for that …. It’s just that at the moment, because we’ve literally been on the road since Australia, I haven’t actually even been to the studio. It would involve me going to the studio and maybe get some of the parts and putting them up for people to download, which is definitely what we should do.
What track do you think would be good?
Maybe a next single?
Liam: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good idea, I think, just give people the a capella, vocals and just a couple of the key elements.
I’m up for it! I am going to say now that I am going to do that, it would work for ‘Take Me To The Hospital’.
How do you guys plan out the live shows?
Liam: The order of the songs is really important. We were talking about it tonight…like, how many songs can we play of the new record. Because there is nothing worse than going to see a band with a new album out and all they play is the new stuff, you know. So it was about finding the right balance, so we’re figuring that out. We’re definitely going to try ‘Colours’ out tonight, and we’re definitely going to play ‘Thunder’ at some point over the next four gigs, you know. But it might even be the last one, but it might even be tomorrow.
We dropped Spitfire now! It’s hard to keep everyone happy – but as long as we are, it’s alright, he he.
The set obviously can’t keep getting longer, so, we look at the tunes, and have to decide. ‘Comanche’, for example, does something different, that no other song does. It’s got something different, a different kind of rhythm, a different kind of feel. Whereas Spitfire, for me, kind of felt like halfway through it was going a bit flat…. It might come back at some point, but for the moment we’re not playing it anymore.
And you’ve stopped playing ‘Out of Space’ at the last few shows as well…
Liam: Yeah, we are going to bring that back.
Basically, we want to use this smaller European tour also as a bit of a testing ground. People may not like that, but that’s the way it is.
So how is the touring going?
Liam: Love it, absolutely amazing… I mean, Australia was like a big holiday, all spaced out. This is like a proper tour, we’re on a tour bus, you know, we’re doing 3 or 4 gigs in a row, one day off, 3 or 4 gigs, you know, that’s pretty hard core. But it’s good, it’s really good. The band is really on top of each other, we have a laugh on the bus. That’s cool. In Australia, I would stay in my room sometimes all day and not see anybody! I’d be happy to just chill and watch a film.
So how do you guys get fit for a tour?
Liam: I’ve got into running recently! I like to party at night and run in the morning. It sorts my head out.
What do you listen to when you do?
Liam: Ricky Gervais pod cast!
People know I do like drinking – so I still like partying, but I really like running now. So as soon as I get up I go running, at home. I tend not to run on tour. But when I’m at home, it just sets my head up.
But you know, Keith, he completely stopped drinking or doing any kind of drugs for about a year now, so I mean, for him, in his head, the band is everything to him! So for him to enjoy it, he has to be in peak performance. But that’s just him, Keith just does the extreme.
You’ve said before that you often do a lot of tracks at the back of the live shows, after you come off stage. Does that happen on this tour?
Liam: Yeah, I’ve got lots of tracks in the studio, definitely about 4 or 5 tracks that I really like that need to be finished. So what I’m going to do, when I go back to the studio, I will get all the parts and put them on my laptop, so I can work on the road. So maybe when we’re going to be on the UK tour, or some other gigs, maybe I can just try a few things out, you know.
So, I will have to ask about that Unkle Remix of No Souvenirs…
Liam: James [Lavelle] is a good friend of mine. I spoke to him the other day actually, but I haven’t seen him in a couple of years. But, you know, James was good friends with Rob, 3D [Massive Attack]. I probably gave him the parts, but I can’t actually remember us ever saying “Yeah we’re going to do something with it, use it”. He basically did, somehow it was out there. But his mix is fine, it’s got nothing to do with what we did, it’s completely different. So I mean, maybe fans should just forget about the track…and then it might pop up [laughs].
I don’t know….It’s had to much build up now!
I told you I’d play it to you, didn’t I! I will do that, and then you’ll probably be like: “oh, ok, that’s alright…”
It’s quite a song…it’s more of a song for us. You know as soon as it gets to ‘songy’, it gets on quite weird ground with us. It’s like ‘Omen’, ‘Omen’ is just on the right edge…so I don’t know about ‘No Souvenirs’. And plus, ‘No Souvenirs’ is a collaboration between me and Rob. So it is a bit less of a Prodigy tune, you know.
What’s with the recurring Fire themed songs, are you trying to get one into every album now?
Liam: [laughs] Yeah! It’s our own kind of laugh… it seems to happen by accident. Cause the World’s on Fire vocal [sings the vocal], I didn’t pick it because it had the word fire in it, I picked it because I liked the sample. And it was just by accident and we were like “fucking hell, can’t believe we’ve got another ‘fire’ in it!”. We seem to be drawn towards that.
We haven’t talked about ‘Warriors Dance’ yet, I really like that track live. I think it was the first one you played live. Was that consciously, kind of looking back to the old days?
Liam: Yeah. The thing is, it was written…. We’d done ‘Colours’…and ‘Colours’ isn’t the defining moment of the album, it’s a good track but it’s not the defining track of the album. We’d done ‘Colours’ and we’d done a couple of other demos that didn’t make it on the album. So ‘Warriors Dance’ was really the first thing that really got us excited. It was also quite a bit of time in. We had Gatecrasher coming up, and Keith was like “Listen, forget about the album for a bit, we need a new track to play live”. And so I started listening to a lot of old records, you know like Renegade Soundwave and that.
So yeah, we got really energised by that early sound. And then I thought the baseline was more now sounding, but the beats were more old skool. But it felt really fresh, it felt much fresher than any other tune we’d done. So it was like “this doesn’t feel at all retro, this feels just really exciting”. Like that… so that was good. And it wasn’t actually meant to be on the record, but then we just listened to it and we were like, yeah, it has to be. And it really reminded us what we were about, but we didn’t want it to be a retro thing. We just liked that for that one moment we could go yeah, bang!
Do you think maybe doing the Greatest Hits thing before kind of helped you get to that point?
Liam: Yeah, yeah, I think maybe a bit. It definitely got us in the mode to go into the studio with the want to make a record, you know. Fucking ready to do this.
Because doing a ‘hits’ album and a tour, is kind of a false sense of security. Just because you’ve sold a few of those albums doesn’t mean that you’ve still got the potential to come back and still write another good record, you know, these records have already been out, so it’s just reminding people about them again. It wasn’t like completely new versions that we reinvented ourselves. It’s always about the latest record, so we weren’t under any illusion that we were ‘back’. We hadn’t gone anywhere, but what I’m trying to say we now proved ourselves again.
But what that did that whole tour, it really brought us back together.
ZURICH March 9th 2009 – Neko interviews Liam
So…. You played ‘Colours’ in Munich. But you haven’t played it since…
Liam: Yeah. So basically like, you know when an album can’t be all the same thing so the album is made up of like a journey, so like, ‘Invaders’ didn’t work when we first played it, I didn’t think, and you might have noticed I’ve manipulated it into a bit more of a rocking tune now that sort of fits along with everything else.
And so, on the album ‘Colours’ seems to sit, and really works as a song. But for me it feels like I could…it didn’t set my world on fire straight off as a dynamic live tune.
It’s kind of like pretty straight up, quite punk rock sort of straight, quite linear do you know what I mean, whereas something like ‘Run’ for example, has lots of builds and drops and kind of very dynamic. So I think that some Prodigy tunes sort of arrive on the stage, like perfect do you know what I mean? Once I rearrange it and do a live version it will work. That’s my honest opinion.
Yes. Do you think you’re still going to play ‘Thunder’ on this tour, because you were talking about it?
Liam: Thunder’s nearly ready! It will probably be Paris or New York. Which you’re probably not going to, New York, are you?
I’m going to Miami though.
Liam: Are you really? Oh we’ll definitely play it by then. 100%.
Cool. I’m coming over just to see Thunder then.
Liam: [Laughing] Yeah right.
Are there any tracks on ‘Invaders Must Die’ that you’re definitely not going to play live?
Liam: Erm, maybe ‘Stand Up’ we won’t play live, which you’re probably happy about. No I think Stand Up’s got a good position where it is [played after the concert is finished], you know, so that’s the only one I think. I know Maxim wants to try ‘Piranha’ soon.
You changed ‘Diesel Power’ around a little bit on the last shows.
Liam: Yeah. Do you want to hear the story behind that?
Liam: So, I’m on the internet looking around YouTube and stuff and I come across this bootleg of ‘Diesel Power’ and Pain. I don’t know anything about this Pain ‘Shut Your Mouth’ do you know that?
So, I don’t know who they are, nothing about them they’re like a rock band, I think they’re like a Euro rock band. It’s Pain – ‘Shut Your Mouth’ the record’s called. If you check it out on YouTube you’ll hear that riff at the beginning. Anyway so I was checking it out on the internet and I found this bootleg of ‘Diesel Power’ and ‘Pain’ that someone had just smashed it together, so I thought it was really, really cool so I basically bootlegged my own bootleg, yeah?
Which is kind of cool I think because it shows the throw away-ness and the cut and paste-ness which is still important to the band you know.
Do you have any special plans for the UK arena tour that you’re doing?
Liam: Erm, yes. [pauses] Next question. [Laughing]
We’re going to have a few surprises, we’re going to play, …I’ve gotta try and find it but we’ve got a classic that people won’t expect us to play we’re gonna draw up from the vaults. That should be good. But I can’t tell you more than that.
You’ve got Dizzee Rascal supporting.
Because usually you’ve got more up and coming bands that aren’t really known.
Liam: Yeah, but usually they are more smaller tours aren’t they, and so if we were doing like a Brixton or something like that maybe we would have had smaller bands ….
Dizzee ok, so basically, we can draw lots of comparisons with Dizzee because basically, he’s come from a scene, and he’s come out of it and he’s sort of had to be creative on his own, to sort of carry on with what he’s doing. And I think he’s faced a lot of the same sort of issues as we did when we first come out of the scene, out of our scene you know.
So I think, we kind of respect him for what he’s done and, I don’t know we just thought it was a good…I mean we all love ‘Sirens’ that tune you know? And ‘Old Skool’ as well and we just thought it was a good alternative like really different thing to put on for us you know? You know we don’t usually, we never normally have sort of something more urban based. But, I think we all really like Dizzee. For sure.
And then there was a rumour about us saying we were going to do a collaboration with him which I don’t know where that came from. I think I might have said it then the next thing it was in the papers. [Laughs]
What’s the last band you’ve seen live?
Liam: erm [pauses] it was either, the Arctic Monkeys or [thinks] Arctic Monkeys yeah, yeah.
Was it good?
Liam: Yeah, mega. It was in Australia. Alex Turner is one of those creative people along with Jack White who are fucking special. Just pure talent. I saw loads of bands in Australia, yeah it was good.
And you’ve remixed this Oasis track ‘Falling Down’.
How did that come about, because it’s like the first remix you’ve done since 1995 [Method Man – Release Yo‘ Delf]?
Liam: Noel [Gallagher] asked me to do it when their album first came out but I was right in the middle of my record, so I couldn’t do it then and I said “Ask me later on and I will sort it out”. ‘Cause I liked the tune.
And then he asked me just as I’m about to leave to go to Australia, I’m like I’m not going to be in the studio so I’m going to have to do it on the road. I carry the laptop around with me so I busted it out in the hotel room.
Yeah, I enjoyed doing it I mean my main aspect for it was I didn’t want to make it into a dance record I really like the song. And so I wanted to keep the song structure and just move it into like, a different sort of sonic area do you know what I mean, just make it much harder, make it less smooth, without losing the song there.
Do you think you’re going to do any other remixes?
Liam: Absolutely. I mean, it’s something I’m definitely doing, I’ve had like 3 or 4 requests off the back of the Oasis thing straight off so, you know, yeah definitely. I like ripping into other people’s tunes.
Cool. On the album you’ve got ‘Warrior’s Dance’ and there’s like this link after it, what is it, where is it from?
Liam: [Laughing] That’s erm, that’s me in Finsbury Park, Ghost Train yeah!
I was trying to get … I was walking through Finsbury Park fairground, with my dictaphone trying to get sort of like atmosphere for the record, and just kind of maybe some cool noises and stuff when I passed this ghost train and this siren went off .
And I went up to the guy “Can you put the siren on?”. He goes “No Mate. You’ve got to go on the ghost train.”
I was like “Ah fucking hell!” Got on the ghost train. I was actually with Liam G [Gallagher] at the time. So we, both of us got on this ghost train and [Laughs], I started to record it. And as we went through the doors, the siren went off behind me and the fucking doors shut like… and it’s all on the actual Dictaphone but I didn’t put it on the record but the actual original tape was really funny. It’s me and Liam going through this ghost train for about a minute with all these ghosts jumping out at us and stuff. And then when I got back round I said to the guy “You didn’t put the fucking siren on, where’s the siren?” and he’s like, “Oh, you paid your money” and then he put it on so….yeah.
Do you think you’re going to have a different mix of ‘Warriors Dance’ for the single, like you had for ‘Omen’?
Liam: I tried to do a different version of it, with different drums and it didn’t come out as good, and so I made the decision just to stick with the original because it just wasn’t, it wasn’t as good you know? In the beginning I thought it was alright, it was kind of, it was taking it at a different angle but then once I’ve put them side by side the original sounded much more exciting so that’s the version but we’ve had some remixes done.
What about ‘Dead Ken’? [as a potential B-Side]
Liam: Yeah, that’s way off yet but I’m thinking the next single is going to feature definitely one of these tunes I have sitting around.
Because when we were in Munich you said that you’ve got about an albums worth of stuff that didn’t make it on the album , would you at all consider putting any of the stuff just online?
Liam: Absolutely yeah. None of this stuff will roll over to a possible next album or anything. That’s it for now, so, you know, absolutely 100% we will do that you know, for sure. Haha, you know me and my promises!
There’s some good tunes there though you know, it’s like – I did this wicked tune. It was going to be a collaboration with another vocalist, and I got Martina [Topley-Bird] in who used to be with Tricky to do this kind of Ella Fitzgerald vocal that I sampled. She was fucking amazing. She just sung these couple of lines but that wasn’t the collaboration, it was another vocalist that was with her on that tune but it works with just her vocal.
What’s it called?
Liam: The working title is ‘The Day’s My Enemy’.
And any kind of unreleased tracks that you’ve got from when you were signed to XL (Recordings) do XL have the rights to those or are you going to be able to release those?
Liam: There’s not many left to be honest there’s only ‘No Souvenirs’. Yeah I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. ‘We Eat Rhythm’ I suppose is still knocking around. I mean if I actually went through all the stuff in the studios there’s probably loads and loads of stuff but, nothing worth, nothing that I think worth, you know?
There’s a lot more material around now writing this record than there was before. Yeah, for sure. I’m still finding tracks that are sort of half done that I’m finding now that I think are still really good you know? It’s weird. They’re just missing one element or something do you know what I mean?
How do you keep old stuff you’ve got, do you back things up or do you just leave it lying around?
Liam: No [laughing] it’s just lying around.
Keith was really distressed, he was like, when we were doing the record he kept coming in, he goes “Remember that tune you were doing? Oh it was fucking amazing I’ve got a lyric for it!”.
I was like “No what was it?” and he’s like “Yeah you know the one that goes…” and he tried to sing the beat or whatever, the riff, I’m like “Nah I don’t know”.
So I’d spend about two hours looking through all these hundreds of bits of shit I’d started. So no, I try and sort of keep them in some sort of order now, yeah.
I’ve got about, I’d say, I’ve got roughly eight really good ideas that maybe didn’t work on the record but could be definitely good B-sides or live tracks.
What are your stand out moments in your career so far, because it is 20 years now, almost isn’t it?
Liam: Stand out moments. I don’t know, this has been pretty good this [referring to current European tour] you know, because we’ve come from so many problems in the band you know?
I mean, you know this, obviously the whole ‘Baby’s Got a Temper’ sort of period is like, you know, it’s pretty much documented, and sort of all the problems with me and Keith, him sort of doing his solo thing and all that type of shit caused a lot of problems so, I mean, actually being able to rebuild, the whole thing up from that again, it’s been really cool. But I mean yeah the obvious things like the gigs like Moscow and some of the special gigs we did earlier on, Beirut you know. And you know the first gig was fucking amazing, ‘Labyrinth’.
I mean even real personal things like being in the studio and then suddenly coming up with the right vocal for a tune you know. Like me and Keith in the studio when we wrote ‘Firestarter’ and it was like I went totally out on a limb to record him and we’d have never even thought of getting him in the studio so that was, that was a really good moment, you know.
Things like, yeah finding, seeing, you know, when this record suddenly having three tracks ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, ‘Warrior’s Dance’ and maybe ‘Thunder’ that suddenly felt like the album had finally got started after six months or you know those three tracks come together after about , I think maybe, sort of, month seven or something, so suddenly then going “Wow yeah, this feels like it’s really solid already” so we built on that. That’s my latest highlight.
Interviews by Andrea Schnepf aka neko.