‘Timebomb Zone’ turned 5!

Exactly five years ago, on 6 December 2018, the official release of the last single from the album No Tourists took place — Timebomb Zone. In this article, we will delve into the history of the track, share some rare details behind the making of two music videos (including a rejected one), shed some light on the results of the official remix competition and recall what awaited the band next…
Cover artwork for the digital single. Design: Luke Insect

Nothing was known about the existence of Timebomb Zone until it appeared in the music licensing databases — the registration date in PPL PRS is given as 20 March 2018, a full 4 months before the first official announcement of the album.

PRS Repertoire

PRS registration in 2018

Apparently the early registration of the track was necessary to legally clear the samples: the song features a prominent vocal hook by the incomparable Celestine Walcott-Gordon from the 1986 track Time Bomb (Dub Version), written by Alfonso Ribeiro, and several other recognizable samples from the same song. If you’ve known the original tune since childhood, Howlett’s rearrangement will come as a surprise: it was hard to imagine that the breakbeat treatment would be so impactful.

In general, the track could have been released as an official remix of ‘Time Bomb’ under certain circumstances, as it essentially functions as one. A similar situation can be recalled with the 2004 track Phoenix, which was three-quarters composed of samples from the Shocking Blue song, but was also released as The Prodigy tune. Howlett recalled that he didn’t want too many samples on ‘No Tourists’ though: “I chose a few key ones I liked”, he told The Sun.

Liam Howlett: That [Timebomb Zone] track shows an important side to The Prodigy — that we don’t back ourselves into a corner where we just have to do vocal tracks. I don’t really know any other band that can do that.

via The Sun

While releasing ‘Timebomb Zone’ under his wing, Howlett decided to organize his own remix competition! On the evening of 12 November 2018, following a suggestion from a fan (hi, Thorsten!), Liam announced the upcoming remix contest, and by 21 November, just over a week later, the stems were posted on the band’s website.

Liam Howlett via Instagram

The band’s official pages invited fans to tweet their remixes using the hashtags #TimebombZoneRemix and #NoTouriststhe original sample pack link still works at the time of writing! The archive contains 13 loops in wav format with synth and bass parts and vocals, 12 of which are 15 seconds long and one that is half a minute long. Unfortunately there are no Howlett drums in the pack. The tempo of the track is 130 bpm.

Apart from the fact that the track as a whole unintentionally evokes obvious retro flashbacks with the 80s/90s club sound, underground venues and raves for tens of thousands of people, Howlett once again plays with his own legacy here: in the middle of the track, at 2:30, there is a clear reference to the synth riff from Voodoo People – in the remix pack this sample is called MIDDLE BUILD SECTION.

Liam Howlett: Yes – the album has a few references to our past, but I wanted to make sure it still felt fresh to my ears. The thing is, we have carved out a sound – a sound we created – and we don’t feel like we ever have to change direction or reinvent ourselves. This is the sound of The Prodigy… we want it to always feel fresh and alive, but not retro. We aren’t into retro…

All in all, this is the first official remix contest in the band’s history that can be considered a success. In 2004, The Prodigy announced a remix competition for ‘Girls’ on their website, but only Liam knows why the idea was never realized.

In the end, only the work of British grime/bass producer Conrank was officially released (and the tune was probably finished even before the contest was announced). The track was released as a digital single on 5 December. As for the fan-made remixes, there was no feedback from the management or Liam himself – initially the band did not set any deadlines or potential goals for the competition. In the end everything was left up in the air and no doubt some worthy mixes went unheard.

Liam Howlett via Instagram

On 2 December, the cover of the single was teased by Liam on Instagram, and on 6 December 2018 at 5pm GMT, the official video for ‘Timebomb Zone’ premiered on the band’s YouTube channel. Like Need Some1, released in July, it was directed by the same team, led by Philippines-based director Paco Raterta. The video was again shot in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and produced by London-based Maurizio Von Trapp, who has worked with U2, DJ Shadow and Elton John.

Directed by: Paco Raterta
Production company: Pulse Films
Full team credits


Miguel Hernandez as The Prodigy
Selina Bhang as Big Gulp
Jimmy Sciezka as Spring Boss
Kevin Hindriks as Bat Man
Tanjo as himself


Production: Pulse Films
Director: Paco Raterta
Commissioner: Andrew Law
Producer: Vanessa Ulgado
Executive Producer: Rik Green
Director of Photography: Mycko David
Head of Production: Dot Labro
1st Ac: Martin Dingcong
Camera Operator: Theo Lozada
Gaffer: Jerome Tiongson
Fight Coordinator: Miguel Vazquez
Choreographer: Renata Ibanez
Art Director: John Luis Cantilla
Stylist: Wim Jay Fernando
Editors: Paco Raterta and Kevin Hindriks
Post Production / VFX: Pulse Films
VFX Artist: Aping Salem

According to Liam Howlett, Paco Raterta was the only possible candidate to create the music video. Howlett emphasised that what Paco brought to the table visually had a completely different edge, tension and danger. Liam was confident that such visuals would be a perfect match for The Prodigy’s music. Many critics have compared the atmosphere of the video to Fincher‘s Fight Club, which is undoubtedly a commendable comparison.

Via promonews.tv: It’s time for Unfair Fight Club in the new video for The Prodigy by Paco Raterta: a young man and woman face ridiculous odds in a two staged battles for an ominous spectator. And that makes for a turbo-charged, relentlessly violent spectacle.


It’s the second collaboration between Manila-based Raterta and the UK dance legends, following the rip-roaring Need Some1 earlier this year, and this one for Timebomb Zone adds to Raterta’s growing reputation as a real talent to watch – one of the best new talents to come into music videos in the last year, and a thrilling action director in any medium.


This one, also shot in Manila, also benefits for having a couple of underdogs you can root for – who are nonetheless capable of some eye-wateringly vicious moves. It’s not for the squeamish, but The Prodge’s ode to mayhem deserves nothing less.

Typeface by Jovanny Lemonad

It’s worth noting that the typeface used in the video was designed by renowned type designer Jovanny Lemonad (aka Ivan Gladkikh, of TypeType Foundry). The font is called Molot; it was originally released in 2008 and is currently available in a radically updated form called TT Supermolot Neue. The original font is freely available for commercial use and is easy to find online.

…Despite generally positive reviews for both the video and the single, there were also differing opinions. Some accused the band of an unjustifiable amount of violence in the footage and argued that the music didn’t quite match the visuals. Some also recalled the rejected video for Hotride and questioned the differences between the two works, 14 years apart.


Mr. H via his blog on the website: some of u might have seen a hotride video ‘floating around’ on the net.this video was rejected coz i thought the song deserved a more intelligent video and not one that was shocking 4 the sake of it.we allready made the best ever video like that with smbu .nothin wrong with violence as long as there is a point. actually it didnt do anything 4 the song so i would rather not have a video at all.

So why did Howlett, in his own words, reject an excessively violent video back in 2004, and now, in 2018, calmly release a possibly even more violent promo? That’s for the viewer to decide.

Surprisingly, Paco Raterta’s video was the second visual piece created specifically for this track, and the very first version by another director was also rejected! As usual, we’ve uncovered some rare details.

Just a day before the official premiere of the album No Tourists, on 1 November 2018, a weird video appeared on the YouTube and Vimeo channels of Latefox Pictures, which was almost immediately removed from all sources. It was created by the teams of Latefox Pictures and Smak Studios: directed by Gabriel Carrer, with Scott McIntyre as cinematographer.

Music video for ‘Timebomb Zone’ by The Prodigy off the new album No Tourists.
New album out now.
Visit theprodigy.com
Video produced by Latefox Pictures & Smak Studios for The Prodigy
Directed Gabriel Carrer
Cinematography by Scott McIntyre

Original description on YouTube

The video initially caused some confusion: despite the generally high quality visuals, the video lacked dynamism and the overall direction seemed unfinished, and fans immediately doubted that this was an official work for The Prodigy. When asked if the video was a rejected work for the band, Latefox Pictures only replied with the word ‘maybe’, adding fuel to the fire.

After the official release of the music video for ‘Timebomb Zone’ by Paco Raterta, which was presented on all the band’s platforms on the 6th of December, a few more questions arose. The plots of the two videos are quite similar, so who is the scriptwriter of the video? Interestingly enough, did Raterta remake the video ‘in the style’ of the Latefox Pictures version, or did the band first give the same idea to different directors?

Considering that Latefox Pictures posted a frame from the video on Facebook in April 2018 (the post is now unavailable), it’s clear that Paco Raterta shot the second version of the video. As the video was already shot in April, it seems likely that ‘Timebomb Zone’ was planned to be the first single from ‘No Tourists’! This could also explain the early registration of the track in music licensing databases. Perhaps the band just didn’t like the video and put it off until the winter, but it’s clear that the idea of fighting to a Howlett beats came from the band, not the director.

Nevertheless, in December 2018, the single and its video were received quite well, and The Prodigy continued their European tour in support of the new album. The guys had only a few concerts left in the departing year, and after the Amsterdam gig on December 9, they would take a well-deserved break for a month and a half.

Time passed and the remix movement for Timebomb Zone seemed to be completely forgotten. Only on 18 February 2019, quietly and without any promotion, a release by the English electronic duo Destructive Tendencies appeared on the well-known hardcore label Masters Of Hardcore. The track was distributed for free and had no commercial purpose. It is still unclear whether it was released with the band’s approval or not, as The Prodigy themselves made no comment. It could be said that the mix went almost unnoticed, finding favour with only the most dedicated fans of electronic hardcore. For almost 5 years, the track has not even reached 30,000 views on YouTube or Soundcloud. Nevertheless, it could be called the most popular unofficial Timebomb Zone remix of all time.

In the near future, The Prodigy would have the final concerts featuring Keith. From late January to early February 2019, the band would play a mini-tour in Australia and New Zealand, after which the story of The Prodigy would change forever.

Headmaster: SPLIT
Additional thanks to: TheProdigy.Ru team


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