The Sunday Times

Old dogs with new hits



DIESEL Power is ar­guably The Prodigy’s finest mo­ment. The track hits as hard to­day as it did when it came out 21 years ago on The Fat Of the Land, the Bri­tish elec­tro rock band’s third al­bum and the one that re­ally took The Prodigy’s big beat sound into the main­stream with­out sacri­fic­ing their ragged, an­ar­chic edge.

Liam Howlett, the brains be­hind The Prodigy, en­listed Amer­i­can rap­per Kool Keith’s calmly con­fi­dent rhymes for Diesel Power.

“Well, I don’t know whether you know this but Kool Keith ac­tu­ally did Diesel Power live with us in Aus­tralia,” Howlett says from his home, where there’s noise in the back­ground.

“I’ve got a cou­ple of dogs run­ning around, it’s chaos, they’re bit­ing each other,” he says. “They’re lit­tle ones from Mex­ico, Bubs and Dips.”

Back to Kool Keith: “We did Fu­ture Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in 2005 and we were in Mel­bourne and I was walk­ing down the street and saw a poster that said Kool Keith was tour­ing and I was like ‘Holy s---, Kool Keith’s ‘ere!’

“I some­how got hold of him and in­vited him to the gig we were play­ing at The Metro and he got up on stage with us,” Howlett re­calls, then adds the best bit, “and that’s the only time he ever did Diesel Power.”

Some in­ter­net re­search re­veals Kool Keith re­turned to the stage to do Smack My Bitch Up.

The only known re­view of the 2005 show de­clares: “Kool Keith looks like he doesn’t want to stop. At the end of the

Smack My Bitch Up he just lies down on stage and re­peats his line over and over again.”

Not a bad re­sult from just walk­ing around Mel­bourne as a tourist. Thir­teen years later Howlett and his Prodigy crew have made a sev­enth al­bum, No Tourists.

“No Tourists is ba­si­cally about want­ing peo­ple to be de­railed. Ev­ery­one falls into the tourist trap, it’s all very easy to go along with the flow,” Howlett says.

“Some peo­ple might want some dan­ger, some risk. This is a re­minder to step side­ways, put the phone down and don’t al­low your­self to be lazy.

“It’s not a club, it’s not be­ing elit­ist, it’s a re­minder that peo­ple have for­got­ten to ex­plore. As we move for­ward we’re fight­ing this con­stant bat­tle of be­ing force fed what to think.”

No Tourists re­jects the al­go­rithm. “In a way, yeah, ev­ery­one needs to find their own lev­els in that. It’s re­ally de­scrib­ing that in our­selves, in The Prodigy.”

The Prodigy are now 28 years into their ca­reer. The first third of their life­span is eas­ily their finest. Out of Space, No Good (Start The Dance), Voodoo Peo­ple, Breathe and Firestarte­r all came in the ’90s. The band’s last great song was Girls in 2004.

Howlett ad­mits there have been some misses among the hits.

“Baby’s Got a Tem­per (2002 song) I never re­ally liked. The band was at its low point, it rep­re­sents that lame and slug­gish tempo, it’s re­ally tired. That’s what we were like at the time.”

No Tourists is the best thing the band have done in years. The ti­tle track sounds like a pitched-up Diesel Power and lead sin­gle Need Some1 de­serves its spot on the record, al­though it’s un­likely we will be talk­ing about it in 21 years.

“For Need Some1 we used the vo­cals of Loleatta Hol­loway, she was a proper disco diva and you’d hear her vo­cals all the time back in the rave days,” Howlett says.

“I liked this idea of bring­ing her voice to gnarly, rock­ing beats.”

“Some­times as Prodigy we’re happy to be able to put out old-school feel­ing tracks, stuff that’s like smash and grab sam­ple-based records. It’s im­por­tant we can still do that and not back our­selves into a corner and be­come one-di­men­sional. Her voice takes me back to ’89.”

The group are re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia for a na­tional tour next year. No Tourists has enough de­cent songs to lift the set be­yond nos­tal­gia hour.

“We have new songs We Live For­ever and Cham­pi­ons of

Lon­don, that (are) about ten­sion in any city,” he says.

“I wanted to write tracks that Keith (Flint) and Maxim are on to­gether, like Breathe. It re­ally brings the live side of things out when they’re both on stage.”

There’s life in these old dogs yet.

No Tourists is out on Fri­day. Prodigy play RAC Arena, Perth on Jan 24. Tick­ets from $99.90 from Tick­etek.

 ??  ?? Maxim, Keith Flint, and Liam Howlett are The Prodigy.
Maxim, Keith Flint, and Liam Howlett are The Prodigy.

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