21th November 1996
HE BOASTS enough body-piercings to set off X-ray machines at airports and his flesh is covered in demonic tattoos that he collects in every city he visits. He looks so frightening, with his double-Mohican, Devil's horns haircut and scary leer, that children burst into tears at the very sight of him. Without doubt manic Keith Flint - lead singer of Britain's chart-toppers The Prodigy - is the nation's scariest pop star. Even though his Essex-based band are too much for daytime TV and most radio stations, their record, Breathe, has booted golden oldies Robson & Jerome off the top and they have again injected mayhem at No 1.But crazy Keith, 26, whose mental dancing and angry teeth-baring antics pack in the fans at The Prodigy's shows, says he's lapping up every second. The Nineties punk, whose dad was a civil servant and whose mum worked as a school secretary, says he's sniggering "all the way to the bank".He has just notched up his first �1million - the band's rave anthem Firestarter was a huge smash back in March - and he was vowed to live the rock'n'raunch lifestyle to the full.
"When, and if, I get to 65, I'd like to be able to say that I did everything - the lot," he yells. "I'd like to think I bedded loads of babes and lived out my ultimate sex fantasies". "I'd like to think that I'd been through every colour with my hair and everywhere that could have been pierced on my body and been pierced. Even if all my beloved tattoos have gone saggy by then, at least I can stand up and say, I did it". "Anyhow," he grins, "can you think of any other job I could do?" "My school results were terrible and I don't know how to wallpaper or do anything else". "Without this group and this job, I could be making lives a little more miserable for everyone by being the nasty one on the counter at a McDonald's somewhere. Think about it. " Apart from scaring the nation, Keith's favourite pusuits include.....GOING out on all-night wild benders. PHOTOCOPYING his bum to embarrass shop assistants. MAKING up songs from his disgusting "body noises" as the band travels around in their VIP van. RANTING at the top of his voice to "get his energy levels flowing".
Keith has already caused a huge headache for BBC's Top Of The Pops, who received a marathon number of complaints after broadcasting the video for Firestarter. Parents phoned and wrote to the Beeb to say their children were so frightened of Keith's image that they had burst into tears. It was also suggested the song encouraged arsonists. Now the producer of Top Of The Pops is sweating at the thought of a similar reaction to the band's new video - which will be shown because the group have refused to appear live.
In the gruesome four minute pop promo for Breathe, the four members of the band are seen in a Hammer House Of Horrors setting where they are chased by filthy cockroaches, millipedes and alligators as the frantic rock anthem builds up. And Keith, who is dressed in a black slashed bondage suit, shows off his body covered in Satanic tattoos. One TOTP insider says: "As The Prodigy are at No 1, we have no option but to play it, even though it is even scarier than the last one. ""We expect criticism - but the trendies love it. " Keith just smiles manically and boasts: "I'm sorry if I offend little kids, but this is just me. What you see is what you get. I just love it when I see the faces of these stuffy executives who look me up and down wherever I go. " He sniggers: "When I'm driving a flash sports car they automatically think I must have stolen it. " "And when I get in the lift at their hotels, they jump out. they're afraid to be alone with me. " "I think it's a hoot to get up their noses. "
Keith was an odd-job man without a career before joining The Prodigy - which also features songwriter Liam Howlett, 24, Maxim Reality and dancer Leeroy Thornhill, both 26 - back in October 1990. He is resting this week before heading off to Germany at the weekend to continue the group's sellout European tour. The other band members complain that he's late for everything and would forget to turn up for his own funeral. But Keith says he won't change and the group, who last week picked up the prestigious MTV Award for Best Dance Act of 1996, adamantly refuse to tone down their act for anyone. The fiery star, who boasts Noel Gallagher and Bono among his big fans, says: "We have an energy and need to keep exploring that energy if the group is to continue growing, being creative. " "Sometimes it makes me giggle to think we could have more power than politicians, the way people take notice of us. " "But life is for living. "