Melody Maker

Setting America Alight!

The Prodigy are looking forward to 1997 as the year they break through in America. Circumstances have combined to present the band with a getaway to success in the States. And they are expected to blaze a trail for others to follow, notably Underworld and The Chemical Brothers. A spokesman for the Prodigy said: ”Until recently, they have been a cult act in America in that they’ve sold records there and achieved an underground level of success in contrast to their huge success everywhere else in Europe (”Music For The Jilted Generation” sold 100,000 in America, compared to half a million in the UK).” But a number of things have happened in recent months which have changed the status of The Prodigy in America. The developments were these:

- The Prodigy began to receive their first mainstream press coverage when Rolling Stones favourably reviewed their SeattleEndFest show last summer.
- Last month, MTV America suddenly discovered the ”Firestarter” video and playlisted it for medium heavy rotation. For thefirst time, The Prodigy were appearing on daytime TV in front of mainstream, middle America.
- MTV US President Judy McGrath then gave an interview in which she singled out The Prodigy as an example of the ”new forms of music” the channel intended to pursue. ”These various things sparked off a bit of a rumble in the American music industry”, said the spokesman. ”Executives started chasing around going, ’Who are these people, The Prodigy?” There have been offers from every major record company in the States, saying ’We’d love to put out The Prodigy’s records in America”

The Prodigy are signed to Beggars Banquet’s XL Recordings for the world. For the last year or so, their licensee in Americahas been Mute. The American companies have been competing intensely to win a sub licence from Mute, and the successful contender was Madonna’s Maverick Records, which is part of the Warners corporation. The runner-up bidder was believed to be Interscope. Then the deal has been legally finalised, it will provide The Prodigy with full-scale financial and promotionalsupport.Of Madonna, the spokesman said: ”She did display a gratifying level of interest in and knowledge about the band. I don’t doubt that she is a fan”.

Although many might now expect Madonna to have turned into Eva Peron, he added: ”Clearly, she has carried on listening to pop music, which is no bad thing.” ”Firestarter,” meanwhile, reached Number 99 in the Billboard Hot 100 last week. ”That’s no mean feat,” said the spokesman. ”Hopefully, that’s the beginning of an upward clim. So things are looking quite good in terms of The Prodigy breaking America.” The band are putting the finishing touches to their album. They are going to Australia in about two weeks time to do the ’Big Day Out’, which they’ve done for about the last two years. ”Then we’ll have to put together a plan which involves lots of going to America, cos now we’ve got the level of marketing there that we can tap into. The promotional infrastructure is already there. You never know, we might sell some
records.”

The Prodigy deal has set off something of a major label frenzy, with a new battle hotting up for Underworld. They came towider attention in the States after ”Born Slippy” appeared on the ”Trainspotting” soundtrack. The Chemical Brothers, who are signed to EMI-owned Caroline Records via the Astralwerks label, are also regarded as a good bet for success in America.Now many majors are getting out their cheque books to work out distribution deals with indie, techno orientated labels inAmerica and England.

However, some industry insiders remain wary of the whole excitement. Meredith Chinn, the A&R woman who signed Moloko and Rockers Hi-Fi to Warners, told the LA Times: ”There will be too many acts signed, and too many who aren’t necessarily as good as The Prodigy or The Chemical Brothers.” And Hans Haedelt, an A&R rep fro MCA who recently made a deal for Trans-Global Underground, said: ”Maybe it’s better to pass on these bidding wars. Once you’ve signed someone or are even trying to sign someone, you raise their expectations so much, and  that’s unfair.” The Prodigy and 808 State are among those who have got their hands on Art Of Noise material on ”The FonCQ Mixes,” which is being issues by US company Discovery.

The End Of The World:
Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills has been telling The Maker about the track he’s been working on with The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett. The song, still officially untitled, is intended for The Prodigy’s new album which is scheduled for release in April. Crispian told The Maker: ”Liam heard ”Tattva” on a radio while he was driving around, and wanted to meet up and do something with us. So he sent me a tape of this track with lots of variations that they had and asked me if I had any ideas, and I said that I did, but I didn’t really. I was just making it up. ”And on the way there to the studio, me and Lonz got some ideas and basically we created a mantra symphony. I said, ’I think we should take the music to the logical conclusion,’ and they said, ’What’s that?’, and I said ’The end of the world.’ And they went, ’Yeah! Let’s do it.’ ”Keith [Flint] was very helpful. He sat at the back and skinned up all day. We talked about auras and golden age, and the track sounds f***ing brilliant. It has two working titles at the moment. It could be called ’Your Time Has Come’, or ’Aum Namah Narayan’ which is a mantra for the lord of the universe. It’s a kind of spiritual air freshener for the planet.

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