December 5th 1998
QUESTION: Where were you on 31 December 1989?
LIAM HOWLETT: "I can barely remember, to be honest. I'd just got my first recording deal and I was in the middle of my heavily going out period. I was clubbing all the time, so I was probably in the Astoria or the Barn. Maybe I'd gatecrashed some party. We used to do that a lot of that around the time. "
Q: What will you be doing on 31 December 1999?
LH: "I'm not into the idea that it'll be a big deal - it'll just be another New Year's Eve. Maybe we'll do a gig. "
Q: Did you realise that 'Smack My Bitch Up' was going to be one of the cause celebres of the 90's?
LH: "I thought it was stupid - it's just an old-skool phrase meaning to 'sort something out'. I still find it hard to find the words to say exactly what it means, but in my head it didn't mean what other people took it as. But the people who moaned about it, I don't give a fuck about what they think. Our fans understood what it meant. It wasn't done on purpose to cause controversy. "
Q: The video didn't help matters, though...
LH: "The video was originally going to be more extreme. We just thought that as we'd made a song they couldn't play on the radio, why not make a video that no one will play. There was a scene where someone was shooting up heroin and throws up all kinds of shit. Basically, I thought that was no good, it was turning into a Nine Inch Nails video, so we changed it to someone doing coke instead. "
Q: Where you annoyed about the Beastie Boys complaining about you playing the song at Reading?
LH: "No, I wasn't annoyed by it. But I felt that they'd let themselves down a bit, though. Them asking any band not to play a song - you've got to lose respect for them for that. You have to be in a band for the whole vibe, and the Beastie Boys used to be into chaos and fun. They're not playing at being punks anymore, they've grown up. And surely anyone can see that we're not like Marilyn Manson. The crowd was with us all the way. Any journalist who wrote that they weren't must be full of shit. "
Q: What do you think of the '90s old-skool revival?
LH: "It's all a load of bollocks. You see fashions coming in and out, and all these idiots wearing thick laces on their shoes - I think you have to earn that respect. It's bad for the people who were involved in the '80s hip hop thing, because it makes them look like fashion victims. It's as crap as the punk revival. "
Q: Is ecstasy culture finished?
LH: "I don't go out much anymore, but I expect there's something different now, the same as when we were breaking into South London warehouses, that whole warehouse thing has gone - the government killed it off. I imagine that somebody having their first E now is having a good time, though. I got more into alcohol really, just after 'jilted' came out. I used to like drinking on the tour bus. "
Q: What do you like about New Labour?
LH: "I like to keep my politics to myself. I don't believe in expressing political views through the lyrics. Keith's developing his vocals, and it's all good shit, so maybe that kind of thing will come out on the new album. "
Q: What are your favourite '90s innovations?
LH: "I've got a DVD player which can play discs from anywhere in the world. And samplers have revolutionised music, especially the way they developed in the '90s - it wasn't that long ago you got shit like 'N-n-n-n-nine-teen. But for a musician, I'm well technophobic. I haven't got e-mail and I hate the Internet. The one time I turned it on, I saw a picture of the inside of my house. They must've got the pictures from an estate agent, and it said, 'Let's look at Liam Howlett's house.' Jesus. "
Q: Are you a big Playstation fan?
LH: "I used to be - that's why 'Fat of the land' was delayed by so long. It got so frustrating I had to throw it away. We contributed 'Firestarter' to Wipeout, but only after the song had its run. But that was a one-off - music on games is usually pretty naff. "
Q: What's your favourite song of the '90s?
LH: "For chilling out, 'Mezzanine' by Massive Attack. I just love the feel of it - I don't even think it's dark. For rock, 'Nevermind' by Nirvana. Nothing has ever come close to that anger and realness, not even 'In Utero'. Though, to be honest, there's never been a rock record that's equalled 'Never Mind The Bollocks'. We're still waiting for that record. "
Q: What's your favourite film of the '90s?
LH: "U-Turn, which is a film by Oliver Stone. It stars Sean Penn and is fucking great. It's got brilliant characters and it's also got Jennifer Lopez in it, which is obviously a big reason why I like it. I thought Trainspotting was cool as well, but it's hard to capture the feel of the rave scene. If they ever tried, it would be as bad as Sid and Nancy. "
Q: What do you think of the '90s genres like drum'n'bass and big beat?
LH: "I love drum'n'bass, it's got a good vibe. It's the only true English underground music at the moment. But big beat is shit, it's just a title to package up something old. People don't like to say we're big beat, but I think 'Poison' has the same kind of feel. I love the Chemicals, though - they lead that whole scene, and I've got a lot of respect for them. "
Q: Is 'Fat of the Land' really going to be the very last Prodigy album?
LH: "When I said that, we needed some time off, just to re-assess the band and grow. When we release a singe, it has to be an event - 'Firestarter' was an event, 'Smack My Bitch Up' was too, and it has to be the same for the next single. We're going to release something so fucking tough, people are going to be pissed off, especially those who say we're not into it anymore. "