The Guardian

Case study: Frontman Keith Flint reveals how extroversion helps his act

I'm not sure if I'd call myself an extrovert. I think I'm a bit contradictory. I like being endearing and venomous at the same time. I guess it's one part of myself fighting against the other part, proving that I'm not that nice all the time.

I like jokes and one-liners. I enjoy entertaining and making people laugh, being the funny man. But when I'm launched into unfamiliar environments I shut down, and as I relax then my character emerges.

I'm volatile, up-tempo, quick to react and passionate. People often think all that high-energy stuff is just for the stage, but that's me. I like to express myself. When I was younger I would listen to the Jam in my bedroom and jump around in excitement to the music.

The punk movement also influenced me. That individualism appealed to me. I have a lot of body art but I don't think it's rebellious. If anything I worry that it leaves me looking a bit "new age". I got the piercings because back in 1988, when I was travelling, I was told they looked sexy. The tattoos remind me of my uncles – skinheads – and they represent the working class. They also turn heads.

At school I had a mohican. I was chucked out and sent to a special school. They had to hypnotise me to settle me down – I just had so much energy. I guess I've always thought that, in a conformist society, self-expression is important.

I think I'd have the same energy and passion even if I didn't make music. I don't know what I'd channel it into – I have quite a lawless mentality – but it's funseeking, too. I often say that I'm like a house with a hallway: you think you're inside but then you have to open another door to get to the real me, and that could be positive or negative. I can be quite self-destructive when left on my own, which is something I have to keep a check on.

I can swing either way; I could go down any path. I have to be thrilled by something because I have this no-time-to-waste attitude; I want to suck it all up. I love the adrenaline rush; that's why I did motorbike racing. I'm always thirsty for more, and if I didn't do something then I'd just implode.

There is something about being on stage that's a release for me. It gets my mental energy out. That's why I'm really honest on stage; I'm not there for the beauty of my voice or to be the best dancer, I go out to express myself and stir up the audience.

I'm like the guy that jumped on stage at a gig and didn't get thrown off. And that's who we perform for too, that guy.

• Keith Flint is the lead singer of the Prodigy

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