BBC Radio 1
If you've ever been lucky enough to see these boys shake their booties on stage to the furiously-concocted-funk-hip-hop-hardcore-rock-inspired beauty-cum-madness that is their sound, you'll know exactly what we mean when we say - The Prodigy do live like no other dance outfit.
OneMusic talked to Keith Flint, Maxim and Liam Howlett about how they got the Prodge out of the bedroom, on to the road, sidestepped the sequencer-crashing hellhole and into festival arenas the rough size of a county. In particular, the usual shy and retiring wallflower, Liam, talks at length about how their live experiences and performance has affected and influenced their musical activity and production.
Tell us how the Prodigy did and do live...
Liam: When we first started playing the raves, all we wanted to do was play Astoria. Then once we played Astoria, we were like, 'Wow, imagine if we could play Raindance!' We put these things on such big pedastals, saying if only we could get there. So that was a really defining moment, because that set us off. We never had a vision of where this thing could go, we were never good businessmen and as far as looking into the future and seeing what was going to happen, we hadn't got a clue.
How did it progress?
Liam: Then people started to say to us, 'Hey, your live show's quite good'. But to us, it was just us on stage. It's just been a natural progression. I mean even bringing in the guitarist was not a token gesture, it was just that our second album was taking that direction. Just the whole thing had to evolve more, for us to be excited about it. We never felt like we put on a show. I mean at the end of the day you can light anything, but I mean if something's not good to begin with... It's not like we ever wanted to be KISS or something.
How do you connect with your audience?
Keith: It's not like we're a behemoth stadium band, it's not like we've got an entourage of 200. Liam: That is ridiculous when bands get to that level, when bands just lose contact and that's just not what we're about. The point where we could have sold out arenas, like Wembley, we were just not into that. We'd sooner sell out Brixton 2/3 nights in a row and hit 4 thousand people - BANG! Keith: We're the same as the people we play to, 100%. And we know what we prefer. I know if I was at a gig 30 miles back, I'd think to myself, I might as well listen to them at home.
Do you change your songs?
Liam: We're not one of these bands, and this is no disrespect to Underworld, but if I go and see a band I want to hear their song, not a 10 minute dub version of it. That's why when we play Firestarter, we always play the original version - the best version.
Technically, how do you play your tracks out live?
Liam: Some of it's very primitive, to be honest. For example, if you take Poison, I play all the parts from the keyboard and sometimes my fingers slip and I hit a different key and the track stops, but that's all part of it. Maxim will do links, turnaround and have a laugh with me. It's all very spontaneous on stage.
These machines are full of our sound and I get off thinking about that. You cannot recreate Firestarter with a bass guitar, a drummer and a normal guitar. We've never relied on backing tracks ever, the sequencer has always been spitting out.
Has that ever caused problems?
Liam: I can think of at least 30 different occasions when I've gone on stage and the equipment's got wet. I remember from years ago when we played the Michael Sobell centre (a leisure centre in Holloway, London) and condensation dripped off the ceiling on to one of the sequencers. We used to cycle them, so when one of them was playing, I would load up the next one. Well, one of them stopped half way though and I had to play live after that.
Do you ever go on stage and get nervous?
Keith: Absolutely not. There was no fear, especially for our first shows because I felt we came out of an environment we were part of, so we weren't trying to kid anyone we were anything else. But when we first started to perform Firestarter, it was like I suddenly had to open my mouth and I was putting myself open to the cabbages and the rotten tomatoes! I'd done a parachute jump the week before and the level of adrenaline was no different to performing Firestarter for the first time. But afterwards the elation was amazing and you feel like you own it to some extent. But doing vocals....man!