Liam Howlett on his surprisingly horticultural non-Prodigy life. Now the Prodigy have finished touring, what are you doing for the rest of the year?
"I'm excited about going back to the studio. I've written a track already. It's good solid punk track. It doesn't sound like a single. It's not finished, it's just a demo. "
So you won't just be decorating your new country home?
"I've finished all that - building gardens and buying stupid things. When you are an artist and you write music and shit, you convince yourself you can do anything creative. So I built a Japanese garden. I spent months doing research, hunted around for specific trees and designed it, although I had people helping me. It's really Zen when I get into it. But I'm not that Zen. When I'm sitting in the kitchen having a smoke it looks fucking good outside the window. "
Why turn your radio session for Mary Anne Hobbs into an album?
"Cos it's fucking good. I didn't want to do it at first. Then I thought, why not? I used to really enjoy putting tapes together with the pause button on the cassette when I was 14 - trying to be Grandmaster Flash in my bedroom. And when I did it, I really enjoyed it. The album is just me - the music is where the inspiration for the Prodigy comes from. It won't sell many copies but it's important that the fans have something that's full of stuff that's in my head when I'm writing. "
What happened over The Beatles track you weren't allowed to use?
"After I was turned down first time I faxed Paul McCartney as a long shot. I wrote, "I hope you might be interested in, or even excited about, being part of this mix. " Which made me laugh because I thought, well, he doesn't really give a fuck, does he? He faxed me back, saying as far as he has concerned it was no problem. But that left everyone else the chance to turn it down. I don't know if he did that just to say he was cool. "
But the Sex Pistols were amenable?
"John (Lydon) turned it down initially and I couldn't understand why, so I faxed him saying, "John, give us a bell, it's Liam from the Prodigy - I want to use your record on a mix. " He phoned me up the day before New Year's Eve and said yeah. He said he was in a bad mood the day he turned it down. "
And how about The Beastie Boys?
"Well, on the album, there's some cheeky messages to people, by the use of certain lyrics and certain bands. " So that would make sampling "The girlies I like are under age" (from 'Time To Get Ill' by The Beastie Boys) a riposte to remarks about 'Smack My Bitch Up'? "Could be. (pauses) Why not?"