They’ve survived fights between band members and fashion trends only to emerge stronger than ever with their fifth album Invaders Must Die. Edwin McFee catches up with THE Prodigy to hear about where it all went right for the dance-punk legends.
“I always knew we had at least one more really strong album in us and I think we’ve proved that,” Liam Howlett reflects. “For me, the way the band is going right now reminds me a lot of the Fat Of The Land days. There’s definitely a parallel between that album and this new one.”
After the (ahem) moderate success of 2004’s Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned (which is widely considered to be Liam’s solo record, as it doesn’t feature Keith Flint or Maxim Reality) you’d be forgiven for thinking that Howlett has something to prove with this one, but the band’s main songwriter is keen to play down the importance of Invaders Must Die.
“We don’t necessarily have anything to prove onstage because I think we’re still one of the best live bands around, but musically I wanted to take it up a level. The album sounds like we’re comfortable with who we are and our roots. Rave culture sometimes gets overlooked, but it’s as important as the punk movement. We didn’t want to make a retro album that sounds like a blast from the past though.”
And how does he feel when he looks back on Always Outnumbered…? After all, the record did cause a year-long huff between the close-knit band.
“Always Outnumbered… was an album that had to happen really. It’s a record we’re all very proud of and just because these guys aren’t on it, they were still part of it. I guess it was confusing for the fans. Some thought we had split, but it was just the scenario that was going on at that time. We are like brothers, and brothers fall out, but the band never broke up at any time during that period. There was never ever a day when I thought it didn’t exist. You might say that if you’re not touring, writing an album or hanging out together, then you’re not together. You’ve split. But call it what you like, this is not a reunion album. We’re three stubborn people and there’s no way we would have gone into a studio if we didn’t want to. We fought hard to make this a great album and I know that to do that you’ve got to fucking leave behind a time when everything’s gone a bit shit. And we have.”
This spirit of re-invention can be found on tracks such as ‘Warrior’s Dance’ and ‘Omen’ but the best song by far is the monstrous ‘Run With The Wolves’. While sadly not a reference to those hairy blokes from New Moon, it does feature celebrity tub-thumper Dave Grohl beating the shit out of his skins, so it ain’t all bad.
“We’ve known Dave for years – since the Foo Fighters started actually – and they supported us a few times back in the old days,” laughs Liam. “He really is the nicest guy in rock without a doubt. If he was in London for one night and we were playing a gig, he would just turn up and play. Anyway, he e-mailed me after he’d finished touring and said, ‘Why don’t we do a track?’ and I was just about to deliver my album so I said yes, but only if he could get it out of the bag quickly. He sent me a hard-drive full of drum tracks and ‘Run With The Wolves’ was born out of that. It was a vocal Keith had done on an old tune and we assembled it together. It’s venomous! I’m a beats man and a beat thief through and through and hey, if there’s a drummer to sample, then Dave Grohl’s the man isn’t he?”