Prodigy dancer Leeroy Thornhill had enough of staying in the background, and being prominent only on stage, so he started to work on his own and record some solo material. Later he also decided to leave the Prodigy.
I have been a full member of Prodigy for a brilliant nine years but I wish to concentrte fully on my own music as Flightcrank and I wish the band all the best for the future.
- Leeroy Thornhill 4th April 2000
His first solo project was originally called "The Longman" (referring to his height of about 2 meters). He released his first solo record back in 1996, 'The Longman EP'. The single contained the following tracks: Dreamers, The Suspect, The Smoker, Rock It. He also provided a track for Kris Needs' 'Needs Must' compilation and laid down a remix for fellow Essex ravers Shades of Rhythm.
In 1999, Leeroy changed his nickname to Flightcrank, and started to release records under that nick. First, he made a remix of Dr. Dooom's (aka Kool Keith) rap track Leave Me Alone and then several other remixes for Psycho Base, Runaways and David Gray. He has signed a deal with Copasetic Records and in 2000, he released his second solo EP titled Flightcrank EP. It contained 3 original songs (Twisted , Drifter and Masterplan) and a remix by Lee Scratch Perry. In 2001 he released his first solo album called Beyond All Reasonable Doubt.
Longman and Flightcrank projects never saw any substantial success. He now DJs at large venues and is still in touch with The Prodigy. During The Prodigy's 'Their Law' tour Thornhill was the DJ support act at several venues. He also works as a regular DJ. He also remixed tracks for other artists, such as the Italian Subsonica's Nuvole Rapide.
Thornhill is currently working with Hyper and appears on their live shows. He appeared at the V Festival in 2007 in Chelmsford, Essex.
His latest project is the creation of Nu skool breaks record label Electric Tastebuds. He has recently signed breakbeat act The Wrongstar Society to the label.
In October 2008, a music video was created for "Everything U Need", a track by Thornhill's Smash Hi-Fi project. The video was Directed by Philip Carrer and Bleeding Apple.
When it comes to the matter of having to describe or pin-down
the Flightcrank sound then, to be perfectly honest with
you, preparing to expect the unexpected really does seem
like the best option available.
You see, Leeroy Thornhill (who IS Flightcrank) pretty much defiles all pre-set conformities...and rightly so as, though being one of four founder members of the now world-famous The Prodigy since their conception way at the turn of 1990, this Essex-born-and-bred navigator in advanced sound manipulation now finds himself in the newly-acquired position of being in full control of his own musical operations.
We're about to enter to the next chapter...
But..hey, kids!, before we move forth and into the present and future we need to touch back and into past, just so that you're all clear...
Rewinding around ten years or so and whilst The Prodigy (after unleashing 'Experience') were fast gaining a reputation throughout the early peripherals of what would later become the fully-fledged U.K hardcore movement by performing live P.A.'s at clubs and warehouse events from one end of the country to another, Leeroy had already made his initial forays into acquiring the relevant studio equipment, subsequently leading on to the man then arranging and writing his first few excursions into track construction.
Though becoming a slow process at first, this would take full form around three years down the line in '93 as, after Leeroy taking up the ubiquitous skills of the wheels of steel a year previous to this a more breakbeat / hardcore-based influence, the debut vinyl releases from his very self, albeit as a limited white-label-only and under the guise of Lowrise, would surface, and to much critical acclaim.
As you can guess, this was the start of good things for Mr Thornhill as, whilst Prodigy commitments were taking greater precedence by the day and worldwide tours and dates for the band would soon be arriving in their droves, his own unique studio methods were gradually being honed up to the point of being commissioned to remix none other than Moby's 'Come On Baby' for Mute in 1994 and though the overhaul never quite managed to see the light of day - release-wise, it had still put the man in good stead for further work that would soon be coming through on the production tip.
By the arrival of the following year, and whilst Leeroy's DJ'ing sound had now started to incorporate a more trance / techno type of edge, remixes of Shades Of Rhythm's 'Psycho Bass' came next on the agenda and were soon to be proceeded by his sophomore white label releases, this time being put under the working moniker of 'The Longman E.P' - that caused more than yer' average stir throughout key circles and even found it's way onto Kris Need's ...Must' compilation after much rotation from said Jock.
So, what with the release of The Prodigy's third long-player, 'Fat Of The Land', and it's extra topping-up on the success that had been so evident throughout the previous two, 'Experience' and 'Music For The Jilted Generation', the next two years (from around 1996 to 1998) were probably Leeroy's busiest yet as whilst world tours came into play once again (resulting in a huge one-off bash playing to over 300,000 people in Red Square, Moscow) and yet further turntables stints were to take place in destinations as varied as the UK, Ireland, Germany and Greece, to name but a small few, any spare time left available was immediately spent adding new parts and gadgets to the studio set-up and, of course, getting to work on new tracks.
Leading on to 1999 and, in essence, this was where it would all really kick off for Mr. Thornhill...
Indeed, as after successfully being brought in to remix London Records' up-and-coming artists, Southern Fly, and their two key singles 'Maybe It's The Right Time' and 'For Real'. The re-routing in Leeroy's direction that lay ahead would now take on new meaning...
The reason why?
Well, due to a certain link with Copasetik Recordings a certain overhaul on Dr. Dooom's (a.k.a none other than Kool 'Smack My Bitch Up' Keith) modern day hip hop classic 'Leave Me Alone', was to come into the picture and, so pleased was Leeroy on subsequent feedback and acclaim gained on just that one remix alone (this time under guise of Fightcrank, plans were drafted, a mutual vibe became apparent and so by the year's close of play, Leeroy had signed to the label.
Which kind of smoothly brings us up to the present day...
Having structured his studio, situated slap-bang in the centre of his own Windmill, deep in the outback of Essex country, to ideal specifications and been putting together more brand new cuts than you could even dare to shake a stick at, it looks as if this year really is to be Leeroy's time to shine after what could be described as ten years of very fruitful experience already in the bag. Leeroy did remixes for the likes of Masta Ace & Runaways for Ultimate Dilemma, Moby and top Irish artist of the moment, David Gray. The debut Flightcrank E.P., called appropriately enough, 'The Twisted EP' (featuring Lee 'Scratch' Perry), was released last July and met with universal praise for its "twisted beats and wonky reggae vibes".
The musical style of the album ranges from break beat folk to lo-fi soul and indie with contributions from 'Scratch' Perry and 'The Very' Mad Professor.
"LEEROY THORNHILL has told Music365 that he left the Prodigy last month because he could no longer ignore the solo material he had been working on for the last few years.
And he says he's planning collaborations with Terry Hall, Finley Quaye and US rapper Eminem on his solo album, which he hopes to have out next year.
Thornhill is releasing his first material under his Flightcrank persona on June 12 through Copasetik Recordings. The Twisted EP includes a remix of the title track by dub legend Lee Scratch Perry.
The four track EP contains songs two years old, but Thornhill says "I didn't want to leave them on DAT. They're left pretty raw, I didn't want to polish it up."
Thornhill says the music is material he wrote specifically for his solo career and he didn't take it to Prodigy mainman Liam Howlett. "We've always done our own sort of thing."
Thornhill has previously done remixes for Moby, Shades Of Rhythm, Kool Keith and Southern Fly. "Since the group started I've been doing up a studio at home. I started off trying to do dance music and never got it the way I wanted to hear it."
Twisted is a much more chilled-out record, drawing heavily from dub, trip-hop and reggae rather than the hi-energy dance music of his former group.
"I'm more into that chilled stuff, I like music you can groove to and lock into, where the grooves change only a little bit."
The track Drifter features the vocals of Diane Charlemagne, who sang on Goldie's breakthrough track Inner City Life. "Working with Diane is something I've always wanted to do. I've done three tracks with her and I just loved that track so much."
Thornhill hasn't planned any live dates so far - saying he might gig in "a couple of years". He admitted he had been taking singing lessons and wanted to learn some instruments before trying to take his music on stage.
He's unconcerned that the rough nature of the tracks might preclude radio play. "I didn't want to jump down people's throats as a solo artist. I just hope a few people enjoy it. I didn't go looking for a major record label. I don't want to be the next big thing and then dropped when people don't like me anymore."
He says his relationship with the other Prodigy members has not been affected by hiswalkout. "They don't need a dancer anymore. They want to progress on to the next level. I can see that. And I was confident enough in what I was doing. All I can take from it is good."
Thornhill says he's looking forward to watching the next Prodigy live shows from theother side of the stage.
As well as recording, Thornhill is appearing in the 365TV production Mark Owen's Celebrity Scooters, a programme travelling around the eight venues of next month's Euro 2000 football tournament in Belgium and Holland via scooter, with celebrities including Reef, ex-Eastenders actor Joe Absolom, Napalm Death's Barney and Nick Heyward.
"It's been brilliant, I'm back out there on Saturday for Amsterdam." Thornhill is something of a scooter fan too - he owns a Lambretta along with a few other bikes, including a racing Ducati once owned by former Prodigy colleague Keith Flint.