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Six Pack: The Prodigy's Greatest Hits

Liam Howlett reveals the stories behind the songs

With The Prodigy's explosive sixth studio album, 'The Day Is My Enemy' primed for a March release, group mastermind Liam Howlett looks back on six of their biggest tracks.

Voodoo People
Find it: Music For The Jilted Generation (1994)

Liam Howlett: “I wrote a lot of songs for Music For The Jilted Generation very quickly. We came back from playing in America in 1993 and realised the rave scene was totally over for us. I’d just heard the first Rage Against The Machine album and I was following my head, following what I was into at that time. I called some mates who played guitar and tried something different.

“Did I wonder if it was commercial suicide? I didn’t really care at that stage. It might seem brave now but it wasn’t at the time. We were big in the rave movement but that scene was dead so we didn’t have anything to lose. We were really confident too and had been experimenting with lots of different things.

“I was on a roll. I knew exactly what I wanted to create. I wanted to capture the energy of our beats and guitar funk-punk. The first thing I did was Their Law and that was total experimentation, I had no idea if it would work. All I knew was that I wasn’t into the old sounds. I wasn’t hearing dance music I liked so Rage Against The Machine became my benchmark – it felt like the next logical step for hip-hop. Voodoo People was written right after Their Law and, although that was probably a better example of mixing the beats and guitars, Voodoo People was the moment rock fans liked us.

“Leeroy [Thornhill, dancer] was the most nervous about it. He was still more into the previous thing but you can convince anyone if it works live and that song worked really well live.”

Firestarter
Find it: Fat Of The Land (1997)

Liam: “I wrote that in ’95, only a year or so after Voodoo People. I seem to have waves where I’m quite creative and I was writing very quickly at that point. I’d heard Foo Fighters’ Weenie Beenie and I really loved that song and the whole album. I loved the sound because it just sounded like a band in a room and there was so much energy in that room. I got together with Jim Davies [former Prodigy live guitarist and former Pitchshifter guitarist] and we created this riff.

“This was Keith [Flint’s] first vocal track and, up until that point, it had always been me on my own with the band on the couch chopping one out, pouring a glass and going, ‘Fucking yeah, come on!’ I’d got the rough cut of the track and Keith popped in to see what I was working on. I played it to him, thinking of it as an intro for the record. He said, ‘If ever there’s a track that I can sing on, it’s that one.’ I thought, ‘OK, well let’s try it’. I hooked a mic up and it worked straight away.

“After we finished the track, we drove home with it blasting on the car stereo and I just knew it was the next single. I didn’t have any other tracks but I just knew that one had to go out straight away. I was on the phone to the record company the next day going, ‘This tune is going to fuck you up’.

“It led to the media saying that we should be banned. It was just fucking ridiculous. What were they worried about? They didn’t like what he was saying? That’s his fucking personality. Also lots of people started comparing Keith to John Lydon just because he shouts down a mic and that was unfair. I didn’t give a shit about the tabloids though. But that song took everyone by surprise. Chris Evans was on Radio 1 at the time and wouldn’t play it and then no-one at Radio 1 would play it.

“I knew that would go to Number One, everyone was talking about it, you could just feel it. Something was happening, you could feel it was important. We were lapping it up too, we weren’t scared of anything. The only problem we had after that song was that I couldn’t get the album done fast enough.”

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