(08-26-2004) The Prodigy Use Gallagher and Lewis to Get Back to Basics -- ChartAttack - U2 Feedback

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Old 08-26-2004, 03:02 PM   #1
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(08-26-2004) The Prodigy Use Gallagher and Lewis to Get Back to Basics -- ChartAttack

The Prodigy Use Liam Gallagher and Juliette Lewis to Get Back to Basics

When a copy of the forthcoming U2 CD was stolen out from under the band's noses earlier this summer, Bono and the boys went ballistic, firing off media reports saying that if anything got leaked to the Internet, U2 would rush their album’s release and Edge would be spanked heartily. In contrast, Liam Howlett, the beatmaster behind The Prodigy, just rolls with the punches.

"It’s kids, y’know, the kids want to hear the music," Howlett says understandingly. "There’s nothing you can do about it really, it’s kind of like… accepted now. It’s a shame in one way, but I’m sure the fans of the band will still want to go out and buy the record. It gets down to the fact that you can’t really do anything, so there’s no point in being worried about it, really."

Fans and critics who have heard advance copies of the newest album, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (which comes out on September 14), are already salivating at the return of a Music For A Jilted Generation-era Howlett, who has slapped himself in the face in the wake of the 2002 between-album single "Baby’s Got A Temper." Despite the enormous amount of radio controversy surrounding the track, the Keith Flint penned song made Howlett realize just how far he had gone off course.

"Keith’s lyrics are very introverted, kind of about his personal shit that was going on and I’d listen to it and think, hold on, this isn’t actually The Prodigy I’m hearing, this could be Keith Flint’s solo album I’m writing," Howlett says. "I wasn’t happy with that because The Prodigy isn’t like that, it’s about being unpredictable and moving in different areas. I looked at the tracks and, even though some of the tunes would go alright, they didn’t carry the same energy and weren’t what I wanted them to be, so I ended up starting again. The first track I wrote after 'Baby’s Got A Temper' was 'Wake Up Call' and it’s a direct message to myself just saying, ‘Remember what you did. Remember what The Prodigy is about.’"

A big part of the lull in The Prodigy’s success came as Flint and MC Maxim became the known frontmen for the group, pushing the formula of Howlett’s music being written as a background for their vocals. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned has Howlett breaking his own self-imposed mould.

"I think I’d slipped into a formula of just writing music for the live thing, and it worked really well with [1997's] Fat Of The Land," Howlett says. "Writing music for a formula and always using the same type of components, expecting to get different results but not actually ever [doing it]. I kinda forgot what it was like when I was freer, kind of unlimited in that. I could grab a female vocal, I could grab a guitar but at that stage I had forgotten about that. I was purely writing for vocal tracks for Keith and Maxim onstage."

With Flint and Maxim on board for the eventual live tour, Howlett was able to enlist the services of other collaborators making for a surprisingly powerful Juliette Lewis performance, a Twista rap and a song in which brother-in-law Liam Gallagher just lets loose.

"I met Liam six years ago before I’d even met my wife and stuff and we talked about doing something back then," Howlett says. "His brother had just done something with The Chemical Brothers and he came up to me and was like, ‘Noel’s just done a track with The Chemical Brothers, me and you should do something to blow it out of the water.’ At the time I didn’t really think anything of it, I was just like, ‘Yeah, that’d be good,’ and then through family relations and shit like that… my house is kind of a party house, there’s always people around. We ended up getting drunk one weekend and, like, three in the morning he’s like, ‘What’re you up to?’ and I’m like, ‘Let’s go upstairs and play some stuff.’ I played him a track and he started freaking out and saying, ‘Yeah, I’ve just got to sing on this track’ and that’s the way it started, it just had the right vibe. That’s the way it should be with music, just two geezers in a room doing it. Making it happen."

Of course, for many fresh-faced young fans, The Prodigy is about a weird looking dude with funky hair, so what were Flint and Maxim’s contribution to the latest album?

"They were just mates really, kind of like what we used to be," Howlett says. "Initially they were concerned. ‘Are we not going to take this record live, how’s that going to work?’ Once we talked about it and discussed the whole idea I think Keith was actually kind of relieved [because] he was under a lot of pressure to come up with the next thing."

Howlett intends to rework several of the songs with his two main men for the eventual tour, completely crushing rumours that The Prodigy could not go live with Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Howlett’s long-anticipated return may not result in the commercial success of a song like "Breathe," but it should take some of the spotlight off of Brit-pop and garage revival, at least for a while.

—David Missio

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