The Prodigy still fighting war on pop, 25 years on

PARIS (AFP) - Twenty-five years after gate-crashing the British music scene with a furious mix of punk attitude and electronic beats, The Prodigy is not finished with its war on bubble-gum pop.

The Prodigy is offering its latest dose of electronic music - the punchy, aggressive variety and not the mainstream formula that dominates airwaves - with the band's first album in six years, The Day Is My Enemy, which comes out on Monday.

For Liam Howlett, the leader of the group from Braintree in England's Essex county, the sixth album by The Prodigy is partially a way to take back electronic music.

"I'm not an angry person. But this album is a reaction to what is going around us musically," Howlett told AFP.

"Electronic music has been hijacked by every type of music possible," he said.

"In every form of pop music, we hear bits of electronic music - the great bits from the underground music. They seep into pop artists' music, because all these pop artists want to have a piece of it."

The Prodigy stormed onto the scene in the 1990s with a handful of songs that resembled an intense adrenaline rush such as Firestarter.

Accompanied by sometimes violent videos and impassioned live performances, the group was proclaimed as a leading force in the hardcore or industrial electronic music scene.

"I've only got one motto - this is what I do," Howlett said. "It's something that happens naturally for me. The type of music I like is a music that attacks - this is the type the music I wanna write."


The Day Is My Enemy preserves the same warrior spirit. The song Nasty starts with a tinge of Asian-sounding instrumentation before bringing in a forceful beat as singer Keith Flint shouts in a dozen different ways, "Nasty, nasty."

The Prodigy has gone through various animals as its emblem and for the latest album picked the fox. The video for Nasty shows a fox-hunt turning wrong as the animals outmanoeuvre the rapacious hunters.

Wild Frontier similarly evokes danger over intense beats, with the lyrical message, "Gotta face your fears in the wild frontier."

With the band's blunt appeal, The Prodigy has long achieved commercial success. The last album, 2009's Invaders Must Die, sold some 1.5 million copies around the world.

But Howlett said that The Prodigy still saw itself as having a punk edge.

"We are not underground - we are a popular band - but our ethics are punk rock and have stayed the same from day one. We feed off the underground," he said.

The Prodigy invited the punk-influenced hip-hop duo Sleaford Mods to contribute on a track on the new album.

Other acts for which Howlett voiced admiration included the inventive South African rappers Die Antwoord and the French electronic duo Justice.

The Prodigy has announced a tour of Europe to support the album.

Howlett is looking forward to touring since - in another departure from mainstream electronic acts - he says that The Prodigy plays its music live and never simply programs a computer.

"I use the computer as a tape machine and a recorder more. When you program something, it comes very differently, you lose something - you lose the kind of swing or the human kind of feel. This is very important for me to retain these elements," he said.

"People don't buy music as much as they used to do. Today, for us, writing an album is about a soundtrack for a live show - taking music to people. It's the power of Prodigy."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.