The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett talks chemistry with Australia, new album ‘No Tourists’
Don’t associate them with dance music. Or rave. And definitely, for the love of all that’s right, don’t call them EDM. The Prodigy are the original electronic punks, the outliers from Essex who took their wicked beats and fearsome live show from warehouses to the biggest stages on the planet.
Australians and Kiwis will welcome the Brits back with open, sweaty arms early next year when the trio return for six shows in support of their forthcoming seventh studio album, No Tourists.
Watch: The Prodigy – “Need Some1”
It promises to be a proper love-in. Australia and The Prodigy have a rare chemistry which dates back to day nought. Many of those shows are the stuff of legend, spoken of with a wink and a wide eyes from those who were there. The then four-piece (dancer Leeroy Thornhill left in 2000) headlined the closing party for Brisbane’s Site nightclub back in June 1994, when the Prodigy Experience was burning up turntables.
Two years on, the Prodigy melted minds, and very nearly everyone in the house, with an incendiary Boiler Room performance at the Big Day Out on the Gold Coast, in a hotbox which later became the site storeroom. It was so lit that evening, frontman Keith Flint was reportedly place on a saline drip after the performance. Punters stripped down to their underwear. The air was so thick, it was tough to breathe. The Prodigy’s spearhead Liam Howlett hasn’t forgotten.
“Without a doubt, I remember that gig,” he tells Tone Deaf. “But there was another gig we did in Melbourne where they had an actual water hose in the crowd, inside the building spraying people. Now, I’ve never seen that in a club before. It was so fucking hot. It was fucking ridiculous.”
Howlett and Co. love the heat. They’re returning in the hottest months for a trek that kicks off January 24 at RAC Arena, Perth, before moving on to Adelaide’s Bonython Park, Brisbane Riverstage, Melbourne Arena and finishing up at Sydney Qudos Bank Arena on February 2, before hopping across the ditch for a one-off show at Auckland’s Trusts Arena, on February 5. The tour is produced by TEG Live and Division Agency, the company run by Jason Ayoubi and Scott Robertson, the architects of Summadayze and Future Music Festival, which was headlined by the Prodigy on multiple occasions.
“We’ve missed coming there the last couple of years,” Howlett recounts. “We’ve been there since the band started. We travelled to Australia right in the beginning and we’ve almost been almost every year. Obviously, when the Big Day Out was rolling we were coming regularly. Yeah, we’re looking forward to coming in January, man.”
The No Tourists live shows are so much more than a catchup with fans. Howlett, Flint and Maxim Reality will work their new material, well before U.S. audiences get a taste. “This record has definite urgency and aggression about it, but in a different way to the previous record,” Howlett tells TD from his house in London. “It’s got a certain old-school feel to it, people will hear the early Prodigy sounds coming back a bit. But also without being retro, it feels fresh. That’s what we get from it. Of course, we’re here to please ourselves with the music. We want to write good tunes, and tunes we know are going to deliver on stage and that’s what we’ve done.”
No Tourists is due November 2 through the group’s own label, Take Me To The Hospital, via BMG. It’s the follow up to 2015’s The Day Is My Enemy, which became their sixth album to hit No. 1 in the U.K. In Australia, the set opened at No. 8, continuing their streak of top 10s which stretches back across their previous four albums, punctuated by a No. 1 with 1997’s Fat of the Land, which lead the chart on both sides of the Atlantic.
But it’s in front of a crowd where Prodigy really are at their meanest. “People can download the music, feel the music, copy the music but they can’t copy watching the band, you’ve got to be there, standing in front of the stage to experience the pure aspect of the band,” Howlett explains. “The live side, it’s the pure way to connect with a band. We feel really protective and we try to keep the live side as pure as possible.”
Watch: The Prodigy – “Light Up The Sky”
The Prodigy 2019 tour dates
January 24 – Rac Arena, Perth – Buy Here
January 26 – Bonython Park, Adelaide – Buy Here
January 28 – Riverstage, Brisbane – Buy Here
February 1 – Melbourne Arena, Melbourne – Buy Here
February 2 – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney – Buy Here
February 5 – Trust Arena, Auckland – Buy Here
Telstra thanks presale: 3pm Monday, Oct. 29
General public on sale: 10am Thursday Nov. 1