The Prodigy Fight ‘Lazy,’ ‘Monotonous’ EDM
Long before DJs became America’s new rock stars, U.K. electronic dance-gnash crew the Prodigy were an abrasive, shouting, reverse-mohawked Trojan horse, scoring a Top 40 hit and a multi-platinum album in 1997. Nearly 20 years later, a deep house track is the song of the summer, Deadmau5 can headline a night at Bonnaroo and Electric Daisy Carnival promoters boast an estimated 130,000 revelers a night.
While it’s a boom time for the Axwells and Ingrossos of the world, the Prodigy’s North American appearances are limited to rock festivals (Riot Fests in Denver, Chicago and, this weekend, in Toronto); and their charged-up sixth album, The Day Is My Enemy, is a slice of brittle digital hardcore with tempos more appropriate for ranting than raving. Rolling Stone caught up with producer Liam Howlett, who told us about going against the EDM grain and why the band is done with the album format.
It’s a boom time for electronic music festivals in America and you guys are only hitting rock festivals. . . .
Yeah. I know. It’s weird, isn’t it? I guess America is more segregated as far as that music goes. In the U.K. we have, like, Creamfields. It’s kind of like a dance festival, but still, bands play there, guitar bands and stuff. In the U.S., it just seems to me, things are much more in their own place. Your EDM big festivals tend to be more DJs — they don’t really cater to bands, so it’s kind of difficult.
You made this harsh, punk-noise record in the middle of electronic music’s American moment. . . .
It’s always a reaction to what’s going on when I write music. We’d written five tracks in 2012, and that kind of got shelved. It just didn’t feel right. But yeah, I don’t like . . . the whole EDM and electronic music scene is very commercial. It’s pop music, and to me, there has to be a band that can represent the harder edge end of electronic music, and that’s always been our job. And basically a lot of it’s live-driven. This record wasn’t written with radio in mind, it’s purely written to sit on stage.
Are there rock, punk or metal records that you were inspired by?
Yeah, I guess. Various things, more harder-edge stuff. In the U.K., after dubstep died sort of died off, everything went more into the clubs, and went more back to house music. And obviously, that sound doesn’t interest us whatsoever. The record I guess is a reaction to that, just the monotony of EDM, and the laziness of the music. . . . You can listen to various things in the record when I was making the record, but always still referencing my original inspiration — Public Enemy, stuff like that.
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