A chilly, damp day in North London, late in 2014. We’re in Liam Howlett’s King’s Cross studio listening to what would change into The Prodigy’s sixth studio album ‘The Day Is My Enemy’. As the primary single from the album, ‘Nasty’, snarls its approach into the room, Liam Howlett turns the amount up, leans again in his swivel chair and grins. It is as fierce a reduce and thrust of digital punk because the band have but managed. The ear-bleeding mixture of analogue assault, Keith Flint’s rabid vocals and the relentless, thunderstruck beats mix to create an atmosphere of oppressive claustrophobia. The suffocating aggression solely absolutely lets up with a quick drop, wherein long-time collaborator Brother Culture utters the repeated phrases ‘I ain’t no vacationer’ with militant defiance. In the punch-drunk mudslinging of shift-to-the-right post-UKIP Britain, it’s laborious to not hear it as a political touch upon immigration.
Almost 4 years in a while a scorching August day in 2018, we’re again in Liam’s studio to hearken to the band’s seventh studio album and chew the fats over the making of the album, and that title. Just in case folks missed the delicate name to arms issued by ‘Nasty’, Liam has christened this newest set ‘No Tourists’. In the time since that ‘Nasty’ playback, we’ve had Brexit, that shift proper has change into a full throttle lurch, the Tories have adopted UKIP’s voice and questions round borders and immigration are prime of the every day political information agendas. At a time when the Windrush Generation have discovered themselves being repatriated, regardless of believing they held British passports, ‘No Tourists’ in all probability wants explaining.
“What, do you suppose folks will reckon it’s about immigration?” asks a belligerent Liam. He’s standing in entrance of his mixing desk, flanked by analogue package, an Orange amp and a randomly positioned vivid pink entrance door with a singular quantity 7. As he appears to be like at me, his short-term anger shortly adjustments to laughter. “Fuck ’em,” he exclaims. “I do know what it means and it isn’t something to do with politics. And if folks suppose I'm being political, effectively, I can’t cease folks studying no matter they need into it. So fuck ’em.”
So what precisely is it about then, Liam?
“‘No Tourists’ is finally about escapism and fucking needing to be derailed. People have change into lazier and forgotten the right way to discover. It’s laborious to not be a vacationer. You’re force-fed all this shit, and it’s laborious to not associate with it and be lazy. The world’s forgotten the right way to discover, and we’re in opposition to that. We’re about needing... to discover one other different route with the hazard and pleasure [of that]. Not following issues simply because it’s simple. ‘No Tourists’ is only a assertion that you simply’ve received to attempt tougher.”
So, it’s in regards to the demand for greater than the senseless, cultural Spotification that dominates our very existence. It’s about kicking in opposition to the pricks and simply not rolling with the movement. The vacationer of their definition is the spineless cool-seeker, bending with the strongest wind and following the best stream. If the earlier album ‘The Day is My Enemy’ was an assault on the unchallenging, mindlessness of EDM, then this album will get to the center of the cultural terrain that EDM belongs to. ‘No Tourists’ is intent on going to battle with easy-everything, from A-listing to X-Factor. Indeed, it’s an album philosophy that's vastly political.
WALKING THEIR OWN PATH
There is nothing shocking about Liam’s idea of the vacationer. As the band’s driving pressure, he has constantly railed in opposition to expectations. Since The Prodigy’s inception again within the heady days of free occasion raves, he and the band have frequently walked their very own path. While their old fashioned contemporaries had been nonetheless enjoying PAs on the mega-raves, The Prodigy had been already taking their exhibits to the rock venues, fusing steel, punk and breakbeat hardcore alongside the best way. When followers and their report label had been anticipating the follow-up to 1997’s world dominating ‘The Fat Of The Land’ album to be extra of the identical, Liam took his work again underground and delivered a mash-up of electro punk funk noise-scapes within the type of ‘Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned’. He’s scrapped albums that many a lesser producer would give their eyeteeth to create. As his ’90s contemporaries labored at retaining their unique dance viewers, Liam and the band drew in new followers from a variety of genres and subcultures.
Even as we speak, whereas those self same ’90s contemporaries like Underworld and Orbital are joyful to collaborate with Iggy Pop or Professor Brian Cox, Liam Howlett chooses to work with New Jersey’s little recognized hip-hop noise crew Ho9909 (aka Triple 9 Death Kult).
“I’ve received to really feel it earlier than I work on it,” Liam says. “I received’t simply do one thing as a result of I’ve been informed it’s the suitable factor to do. It in all probability would have made sense for me to work with some better-known folks to get on the radio. The observe with Ho9909 was the primary one I completed that I knew was proper. I used to be like, yeah I fuckin’ know the place I’m going with this now.
“To be trustworthy,” he provides with a mischievous grin, “that was initially going to be a remix for them, however I needed to say to them, ‘Nah, you’re not ’aving it’. They had been cool about it although. They might see the constructive aspect to me preserving it.”
"Occasionally fights get away, however a whole lot of the time, Prodigy followers take care of one another”
That observe, ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, is a key second on an album that scrapes the underbelly of each music tradition that has touched Liam. Yes, all the Prodigy emblems are in place. The pitched up vocals, the lysergic fairground melodies, the basic Maxim and Keef vocal duel, the psychotic atmosphere and the bruising, aggressive beats. But this album has a rawness and immediacy solely beforehand hinted at. From the Alfonso sampling ‘Timebomb Zone’ to the off-kilter hypnosis of ‘Boom Boom Tap’; from the Keef and Maxim battling anthem ‘Champions Of London’ to the evil acid crescendo of ‘Give Me A Signal’ that includes Barns Courtney on vocals, ‘No Tourists’ scorches a path marked The Prodigy with belligerent swagger.
But it’s an album that so practically didn’t occur. Last yr (and never for the primary time), Liam introduced that he’d by no means launch one other album as a result of, ‘It simply takes an excessive amount of time and I get fucked off with it’. Originally deliberate as an EP that includes visitors equivalent to Dizzee Rascal, ‘No Tourists’ began to morph right into a full album on account of a tour regime that enabled Liam to report in his resort room whereas the power of the present was nonetheless raging by his psyche. One such Belgian gig is famend among the many fanbase for its high-octane degree of madness, with our bodies flying in all places and a mosh pit that will make a cage fighter run for canopy. Straight after that mayhem, Liam recorded Keef’s vocals. In reality, the necessity to report new beats straight after gigs has led to Liam staying in low hire inns seemingly extra suited to cult horror motion pictures than a constructive productive atmosphere. “Sometimes we've got a two-hour drive to our resort, and that doesn’t work for me, ’trigger I need to be again to work on the music, and really feel the excitement from the gig. While the others have been staying in five-star inns, I veer off and keep in a one-star that’s simply two miles from the gigs, simply so I can get stuff carried out shortly — so I can get the power I felt off being onstage,” says Liam.
So no superstar post-gig inns for the person the followers name Master H — he’s happier with a Bates’ Motel vibe? “Yeah, I’m proud of that, you recognize what I imply? Some of those inns I’ve been in have been insane. There was one in Germany that was simply this water tower that had no-one else in it. Just this water tower by itself. It was fuckin’ bizarre man!”
Another on-the-road inspiration for the album was the Prodigy’s tour of Russia in March 2018. Liam arrange a studio base in Moscow, and returned after every gig to report contemporary concepts. This offered, “possibly three tracks. I used to be simply actually feeling it and would simply must get these concepts down. Some of the gigs had been... they appeared lawless. “I assume we’re fairly fortunate ’trigger we play all around the world,” he continues. “But [in] Eastern Europe and Russia, it feels actually contemporary, virtually wilder in some way. I nonetheless love enjoying the UK, which is all the time particular. But locations like Serbia are lawless. Serbia simply appears to have extra hazard about it. Exit pageant is how I think about Glastonbury was. It’s simply on the sting. Not like Coachella. I imply, what the fuck? At Coachella you’re not allowed to have beer within the crowd anymore? What is that? I simply don’t get that, man.”