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Released: March 1996

This was the track that took the Essex mentalists from basement-playing chancers to arenas. Everything that made people fall in love with The Prodigy is here: snarling verses, a huge bombastic breakbeat and then that little dash of controversy to top it off. Despite being released to a Top 40 dominated by manufactured bands riding on a post-Spice Girls boom, it went straight to Number One and they've pretty much never looked back. (TG)


How We Wrote 'Firestarter'
Liam Howlett

On the recording process:
"Some of the tracks are very complicated, and you couldn't have all the equipment on stage to run them live - so when I've finished a full mix of the song, I strip down elements. For example, in 'Firestarter', I take the guitar out, because we've got a live guitarist who plays off the backing. I've got all the other samples on the keyboard, and Keith is doing the vocals.

On writing the song's lyrics:
"With 'Firestarter', me and Keith wrote the lyrics together. I'd done the track and played it to him, and he said he'd really like to get some lyrics on it. I was quite surprised, because he's never done it before.

He came round a few days later, sat down and we eventually got over the embarassing situation where everything you say with the lyrics sounds terrible. Once it's on record, it doesn't matter what you say. On other tracks, I come up with lyrics, then I might get Maxim to come over."

On the success of 'Firestarter':
"I was very surprised, but I was more surprised that more people didn't comment on how we'd gone away from what we were doing before. A lot of people thought it was the best thing we've done, especially people at Radio One, who did support it quite a lot -- maybe to show that they were more in touch with youth culture.

We never look for success, but I'd say we're at a level now where we've got a following, and people respect what we're doing. The records don't have to be really commercial every time, as long as they follow the Prodigy rules - that they're hard and 'in your face'. That's what The Prodigy's music is about, whether it's got guitars on it, or whether it's industrial, techno, or whatever. For an album, I guess, you might have the odd track where it's a bit more soundtrack-based, a bit more string-orientated, or more ambient, but with singles, it's pretty in-your-face stuff." (soundonsound.com)

 

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