It’s 28 years since Essex rave legends The Prodigy played their first ever gig at the Four Aces, a tiny venue in Dalston, east London. They were paid £100 between them and so, naturally, head honcho Liam Howlett quit his job, no doubt in his mind that he would spend the rest of his life making a right bloody racket that’s one-punk and two-parts dance music mash-up, from bashment to big beat and beyond.
Now the trio are back with ‘No Tourists’, their ridiculously exciting seventh album. Fittingly, the album artwork features a London bus, its destination sign bearing the words: “Four Aces, London.” It’s not exactly a return to their roots – it’s actually more complex and heavy then their upbeat early singles – but is clearly the work of a group who’ve retained their appetite for confrontation. Like Slipknot, the advancing years have only made Prodigy more uncompromising.
In conversation with NME – see the video above – Howlett explains that ‘No Tourists’ showcases “the more violent side” of The Prodigy, even as the record has a little more “swagger” than 2015’s ‘The Day Is My Enemy”. From the broken glass that ushers in the bouncing, thuggish synth of opening track ‘Need Some1’ to the gnarly, twisted vocal sample that scythes through ‘We Live Forever’, there’s no respite across the record’s 10 tracks. But what keeps The Prodigy still hungry after all these years?
“Am I angry?” Howlett asks himself. “I don’t think I’m angry, but I must be. I don’t walk along the street being angry about certain issues, or carry that in me. But I like music that wakes me up, that has tension. That’s what I’m attracted to.” Listening to ‘No Tourists’, you’ll know what he means. And, as Howlett says: “When you find something you know you wanna do, you just keep doing it.”