Ahead of The Prodigy’s gig at Creamfields next week, Sam Rowe meets the group’s founding member, Keith Flint.
You’re headlining Creamfields in Abu Dhabi shortly. Do you worry about how a set will be received when you’re not on home soil?
We have done the holy grail of mismatches, and that is playing with Metallica. Now the Metallica crowd takes no one on board, no support acts, but we supported Metallica and we got away with it. So if you can do that, you can do anything.
The band is now entering its third decade together, do you fear the onset of old age?
Look, I know what the oldest swinger in town looks like, I know what it looks like when you’re watching Uncle Alan on the dance floor, cutting it to some old electro tunes that you used to dance to in the 1980s, and thinking ‘Sit down, Alan!’ Do you know what? I think we’re all honest with each other. I think we’ve got a good radar for that and you know what, I have to say I think we’re still cutting it. When you’re doing something like this, you take a professional approach to it, and I work out hard to be fit enough.
It has to be said, 20-something years later and you seem every bit as energetic
My performance is about being dynamic and having the energy to carry that off. As soon as I can’t, and as soon as it slows down and loses its… you know, ‘Firestarter’ sat on a stall in an Aran jumper, ain’t gonna cut it. So it’s not like we’ve got this back catalogue of acoustic tracks or ballads we can sing, it needs to be up front. But I tell you what, [on last album] Invaders Must Die we brought in fresh blood and that has kept us alive and on fire. When you do something that injects you constantly with the youthful serum of life, it does keep you from going under, you know what I mean? As I say, I’m not Peter Pan, and you’re not gonna catch me up any Botox clinic knocking years off me. But, if you’d asked me that question [and been] hostile, my answer to you would be – watch the show, come and see me afterwards. If you think it’s over, tell me and I’ll hang me boots up. It’s a question that at this time in our career, we’re gonna get asked, but it doesn’t feel at the moment that it needs defending.
The band are pioneers of big beat and rave, but are you ever influenced by modern trends?
I think that we grew up very much watching Top of the Pops in the UK seeing people miming to tracks, but then seeing bands like The Jam and The Specials and knowing the difference between the ones that were faking and the ones that were cutting it. I think the band’s established enough to not have to try something else, we don’t have an identity crisis. We know who we are, but we need to be current. So that current sound comes from the production of the music. You don’t just do what [US rockers] Korn have done, get [Dubstep DJ] Skrillex to totally rewrite your rulebook, say, and take you somewhere you’ve never been. There’s nothing clever about that at all.
You don’t foresee a Prodigy/Skrillex album in the future then?
I’ve got massive respect for Skrillex, I love what he does, I love the noise. I just wish someone would say to him, ‘Come on man, chill it down a bit, be a bit more selective’.
And maybe to get a haircut, too?
Well, I’m not the man to exactly give out haircut advice!
As well as music, you race motorbikes professionally. How did that come about?
Do you know what? The music and bikes complement each other without a doubt. From a child I’ve been into the bikes, it’s kinda funny on reflection when you’re talking about it – it’s the buzz, the freedom, it all seems very easy and a bit of a cliché. But for me, the buzz of going on stage is such a massive high, racing now in the down time it keeps the fire and ensures that I’m also well and truly pumped up. I can’t describe the love I have for it.
If you had to choose between music or motorbikes?
The band’s my everything, it really is. It doesn’t say any less about my racing, but the band’s my life. That’s it, end of story. Always has been.
I have dedicated every moment of my life to this and it just can’t easily be dismissed like that.
The Prodigy play Creamfields at the du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, December 13. Dhs275-595. www.thinkflash.ae