Prodigy in Dubai?

Leeroy Thornhill, former dancer for The Prodigy, returns to Dubai for another round of breaks, beats and electronica

Interview

Hello Leeroy. What have you been up to lately, then?
Well I started a record label last year – just a little digital one – mainly to put out my own music. But then I started collaborating with my mates: I formed Smash HiFi with Martin Hoerger [of Boogie Army] and then Jagged Slap with a local friend [Joe Morena]. And a band called The Wrongstars signed to the label as well – they do rap stuff over breaks. It’s pretty cool.

Sounds like you’ve got a good thing going there.
Well I’ve got a bit of responsibility but I’m not expecting much out of it. I just want to keep releasing music.

You say that now, but it’ll be boardrooms and cigars before long.
[laughs] Yeah, yeah – let’s start making some money first.

So what’s the difference between the sounds of Smash HiFi and Jagged Slap?
When we’re doing Smash HiFi, Martin’s very technical and the stuff he produces is quite minimal, so I’m always trying to get more hooks and a bit more groove into the beat. It’s new ground for both of us. Whereas, with Jagged Slap, Joe’s from a house background and he’s really good at riffs and stuff, but I bring my knowledge of breaks, so it’s a bit more musical than Smash HiFi.

Will you be playing your solo stuff out here?
Maybe. Often I write stuff and then I don’t play it myself for a few weeks. It’s weird.

Why? Are you shy?
I don’t know what it is. If it’s stuff I’ve done with the others I don’t worry about it. But a lot of the time when it’s something I’ve done I’ll end up putting it on and then standing there listening to it and judging it against the other tracks in the set.

Will you be playing any Prodigy tracks over here?
I’ve got a few new Prod tracks in there. There were some in the new album I wasn’t sure about, but I tried them in four or five gigs recently and they just blew the place apart.

What about the rest of the set?
I keep thinking I’ll do a really purist set, but I always throw in a bootleg or two because they really go off. If people hear a Blur remix or a Red Hot Chilli Peppers one it just mixes it up a bit. I don’t do the whole set like that, but a good track’s a good track, you know? I’ll just try to keep it up and down and make it a bit of a journey.

Speaking of journeys, what made you pack your bags and leave The Prodigy?
After we did The Fat Of The Land I realised I’d had enough of it. It was turning into a rock band – Keith was less a dancer and more of a vocalist and it wasn’t the same. The space I used to take up on stage was being filled by drums and guitarists, and the dancing itself wasn’t a challenge any more. Meanwhile, I was doing live vocals for DJ Hyper, a breaks DJ, and that gave me much more of a buzz. I got back on stage when The Prodigy’s greatest hits album came out a few years ago and my body just went into autopilot.

Did you ever regret leaving?
No, it was the right time for the band as well as me. I knew I could DJ, too. And I wanted to explore music more and do normal things like play football without worrying about breaking my legs, or going to the shops without people bothering me. I used to look at my diary and think: the next seven months of my life are gone and there’s nothing I can do about it. Still, I’ve had an amazing life in and out of the band.

What did you think of the latest Prodigy album, Invaders Must Die?
I liked most of it. Liam’s gone for a bit of an old-school sound with lots of samples. Like all of Liam’s stuff, every bit’s a hook and the riffs are great. There’re a couple of tracks I don’t like – it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that – but it’s been written, like The Fat Of The Land and all the ones before that, for the live show. When you see them on stage performing it you realise exactly how good it is.

Leeroy Thornhill plays Sanctuary on July 10.

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