The Prodigy talk FMF 2013: “We’ve got the ultimate set now”

There’s only a handful of bona-fide festival headliners in dance music, and The Prodigy is one of them. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen the juggernaut headed by Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality in Australia, but fans now have March 2013 locked in for a raucous return. Earlier this week, The Prodigy was of course announced at the top of the line-up for Future Music Festival – if you somehow missed the big news, don’t waste another moment. While the group has headlined the festival before, this time will be something bigger: an entire Warrior’s Dance arena curated by The Prodigy.

Soon after the line-up landed on inthemix, we got on the phone to Maxim to hear all about the FMF game-plan. As expected, the guys are ready to unleash. The Warrior’s Dance concept began in 2009 with a festival in Tokyo, with The Prodigy hand-picking Pendulum, MSTRKRFT and AutoKratz as support acts. In 2010, they raised the stakes considerably with an immense takeover of Milton Keynes Bowl in the UK, drawing a home crowd of over 65,000 up-for-it punters. Pendulum was again on the line-up, along with Chase & Status, Enter Shikari and several more, while a second stage showcased everything from the punchy dubstep of Caspa to hardcore punk outfit Gallows. The band filmed their landmark show for the live DVD World’s On Fire, and you can witness the madness of Omen and Breathe below.

Just last month, Warrior’s Dance took over a fortress in Belgrade for 20,000 Serbian nutters, and the next stop is Future Music Festival. Bringing “hard-edged and heavy bass-driven music” to the Warrior’s Dance mainstage, it’s going to be riotous from the get-go, courtesy of Borgore, Kill The Noise, Zeds Dead, Feed Me (in his new ‘With Teeth’ stage show) and Boys Noize with ‘The Skull’ live set-up. The Prodigy is currently working on its sixth studio album, and the set-list is always being honed. “We’ve got to be able to play every track live,” Liam Howlett explained earlier this year. “It’s got to give us that feeling onstage. The way I see it, [the new album] will have the darker undertones and the anger of …Jilted Generation but with the urgency of Take Me To The Hospital and the ‘big-ness’ of Omen. It won’t be so much like Warrior’s Dance. It’s going to heavier.”

“We have got the ultimate set now: we’ve been working on it for 20 years! We don’t just go through the motions of performance.”

We wanted to hear from Maxim how things are feeling inside The Prodigy live unit in 2012. “When we played in Serbia, we felt like it was the best ever,” Maxim told inthemix this week. “People were coming up to us and telling us it was the best performance they’ve seen us do. We’re weaving in new tracks as they’re written, just testing them in the set. If they don’t work, we get rid of them. That’s how we test new songs, until we’ve got the ultimate set. We have got the ultimate set now: we’ve been working on it for 20 years! The set gets longer and it’s always evolving. It has to be energetic and fresh for us.

“We’re an honest band. We don’t just go through the motions of performance. We have to enjoy it. We’re not a boy band. It’s about performance, it’s about energy, and relaying that to the crowd. People today know what they want, and they can see what’s real and what’s not. They can see the realness in our performance.”

One hallmark of The Prodigy live show is how Howlett and co. update their timeless tracks, adding a new bassline or an unexpected change-up. The fans can’t get enough of hearing the Prodigy classics done live – and neither can the band itself. “Some of the classic tunes like Smack My Bitch Up will just never die, energy-wise,” Maxim told us. “I just can’t get bored of that song when it kicks in. My kids listen to the CD around the house, they’re like, ‘Dad, can you put that song on please?’ But the only time I hear it otherwise is when I’m on-stage. It’s such a release to hear that song. I never, ever get bored of it. As I said, we’re honest: if we did get bored of it, we’d take it out.

“Obviously the feedback you get from the crowd is just in-your-face. I remember playing in the Boiler Room in Australia and when we played Smack My Bitch Up, and when that tune kicks in, it’s just like thousands of people jumping in a sauna. It’s the best feeling ever. I just love it. We just want to bring people to our stage at Future Music Festival – we can’t wait for you to hear the new tracks and experience the whole new Prodigy vibe we’re bringing. We’re stoked, man.”