Smacking Their Bliss Up

According to frontman Liam Hewlett, people have the Prodigy all wrong. Hewlett laments about how the media struggle to categorize the trio, sometimes calling it a punk band, sometimes calling it heavy metal, constantly trying to squeeze it into genres in which it doesn't quite fit. Since the group's break into the mainstream in the mid-Nineties, the Prodigy has learned to deal with being misread, but Hewlett insists that, despite having one video banned from MTV, the band is not purposely controversial and, despite publicly stating an unwillingness to work with her, does not hate Madonna.

"I'm really tired of journalists asking that question," Hewlett said by phone while in his London studio. "[Madonna's] music wasn't what we were listening to. I wasn't into it then, and I see no reason to be into it now." The record label that distributes the Prodigy's music in the United States was founded by Madonna.

The band was born in 1990 during the rise of the East London warehouse rave scene. Liam Hewlett, producer and mastermind behind the band, began as a DJ who garnered a name for himself by spinning hard-hitting breaks. Keith Flint and Maxim Reality befriended Hewlett through mutual admiration of break music, soon forming a group whose sound is described as heavy-metal guitar riffs mixed with break and hip-hop beats. Flint and Reality's vocals and Hewlett's production separated the group from anything anyone else was doing in dance music. "I was into the Sex Pistols and Public Enemy," Hewlett said of the music that influenced the band's sound. "Since creating music is my profession, I do not particularly listen to it for leisure. I don't like today's form of music. Music of the past is what inspires me; going through records and searching for obscure sound is what I really do outside of actually making music."

The Prodigy's first release was the What Evil Lurks EP, followed in 1992 by a debut album titled Experience. Music for the Jilted Generation came next, but it was the followup, Fat of the Land, that gave birth to the amazing banned-from-MTV, first-person-perspective, sex-and-violence-filled video for the song Smack My Bitch Up. The Prodigy bandmates were superstars. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004) was their fourth album, and in the United Kingdom seven months ago their latest disc, Their Law, was released, owing to what Hewlett describes as record-label obligations, as a compilation of new and old material, and sold an impressive two million units. The album was released in the United States last month.

Hewlett says the Prodigy will be around "until some other band throws [it] off the radar," but the group will always be known as a pioneer, and its influence can be heard in countless new artists.

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Isnel Othello