THE walls in the Prodigy's dressing room are vibrating. The sonic boom of the funk drenched breaks, rolling b-lines and super sharp lyrics of The Beastie Boys' 'The Move' rumble through the floor, sending shock waves through those present. In one corner wild eyed MC Maxim leans forward, head nodding to the beats. Programme rocker Liam Howlett stands next to him clutching a bottle of water and smiling with full appreciation of the ear-splitting grooves. Standing hunched over the CD mixer, gargantuan dancer Leeroy Thornhill inserts another disc. With a flick of the wrist he cuts from The Beasties into the dope 'Bring Hip Hop Back' by Cypher Complete from the 'Lyricist Lounge' compilation. As the smoke from the spliff hanging between his lips smarts his eyes, Leeroy cuts between two CDs in an attempt at virtual-scratching... and loses it completely. "Ah fuck it!" he laughs as he quickly pushes the volume control and sends the subsonics dangerously close to ear bleed level. Liam laughs, guitarist Gizz Butt pops his head through the door to check out what the commotion is about and Maxim moves forward to take control of the decks. All the while Keith Flint lies stretched out on a sofa, semi-comatose beneath a sleeping bag, seemingly oblivious to the Prodigy's own private mixing championships raising the roof off the proverbial sucker. Only a few months ago he declared "I just love the energy - no, I love the fatigue of it all." Today however the fatigue - or boredom - of constant gigging seems to have worn him out. Add to this the obvious malaise that's hit both band and crew and the odds don't look too good for that infamous Prodigy buzz.
"Actually we've just to decided to stop gigging," Liam reveals, "We're going to finish the dates left and then knock it on the head." For someone who has lived his life for the adrenalised rush of performing live the look of relief on Liam's face is surprising. But there's a very real reason why the band need to stop. For starters Liam is itching to get back in the studio to record some new tracks. Whether or not Liam is planning a new Prodigy album is however still a mystery. At this point he's simply aiming to get recording again.
"I reckon the only reason I put the last album out was because the press were constantly on my back about it," he says, "There were tracks which I never got round to finishing which I might go back to. At the time though the press just kept going on about an album, and until that point I hadn't even thought about one. I was just making tracks and... well, snowboarding really." Not that any of the band have had much time to indulge in snowboarding recently with their punishing schedule. Which brings us back to the Belgian port of Zebrugge where the backstage area - constructed with the flimsiest pre-fab behind the main stage - is bustling with the other bands on the bill. Artists inspired by the Prodigy's live approach, like Headrillaz and The Freestylers hang out with Aphrodite, Natural Born Chillaz and Dust Junkies. No doubt one of the attractions is Nicky 'MC Tunes' Dust's supply of killer grass. More likely is the presence of Natalie Imbruglia who sits with the breakbeat massive. Tongues everywhere are drooling. And the Prodge and entourage are no exception. Rewind the clock a few hours and Keith could be found hanging out by Natalie Imbruglia's production room.
"Just give me a moment with her," he laughs. Sadly, when his chance came in the bar he was nowhere to be seen. This band really need a rest.
The Prodigy continue