e’s the one with cat’s eyes contact lenses. The angry one. The scary one. The one you’d cross the street (in broad daylight) to avoid. Keith —- his partner in this year’s primo festival band The Prodigy just plays at being crazy. With his eyes ringed in black make-up. his head shaved to an inverted mohawk and dyed fluorescent green, and piercings everywhere. Keith looks like a bizarre caricature of techno madness. He’s a piece of performance art; an illustration of how we all might feel after too many nights on the razz.

But Maxim Reality Keeti Palmer to his friends is more intimidating for the fact that his attitude doesn’t come over like an act. He looks like he might be as obnoxious offstage as he is when he’s performing. Stomping across the sprawling stage at T in the Park last July, Maxim sported an impressive red ankle-length coat and an attitude that arched out across the length of Strathclyde Park. He screamed at the assembled masses in a way that made them thankful he was toting nothing more dangerous than a micrOphone.

But while Keith cavorted up and down the stage. flinging himself around with careless abandon to the thundering beats of musical mastermind Liam Howlett, Maxim preferred to strut coolly, spitting out lyrics or what pass for lyrics in Prodigy songs like he really wanted them to be soft-tipped bullets. As I said, scary.

But it’sjUSt an image. or so he maintains. ‘The contacts make me look like a cat. but I’m no tiger.’ he laughs. ‘Actually I’m a bit of a pussy- cat: in bed by nine with a glass of milk and an apple.’ As I try to see whether Maxim has slyly planted his tongue anywhere near his chiselled cheek-bone. he adds: ‘The stage act isjust that an act. It’s a release for me; a way for me to get

rid of pent-up energy and to express a side of my character that only belongs on stage.’

As an example, he cites the girl at the Reading festival who couldn’t get over the fact that he wasn’t a complete bastard. ‘She said she expected me to take a bite out of her,’ he recalls. ‘And it’s amazing how many people think that sort of thing about us. But really, we leave that stuff behind when we walk offstage. Away from the live shows. we’re all ordinary. go-down-the- pub blokes. Keith, Liam and I don’t want to be put on pedestals and looked up to as rock stars. We’re just a band who happen to put on a wicked live show and make great records.’

After a long summer spent making headline acts look dull at music festivals across Europe. and working on their long-awaited new album,

‘l’m a bit of a pussy-cat: in bed by nine with a glass of milk and an apple. The stage act is just that - an act.

It’s a release for me; a way for me to get rid of pent-up energy and to express a side of my character that only belongs on stage.’

The Prodigy are set to take that live show back out on tour this month. stopping off for two sold-out gigs at Glasgow’s Barrowland. And Maxim can’t wait to scare the shit out of his Scottish fans.

‘I love Scotland,’ he says. ‘The people are brilliant real party people. And we always have a really good time up there: the audiences are amazing, there are good places to hang out after the show even the weather is nice when we visit!’

After long weeks in the studio, he’s all fired up for a bit of live action. ‘l’m really looking


forward to getting back out on tour,’ he says. ‘lt’s really what The Prodigy are all about.

‘The festivals are a serious buzz. Appearing in front of a quarter of a million people at Knebworth was fucking amazing much better than sex . . . or equivalent to it at least. It’s great to appear in front of people who might not be therejust to hear your music. But I really enjoy the smaller gigs too. They have an intensity about them we can get closer to the audience. and the bass is that much fatter.’

It’s true. At the Phoenix festival. they rocked the main stage one night. and paid their dues in the Megadog dance tent another. Those who managed to catch both shows will testify to the difference. Up on the big stage. The Prodigy effect is diluted. For all the booming bass and onstage antics of Keith and Maxim. there’s something missing. And it’s only when you get to see them in a smaller. more enclosed space that you appreciate what the something is: menace.

Quite simply, the closer you get to this band the greater the threat, the bigger the buzz (as Maxim would say). It’s an effect they have worked hard to perfect. both in their live shows and on record. ‘That’s 'why it’s taken us a while to put the new album together.’ Maxim claims. ‘We could easily put out a record with nine good tracks and four fillers and make loads of money. But that’s not what The Prodigy are about. We want to make the best record we can, with thirteen brilliant tracks. And that’s what you will get in the New Year, when the record comes out. Until then there’s only the gigs and we want everyone to come and get a piece of us.’

The Prodigy play Glasgow Barrow/and on Wed 2 and Thurs 3 Oct. Their new album is due out early next year

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Flrestarters: but avoid leeroy, Marin. Ham and Keltb on Guy FMe’s night

' The List 20 Sept-3 Oct I996 '