The Prodigy photographed by Ian Davies / Switzerland 11th January 1996 / http://www.fouziamadani.com/collective
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‘I am not sure if it was for my benefit or the journalist I was travelling with, but our journey from Geneva airport to Leysin to interview and photograph The Prodigy was one I will not forget. Travelling with an over zealous record company PR to the summit of some mountain in Leysin while listening ON A LOOP and at FULL VOLUME to the The Prodigy’s (soon to be released) new track ‘Firestarter’, was making me feel really ill. I love the track, but not 10 to 15 times in an hour and with all the winding roads up the mountain – this didn’t help. By the time we had reached the mountain top I was ready to puke. By this point I had ‘Firestarter’ still rattling in my head even though the car had stopped and the car stereo was now switched off.
After arriving at the lodge where the band were staying it started to get better; everyone was really friendly and welcoming and the band were straight away ready and up for doing photographs.
The Prodigy were in Switzerland to do a music festival and to appear on a TV show as well as to do some press for the magazine I was shooting for. Although I was going to be at the location for 24 hours I knew that it could get busy at any moment so I suggested we shoot some indoor portraits and as a last opportunity for the night that we could shoot some band shots outside in the snow. It was pitch black outside, so I thought this might be the best time to shoot snowball fights. The band seemed to really enjoy pushing snow in each other’s faces and because of this I think they must have found me quite fun to work with and therefore they invited me to go out with them to a local night club. The drinking that went on that night in the club was way too much; it was a free bar and no one held back. Finally in the early hours of the morning everyone staggered back to their apartments to be ready for the next day photo shoot.
Now, I don’t know how, but when I woke up a few hours later I was feeling ok but unfortunately for the producer of the scheduled interview for the TV show, Liam Howlett was not. With constant delays occurring, the TV interview had to go ahead without Liam. My return flight was not until the evening and I was able to spend the morning just documenting the other band members around the house. I was though pretty worried as I thought: ‘there goes my photo shoot of the whole band together if Liam was going to be in bed all day being ill.’ Thankfully someone had told him that I was really looking to shoot the whole band and eventually a very ill looking Liam Howlett must have somehow crawled out of his bed just so we could get the full band together for the photo shoot. Once up and around his band mates and no doubt with a little help from the Swiss fresh air, Liam seemed to keep improving and it was not long before he suggested we all go snowboarding.
So there we were all on a journey further up the mountain to get to the snowboarding area. I travelled up in a cable car with a very relaxed Keith Flint doing my best not to look down and with Keith doing his level best to reassure me that the cable car was not going to crash or drop into one of the mountains. Bloody scary those cable cars! But once up at the main snowboarding area it was fun. The band were loving the snowboarding and every time they came to the area where I was stood, they would help me by just passing close enough so I could get the close up snowboarding shots. It was great fun shooting this band and doing my first shoot on a snow capped mountain and although I was feeling quite relaxed thinking I had enough shot work, I was kind of wishing I could stay out there longer. Unfortunately the deadline for the magazine was nearing so it was back to London.
Some weeks later after the success of ‘Firestarter’ that had rocketed the band from cult status to internationally known artists, I received a call from Liam , who by now had seen the photo shoot, he thanked me for the time we’d spent during the shoot and the photographs. The band were at No1 in the charts at this point and I was thinking it was pretty cool and thoughtful of Liam, at what must have been a busy time for him, to take the time to ring and say thanks.’ Ian Davies © 2014
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