"This is about 17 minutes long and it's my favourite ever chill-out track": The Prodigy's Liam Howlett on the Pink Floyd classics that changed his life

Liam Howlett, Pink Floyd
(Image credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

In February 1991, ahead of The Prodigy's first gig, at the Labyrinth Club (formerly known as the Four Aces) in Dalston, they were asked by the venue's owner what sort of band they were. "We said we wanted to be like one of the greats like The Pistols or The Clash or Pink Floyd," Keith Flint recalled. If comparisons to two of England's greatest punk bands started to make sense around the release of 1994's defiant Music For The Jilted Generation, the impact of the world's most famous progressive rock band on The Prodigy remained less immediately obvious. But the Essex band's musical mastermind Liam Howlett has always been happy to acknowledge Pink Floyd as one of the bands who changed his life.

In 1993, interviewed by MT (The Music Technology Magazine), Howlett was asked to name his favourite musical pioneer. His answer was "Pink Floyd". That same year, interviewed by Melody Maker for the magazine's 'Rebellious Jukebox', wherein artists were asked to nominate records that changed their lives, Howlett selected Animals, Floyd's tenth studio album, released in 1977, punk rock's banner year, and Echoes from Meddle, the band's sixth album, released in 1971. 

Speaking about Animals, Howlett said, "This is good for chilling out to. I like the fact that it's not your standard three-minute tracks, they're all like 12 minutes long. Forget The Orb, this is real ambient mellow-out music. When you listen to The Orb, it's like, yeah, they've listened to the Floyd albums, and they've taken those 'chilling out on a Welsh mountain top' ideas. But the Floyd are the originals."

Howlett goes on to describe Echoes from Meddle as "my favourite ever chill-out track... excuse the shit language." Telling the interviewer that the song is "about 17 minutes long" - it's actually 23.5 minutes long on Meddle, taking up the entire second side of the six-track album - the Braintree DJ says that he puts the song on "to go to sleep to" and suggests that it's also "pretty nice to drive to as well." Howlett had actually incorporated a sample from Echoes on Weather Experience on his band's debut album, Experience, a year earlier.

That Keith Flint was a Pink Floyd fan too was evident at his funeral, held on March 29,  2019, when a friend of the singer played an acoustic version of Wish You Were Here for mourners gathered inside and outside St. Mary's Church in Braintree. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.