An archive of interviews, reviews, features, news stories, etc. for the Nottingham 'Evening' Post dating back to 1993
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HE has gone AWOL and his PA suspects he is, in her words, “hanging out a window having a fag.”
“Mr Cook,” she bellows.
When Fatboy Slim finally arrives he insists that no-one in his employ is usually so respectful.
“She calls me a lot of things but let me be clear, no-one ever calls me Mr Cook,” laughs the 47-year-old.
To his staff, friends and family, including wife Zoe Ball, he is Norm.
Although, along the way, Surrey-born Quentin Leo Cook has used a number of pseudonyms, aside from Fatboy Slim. With 80s indie band The Housemartins he was simply Norman Cook, but as a dance music maker he has recorded as Pizzaman and with Freakpower, Mighty Dub Katz, Beats International and, most recently, Brighton Port Authority.
And he checks in to hotels as Michael Fish.
“Oh, thanks for outing my nom de plume,” he says.
That was in your local paper last month.
“Well, thanks to them in that case. I do use pseudonyms otherwise people come to your room at three in the morning expecting a party.”
It’s as Fatboy Slim that he returns to Nottingham next weekend -- and he’s not been here for a few years.
“I do all these beach parties around the world and sadly neglect parts of England. In fact I’m about to do my first show in Brighton this year.”
Which is odd because it’s his home town.
“So it’s not just Nottingham. This year I did the World Cup, I did two Formula 1s, South America, Glastonbury... I’ve done about 50 shows.”
The visit is a one-off special gig at Rock City as part of the venue’s 30th anniversary.
“It’s the first time I will have played there as Fatboy Slim.,” he says.
“The first time was during the hip-hop jam days, I played there with The Housemartins around ‘86, then I believe we did a Norman Cook International Roadshow, which was the forerunner to Beats International.
“Did Freakpower play there?” he wonders.
“It might well be one of those venues that I’ve played with every incarnation of my career, although not as Fatboy Slim - until now.”
He adds: “It’s a big occasion, the 30th birthday. And it’s fitting because my career is almost as long as Rock City is old.”
Although your surfaces aren’t as sticky.
“I don’t know, I have my moments.”
The show is under the banner of The Southern Fried Package.
“We obviously can’t bring the full production that I use for the beach or arena shows but we’re bringing as much as we can fit in there. It’s great to be more intimate.”
The sneaky cigarette break I catch him on is his only vice these days, having quit the booze early last year.
Wife Zoe was the catalyst. After a New Year’s Eve, the Radio 2 DJ said she found herself: “ranting in a corner to anyone who’d listen. I sat sobbing, knowing if I didn’t stop I’d end up in a mental home. I called a therapist I’d been seeing and asked for help.”
Two months later Cook also gave up.
“I realised it wasn’t going to work if I didn’t stop as well,” he says.
“But basically I think we’d just come to the end of our shelf life. We both gave it a good crack of the whip, left no stone unturned but we were getting to an age where it was beginning to hurt. We were worried about our health.
“It was a brave move to make. Especially in our profession.”
While Zoe simply stopped, he needed a spell in a Bournemouth clinic.
“I did a 28-day course. Zoe just stopped. She’s got more willpower than me. I tried stopping on my own a few times but it just didn’t work.”
And the rule is not to have a single drop. It was reported that for Zoe’s 40th last month she was at a party drinking non-alcoholic cocktails.
“It was quite a lifestyle shift for me at first but it’s coming up to two years so it’s all right.”
He adds: “I got Zoe pregnant again almost immediately, so that was possibly why we weren’t having another baby.”
He’s exchanged alcohol for running, completing the inaugural Brighton Marathon earlier this year.
“It’s not something I’d make a habit of, no,” he laughs.
“Never again. It took me five months of training because I’m not a natural runner. I’d never done anything like that before. But it was a fantastic adventure and it was great to do it my home town. We had to run past my house twice.”
And were Zoe and the kids in the window waving, eating cakes?
“Zoe and the whole family were out there waving me on in their Run Fatboy Run T-shirts.”
The couple, who live with their nine-year-old son Woody and ten-month-old daughter Nelly in Hove, East Sussex, now do the usual family activities when they’re not working.
“Although Nelly doesn’t do much at all really, apart from sit around and gurgle and she’s just experimenting with standing up.”
They’ll be spending Christmas and New year together in Brighton, then Florida, as he will be DJing a New Year’s Eve party in Miami.
Is Woody in to his music?
“Not really. With me and Zoe as parents he’s thinking that music isn’t that exciting and rebellious as it is for most kids.”
Dad is keen for Woody to become a regular at Brighton & Hove Albion, where he’s a shareholder.
“That’s my main hobby I suppose but watching it, rather than playing it.”
It has been suggested that the team come out to his track Right Here, Right Now but he’s not so sure.
“There’s a vote going on because we’ve got a new stadium next season. And there’s talk about what we’ll come out to. At the moment it’s Good Old Sussex By The Sea by a marching band from the 1920s. My vote is to keep that.
“Though I am intensely proud when I’m at football and I hear Right Here, Right Now. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck come up.”
The track was among those put forward by Notts County fans earlier this year for the team to come out to, although most votes went to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.
“I’d always vote to keep it local, although I’m not sure what the connection is between Bob Marley and Nottingham,” he laughs.
“What about Alvin Stardust?”
He continues to make music under the moniker Brighton Port Authority but his last new album was a rather bizarre collaboration with Talking Heads’ auteur David Byrne for the album Here Lies Love, described as a “disco opera” about Imelda Marcos.
Byrne has a reputation for being a little bonkers. How was he?
“He’s great. He is kooky but good kooky. In interviews he comes across as a bit awkward and shy but that’s all a front really. He’s a very intelligent man and a pleasure to work with. Although he doesn’t do anything the right way round and sometimes you’re thinking ‘what on earth are you doing?’. But eventually it all makes sense.”
He released a single earlier his year but there is no new album on the horizon.
“I’m doing a few collaborations that will come out next year but as singles. The idea of making an album is becoming increasingly redundant because it’s all about downloads. and dance music was never really about albums anyway.
“It’s nice to be off that album-tour-album-tour treadmill.”