Fatboy Slim: Over the years I’ve had a fantastic rollercoaster
In the late nineties Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook, born Quentin Leo Cook) stormed the charts with his second album You’ve Come a Long Way Baby. The press have reported a more tumultuous lifestyle since the height of his critical claim, and in 2009 his performance at Snowbombing was cancelled due to a stay in rehab. Fortunately, the DJ was back on form for the following year, and as one of the festival’s most popular DJs, returned again last week to host the street party. Here, he discusses why he and Zoe Ball chose to stay out of the Leveson inquiry, and why they’re happy to leave the press attention to Adele.
With your new show on Xfm, were you given any specific rules on what to do and what not to do?
No, not really, the idea was that I said as little as possible and I would kind of do voiceovers but what I didn’t have time to do was deliver the shows every week and talk over them. Basically I can do them on the fly when I’m travelling and email it back to them. Which is great and really liberating. I don’t like to be shackled by the idea of being a radio DJ, I’ll leave that to the wife.
House music’s taken a long time to break in America, why do you think that is?
It’s taken a long time because fundamentally they don’t have a club culture there. And so they’ve kind of gone the R&B and pop route, which is good but I’m not sure about them renaming it EDM – they keep saying “You’re EDM”‘ and I’m like “What’s that?” Better late than never, I think. The most ironic thing is that most of what we do was invented by black, gay Americans in the first place. It was just too black and too gay for them. Also, there’s that perennial thing from the Beatles and the Stones of us investigating black music, doing a kind of white/European version of it and selling it back to the Americans.
You’ve spoken before about press intrusion and how you’ve held back in interviews in the past. Do you feel less wary of what you say now?
I’m still quite wary of what I say and now my son’s old enough to read things you’ve got to be even more careful. There’s a difference between what you say and intrusion. The intrusion bit’s not too bad at the moment as me and Zo’ have kind of taken our foot off our careers – so we leave that to Adele down the road to soak up all that. Which we’re quite happy to duck! We’re quite happy as we get older that were not tabloid fodder in the way that we used to be. But you know you still have to be guarded taking your clothes off in public.
Do you do that often then?
I don’t normally take my clothes off on a public beach. There are places you know they take it – I don’t want my gut hanging out all over Hello! magazine!
Your phone was bugged a while ago. What do you think should come out of the Leveson inquiry?
Obviously I’m not in favour of people bugging your phone. Me and Zo’ didn’t want to rake up old coals so we didn’t want to get involved, or moan about it. I think it’s brave of the people that did stand up, as they’re kind of under double scrutiny. It’s part of the job and part of the society we live in.
But should it be?
No. It’s completely wrong.
If you want to work in the industry does it mean you should be targeted in the press?
In a perfect world, no. I just assumed it happened to everyone and we were aware that it was illegal but we knew we couldn’t catch them. I’m quietly enjoying watching a lot of people squirm and get arrested.
If you could start out again, is there anything you’d warn yourself about?
Not really, no. Over the years I’ve had a fantastic rollercoaster. If I had got it right immediately I think that would have taken some of the fun out of it in my later career. And if I’d been as famous as I became when me and Zo’ got together and the Fatboy Slim thing, if that’d happened to me when I was 20, I think I would probably have gone nuts. I think there’s been a nice peak to it – you’ve gotta have some lows to appreciate the highs – and no, I don’t think I’d change much about it. Actually, I would have had my photo taken with Madonna when we were hanging out together. It was the first time she had played in England and I was sharing a dressing room with her and she had the classic string vest and everything. That’s my only regret.
What is it about Snowbombing that keeps you coming back each year?
What I love about it is just there’s a vibe like no other. It’s kind of like Glastonbury on ice. And all the people are absolutely committed in the same way that people at Glastonbury don’t worry about a bit of mud. People here don’t worry about a lack of sleep. You know, I kind of assumed that people either go out or go snowboarding, but these people go out and then snowboard and then go out and then do the same again. They’re a hardy breed. There are very few festivals that just have that same feeling of community that comes from a shared experience as mental as this.
If you could make a new oxymoron for your stage name, what would it be?
The reluctant showoff.
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