After phenomenally successful Big Beach Boutique shows on the pebbles of Brighton seafront, Fatboy Slim makes a hometown comeback with Big Beach Bootique 5, two nights of DJ goal-lagging at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium
Slashing rain, and Brighton & Hove Albion in their new Amex Stadium are running out of viable ideas against a determined West Ham side whose average height seems to be that of King Friedrich Wilhelm I’s Prussian Infantry Regiment No 6 – the “Potsdam Giants”. Nil-one and an electronic indicator reveals to the assembled 20,686 that there will be eight minutes of injury time. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has sworn at the fourth official at every juncture during the 90 minutes – world-class foulmouths can be entertaining ogres – and he swears again: “F*** that!” Brighton boss Gus Poyet, who had earlier blown a raspberry at the fourth official, now applauds and begins whistling at his players like they are obedient working dogs. But Brighton haven’t the rufty-tuftiness to break down that great, claret, Sbobet-sponsored wall. West Ham are impenetrable, a Thames Barrier across the seasider’s turf.
In the 99th minute, the whistle squeaks three times, but there are no groans, just acceptance. It’s been a frustrating night for home fans – Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, included – but these are heady days for the Gulls, residing in the top half of the Championship. It was only 13 years ago that Brighton hosted Doncaster Rovers while groundsharing at Gillingham, 23rd and 24th respectively – the Devil’s end of the League – and fought out a staggeringly symptomatic 0-0 where neither side managed to hit each others’ corner flags, never mind the goal.
Norman Cook has been a Brighton fan for almost 30 years, so there is a certain synergy to hosting his forthcoming summer shindig, Big Beach Bootique 5, at the Amex on 1-2 June 2012. Bootique. Boot. Football. As for Cook, he remains this country’s prime DJ draw, a guaranteed good time. According to data analysis experts Prozone, when playing at home, you can expect 20.6 per cent more shots than your opponents. So expect to see the refreshed, teetotal, superfit Fatboy Slim firing big-hitters from all angles.
That was a tough game, Norman.
Yes it was.
Do you get animated at matches and shout a lot?
I normally do. I was put off today because I watched a lot of the game from the tunnel and not my normal seat. That can upset your equilibrium, but it’s been an exciting match.
Do you get to see most games?
Yes, most home games. I’ve been to every one apart from Leeds this season. For that game I was playing in Belgrade. I got them to put up a big screen in my dressing room so I could watch it. But apart from that, I’ve been to every single one of them.
What are your thoughts on the new stadium?
It’s beautiful isn’t it? It’s fantastic.
We hear there’s going to be more development going on, like filling out the corners of the stand and adding more seats.
That’s right, filling in three of the corners and then building another tier in the East Stand.
What will the capacity be then?
Thirty-two thousand, I think, which was always there in the plans but we didn’t think we’d be doing it after one season.
Thirty-two thousand might be a problem for your Big Beach Bootique 5 in June. Are you going to be upping the capacity to that of the Maracana?
No, sadly a fire limit’s a fire limit. Obviously you can get far more standing on the pitch than you can sitting in the stands. But the fire limit is 23,000, so we’ve got to stick to that. Which is why we’re doing two nights.
Are you not allowed to play Brighton beach any more?
They’re not saying we’re not allowed, it’s just too difficult, because you have to shut the road off – and it depends if the council really want me to do it. They won’t ban me from doing it, but they make it too difficult and expensive. And we’ve kind of outgrown that now. We’ve done four.
Did it surprise you the amount of people who turned up to your previous beach shindigs? London de-camped to Brighton when you were playing.
The second one, the really big one, that caught everyone sort of mouths open.
What was it, quarter of a million people?
They reckon. It was too many to count, but the police say it was about a quarter of a million.
Bigger than that year’s Glastonbury.
Yes, it was a fairly mental evening.
You’re looking in great shape at the moment. Have you lost weight?
I’ve lost some weight, yes. I quit drinking and then I did a marathon.
You do marathons now?
Well, no, I did one marathon. But I do half-marathons.
Is the fitness regime a recent development?
Yes, since I quit drinking. It was the year before last that I did the Brighton one. So it means I’ve had a bit of a lifestyle change and hopefully I’m looking better on it.
But you’re still doing lots of DJing. Does your teetotal status change the way you approach a gig?
Not completely. The basic basis is the same, but it’s a lot easier when you’re not drinking because you haven’t got a hangover every morning. It’s physically less demanding. Because of that, you’re not feeling rubbish from the night before, so you’re fresher. But at the same time, I feed off the crowd and as soon as I’m out on the stage, all of a sudden I feel and act about 17 again. So that’s what’s keeping me young these days. It’s not the marathons, it’s the gigs.
Were you ever too hammered to DJ?
I don’t think I was ever too hammered to DJ, but I definitely tried. If there was such a thing as being too hammered to DJ, I definitely gave it a good shot. I found I’d get to a point where I couldn’t stand or talk but I could still DJ.
It’s in my blood.
With the likes of the Stone Roses, New Order and Steps getting back together, has there been a call from Paul Heaton you need to tell us about?
No, no – we made a pact that we never would. We actually met up for the 25th anniversary of (the Housemartins’) London 0 Hull 4. We met up, had lunch and did a little interview together and we all looked at each other and went, “Are we still sticking to the pact of not reforming?” And everyone said, “Yes”. So definitely not! But I mean, you never say never…
So you’re saying the Housemartins might get back together?
I said never say never.
So you might?
Well, never never say never, then.
I’m glad we cleared that up. With Big Beach Bootique 5, what are the plans? Are you going to have other DJs or is it just going to be you?
On the Friday night it’s me and Carl Cox, and there will be others, but we’re not announcing them yet.
So it’s a full weekend?
Just a Friday and Saturday. And then on the Saturday night it’s Nero. That’s the main guest. So Friday night will be house night and Saturday more bass-, dubsteppy-orientated.
Is there a late licence?
No, sadly it’s 10.30pm. Doors are at 3pm on both days but it probably won’t kick off on the Friday till later because people have got work and go to school and stuff. But yes, we start at 3pm on the Saturday.
Have you had a sweepstake of how quickly it’s going to sell out?
We honestly don’t know. It’s one of the things we’ve been worrying about in the last two weeks. It looks good on paper but in this climate will it sell out? You just never know until it happens and hopefully you’re happily surprised and not the other way. You can’t take anything for granted. But if every single person who’s asked me “When are you doing another beach party?” or if everyone who says “You should do a gig at the Amex Stadium, that’s a great idea”, if they all bought a ticket it would sell out by tomorrow lunchtime.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
On duty, I go through everything and just find the bits that I want, you know, dance music. Then off duty I listen to really old stuff, like old blues, pre-war blues, ska, Beatles, anything that doesn’t sound like what I do for a living.
But you don’t mix the two?
No, I like to separate the music for my own personal pleasure and work stuff. Even though I love the music I play for work, it’s nice to have something where you switch off and you can actually listen to without your DJ’s head on, just purely for your own enjoyment.
Is “Everybody Needs A 303” from your 1996 album Better Living Through Chemistry one of the best records ever made? It still sounds modern and it doesn’t seem to age.
“Everybody Needs A 303”? Cos I’ve been playing “Everybody Loves A Carnival”, a kind of samba carnival remix. Maybe if you’re getting bored of the original you can move on to that.
The Plump DJs did a great remix of it as well.
Yes – I can still listen to “303”. There’s the “303” a cappella, and I can still listen to that, on it’s own without the drums, and it still turns me on.
Mark E Smith describes Brighton as a “modern cultural prison”. Is this true?
Ha-ha, is that what he said? Brighton is still pretty cool, it’s still a fashionable beach resort and it’s still full of hedonists, ne’er-do-wells, anarchists, gays and muesli eaters. There is definitely an open-minded attitude in Brighton and I’m very proud of that.
And you’re here for good?
I think so, yes. I can’t see myself going anywhere.