Robbie Williams by Neil Tennant
Now That’s Entertainment – June 2000
Neil Tennant: How’re you doing?
Robbie Williams: I’m good. I’m just recording some vocals for my next album. Did you ever go through a section of your life where you were paranoid for about ten years?
NT: (laughs) No, I don’t think I did.
RW: Well, I’m in that now. I think everybody’s out to get me.
NT: Don’t be ridiculous.
RW: No, I do. But they’re not all out to get me, are they, Auntie Neil?
NT: No one’s out to get your Robbie, apart from Liam Gallagher. But that’s only because you’re out to get him. (laughs) How did that all start?
RW: I’ve always been a big fan of Oasis. When I first started out, Liam was everything that I wanted to be. And then the group started slagging me off in every interview, and it was like, “Fucking hell, what’ve I done?” So I retaliated in the only way I know best, which is to be thirteen about it.
NT: So if you weren’t a pop star, what do you think you’d be doing? Working at a chip shop in Stoke-on-Trent?
RW: I don’t know what I’d be doing, to tell you the truth. I’ve got to the point in my life where I realize I know how to do nothing at all.
NT: A great starting point. To me you look like an effortless performer.
RW: I’ve just come to the realization that I became a pop star because I didn’t want anybody to hurt me ever again.
NT: You went into a funny job for that. (laughs) Aren’t you just doing it because you love it?
RW: Well, I haven’t been enjoying it. But I haven’t been enjoying anything. I’ve been miserable. I’m having one of those days that turns into a few months where I wake up and go, “I’m shit.” And then I go and search out things on the Net that confirm I’m shit.
NT: I’ve seen things on the Net that say you’re brilliant.
RW: Do you think I am regarded as someone who goes and courts bad publicity?
NT: No, it’s just that you came up in a boy band. A boy band is 60 percent about sex, so you’ve got that focus anyway.
RW: The girls I’ve slept with do have a habit of turning up in the Sunday papers. But that’s all stopped now. Because of my new way of life and new regime, I can keep my penis in my pants.
NT: But do you enjoy that? (laughs) Is that the right place for your penis, Robbie?
RW: Well, I am enjoying it actually, because you get to that place where you’ve slept with everyone, and you know it doesn’t work for you.
NT: Did you go through a phase of massive promiscuity?
RW: Yeah, I did, which was what I thought I was supposed to do, and what I was able to do because it was given to me on a plate when I became a pop star. But it didn’t make me happy.
NT: Last week we were auditioning actors for a musical that we’re doing, and a guy came in whose audition piece was “Angels”.
RW: Was he charismatic? Did you feel as though he was singing it to you, in your home – like I do? (both laughs)
NT: I realized then that the song’s become a standard, and I felt a bit jealous. I don’t think we’re written a song that you could sing down at the pub, a real Shirley Bassey kind of thing.
RW: I read something the other day that said it’s the most played song at funerals, which I’m quite proud of. From Stoke-on-Trent and I’ve written this song that people play at their funerals. I find that very touching. And then underneath it, it said, second only to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” – which killed it dead for me. By the way, do you grind your teeth?
NT: Do you know what? I was at the dentist last week, and he told me I’ve started to grind my teeth!
RW: It’s a twenty-first century thing. I haven’t done any drugs or drunk for eight months, and I went to the dentist on Friday, and she’s like a pusher, she gave me gas and air. When I went under… ahhhh, it was wonderful. I was definitely gonna go out and score as soon as I got out. But I got off me chair and went out, and I couldn’t even talk or walk, so fortunately I’m still sober. I now have to construct a new way of thinking, a new way of life, because the one I had led me to being fucking miserable. When I cleaned up, I thought, Now is the time for something to give me unconditional love, and I will give it unconditional love back, and I thought, Well, that’s a dog.
NT: It’s definitely a dog.
RW: And I thought, I can’t have a small dog, because small dogs make you look as though you’re not hard. So I chose two of the biggest fuck-off dogs in the world: two Great Danes, Missy and Busta. At the time I was moving into a new house, and my old place didn’t have a garden, so these two dogs lived in my kitchen. And even at eight weeks old, they were the size of Labradors, and doing human-size turds. The first night they did twelve human-size turds, and my kitchen stank. The next day I woke, and they’d done another twelve – always twelve. By then I knew I wasn’t doing to be able to cope with it. So I went and gave the dogs back. And there was an eight-year-old girl there, who when I first went up to get the dogs, had clung to my leg and said, “Robbie, I love you!” And the next time I went back feeling deflated and beaten, she’d obviously been talking to her parents, and she grabbed my legs, looked up at me, and said (assumes taunting whisper), “You couldn’t handle it, could ya?”
NT: (laughs) It’s been lovely talking to you, Robbie.
RW: And you, Neil.
NT: It’d be nice to see you in London.
RW: All right mum, I’ll give you a ring. Lots of love.