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Fatboy Slim
Four years have passed since Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim released his last album Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars, an album that topped charts around the world and one that he toured with for nearly a year. When questioned about the title of his latest release, Palookaville, Cook explains that, “Palookaville is a nonsense destination cooked up by Marlon Brando.” He has other explanations for the name as well and apart from being the title of his latest album, Palookaville is also a concept that the artist will clearly be living with for some time.

Something happened to Cook in the time between his last release and his decision to go into the studio to begin work on this latest project. In the break he took after he was done promoting the previous album, he went from being a sample-based musician who was intensely focused on getting the music-buying public to shake their booty, to becoming an artist who wanted to work with real musicians and create songs instead of grooves. “It was a conscious decision to do something different. There are a few vocal guests on the last album but we didn’t really do songs, we just kind of did grooves. Whereas, now, it’s more like verse-bridge-chorus, verse-bridge-chorus, mid-late chorus, verse, fade, which is a classic pop structure.” This is not to say that the DJ has taken a backseat to the recording artist. It just seems that the master of reinvention was ready to try something new.
“My biggest inspiration was probably the time I spent with Blur”, he explains. He produced two tracks for the influential British band’s last album Think Tank. “In the past I’ve been used to working alone in the studio, slaving over a hot computer, trying to make music that had a human feel. Being around Blur reminded me that sometimes, all you need is humans. It’s a lot quicker and a lot more fun and because you can bounce ideas around, you end up with a sum of parts that is greater than what you could have achieved on your own. So I guess that was the gateway to Palookaville.”
Fatboy Slim is clearly defined by the people he works with, and concerned about the people he plays for. This is apparent by the constant efforts made to ensure that the various stops on his short tour of America to promote the new album are memorable. According to a press release, Metro in Chicago will be specially decorated for Fatboy Slim's appearance as the Palookaville train station. The set for the Fatboy Slim video Slash Dot Dash will be re-created for the tour's Toronto stop. In New York City, the setting will be a loft party. "Each stop on the Palookaville tour will be more outrageous than the one before," promises the press release. "Although any night with Fatboy is far from the ordinary, he's upped the bar once again by eschewing traditional clubs for some of the most unique venues and settings imaginable." Fatboy Slim is no stranger to large crowds at his live gigs. When he threw his second Big Beach Boutique in his hometown on Brighton in 2002, half a million people turned up and the party made national headlines because of stopped traffic, a disrupted rail network and diverted aircraft.
Also a part of the Fatboy Slim package has been the eye-popping videos that accompany and support the music. Be it the cowboy breakdancers in The Rockafeller Skank, the strange public dance performance in Praise You or Christopher Walken’s strange and disturbing turn as a twinkle-toed, middle-aged man in Weapon Of Choice. The video for the first single, Slash Dot Dash, is also distinctive, featuring two dancers, leaping frenetically from floor to wall to ceiling, scrawling felt-tip marker graffiti in time to the energetic music. “Slash Dot Dash is my homage to the Internet and websites and general computer things, which I’m famously not into. The title is just a comment on this new language people seem to have. I don’t understand it myself, but then I don’t even own a computer. Well, I do, the Atari in my studio, but no-one ever sent me an email on that.” He may not be into the culture but he seems to have an understanding of the energy and also some of the futility inherent in living life at constant breakneck speed.

You can read the rest of our feature on Fatboy Slim in the December 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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