Fresh from his Grammy win for Best Short Form Music Video, Fatboy Slim – a.k.a. Norman Cook – is touring the U.S. looking for samples, prepping for the follow-up to 2000’s Halfway Between the Gutters and the Stars. “I just generally needed the turnover of new source material to work with, and L.A.’s a good place to do it,” Cook says.
“I’m just looking for weird noises and little loops. I tend to go on the haircuts on the [album] sleeve. It’s got to be 1970 to 1976. Pre-1970s production wasn’t really too hot, and post-’76 everyone went disco. So the year it came out, and if it’s like a thirteen-piece multi-racial band with afros, and it’s forty-nine cents, I’ll buy it.”
Cook is taking time off between his short club stint in support of latest mix effort, Live on Brighton Beach, to search for sounds for the album he hopes to begin work on later this year. “I’m aiming to start it after the summer, so it’ll probably be out next year,” he says. “But I’m in no real hurry at the moment. As soon as I do the album, then I’m committed to seven months traveling and promoting it, away from my son. So it’s been kind of nice getting back to being Norman again and doing other things, like the Blur thing.”
The “Blur thing” will be Cook’s debut role as producer for the British pop quartet that features Gorillaz’s man-behind-the-screen Damon Albarn. “This is the first proper band that I’ve properly produced,” Cook says. “I’ve kind of dabbled in odd tracks, but I’ve never actually sat down with a band and done a whole album before that. I’ve never had time before.”
Cook hopes he’ll be able to assume that producer role in the coming months thanks to Albarn’s proclamation at last month’s Brit Awards that he had finished fourteen Blur demos. But don’t expect his presence to turn the guitar group synthetic. “The idea is not for me to turn them into a dance band,” he says. “It’s just for me to bring something to the table. They’ve been working together for ten or twelve years, and they just wanted somebody from outside to bring something new to the table.”
In the meantime, Cook is planning a summer outing that will shadow England’s World Cup soccer team through the event’s host country, Japan. “That’s hopefully going to be quite a laugh,” he says. “I’m very big in Japan and I love traveling in Japan, and the idea of combining that with the World Cup just seemed perfect. So I’ll be there for three and a half weeks playing all the cities England are playing the night before.”