Having sold 80 million records and raised millions for charity, Robbie Williams is completely engrossed in the idea of chivalry.
And the Stoke-born superstar doesn’t want to sit around doing nothing.
In an intimate interview before the release of new album XXV, the 48-year-old musician says: “Sir Robbie would be great.
“But is it necessary to get the WTO before that? Because I can’t be an ass.
“If it’s OBE, CBE, then I won’t show up. Straight to the knights.
The new album, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of his solo career after leaving Take That in 1995, took three years to prepare.
And if that brings him to number 14 on the UK album charts upon release on September 9th, he will pass Elvis Presley, with whom he shares the record as a solo artist.
So does Robbie think he’ll catch up with the King?
He says: “He doesn’t stay dead, he keeps releasing a new album. It’s like mouse and cheese. He says, “Okay,” and then the cheese goes even further.
“I STILL DIGGED THE OASIS”
“This is another dizzying moment in my life. I’m so glad it’s me, but I don’t understand why.
“Everything that has happened in my life, I still do not understand.
“That being said, I’m really ambitious and really competitive, and I really want that. Watch out, Elvis.”
Robbie does his best self-deprecation while sitting in the penthouse at the Arts Club in central London, a private club that is no stranger to hosting musicians presenting their latest albums.
“It’s only mine for an hour,” Robbie jokes, reclining on the large couch in the room.
It’s been two days since he played in front of 20,000 fans at Vale Park, home of his beloved Port Vale football club.
The full house was rescheduled due to the pandemic.
Robbie says: “I didn’t know how I would feel because I was gone for 30 years.
“Driving through the city and seeing the garlands – I believe it was for me and not for the queen – and seeing all the messages, I felt blessed.
“It was a homecoming and I had to treat it a certain way, and I wasn’t sure I would, but I did.
“It was the most relaxed time I’ve been on stage, fooling around on stage with 20,000 buddies.”
He adds that one of the highlights was the performance of Oasis’ 1995 hit Don’t Look Back In Anger, showing that he was a big fan of Liam and Noel Gallagher.
The brothers, however, have not always been such compliments: this year, Noel called Robbie’s record-breaking song “Angels” an “Oasis in numbers”.
Sir Robbie would be great. But is it necessary to get the WTO before that? Because I can’t be an ass.
A deadpan Robbie comments: “Well, it’s as free as it gets. This is really high praise, so I’ll take it.
“I’m a big fan of Oasis. Nostalgia still pays off. I’m still the same man but sober, mentally 22 years old and still a big fan of Oasis.
“Regardless of what has been said and what has been done, I still love the band.”
How about going back to Knebworth, like Liam, who played two sold-out shows there over the weekend?
Oasis played two iconic shows there in 1996 and Robbie played three shows in a row in 2003.
“I’m sure we’d be fine if we sold the tickets cheaper,” Robbie jokes before adding, “I’m sorry, I’m bitchy.”
For his latest album, Robbie re-recorded 18 of his biggest hits with the Metropole Orkest, the world’s leading pop and jazz orchestra.
“I’M JUST IDIOT”
His huge 1997 track “Angels” was remastered along with “Love My Life”, “Come Undone”, “Rock DJ” and “Millennium”.
But Robbie says he almost gave up on “Millennium”, which in 1998 became his first solo song, propelling him to number one.
He adds: “This album gives me the opportunity to look back and think, ‘Oh, this is crap.’ Or: “I was fine.” Or: “That’s good.”
Millennium is crap. “We have stars that control our destiny,” don’t we? We pray it’s not too late? We? We know we’re losing grace? We? Millennium. It made sense at the time.”
Fans will also rejoice at the new song Lost on the album. And three more – Disco Symphony, More Than This and The World And Her Mother – in the deluxe edition.
I’m a big Oasis fan. Nostalgia still pays off. I’m still the same man but sober, mentally 22 years old and still a big fan of Oasis.
Robbie says: “I used to feel like a charlatan because of massive albums.
“I would have thought, ‘I don’t deserve this. The people who deserve it are Prince and George Michael. I’m just an idiot from Stoke fooling around.”
“And I think I’ve been trying to prove myself right or wrong for these 25 years. And I still do, to a certain extent.
“But it’s not a driver these days. I control these days.
“I don’t need to pay attention to feelings of inferiority or be a charlatan. If you put it all in a box, physically, emotionally, in terms of happiness and contentment, it will be the best thing I have ever had.
“I just did this TV show (Reel Stories) with Dermot O’Leary and I was playing Glastonbury and I was like, ‘I’m a hell of a lot better than him’ – and that was me!
“I feel like I’m much better than before in everything except math and Spanish.”
On the cover of XXV, Robbie poses nude in a recreation of Rodin’s The Thinker.
Is his decision to undress fueled by this newfound confidence?
“It’s amazing what you can do with computers these days,” says Robbie shyly.
The change in his worldview came about thanks to his wife, American TV presenter and Loose Women star Ida Field, with whom he had just returned to the UK after several years living in Los Angeles and Switzerland.
Married in 2010, Robbie and Ida, 43, have four children: Theodora, nine; Charles, seven; Coco, three; and Bo, two. And Robbie says the kids are driving him today.
I don’t need to pay attention to the feeling of insecurity or the fact that I am a charlatan. If you put it all in a box, physically, emotionally, in terms of happiness and contentment, it will be the best thing I have ever had.
He adds: “Dad goes to work. As I go to work, I completely box what I do.
“It wasn’t like that before, it was like, ‘What the fuck is this?
“Now I put it in a box, dad went to work, now I have a focus point.
“I LOVE EUROVISION”
“There is a tour planned, but I am trying to figure out how to go on tour and become a father.
“I was watching an interview with an actor and he said he didn’t see his kids grow up.
“Coming out of Covid, where I spent two and a half years with them, and now I’m going to do my job again. . .
“It’s a Rubik’s Cube that constantly brings up new things for you to figure out.”
But Robbie doesn’t feel like he needs to figure out what his career will be like for the rest of his life. After parting ways with his Take That bandmates, he went on to have such a successful solo career that he broke countless records, including with his 18 Brit Awards.
Robbie says: “I look at people all the time and think, ‘What’s going on?’
“Rod Stewart is still Rod Stewart and he still plays on the O2. And he plays the O2 version in Texas and Chile and then all these places around the world.
“You say, ‘I think I’m actually fine.’ There is always a place for me, and that’s good.”
But he still has things he wants to achieve, including getting on the Eurovision stage.
He says: “I love Eurovision. I’m a big fan. I already wrote down my name. Not to represent the UK, but to play at halftime like Justin Timberlake did.
“I would take some of that. Nobody did it, and then Justin did it.
“I wrote down my name and I heard it might be in Ukraine. I’m still going. I want to do it.”
IMAGINE taking your best selling single of all time, re-recording it and making it sound even better than the original.
Robbie did just that by reworking Angels, now with more impressive vocals and better musicianship than the 1997 original.
They say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, but Robbie has turned that on its head by successfully remastering 18 of his most popular songs.
“Let Me Entertain You” is a big upbeat ballad, while “Millennium”, a track Robbie says he now hates, is backed by melodic strings.
The opening of Supreme is reminiscent of a Bond movie tune, but the remastered version of Come Undone is even stronger.
She’s The One showcases Robbie’s mature yet equally impressive range.
He’s only two years under 50, but Robbie’s vocals and songwriting prowess are still a force to be reckoned with.
Fans will get four new tracks on the Deluxe Version XXV.
But Lost, which is also featured on the standard album, is outstanding.
The song is different from Robbie’s usual upbeat style, but there is a method to this madness.
“I noticed that I haven’t been as successful since I was happy, so for this song, I went back into depression,” he explains.
“I visited this station.”
And trust me, he’ll have no problem getting any of us on board.
- let me entertain you
- Come undone
- Love my life
- Road to Mandalay
- To trip over
- No regrets
- She is one
- rock dj
- Nobody Ever
OPTIONAL FOR DELUXE EDITION:
- lazy days
- hot fudge
- sex up
- More than this
- Disco Symphony
- The best man
- Home Thoughts from abroad
- Mir and her mother
- Into silence
- Angels (Beethoven AI)