Courtesy of Fatboy Slim
Cook played festival and club gigs around the world throughout the 2000s, but now he's embarking on something a little different: a Las Vegas residency. He'll do afternoon shows on the rooftop of the Marquee Day Club throughout the summer (May 29, July 3 and September 4), hosting what's described in the press release as a "balls-out acid house pool par-tay."
Norman Cook spoke to Spinner about his ambitions to be like Elvis, the legacy of the superstar DJ and whether there's going to be a reunion tour his former pop band from the '80s Housemartins.
Why did you decide to do a residency in Vegas?
A few DJ friends of mine had done it in the last few years, and it's one of those must-do things in life, isn't it?
Are you a fan of Vegas as a city?
The first few times I'd been there, because I'm not into gambling, I didn't think it was for me. But it seems to be evolving into the Ibiza of the west coast. Everybody I've talked to said it's not just families going there for the weekend, it's becoming like Miami is in the east, so we thought we'd give it a try.
A musician doing a residency in Vegas sort of seems like an actor deciding to do a TV series instead of movies -- being able to settle in one place for a while, make some good money, have a family life...
There are a lot of similarities, and it would be good if I could get settled there and maybe take my family. But what I'm doing is jetting in and out, and pretty much every gig is on big weekends, so I'll be playing somewhere else the night before and the night after. In my later years, what I'd love to do is do a month residency, live like Elvis for a month.
But it's more about coming back to the same venue, which means we can get the production exactly right. And the nature of Vegas is such that while I can come back and feel at home, the crowd will be always be different because they're all visitors.
Dance music is very big in North America right now -- Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas. Has that been good for you as a DJ?
I kind of feel like that's the reason I'm playing more in America right now, because years ago when I was in the charts they wanted to see me, but then the club scene seemed to devolve a bit. But with the success of David Guetta and the Black Eyed Peas, DJs are sort of being welcomed back into the fold. I think, in a way, how the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy paved the way for me last time I invaded America, David Guetta and the Black Eyed Peas are drawing me back in.
Speaking of David Guetta, you're playing Ibiza with him May 26th at Pacha. How has the vibe in Ibiza changed over the years?
The British beer boy element is fading. We tolerated it because it put money in our pockets, but it was sort of the lowest common denominator kind of crap. Because Ibiza was so close to England and so cheap it was invaded by the beer-swilling hordes, but Ibiza's gone a little bit more international up-market the last few years, which is a good thing.
Some of your biggest songs, like 'The Rockefeller Skank' for example, were really known as college party anthems in North America. How do you feel about that association?
I was never particularly into the 'Fratboy Slim' thing, no. But also I can totally see how it could work with them and I'm never going to be elitest about who likes my records. But the thing I would say is these days I tend to play more house music than big beat, which would probably exclude them. But since dance music is breaking open in America, I do expect there will be a 'spring break' element to the Vegas shows.
When you're in a band you have to be on tour for two or three months at a time, but when you're a DJ Friday and Saturday are the main nights you play, so it works. Daddy goes off to work on Friday mornings and comes home Sunday night. I do juggle my work life with my home life, but now that I'm not drinking it's a lot easier to differentiate between the two. When I come home Monday morning I can still perform as a father.
It seems like many of the DJs headlining major shows and festivals are veterans of the scene who have been doing this for 10 - 20 years or more. Why do you think DJs like you have such long careers?
Because we were the pioneers of the idea of the 'Superstar DJ,' we have no idea what our shelf-life is. We were never Mick Jagger in the first place, we were never young and good-looking which is probably why we became DJs, so as long as we still have the love of the music and the reputation... Danny Tenaglia, Carl Cox and Pete Tong and me, we're all of an age where someday we will be too old, but we all still seem to be doing it. Sometimes people say you should move over and let younger people move in, but obviously we're not going to stop doing this, because it's what we love doing.
There's a substantial retro revival thing going on right now, with '80s bands, '90s bands, even bands from the early 2000s coming back to perform for the Gen X'ers. Is that appealing to you?
I was never really into '80s music. The worst thing for me is people keep asking me to do a Housemartins revival tour, which is never gonna happen. I'm still friends with the rest of the band but we made a pact that we'd never do a revival.
That could be big.
It could be, but it won't.