Fatboy Slim Talks Macy Gray, Chemical Brothers Connection

After selling 1.2 million copies of his second studio album, 1998's "You've Come A Long Way, Baby," Fatboy Slim plans to drop his long-awaited follow-up, dubbed "Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars," on November 7.

For the new record, Fatboy Slim (a.k.a. Norman Cook) enlisted the aid and support of guest vocalists and collaborators such as soul singer Macy Gray and P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins, not to mention a sample of the late Doors frontman, Jim Morrison, on the LP's first single, "Sunset (Bird Of Prey)" (see "Fatboy Slim On Resurrecting Lizard King For 'Sunset'").

Cook struck up a fast friendship with Gray when the two played the U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival in June, and she loaned her vocal skills to a pair of Fatboy Slim songs, "Demons" and "Love Life," that appear on the new record.

"Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars" marks the first time that Cook, in his Fatboy Slim guise, has incorporated

the use of live vocals over his richly-textured rhythm tracks, a move he said was brought about by the encouragement of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons of the Chemical Brothers.

"They don't venture into the studio [with me] very much," Cook told MTV News of his relationship with the Chems, "but they're good friends of mine, and we do talk. I went on holiday with them for a week, and obviously you sit and talk about things and you knock ideas about. It was their idea for me to use live vocalists rather than sampling people like Jim Morrison."

Cook previously worked with live vocalists when he was a member of the acid-house infused outfit Beats International in the early '90s, but he admitted to MTV News that he has never really been comfortable with bringing singers and collaborators into the sessions.

"A lot of it just has to do with shyness," he said. "Writing a song with someone or working

in the studio [with them] is a bit like taking your clothes off in front of them. You have to sort of [vocally coach] them, and you can't be embarrassed to sort of try things out with them. So if it's a stranger, especially somebody who you really respect, it's very difficult to go into the studio with them and do anything creative.

"So I'd always just been shy of it, but Tom and Ed said, 'Who is number one on your wish list of people or vocalists to work with?' I said Macy Gray, so they were like, 'Phone her up and see what she says.' So I did, and she said, 'Oh, yeah. I'd love to,' which was kind of a shock. Then it all happened so quickly, before I had time to get shy about it. From talking about it to finishing it, it was like two weeks."

The hectic schedule by which Fatboy Slim was recording the album -- as well as Macy Gray's tight touring itinerary for her LP, "On How Life Is" -- precluded the two from spending

much time together outside the studio, although Cook said he did (w)hoop it up briefly with Gray.

"The only shame was that we didn't have longer to hang out while we were doing [the songs]," Cook said, "just because of her schedule and mine. We had, like, two days in the studio, and we had to get really cracking on it. When we were finished, we kind of hung out for a couple of hours, and we were shooting hoops outside the studio. But then I had to get on the plane the next day and go home, so it would have been nicer [if it had been longer].

"I got to hang out with her at Glastonbury a bit, but it was all too kind of brief. The working bit, actually doing the music -- we just clicked [snaps fingers] like

that. But I felt I never really

got a chance to know Macy, 'cause it was so quick. It was in and out and see ya later." [RealVideo]