Fatboy Slim Turns Beach Party Into Album, Possibly Tour

As his Live on Brighton Beach is readied for release, DJ says he wants to play beaches, not clubs.

BEVERLY HILLS — Norman Cook needs to be Norman Cook again.

"I need a break from being Fatboy Slim for a bit," the celebrated DJ said last week, chain-smoking in a trendy hotel room.

After releasing three studio albums and countless mix collections over the better part of the last 10 years as Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook is ready to just be himself, a husband to British TV personality Zoe Ball and father to their son, Woody.

Luckily for curious music fans, Cook makes music too. Just not his own.

"I've got to produce the next Blur album and that's going to take most of the rest of the summer," he said.

Cook has remixed and collaborated with rock bands before — most notably the Beastie Boys and Cornershop — but his work with Blur will mark his first time behind the boards for an entire album.

Since that project will likely not surface until the end of the year, a Fatboy Slim mix album will be released April 30 to tide fans over. Not that he planned it that way, it just took awhile to realize Live on Brighton Beach — a shortened version of a two-hour set the DJ spun at a massive free party in England last summer — would make a great release for his own Southern Fried Records.

"Everyone said, 'How come it took until now to release it?' Honestly, you would have thought that if we had half a brain we would have gone, 'Ah,' and released it a month later or two months later," Cook said. "Six months later we were like, 'We could release it.' So yeah, a bit lax on our part."

Live on Brighton Beach features three funk soul brotha originals — "Star 69," "Sunset (Bird of Prey)" and "Right Here Right Now" — that he blended with Underworld's "Born Slippy (Nuxx)" to open the set and album.

"I just thought, 'There are 35,000 people out there, you've got to start big,' " he said. "You've got to establish the fact that this is going to be like, 'Come on!' There would be no point of me going on a deep acid trip and getting really nerdy, because there were kids dancing on their parents' shoulders."

The album launches into a variety of styles, from the glitzy house of Basement Jaxx' "Where's Your Head At" to the thumping drum'n'bass of Leftfield's "Phat Planet." Along the way, Cook also drops a few pop music references, including a few bars of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It."

"Some people think that dance music has to be like, 'Oh, this is our thing, and it is not pop and it is not rock and it's not what you hear on the radio and it is kind of holier than thou,' " Cook explained. "Whereas I think dance music should be accessible. So everything I have always done has tried to include little snippets of things that they recognize. Also, playing to like 35,000 people, you don't want to lose the crowd, so you try and play things that they might vaguely know. 'Come on in, welcome to our world.' It's just about dancing and getting drunk, it's not nuclear physics."

The performance on Brighton Beach last year, organized by Britain's Channel 4, was considered immensely successful. So the DJ is planning another event this year that he hopes will be bigger — and he doesn't want that beach party to stop there.

"Our idea next year is to do a tour of the world's best beaches, which would be Venice Beach, South Beach in Miami, Copacabana," he said. "It is an ambitious plot, but if we can persuade people to let us do it and if we can get the sponsorship, we'd like to do it. 'Cause there is something about dancing on a beach for free that I think appeals to people."

It also happens to appeal to Fatboy Slim — and Norman Cook, for that matter.

"There is something very romantic about [DJing as the tide is coming in]. I am a beach bum. I live on the beach in Brighton and I love beaches, and if I could do a tour of beaches rather than smelly nightclubs and even more smelly rock clubs, I'd much rather play on beaches."