Interview with Noel Fielding

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The Boosh, his UK tour, London. Noel tells all.

"We were doing a show about a Crack Fox and a transsexual merman with a mangina, and people actually liked it - that was pretty amazing"

At the peak of The Mighty Boosh-mania, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing a photo of surrealist comedy superstar Noel Fielding and his gang of showbiz mates (Amy Winehouse, Jonny Borrell & co) stumbling out of a Camden boozer. These days, the fantastically flamboyant Noel, he of the silver pointy boots and wild-child hairdo, is more likely to be supping a peppermint tea than a pint, as the workaholic puts his insatiable imagination to work planning his forthcoming UK tour.

“Julien [Barratt] and I both thought that it was mental, how big the Boosh got,” says Noel, as he takes London Calling on an impromptu jaunt down memory lane. “Because it’s such a weird show, and considering we didn’t compromise on anything. We were doing a show about a Crack Fox and a transsexual merman with a mangina, and people actually liked it - that was pretty amazing,” laughs Noel. By all accounts, the Boosh tour was an equally insane experience for all involved. “We had Marilyn Manson’s tour bus; there was a party gang at one end with really loud music, all dark and insane like a nightclub, and a sort of cheese-and-jazz gang at the other end, where people watched black and white films…you can guess who was the head of each camp!” he giggles. That tour was so big and it was making so much money for everyone involved, that it reached a point where you could have said ‘I’m going to sleep on the roof of the tour bus tonight’ and the organisers would have said ‘alright we’ll set you up a bed’.”

This time around, Noel is looking forward to playing some smaller venues - “much better for comedy, when you do gigs at places like the O2, it takes 30 seconds for the laughter to echo back to you” - and explains how An Evening With Noel Fielding is a little more “The Muppets-style. There’s going to be a Plasticine World [inspired by Plasticine Joey Ramone, as seen in Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy], and The Moon, because he was my character even before the Boosh.” Noel is taking along his brother and frequent right-hand-funnyman, Mike Fielding, as well as Luxury’sTom Meeton, because “I didn’t want to go around on my own, you know? It’s much nicer to go on tour with a bit of a gang.”

Always a sociable creature, for a while - during the era of London’s daily free papers - Noel seemed to be the epicentre of the capital’s party scene. “Those papers had to fill their pages with something, so often it would just be photos of Amy and me stumbling out of the Groucho,” he says, shaking his head. “I wasn’t actually going out that much, they just made it look like I was, but I wasn’t - how would I have got anything done?!” Revealing that he “goes a bit weird, and start doing silly things” when he isn’t working, the allure of the showbiz life has definitely worn off for Noel now. “After a while, you’ve been to every party in the WORLD, by the end you’ve been to a party in the most exclusive guestlist VIP room beyond VIP room, with Kate Moss, you know it’s not going to get any better than that. Eventually, the parties get so exclusive that you are just in a tiny cubicle on your own,” he laughs.

Noel is still a fixture on the Camden/Kentish Town landscape, even though these days, he lives in the slightly more peaceful Highgate. “When I was little, I lived in South London, and my mum and dad used to bring me to Camden to get jackets and jeans. It was so alternative, so cool. Going to Camden was always a BIG event. Now I just look at it and go ‘what happened?’” he says, with an air of sadness.

“When we first went to The Hawley Arms, Amy Winehouse was going there, Razorlight were hanging out there, it was all like a little bit of a ‘scene’. It was something that grew naturally out of just a feeling. Friends telling each other to go down there, because it was pretty cool. When we were at art college, we went there because we heard that Blur were there, so we’d go there to have a look. So I felt like at the end of the Hawley ‘era’, it had become a bit like that. People were coming because they heard Winehouse was there.”

Noel hasn’t yet had a chance to see the newly unveiled statue of his late friend in person, but he’s seen photos of the Amy sculpture. “Wow…I mean…it’s pretty weird, isn’t it? It doesn’t really look like her! I liked that it’s black, and that the rose is red, that’s quite cool,” he says, distinctly unsure. “It’s a nice thing that it exists,” he decides firmly. “That’s what you want, isn’t it, a sculpture? The ultimate accolade. And she is so integral to that scene, she was an amazing woman. She’s still really important to people.”

As for the surrealist rapscallion himself, Noel would like to leave his own permanent mark on Camden Town. “When they still had a roof garden at the Hawley, before the fire, I used to run across that wall, two storeys up, in my silver boots, and get everyone to clap. The owner always used to grab me, ‘gerroff Noel, you’re gonna fall!’ So I’d like a plaque there, which says ‘Noel used to run across here, like a drunken iiiiidiot.’”

The UK tour An Evening with Noel Fielding starts on 20 October, for tickets and more info please click here.