Before America embraced Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta, there was Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, the 48-year-old British DJ and producer who won over fans with quirky music videos (who could forget Christopher Walken prancing around an empty hotel in 2001's "Weapon of Choice"?) and big-beat dance music.
More than 15 years after his first album, "Better Living Through Chemistry," Cook still attacks the road like a rookie proving his worth. Last year, he performed at more concerts than ever before. This weekend, he'll take the 9:30 Club stage in Washington, a city he spoke highly of during a recent interview. A consummate student of dance music, Cook said he's a longtime fan of D.C.'s particular brand of funk and the capital's "unique vibe" as a whole. Before his gig Friday, he talked about getting sober, the possibility of another Fatboy Slim album and more.
You're constantly on the road. What's kept you from burning out?
I've been banging out records in the studio, and it's been more taxing [than touring]. DJing is my first love. It's always been there for me. Plus, I quit drinking a few years ago, and that really helped.
Congratulations on quitting.
It was long overdue. It makes this lifestyle far more manageable. But yeah, [I'm] always searching for new tunes. And when you find it, all you want to do is play them for everybody. Some people can throw on headphones when they find new music, but my love of music is through sharing it with other people.
Tickets are on sale for the fifth annual Big Beach Bootique in June. We're talking tens of thousands of people at an open-air concert in London. You said it could "possibly be the event of my career." Why such high expectations?
Just because the four we've done before have been the pinnacle of my career thus far. It's my hometown, and I'm very proud of [Brighton], and they're proud of me. It's a celebration. Plus the owner of our local soccer team [Tony Bloom, chairman of the Football League Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion] is opening the stadium. It's got 'fantastic' written all over it. Just the nature of doing a rave in a football stadium … it'll be a nightclub without a roof. As a soccer fan, to play this, it's what dreams are made of.
What are the shows like now compared to, say, 10 years ago? Is the energy the same?
It's a new generation of clubbers. There's a different energy, especially in America. It's the more commercial side of it. When I first came to America, it was a lot more of an underground scene, with the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. Right now, there's a lot of attention to VIP tables and expensive bottles of champagne, and that's not the reason we got into this. You ignore the VIP tables and play for the crowd.
Electronic dance music continues to influence and dominate American pop radio. Does going mainstream dilute the club sound or push it in new directions?
It does both. A lot of people get on David Guetta for being too commercial, but it opens doors for the rest of us. At the same time, it puts [electronic dance music] in a commercial niche. There's good points and bad.
Your last album of solo music was 2004's "Palookaville." Will there ever be another Fatboy Slim album?
There should be and there probably will be, but it's not on the horizon at the moment. I'm really enjoying being between records. I don't feel the need to put out a record every three years. I'm having so much fun touring the world right now.
If you go
Fatboy Slim performs Friday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington. Doors open at 9 p.m. $45. Call 877-435-9849 or go to 930.com.