Sitting in his kitchen in Portslade, Norman Cook is ruminating on his travels over the past year. The mega-gig he’s just announced at Brighton’s Falmer Stadium is special – “I was involved with the fight to get Falmer built – I took a petition to Downing Street, I went on the marches – so it’s a celebration of Brighton, it’s a celebration of getting the stadium, it’s celebration of my links with the Albion, it’s the icing on the cake for all of us” – but it’s just one in a litany of amazing-sounding shows that Cook has played recently, a faintly deranged global journey stopping at all points from the Big Brother house in Brazil to the Great Wall Of China.
Playing a DJ set there, he says, was “one of those boxes that needed to be ticked off”, as if everyone has a to-do list stuck to their fridge with PLAY DJ SET ON GREAT WALL OF CHINA just below GET MORE BIN BAGS and DENTIST’S APPT. “Everyone said it was like playing at an M25 rave. It was in the middle of nowhere, two hours outside of Beijing, right by the Mongolian border, in the car park of the tourist center. There’s nobody there at night. We’d had our gear impounded at customs, we were fully prepared for the idea that it might not happen. And 5000 people turned up. Projecting lasers onto the Great Wall Of China! I don’t know how we got away with it.”
Cook’s show involves not just playing his own patented brand of “party acid house”, but a complex audio-visual production. “I’m technically a video jockey now. We write scripts for all the tunes, make films. In the past, I used to have to literally hold up the next record I was going to play to the guy who does my visuals, and he’d have to find the images to match it. And they were never synched. But now, because of the technology, no matter what speed I play at, even if I just chop quickly into it, the visuals are all synchronized. It’s a show.”
There’s more: DJing back to back with Carl Cox, unwittingly becoming FA’s “official World Cup DJ”, a forthcoming tour of “nice characterful old ballrooms in Britain”. It goes on and on: it shows no sign of stopping. “Oh no. I love it too much. I can still get away with it. It doesn’t matter that you’re old and bald and grey and fat, because you were never a sex symbol in the first place. We’re pushing new limits. No one knows what the cut-off age limit of a DJ is. And apparently, it’s not yet.” Norman Cook roars with laughter. “I take great delight in that.”