During a new interview with NME about his album ‘XXV’, out yesterday (September 9), which contains re-recorded and orchestrated versions of songs from across his career, the former Take That member discussed the indie snobbery of the mid-1990s and Britpop era.
Williams discussed the “that school of thought that pop music is a lower art form” that saw him set apart from the country’s Britpop heroes, saying: “I grew up in a time where that was never more prevalent, that sort of militant indie-ness: them against us. And by them against “us” I mean indie people against pop people, not pop people against indie people. ‘Cause it’s just like, ‘We’re just tryna have some fun!’”
Of his time at Glastonbury in ’95, which came shortly after he left Take That, he said: “You know, me turning up at Glastonbury… I’m trying to put it into terms that won’t get me in trouble, but it’s like Putin turning up in Westminster.
“That’s a bit extreme, obviously, but it was like, ‘What the fuck is he doing here?’ If you got Niall Horan or Harry Styles or whoever you wanna say that goes to Glastonbury now, it’s like, ‘Yeah – that’s what they should be doing. Hope they’re having a great time!’ There’s no judgement. But back when I went, it was, like, A Thing.”
Elsewhere in the new NME interview, Williams compared his musical and songwriting approach to that of Morrissey and Elton John.
Speaking about the lack of credit he receives as a songwriter despite penning numerous hits over the last three decades, he said: “If you break down the maths of what I’m doing musically on a song, I do the same thing that Morrissey does.
“I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that I’m as good as or better than Morrissey, I’m just saying: I do the same thing. He sings to melody and puts a lyric to it.”
Williams continued to add John to his list of comparisons. “Same with Elton – he does it the other way around,” he explained. “It’s only annoying when there’s disrespect brought to it. I’m not bothered, but if it’s levelled against me that I don’t [write] or it’s ‘his songwriters’, then I’m like, ‘Fuck you’.”
Back in January, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman said that Swift’s “co-writing” approach to making music was at odds with his “traditionalist” view of songwriting during an interview with the LA Times.
Williams – who has co-written five of his seven Number One singles to date – dismissed the idea that solo songwriting is more credible than a collaborative approach. “I think that when people say that, what they’re actually doing is having a wank about themselves,” the singer explained.
“It’s true! You know, it’s like, why don’t you cut the middle man out – just get a few ribs removed and give yourself a nosh, you twat! Because all you’re doing is going, ‘Hey, I’m fucking amazing!’”
‘XXV’ by Robbie Williams is out now.