Noel Fielding is a comedy king and the new host of The Great British Bakeoff. We flashback to the time we met him, shot him and interviewed him (twice for the same piece).
When Noel Fielding turned round to me and said Holy Mountain [Mexican fantasy film from 1973] was a favourite film of his, I thought, “Cracking, let’s get the ball rolling.” The concept for the shoot, scene, and models was created, and the bed was sorted. What I didn’t anticipate was Noel's reaction. Grinning like a kid, and prancing around Shoreditch in his cape, he embraced the role fully. I don’t know if I was more chuffed that he hasn’t grown up, or that his favourite crisps are salt & vinegar flavour, or, more importantly, that this was the second interview carried out since I deleted the first sodding one.
Let me just reiterate that ‘Save’ and ‘Delete’ buttons are stupidly placed beside each other. My fingers slipped and two hours of content went walking to telephone no-man’s land. I turned purple as I muttered the gist of what had just happened to Noel. He said nothing, but got up and walked over to the table of his PR and my Editor-in-Chief. I swigged the dregs of my gin and accepted this was my forlorn farewell as a journalist, and that cleaning was now a good career move, or so I thought.
“Sam’s just deleted the interview,” he jibed – throwing me a ridiculous grin, and I died inside.
Unbeknown to me, my resting bitch face is not sassy. It’s a deer caught in the headlights, "please don’t fucking run me over" look. I looked like a sad squirrel. I had royally screwed myself over as a journalist and I was very, very worried.
When I looked up, Noel was in fits. His PR was in fits. My Editor was in fits.
“The worst journalists are the ones that are good at their job.” I’m not entirely sure what that makes me, Noel. Still, to this day though, I don’t know whether I was happy that I’d gotten away with it, or outraged that my ‘please don’t fucking run me over’ look was so comical. So we met up and this interview was round two. I pressed “Save” and then filed a complaint to Apple.
Take two: Mr Fielding. Say no more. Comedy sensation, co-creator of the innovative Mighty Boosh, founder of the band Loose Tapestries and its musical compilations; so what got the ball rolling?
“I had a very bohemian upbringing, so my parents were cool with lots of things. I was a typical kid, loved football. I was actually alright at it until I decided to go to art school. That was that. I started wearing make-up, starting donning dresses, I loved make-believe, and I still do. No-one wants to grow up – especially not me. I’m like Peter Pan, just not a paedophile.”
“When I was growing up, Nirvana meant a lot to me – they really were an amazing band, Pink Floyd was another – and Primus! They’re cool. KISS were also legendary. I once chased Gene Simmons in an airport in Australia. I ran after him asking for a picture and he turned round and went: “Naah”. I was gutted. Someone then tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for a selfie. So I shouted: “Yes! Yes you can.”
So it’s not just lowly me legging it after bands. There is a god. And goddesses, like Patti Smith. “I waited outside a gig of hers once with a friend in the freezing snow for hours. There were only three of us in total, but the bouncer opened and said she didn’t want to see anyone. That’s Patti though. She’s a punk. She can do whatever she wants.”
Despite feeling ever-so-slightly smug Patti Smith turned him away, I couldn’t help but be in awe of his hilarious anecdotes.
He goes on to tell me about his encounter with Grace Jones. “She said to me and 3D from Massive Attack: ‘What are you skinny little boys doing in my dressing room?’ She looked at us the same way a cat looks at toy mice.”
The landlord took us to the top balcony of the pub we were at in Camden. There was a rickety iron paling, covered in rust, surrounding the balcony with a sheer drop below. “That’s what Noel used to dance on – like a bloody trapeze artist,” the landlord chuckled. I glimpsed down to Noel's shoes with those illustrious heels. Well, he definitely had a head start.
We sit back down and chat about news and the world. (Not the paper, definitely not the paper). “It’s really hard to watch the news without being depressed. It’s strange really; I guess you become cynical about it. News terrifies me; it gives me nightmares. It’s just like when Bill Hicks said: ‘War, Famine, Death, AIDS, Homeless, Recession, Depression…and you look out your window *cricket sounds* where’s all this shit happening?’”
For many, including Noel himself, The Boosh provided the perfect path of escapism, letting the audiences’ minds wander in wonder of a surreal world. “Julian [Barratt] and I wanted to write our way out of Dalston, as we didn’t want to be there anymore. So we wrote fantastical mystic stories and journeys. It wasn’t easy though, we worked our arses off to get there…I didn’t even drink until I was 28. Young minds are amazing – they’re willing to work harder.”
“There are two types of comedy. One where people say: ‘Yep, that’s what I think, well done.’ Or there’s distraction, where you take people on a journey and they sit back and go: ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.’ You still have to refer to the world in some way though. I’m pretty much in a fantasy world.”
November marked the month Noel began his solo tour. To try and salvage my ginormous cock-up, I probed Noel for his ultimate faux-pas on stage. “I was once walked straight off stage because I was completely blinded by the lights. I landed whack crack onto my back and I had winded myself – with the mic on. The audience thought it was part of the act, until I wasn’t saying anything.”
It can be said he’s conquered comedy, and got Never Mind the Buzzcocks down to a tee. So what lies in the future of Fielding? “I might write a film. I’ve got a good idea for a film. The bit that I hate doing is where I sit down and say: ‘Okay, I actually have to write this now’. But I wanna do it!”
The Great British Bake Off will be on Channel Four later in 2017.
Credits: Words, Samantha Jagger; Photographer, Claire Harrison; Hair Shelley Brook; MUA, Lorna Jayne Pratt, Models Edith Quick and Johanna Londinium; Venue, Hoxton Hotel.