Robbie Williams on 25 years as a solo artist: 'I’m a 17-year-old middle-aged man"

ITV News entertainment reporter Rishi Davda interviews Robbie Williams

There were some odd looks coming my way as I sat in the newsroom, toes tapping and head bobbing.

Preparing to chat with Robbie Williams was the perfect opportunity to sing along to all those massive hits I’ve heard in pubs, clubs and on the radio over the years.

Robbie is celebrating 25 years as a solo artist with a new album and special anniversary tour.

Okay, so it’s actually 27 years now because Covid delayed all the celebrations.

Robbie Williams. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire/Press Association Images

As we perched on a fancy sofa, more comfy than most beds, I asked Robbie if the 25 years had gone quickly.

"Professionally, it feels long, man," he said. "Going out and doing the promo, touring, rehab, hospitals, that is long and laborious, it feels like 50 years."

Well it’s not been quite 50 yet, but it is 32 years ago that Robbie first joined Take That.

After huge success with the group in the early 90s, Robbie left to do his own thing and went on to sell more than 80 million albums worldwide.

Take That band in 1993 (L-R) Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams and Jason Orange. Credit: PA Images

I wanted to know how different the Robbie that joined Take That was to the Robbie that was sitting in front of me.

"Not much," he laughed. "It’s said that you stop maturing at the age you become famous. I’m a 17-year-old middle-aged man."

The new album ‘XXV’ features all of Robbie’s biggest hits recorded with an orchestra, and also unveils some brand new tracks.

(From the left) Jason Orange, Howard Donald, Robbie Williams, Mark Owen and Gary Barlow of Take That in 2010. Credit: PA

‘Lost’ describes a time in Robbie’s life where he believes he abandoned himself to reckless behaviour.

Asked what that behaviour was, the singer reflected: "I understand that there was some form of mental illness happening that was being self-medicated with narcotics and alcohol.

"I look back with fondness because I’ve got my badges. I’m glad I did, it’s life’s rich tapestry."

Although the new album and upcoming anniversary tour may tell a different story, Robbie actually gave up music 16 years ago.

His love for what he does keeps pulling him back to the studio and to the stage.

"I retired in 2006," he says. "But I’m putting me back together…my job is amazing."

Robbie Williams and wife Ayda. Credit: PA

Now 48 years old, the singer’s biggest hits include ‘Angels’, ‘Rock DJ’ and ‘Feel’.

With Robbie’s XXV tour kicking off later this year, I wanted to know how he puts together the perfect show.

As it turns out, it’s pretty simple - according to the veteran performer.

"All that old stuff, do that again…I’m a big believer in giving people what they want.

"At the end of the day I’m not there to be entertained, I’m there to entertain."

During our conversation, Robbie carefully analysed different moments in his life and their impact on who he has become.

ITV News entertainment reporter Rishi Davda interviews Robbie Williams. Credit: ITV News

However, his last answer was not what I was expecting.

Hoping for something profound or a bit of advice that I could use, I asked what Robbie wished he'd known when he started out.

His reply: "Carbohydrates make you fat, that’s about it."

Robbie‘s single ‘Lost’ and album ‘XXV’ are out now and his UK and Ireland tour starts on 9 October.

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