May 24, 2018

Reveal - Paperback Coming Soon!

Reveal - Paperback Coming Soon!

We are delighted to announce that Robbie's best-selling biography will soon be available to own in paperback format!

Reveal, which was released last year as the long-awaited sequel to Feel, is avaialable to pre-order as a paperback now, before its official release next week on 31 May. 

To celebrate, we're letting you have a sneak peek inside the pages. Scroll down to enjoy an extract now, and use the button below to pre-order your copy.

January 2016

The Williams family and their ten dogs move into their new Los Angeles home on New Year's Eve. It's a house big enough that even Rob is somewhat taken aback. 'The 'slack-jawed' has just about stopped,' he says when I arrive a few days later, as Teddy dashes past in a princess dress that she got for Christmas.

Whether because his default setting is worry, or because it's useful to have something to motivate you, he claims that being here is also a little unnerving.

'I come downstairs in this big house,' he says, 'and there's two security on, four cleaners, a nanny, a chef ... and that's just in this house. I've got two other houses. It's all right when I'm on tour, but when I've not been on tour for a while, it makes me restless and worried. Which also keeps me sober-ish, and in the gym, and focused, and bothered.'

The plan for the next ten days is to write songs with Guy Chambers, the songwriting partner with whom he wrote most of his first five albums, and with whom he reunited in recent years after a long estrangement. Guy is arriving tomorrow. This is is supposed to be their final push to come up with even better songs than they already have for the album he'll release in the autumn.

'I just hope he comes up with the goods,' says Rob, sort of playfully, and sort of not.

Still, priorities. He goes down into the basement where the engineer Richard Flack is setting up the studio. They talk, and Richard suggests they might think about buying a particular expensive set of speakers.

'I've just bought a tennis-ball machine for a grand,' Rob objects. 'It fires three hundred and fifty balls,' he adds, by way of explanation.

Richard, who is not given to grand emotional gestures, slightly raises an eyebrow.

'Not at the same time,' Rob clarifies.

***

Come a new year, come a new series of Celebrity Big Brother. When, in interviews, Rob patiently explains that for the most part the only television he enjoys watching is reality TV, I think people often think he's just trying to be funny or silly. He's not. He'll watch the occasional film, and the occasional documentary, and he'll very occasionally get interested in a TV drama, but quite genuinely the majority of his viewing is reality TV.

Celebrity Big Brother is one of his and Ayda's favourites, and every night when it is on they watch the latest episode in their bedroom before going to sleep. Generally, anyone staying in the house is invited; the two of them sit in bed and anyone else can pull up a chair around the bed to face the drop-down screen.

Already, Ayda explains, this season has provided talking points in the Williams family.

'It's my running joke with Rob,' she says, 'that every time we turn on the television, I kid you not, he has slept with someone on TV - whether it's a commercial for anti-HIV medication, or it's a crime-scene show, or something from the nineties, Rob has slept with someone on TV. So we turn on Celebrity Big Brother ...'

At first it seemed like there was going to be a slight twist on this theme, in that Rob was only going to be implicated indirectly. Darren Day, one of the house guests, was talking about his reputation as a love rat, and mentioned Anna Friel.

'So I said,' Ayda continues, ''Oh my God, you've kind of slept with Darren Day because you've slept with Anna Friel ...''

As she tells it, for a moment Rob didn't say anything, as though considering whether, or perhaps how exactly, to explain. Because while the every-time-we-turn-on-the-television rule had indeed worked its wonders again, Ayda was looking at the wrong part of the screen. Better just say.

'Babe,' he says. 'Danniella Westbrook.'

***

The next morning is Teddy's first day at school, and Rob is awake to accompany her at 7:45. Over breakfast, he explains to her the five-second dropped-food rule, and then muses blearily whether the Kardashians might be one sign of the apocalypse. He seems to be serious about this. 'But,' he adds, by way of acknowledging that there may very well be good and bad in almost everything, 'I can't knock the hustle.'

With that, he beckons Ayda - 'okay, Mummy, let's go' - and he leads Teddy towards the car, a half-eaten, peanut-butter-covered bagel in her hand. Around lunchtime, Guy arrives. Rob takes the long walk with him down to the bottom of the garden, Los Angeles spread below, and, beyond, in the hazy distance, the ocean. At the furthest end of the garden is a tangerine tree, and this journey to get a tangerine becomes a kind of ritual. Whenever Rob wants to talk to someone, he suggests this tangerine-walk.

Guy talks about the New Year festivities he was part of at Babington House, the country house a affiliated to the Soho House private members' club empire which hosted a particularly exclusive gathering of the well- known and well-connected. At one point, there was a group singsong and Guy played the piano. 'Adele wanted to sing 'Angels',' he says. 'And she did.' But then, he says, there was a slightly embarrassing moment when it became clear that Guy didn't know any of her songs well enough. He tried to cover up: 'I said let's do 'Mamma Mia'!'

Down in the studio, Rob explains to Guy about his current no-flour, no-sugar diet, which he was set on to after Hugh Jackman came to his last show in Melbourne and recommended someone. ( This explanation actually includes the phrase 'my friend Wolverine's nutritionist'.)

Recently, though, he explains, it hasn't been going so well.
'I had a cake relapse,' he tells Guy.
'At Christmas?' says Guy, as though to say: well, that's no big deal - a seasonal setback like that is nothing to worry about.
'Well, yeah,' says Rob, 'but the door isn't shut yet, and I was hoping it would be. And it was for a year and a half. And now I'm a bit scared.'

'What kind of cake was it?' Guy asks.
'All of the cakes,' Rob clarifies.
'How many cakes did you do?'

'Well, there's a lot of cakes about at Christmas,' says Rob, and starts listing: 'Christmas cakes ... red velvet cakes ... my daughter's Frozen cake which she hadn't eaten yet - I had about a quarter of that the other day.'

This morning, in fact, I had listened as Teddy quizzed him about this, more puzzled than upset.

'I had a little bit,' he explained to her. 'But I had a little bit quite often.'

'Are you hiking anymore?' Guy asks. During previous writing sessions in Los Angeles, he and Rob would often break to go for a hike, but this week Rob hasn't suggested it. It turns out there's a reason.

'I went apeshit with a paparazzi,' Rob explains. 'I tried my best to provoke him to get out of the car. We were hiking every day in the same place, TreePeople. And I was coming back and we'd put baby girl in the car and this day I could see a Volkswagen with the window open this much.' He knew it was a paparazzo, filming him, Ayda and, most importantly, Teddy. And he was correct in his assumption. 'I went over with my phone to film them filming us, and as I got there I just lost it. I wanted to provoke something in him so that he would hit me first, so I went over and cunted him off left, right and centre. He was a Scouser - I called him a Scouse cunt.'

What did he say?
''Less of the 'Scouse'.''
It escalated from there. After some more back and forth, the man told Rob, 'You're a worldwide tit.' (Which, now, he clearly thinks is hilarious, though back then nothing was.)

'I went, 'Seventy million albums, you cunt!' It was the only thing I could think of. But I was so enraged. I was that angry - I would never have ever said 'Scouse cunt'. Never ever ever. But I was that angry it came out before I'd recognised I'd done it. I could see how that happens. I was filming him, but I couldn't get the phone to work, and as soon as the conversation had ended, he wanted me to get rid of the film, because I was calling him a paedophile because he was taking pictures of kids.'

Ayda, who has come down to the studio, offers her own observations. 'It didn't go well, the fight. You let yourself down,' she says to Rob, and then to us: 'Rob did not show his best side.'

What he learned from this experience is that he's not quite sure how to control his rage in these circumstances: 'When a lens comes out and it's your daughter or it's your son, and you can't protect them from it, it's primal. You want to kill them. And you tell them that you want to kill them. And then you realise that you can never say or do that again in front of the children. Getting back into the car after that event took place, I realised that I could never ever behave that way ever again.'

That is the long answer to Guy's question.
This is is the shorter one: 'I haven't been hiking since.'

***

Because of the time difference between London and Los Angeles, whenever something newsworthy occurs on Celebrity Big Brother - which is to say newsworthy according to the British tabloids - Rob is often likely to read about it online before he and Ayda have watched the relevant episode. Today, Rob discovers, browsing the internet down in the studio, that the papers have just such a story. And this one involves him. On the latest episode, Darren Day is apparently filmed telling Danniella Westbrook that Rob once phoned the home in Chelsea where he and Anna Friel lived together, and asked Anna Friel out.

'I did know I'd done that,' he concedes. 'My recollection now is somewhat murky, but I didn't know she was still going out with Darren Day.'

That night, five of us watch in the bedroom. Darren Day says on the screen that when he answered the phone Rob pretended to be someone called 'Derek from Go! Discs'. (Go! Discs was an independent record label enjoying some success back in the 1990s.) Rob immediately realises that what Day is saying is true. It all comes back to him.

'A man answered and I panicked, and said it was Derek from Go! Discs,' he says. 'I was probably on the phone in front of a bunch of CDs.'

When Darren Day tells her this story inside the Big Brother house, Danniella Westbrook's reaction is to say 'he's got some balls'.

'And she would know,' Rob mutters.

***

One afternoon, Guy starts talking about a mid-range 1970s music star, largely forgotten now, who has fallen on difficult times.

'He's really sad, that guy,' says Guy.
'Sad?' asks Rob.
'Yeah,' Guy continues. 'He had a major breakdown. He had terrible anxiety about being a pop star. It was like Beatlemania - he couldn't leave his hotel room for years. And he went nuts and had a breakdown. And you see him now and you can see on his face that something terrible happened to him.'

'I don't leave my hotel room!' Rob points out, indignantly.

'Well, you're not sad,' says Guy, then, in the tone of a man who isn't quite sure how he has found himself in a slightly awkward spot, readjusts this a little. 'You don't have a sad-looking ...' he says, then halts again. He has a third try. 'You don't look destroyed by who you are ...' he tells Rob.

'No,' Rob agrees. 'But it is angles and lighting.'

Rob tells Guy he has to take a break in a moment for a business meeting. 'I'm going to rob a bank,' he declares. 'And the bank's called show business.' The meeting takes place outside by the pool with David Enthoven - who, with Tim Clark at their company IE, has managed Rob since 1996 - and with Michael. Rob explains to them the idea he has for a biographical one-man live show, something that he woke up thinking about this morning. 'Talking about my life, being really honest ... the frailties, my hatreds - who I hate, why I hate - what my actions have led me to,' he says. 'It could be Never Explain, Don't Complain.' After making a case for it as a piece of storytelling and entertainment, he allows that there is another reason why he's thinking about this. 'I just think that with my bad back, and how much physical exertion it takes to do these shows ...' he says, trailing off. 'Because I do a show and go to bed, that's what happens: do a show, go to bed, go to the gig, stretch, do a gig, come back, watch YouTube, fall asleep, until it's time to do the next gig. So I wonder if there's a clever way of having another branch of entertainment - another idea of a show?'
They listen carefully, and discuss the idea back and forth. Rob fills out more of the details, and then says, 'There will be pathos and there will be moments of shit that fucking happened: you were that scared that you slept with a starting pistol and CS gas ... but I can make it funny and humorous too.' As for the audience, he says: 'They come to a theatre and sit down. There's no bouncing. They listen.' He offers one final flourish: 'And if it's good enough, and it stands up by itself, maybe other people can play me eventually.'

He looks around the table, hoping for some enthusiastic reinforcement of this idea.

'Or not,' he adds.

***

Over the next few days, more songs are written, and some of them seem good, but as ever Rob is getting stressed about whether they've got the song they need. Chris Briggs, his long-term A&R man, who sits on the sofa during most of these sessions, only intervening occasionally with a deceptively casual comment, says that Adele wrote a hundred songs before she found 'Hello'. Rob counters that he doesn't think that's true.

A while later, he looks up from his computer screen, on which he has just read some useful and relevant information, and announces, 'Adele wrote thirty-four songs.'

'Where did you find that bit of information?' asks Guy, assuming that Rob must have been searching through Adele interviews online. But there are easier ways.

'I just asked her,' Rob says.