By Nick Krewen

For The Record

Take that, TAKE THAT.

Singer ROBBIE WILLIAMS, a graduate of the British teen heartthrob group Take That, clearly has contrary feelings about the experience that launched his solo career in 1995.

Even though Take That enjoyed a European success rate equivalent to that of BACKSTREET BOYS in the early '90s, Williams described the quintet's existence as living in a boot camp.

"We have this scheme called the Youth Training Scheme, where when you leave school, you get placed in jobs and you get paid a s$%t wage and you do the s$%t jobs for everybody else," said Williams recently from his London home.

"You learn experience and hopefully go on to bigger and better things.

"For me, Take That was a Y.T.S. experience."

Williams says he and his bandmates were overworked ad nauseum.

"It gave me work muscles because those twats at the record company and in management -- when you're in a boy band or a girl band or a band of that ilk, work you until your ass falls out" he says. "You just put up with it because you know nothing different."

Today, Robbie Williams knows better, and he calls his own tune. He's had hit records in Britain -- tasteful little pop gems with Tin Pan Alley melodies called "Millennium" and "Angels" -- and his tendency to counterbalance pop stardom with a strong sense of camp has endeared him to young and old alike. Sales of his two albums Life Thru A Lens and I've Been Expecting You -- repackaged here into the single-disc The Ego Has Landed -- have sold almost 5 million copies. And Williams himself will be the first to tell you that his intimate club date at The Lyric in Kitchener is part of a masterplan for world domination.

Yet the 25-year-old Williams doesn't seem comfortable with the whole "pop star" shtick. And unlike many of his peers, he's willing to say so.

"I feel a lot of guilt around success, which is a big thing for me," Williams admits. "I'm very rich and I'm very successful. It's nice for me to be able to say that, and I don't mean that in an ego gratifying way at all.

"It might be the working class background. It's a big British thing that if anybody's successful or if anybody's got a nice car, they'll spit on it or scratch it.

I've grown up with that mentality, and now I'm in that car."

Williams says the idea of fame to him was supposed to "fill a void for me, give me self-worth. It hasn't."

While struggling with the issues, Williams says he's constantly re-evaluating himself under a microscope. And the conclusion is that he can live without stardom.

"I have a very interesting job, and it's amazing where my job takes me and what I'm learning from it," he admits. "But fame has become an irritating byproduct."

"The best thing about fame is that I took 15 people out last night, went out to a restaurant and got fit in," he says. "The worst thing about

it is that you have to over-analyze yourself all the time, and at some time you hopefully get it right. You're hoping that someone is getting the same feeling from your songs as you do."

Or can he? He quickly contradicts himself.

"This is all I can do," says Williams. "I've not got a trade. I've not got a skill. Short of going back to college and university, which I don't really want to do, this is what I do for a living. I'm starting to finally enjoy it after ten years of being in the business."

Williams freely admits he's a mass of contradictions, and feels the same way about his music.

"I spend months hating everything that I've done and think it's all s$%t, and then I can listen to it one day and think it's the best stuff anybody's written," he declares.

"You know when you wake up and you're having a bad hair day? That's me through and through."

Williams, whose personal life is tracked daily by the London tabs, is certain of one thing.

"At some point, I've feel like I've sacrificed my soul," he says. "It's all right when you're young, because you don't really use it on the weekends. But I'd like to get it back now please."

Until he discovers a way to do that, he'll keep entertaining. And he says that The Lyric crowd can expect an entertaining performance of his own music and some covers.

"Hopefully I'll do some singing," he jokes.





1992 -- Take That And Party

1993 -- Everything Changes

1994 -- Nobody Else

1996 -- Greatest Hits And More



1997 -- Life Thru A Lens (U.K.)

1998 -- I've Been Expecting You  (U.K.)

1999 -- The Ego Has Landed  (North America)




1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink


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