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After 2006’s Rudebox, Robbie Williams was on top of the world but then came Reality Killed The Video Star, which the singer described as “half-arsed”, even though it topped charts. The moody pop phenomenon decided to turn a new leaf earlier this year by recording an album that captures the energy of his debut solo effort (Life Thru A Lens) and the non-conformist attitude that made Sing When You’re Winning a classic. An email chat…

Take The Crown is frank and doesn’t mince words.

That’s definitely true. I think I’ve made an active effort to take stock of my life and kind of get it back on track. It’s a fresh perspective and I think the album really sounds very different.

It also marks a shift in your career and personal life — you have switched record labels (EMI to Universal Music), you got married Ayda Field and you are back on good terms with your former group (Take That).

An interesting thing that happened was that when Gary Barlow and I were sitting around talking about the album he said that what I’d written sounded so much happier than my earlier work. He was right and the album does reflect the feelings I’m going through right now… which are really positive.

How was it composing two songs with him?

It was great. Gary is a great guy and he’s absolutely amazing to work with. It’s really easy working with him… he’s got this house with a recording studio, so I felt relaxed and had fun working there.

The songs speak of regret, identity issues, anger... all very personal...

l my albums are personal; they all symbolise certain phases in my life. This one, I would say, is more optimistic than the others because I’m at a point in life where I want to do things seriously. The album’s title says it all… to make a conscious decision to take life and work seriously. It’s a promise I made to myself.

Compared to your debut solo album, how has your sound evolved?

I’ve grown up and so has my music. I started my career at a very young age (16). I was barely an adult. I feel my music, in a way, documents my life and everything I’ve gone through –– all the ups and downs. I would like to think that this album proves to naysayers out there that I still have it. I can still make great music that people will like and want to listen to.

And has the birth of your daughter (Theodora) changed you?

It has changed my life… fatherhood is just a huge, huge deal. It’s a really big feeling to know that you are responsible for this life and I’m really overwhelmed by it. It’s definitely going to change my music because my music is defined by my life.

Tell us about your musical influences...

Definitely Freddie Mercury has been a huge influence, along with Wham, George Michael and New Kids on The Block, to name a few.

Earlier there were billion-record-selling artistes like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Barbra Streisand but now such acts are missing. Do you miss the grandeur of the golden era of rock?

I think it’s only natural… music evolves. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as grand any more; it’s just different. Things will never remain the same forever –– styles change, society changes, people’s preferences change and we need to keep moving forward. Back then these were artistes who were doing something different and changing the face of music.

Finally, any India plans?

At present I don’t have any plans to come down but I would really love to do that… maybe meet a few fans.