'I Always Feel the Hole in My Ear and Think of Cardiff' as Comedian Bill Bailey Prepares to Bring His Dandelion Mind Show to Cardiff, He Talks to Dave Owens about Being Told off by His Mum in Welsh, His New Dr Who Role and Future Plans for a Heavy Metal Career
Byline: Dave Owens
Q You've been touring for so many years now, has it become a bit of a chore? A Touring is all part of the process. I love doing the gigs, that's the great thing about it. Playing live sharpens you up in terms of the performance. It's the bits and pieces in between, getting from one gig to another checking into hotels and checking out of hotels. A long time ago the novelty wore off.
Q Do you have any touring rituals? A I always try and make it down for breakfast, that's my new rule. It's quite an achievement given that post-gig you've got the adrenaline going so you can't sleep for a few hours. I've made it a rule because if you miss breakfast the whole day unravels. You try and find breakfast and the next thing you know you're eating a Ginsters pasty by the side of the road and your life isn't worth living really!
Q How do you pass the time on the road? A I listen to a lot of music. I'm listening to The Hunter album by Mastodon at the moment, which is just fantastic. They're one of the best bands around. I saw them at Sonishphere (rock festival, where Bailey headlined a stage this year), and there's a kind of intensity about them but also a kind of sweetness as well.
Q So were you indulging your rock fantasies headlining at Sonisphere? A Totally. I got a band together for Sonisphere. That meant I didn't have to play the guitar, the keyboards and all the other things like I normally would. I could just be out front, punching the air with a foot up on the monitor in the classic rock pose. It was brilliant. I was thinking I could have some more of this, so I might do a tour with a band next year.
Q Is your new show Dandelion Mind the usual mix of comedy and music? A Pretty much. The title came to me in a dream. I was in Melbourne with a fever and had really vivid dreams. In one of them, the back of my head disintegrated into dandelion spores, so I scribbled the idea down and I think it fits with the show. My thoughts float off, some keep floating and some self seed and germinate.
Q When you return to Cardiff next week I understand you will be returning to the place that put a hole in your ear.
A That's right! I had one ear pierced by a girl at college which was a homemade affair and that took ages and (he laughs) that was quite a traumatic experience. I only agreed to do it because I thought there might be a chance this girl would be my girlfriend, so I went through all the pain, grimacing through it all. Then I thought I want to get another piercing done and I was in Cardiff. So I went and got it done in the high street. I was in and out in about 10 seconds. So I always feel the hole in my ear and think of Cardiff! Q When did you have it done? A When I left college, I got a job working in Cardiff for a local theatre company called Pandemonium (which still exists to this day). We would do kids' shows and I would dress up as an owl. Actually, the owl costume started out as kind of the costume of shame. Like, "Oh. Bill's got to be in the owl costume! Ha ha!" And then when we were touring Wales in the winter, the owl costume suddenly wasn't so silly after all. It was the warmest thing we had in the van. We were doing three or four shows a day, I got to see a lot of Wales. It was the early 1980s. I was only in Cardiff for a few months, but I've never forgotten it.
Q Your late mother was Welsh wasn't she? A She grew up in Wales during the war. We used to go on holiday every year to Saundersfoot and Tenby, where her family was from. My grandfather was in male voice choirs. …