There's something very Robbie Williams about the fact that when Robbie Williams calls through for an interview, he is in Monaco about to sing for Prince Albert on the 10th anniversary of his reign.
"I'm on a balcony in a very posh hotel in Monaco. It's very flash and I'm enjoying it."
It's easy to think of Williams as a cheeky chappy, enjoyed by royals and Joe Bloggs alike, who's living the good life and revelling in the trappings of stardom that have been afforded to him since the tender age of 16. The British icon has spent three decades topping charts, filling stadiums, and generally being a very entertaining fellow, always ready with a wink and a grin.
But becoming a husband and father of two has changed things for 41-year-old Williams. He's less of the wayward pop star and a more reflective, self-deprecating bloke these days.
"I'm a dad now, and my perspective of the world is quite different. Back in the day, you know, it was all about being the best pop star on the planet, and trying to take over the world, and write the best songs, and be the biggest and the best and the brightest, the fastest and the quickest. But now, it's my job. It's probably the best job to have in the world, but it is my job, as opposed to my life.
"And I think it's probably better for my head, because the reason for doing everything before was based on ego, and now it's all about being responsible for some other people. I can concentrate more on a real reason now, whereas before there wasn't a real reason, and it sent me mad," he hoots with laughter.
Last time he was in New Zealand, in 2003, he was one of the pop world's hottest acts, riding high on the back of Swing When You're Winning and Escapology (which sold more than seven million and six million copies respectively), and he sold out Western Springs Stadium, getting Duran Duran along to support him.
Now it's been a couple of years since he released an album proper - Take The Crown came out in 2012, followed by Swings Both Ways with its combo of original tunes and standards. Both sold more than a million copies each.
Robbie Williams features on the cover of this week's TimeOut:
Still, Williams' New Zealand shows in November are on a smaller scale than those at his commercial height.
The Let Me Entertain You tour takes its name from his 1997 anthem and it's very much a greatest hits tour.
"To be honest with you, I haven't done a lot of touring compared with a lot of other acts. In the past it took so much out of me that I either ended up near death or in rehab, and so I sort of stopped doing it so much. So I'm still kind of fresh when it comes to shows, compared to someone like Elton John or Tom Jones, or Paul McCartney or Rod Stewart. These boys are all still out there touring all the time, and I'm still a whippersnapper because I haven't done a lot of gigs, so yeah, I do still get a lot of pleasure playing my hits. I look forward to them."
And you can tell he means it, because one thing people say when you mention a Robbie Williams concert, is what a great showman he is. He's a natural born, old-fashioned kind of entertainer who can hold the attention of thousands with hardly any bells or whistles.
"It was all a happy accident to be honest. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor from a very early age. I was about 12, and I knew I wanted to be an actor. And I think I might've chosen singing if I thought I had a good voice, but I knew I didn't, so I chose acting. By mistake, I ended up auditioning for a boy band, and I got in.
"I've always thought that my singing was really bad, but I knew that I had the ability to act or perform, so to sort of distract from my singing, I decided that I would naturally build up this persona.
"So it all grew out of inferiority and shame really," he laughs. "But I'm so glad I'm still here, to be part of this business."
In December last year he put out a volume of demos, B-sides and rarities through his own website, entitled Under The Radar, and he's got another bundle of them ready to go "probably this Christmas", but at the moment he's working on a new pop album, and some other secret projects.
"I am concentrating on the pop hits, the guitar ballads, the She's The One's the Let Me Entertain You's and the Rock DJ's. And I've got a few projects I can't talk about because nothing is concrete yet, but I think, I hope, that I'm about to add another string to my bow, to my career - a different medium."
Television or film perhaps? He won't tell just yet, but it'll undoubtedly be an entertaining caper. That's not to say he doesn't want to remain a pop star though, and he's not going to rest on his legacy of hits.
"I was very, very lucky in lots of ways: in the right place at the right time with the right energy, and I managed to be played a lot on the radio, and that's what really made my career - I'm aware that if that radio goes away then the hits go away, and that worries me. But I'm ambitious, I still want to be top of the pile, still want to be on the radio and I still want to write songs that thousands of people love, and find a place in their hearts, and be part of their musical history.
"As you get older, the grease that makes all the cogs go around sort of thickens, but I still want all of those things to happen."
Who: Robbie Williams
What: Let Me Entertain You tour
Where and when: Performing at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday, October 31, and at Vector Arena in Auckland on Tuesday, November 3.