I took the first few years off and spent them recovering. I didn't even know what day it was or who I was anymore, so I made a conscious effort to end it all. I thought my days were numbered as a pop star anyway. My girlfriend and I had a daughter, I had some money, so I just took the time off to chill out.
I didn't like the music business and I didn't like me. There's an element of falseness about the whole thing. Even things like doing an interview. It's not as though we just met in the pub and are having a chat — it's part of a process. If you do it all day, every day for years, you end up thinking: 'Who the hell am I?' I was lucky enough to make some money, enough to let me kick back. It was a great experience and it was nice to have a couple of No.1s but the best thing about it was that the money I made allowed me to have freedom and choice in my life.
As quoted in Metro (3 September 2004)
I did enjoy it," he says. "But it was very, very weird. You can blab on about seeing the other side of fame, but it doesn't mean shit until it happens to you. It wasn't so much the going on TV, or going to award ceremonies, or having a camera focused on your face. It was being famous in the supermarket, being famous in a restaurant. Fame is not just about being able to get out of a limo in Leicester Square, it's about trying to get into your house when there are eight photographers outside. When you think about being famous, you don't think about all that stuff. You think about the glamour. I wanted to turn the tap off when I'd done my job. But you can't.