The revelatory NME cover feature, for which writer Tom Howard met Justin Bieber to talk Gandhi, child stardom, Amy Winehouse and the singer’s recent reputation for bad behaviour, was also accompanied by a killer photo shoot. These are the outtakes.
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We spent two hours in a five-star hotel room with Bieber. Naturally he whipped out the skateboard.
The 50-million-selling teen idol revealed a more vulnerable side in the interview, saying: "I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary... I had tears in my eyes because I could see what the media was doing to her. She was on drugs and they were just making fun of that. People thought it was funny to poke her when she was at rock bottom... And that’s what they were trying to do to me."
Legendary NME photographer Dean Chalkley stuck on a playlist during the shoot, which he told Biebs to turn off if it became annoying. Bieber immediately turned it off and played his own new record, 'Purpose'.
Although he lamented press intrusion into his life, Bieber kept everything in perspective. “If I wanna do this, there’s gonna be darkness thrown at me,” he said.
There was a crowd of Beliebers outside the hotel. Our man on the scene noted that they wanted to know one thing: “Is he OK?”
Biebs reckoned his bad behaviour caused a ruckus because he was being held up to an unreasonably high standard: "I was a wholesome pop star who was so amazing who had nice hair and a fucking image that no one could ever live up to... If you see Ghandi roll up a blunt, it’s different to seeing Ryan Gosling roll up a blunt. You wouldn’t give Ryan Gosling a hard time.”
NME reporter Tom Howard noted: "He’s not a total diva. When asked to do skateboard tricks off a variety of hotel furniture he just grabs his deck and does it. The same goes for his willingness to wrap a plastic joke shop knife around his head."
Bieber was feeling confident before the (amazing) single 'Sorry' was released, writing on Instagram: “If you don’t like ‘Sorry’ I will punch myself in the face repeatedly.”
Bieber's still no angel, having walked out of a radio appearance and live performance since the interview. But he's philosophical about the rigours of stardom, telling our reporter: “I’m alive, and that’s all that matters".