How does Dandelion Mind compare to your TV work?
"The show would probably appear to be more rehearsed and slightly slicker... I usually appear on TV in some slightly dishevelled, bewildered state! It's a more refined, concentrated version. It's a mixture of straightforward stand-up - jokes and observational stuff - mixed in with longer routines. It's like a pot pourri if you like - a melange of different comedic elements - it's like a visual, musical spectacle."
Is this show very different from your past sets?
"For me it represents a return to the roots of stand-up. I wanted to be able to do it in a small venue and then expand into bigger venues, rather than just create a massive show for a big arena. It's about opinions, my view of the world, the coalition, the government, the Catholic Church, the concept of doubt - doubt and uncertain times that we've got. It's a mixture of a lot of what I feel about the world, plus a lot of music."
Do you consciously try to balance the music and spoken word parts?
"No, I don't think so. You go with what you find funny or something you find a bit of inspiration for. For every show I probably write three times as much stuff as I need and then you pare it down. In that process you tend to then balance it out a little bit. It goes in cycles... In this particular one there's loads of jokes. I don't know whether that's a conscious thing or a reaction to the longer conceptual shows that I've done before. I think because it's a rootsy type show that it's very joke-heavy... it's a more traditional show."
Do you worry about topical material dating?
"There's stuff about the coalition or football, but even then the coalition's going to be with us for five years, and however much I'd hope things are going to be different, England football doesn't seem to change very much! I talk about stuff that I feel strongly about and I think that even if it doesn't have that longevity, the passion and the anger that it caused at the time almost stays fresh... Very often it'll be valid for years to come. You never quite know how subjects are going to drift from the news or stay in the news, but you just have to go instinctively with what feels right."
You make some comments about Simon Cowell - is that something you really feel strongly about?
"I do, I genuinely do. I think there's something very hollow at the heart of all the talent shows. I think there's something that's corrosive. Generally, it eats away at people's idea of what fame is, what celebrity is, what the rewards for fame should be - the correlation between talent and money and fame. It's overheated and overcooked to such an extent that young people - impressionable people - are going to have their views of all these things warped by it."
Are his shows different from the old-fashioned talent shows?
"Talent shows have been around since the beginning of television, it's nothing new, but what's different about X Factor and Britain's Got Talent is that the stakes are much higher now. It used to be just an amateur talent competition and if you won it you might get a summer season at Blackpool and that's the end of it. Now it's ten million hits on YouTube, it's number one albums - so for those people who don't make it it's a crushing blow that should have just been a shrug and, 'Maybe next year'."
Is that really Cowell's fault?
"I find it's very cynical and very manipulative because he owns the record company, he owns the format of the TV show - it's like the house wins any way you look at it. Some of these kids can sing, and yet they're being put through this mill like that's the gold standard of how to progress in your musical career and it shouldn't be that. The X Factor shouldn't be the way that you get famous - you should be able to play in venues around the country, find your own style and carve out your own identity - then you get more of a sense of self-worth."
As a talented musician yourself do you ever think of going on the road with straight songs?
"Yeah, definitely. Next year one of my other projects is to assemble a small group of musicians and actually write some music that we can incorporate in the show, like ...Guide To The Orchestra I did last year. It would be a guide to various different styles of music - jazz, funk, blues - to have a bit more fun. There's certainly a limit to what I can do on the stage on my own, I can only play one guitar, one keyboard."
"One oud [laughs]. One oud, one vision! What ...The Orchestra showed is that there's a lot more potential for exploration of music if you have a group of musicians together. I'd love to have a jazz trio. That's another of the things I've always wanted to play in, so that might be a project for next year."
How did you come to leave Never Mind The Buzzcocks?
"To be honest, I was basically sidelined from the show. Buzzcocks normally records in October and the BBC moved the recordings forward two months and so it clashed with a lot of stuff I'd already booked. I'd had a tour of Australia, an orchestra tour and a West End run. They said, 'Could you just cancel them?' I thought, how utterly contemptuous do the BBC treat their artists? Thinking I'm sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. You've got to get on with things. How rude are you to just assume I'm going to knock these things on the head? I said, 'I can't do it - I can't cancel these shows'. They said, 'How many can you do?', and I could do 7 or 8 out of 12 or something and they said, 'Well that's not enough', and I said, 'Well there you go'."
Stephen Fry cryptically suggested that someone on the QI panel gets some help...
"Oh really? I've no idea what he's talking about. It's one of those very cryptic Fry-isms [laughs]. Like one of those things where he has a hissy fit and says he's going to leave Twitter. It's probably one of those."
What was it like to audition for The Hobbit? Are you hopeful of getting some role in the film?
"I read for the part of Glóin, Gimli's dad, but I don't know... I think now that they've resolved the actors' dispute suddenly all those actors that they were not able to look at now they can. Logistically it makes more sense to use actors in New Zealand rather than try to parachute in a load of people - it'd cost a fortune! I don't know, I'm still waiting to see."
How did it feel to be named the seventh best stand-up in a Channel 4 poll?
"They're all a bit meaningless, polls, really. You've no idea who's been asked and what are the criteria and you can see sometimes that it's people who have just happened to be on TV at that moment. It is quite flattering to be included in a poll I suppose, but I don't set too much stall by that."
Bill Bailey's Dandelion Mind is available on DVD now