Interview: Gary Numan
So very few artists from the late seventies can lay claim to a continued career in the present. Fewer still have experienced such a resurgence in popularity today as synth Pop revolutionary Gary Numan. Jimmy Volts caught the man himself during preparations for his ‘Machine Music’ tour to discuss his blinding return to form.
It’s 9.30am and Gary is sat laminating passes for his current greatest hits tour, which climaxes at Brighton Dome this month. He’s declaring his love for the road, describing how it’s “head and shoulders above anything else he does.” But let’s put things into perspective here. By the mid-nineties the glory days of New Wave had given way Brit-Pop. Numan wasn’t even on the radar; a far cry from the success of his 1979 smash hits ‘Cars’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’. He muses on his erratic trajectory throughout the years…
“The vast majority of artists that have been around for a long time reach a point where they tend to get (he pauses)… ‘safer’. I’ve tried really hard to do the opposite. Each album I’ve made over the last fifteen years has been heavier and darker than the one before. As a result, I don’t get radio play. But it’s massively satisfying seeing those records receive good reviews and see new generations of people getting into them. I’m really proud of that.”
Gary’s obviously not afraid to go against the grain, which may well be the secret behind his recent popularity. Last year’s ‘Dead Son Rising’ L.P saw him enjoy a hugely positive public response and numerous award nominations which lead to a genuine ‘phoenix from the ashes’ moment. He’s not afraid to move with the times either, and recently ran competitions for fans to submit their own videos for his stage show (“…the results of which are stunning!” he exclaims) and remixes for inclusion on the forthcoming album. So is this direct contact with the fans important to him?
“It’s no secret that the music industry is crumbling. but the more you can include your fans in what you’re doing, the closer the bond you build. There are people standing in the audience who are going to be massive successes in their own right. One of the remixes I received was so brilliant, that when we tour the festivals this year, I’ll be playing that version. Because it’s so much better than mine!”
For all of Gary’s ups and downs over the years, one thing is certain. Despite his musical stature and influence, the bumpy ride of the last three decades has ensured that his everyman modesty lies fully intact.
Words by Jimmy Volts.
Gary Numan will appear at the Brighton Dome on June 3 in support of his new greatest hits record/DVD ‘Machine Music’ which is released on June 11.
Tickets available at time of print from tickets.brightondome.org