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Gary Numan

SR: .Please tell us about what you’re up to nowadays, what project you’re working under?
GN: I’m just finishing another new album called ‘Jagged Halo’. It should be completely finished by July and released in September or October. It’s along the lines of my previous three albums, quite industrial and heavy. A blend of big guitar and dark synth. I expect to start touring the album as soon as it gets released. Playing live is my favourite thing these days.

SR: Could you please tell us about Paul Goodwin’s book about you? Was it written just by Paul himself as an art project or it was you who provided him with the biographical material?
GN: It was written by Paul entirely. I had nothing to do with it whatsoever, apart from writing the foreword. I’m amazed at the amount of information in it. I honestly didn’t know about many of the releases he mentions. Overseas versions of different singles and albums that I didn’t even know had been released. I now use that book as my own reference for my career. I have a very bad memory anyway and if I have a question about something I did in the past and can’t remember, that book will have the answer. I was very impressed with it.

The Cover of the Paul Goodwin’s book ‘Gary Numan: Electric Pioneer’.

SR: The question goes to you as a pioneer or Electro sound – what does sinthmusic mean, what is it at all? Does this kind of music have its own canons, rules?
GN: It depends on who you talk to. Some people think Electronic music should be just that, electronic, with no other instruments. Some people think it should only be experimental and not even follow conventional song structure, verse chorus verse, that kind of thing.
I don’t think that at all. For me electronic music works best when it’s added to conventional sounds and instrumentation. It’s that mix of new and old technology and sound experimentation that is the most exciting. I love synths and samplers but I also love guitars, drums and piano’s. If it does have any rules that are unique to itself then I’m unaware of them and would, in any case, refuse to follow them.
The search for new sounds is an ongoing process, the search for new ways of merging those sounds into a musical soundscape is also an ongoing process but rules would, without doubt, limit what you could achieve. Anything in music that says you must do this but you cannot do that, is restricting and should be ignored.

SR: You’ve once told that you’re interested in completely pure music experiment. Is there any experiment in your art nowadays and what is it like?
GN: I don’t really think of myself as ‘experimental’ in the way that far more radical artists are. I do however spend several months each year trying to create new sounds and I also spend a huge amount of time trying to find ways of processing sounds that remain usable within a modern electro/rock song but still push things forward a little. For someone to praise any particular sound on one of my albums is, to me, a great compliment. Sound creation is very different to song creation. If anything sound creation is a skill born out of the electronic music movement, a relatively new skill in musical history, and one that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. I’m sometimes more proud of certain sounds on a song than I am of the song itself because I’m aware that more work went in to that sound, or sounds, than the overall song melody and structure, which at times come together quite quickly and easily.

SR: When a composer chooses a strict and rough methodic of making music , it takes a lot of sensibility out of him to express himself. Do you follow this rule?
GN: I understand what you are saying. Method can be convenient for churning out the same old thing, and that may be all that some artists are interested in doing, but it doesn’t allow much room for change and progression and the need to try new ideas from time to time. It stifles experimentation of any kind.

SR: Good music has a treating effect on listeners. Do you agree?
GN: If you mean a beneficial effect then I would agree yes. I’m not sure about it being only for good music though. What I think is good is probably quite different to what my Dad thinks is good, we all have very different tastes and who is to say what’s good and what isn’t for everyone. It can’t be done. I think anyone that enjoys music of any kind finds it a positive part of their lives. Except perhaps for those of us who write it. I think for us it can be a very stressful and soul destroying part of our lives. I usually have more bad days than good as I struggle to create something new and different, again and again, year after year. And yet we still do it so I think it is more like a need than a desire. A kind of release. It’s almost as if we write to release the tension we create because we write. It’s either a happy circle or a vicious circle. It probably depends on what mood you wake up with each morning. Today is a happy circle day for me.

SR: What kind of world you wouldn’t like to live in?
GN: I’m not entirely sure I’d ever want to live in any world that was populated by human beings if I had a choice. We’re not very nice creatures are we? What a strange contradiction we are. Capable of incredible bravery and kindness, the most amazing creations both scientific and artistic, and yet more savage and cruel than anything else on the planet. The biggest fears we have, almost anywhere in the world, are usually our fears of what other people might do to us or those we love. Outside of my working life I try to live in my own little world and keep the real one as far away as possible.

SR: What kind of lie do people feel in need of nowadays?
GN: That people are essentially good. I don’t believe it. With terrorism such an everyday part of our lives and wars still a common thing, murder and atrocity on street corners the world over, I think many people feel the need more than ever to believe in the basic goodness of mankind. To some people though, that same cruel reality is the very reason why they find it so hard to believe that there can possibly be a basic goodness in mankind. I know I struggle to believe it.

SR: What is the name of “the sound” you’re living in today?
GN: Babble. A mixture of baby talk and normal conversation turned into codewords for little ears to misunderstand or ignore.

Gary Numan with his daughter.

SR: What was in music atmosphere of 70s what is lacking in music nowadays?
GN: A certain degree of individuality seems to be lacking these days. We have a few, but not many, artists that have a sound and style that is unique to them. Mostly though bands fall in to one of a small range of categories. They look the same, they sound the same and say the same things. I find very little of much interest but some people do still go their own way. I blame record company policy for most of the problems and, in the UK anyway, radio blandness for the rest. Many record labels show an extraordinary reluctance to sign anything that isn’t radio friendly. Then, as soon as something breaks, they all try to sign their version of the same thing. It’s a bit like motor cars. One car company puts out a model that is very slightly different to the one before and all the others follow in design. So you have a very slowly evolving, risk free, slightly bland with everything looking very similar row of cars in every car park around the world. Music feels like that at the moment.

SR: You have got endless number of followers and imitators. Please name those ones who you seem to like?
GN: I love Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, both of whom have covered my songs but, truthfully, there have been so many that it’s quite difficult to pick favourites. I’m very proud that so many people have covered my songs or used samples from them and for people to say I’ve been an influence on them is obviously very flattering. Anyone that’s in a band and feels that what I’ve done, or what I’m doing, helps them in some way I can only say that I’m doing the same thing. I’m listening to everything, all the time, and I’m still learning from others new ways of doing things. It’s the way it should be. We should all learn from each other. I hate it when I read about a band that claims to be completely original. I don’t believe in it. I believe that as soon as you start to listen to music you are influenced by it in some way. You may love it and want to emulate it or maybe you hated it and don’t want to make music like it. That is still a kind of influence and so true originality is a myth. WE are all influenced from the moment we’re born. Everything is a variation on what came before to a greater or lesser degree. The best we can do is to try and be as unique as possible in the way we use and mix our influences with our own ideas.

SR: It’s been not so long ago since the release of your live DVD. You seemed so glad during the typed concert. Please describe this show to those who hasn’t got a chance to see it.
GN: It many ways it’s just a normal Gary Numan show. It’s the way we, me and the band that is, look and sound these days. The thing that made this gig different to any other was the fact that my daughter Raven was born the day before. Fans knew that my wife and I had been trying for many years to have a baby and had some horrible upsets along the way. The birth of Raven, and being able to share such a thing the next day with the crowd, gave the show a remarkable atmosphere. I tried very hard to stay cool and aggressive on stage but I was too happy to be convincing I think and I kept smiling. For me it was an amazing and emotional night. Many of my songs are very dark and heavy and it was difficult to perform them properly when all I felt was incredibly happy. The DVD has 20 songs which span most of the early years and much of the recent years but very little from the middle period. I’m not that keen on my ‘middle’ period. It also has a brand new song from the forthcoming Jagged halo album on it plus over an hour of behind the scenes interviews with me and the band.

SR: You have been in touch with your fans through your website mostly as we could understand. Do you keep the website in your own hands or have special people who keep it? Tell us about your “web home”.
GN: I have my own web site called NuWorld at I first built the site in 1995. I taught myself raw code html and slowly, through trial and error, learnt how to put a very basic site together. NuWorld has been an amazing tool for reaching out to fans around the world. It’s been a vitally important part of keeping my career alive and flourishing over the last ten years. I run the site myself, single-handed. I create my own graphics, write my own code and obviously write all the text throughout the site. I enjoy it a lot. It allows me to keep very much in touch with what people are thinking about the work I’m doing. The site has music and video clips for people to check out. I put new songs on it from time to time, it also has a shop where fans can buy anything from DVD’s, albums to t-shirts and old newsletters. Most of all though, the site is for news. I avoid rumour of any kind and only put on-line facts about what I’m doing, what I’m planning and so on.

SR: We’ve heard you’re a fan of the planes. Do you still pilot?
GN: Not as much as I used to. For many years I was a low level aerobatic display pilot. I was part of a formation aerobatic team and flew at airshows all over Europe flying World War 2 planes. I even taught formation aerobatics for a while. Sadly though this kind of flying is very dangerous and most of the team, and many, many other friends, were killed in crashes. These days my wife has banned me from airshow flying and I understand why she feels that way. My brother is also an airshow pilot and I worry about him all the time so I know how my wife feels. These days I fly around in less dangerous airplanes.

SR: What would you like to wish to those who’s eager to become musicians?
GN: Do it. Being in a band is the greatest thing in the world. Even if you have no success it is still the best thing. Traveling around the country, or perhaps the world if you’re lucky, playing your music to people, seeing things and having experiences that most people will never even dream of. I love it. It’s worth every sacrifice you might have to make. And you live constantly with the possibility that at any time your dream could come true. You could make it, be a huge success and enjoy everything the world has to offer. But you will need a very thick skin to withstand the inevitable set backs and rejections, you will need an almost obsessive amount of dedication and devotion. You must remember everyone that helps you and never stop being grateful to them, no matter how successful you become.
Most important of all are the fans. They are everything, your life blood. Never look down on them, always have time for them, always remember how much you need them and always remember that amongst them are the stars of tomorrow so never think you’re better than they are. We’re all just people, some are just luckier than others.

April 2005

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