Edition 4 of our monthly interaction with Gary. Info on how to send questions are at the end of the session.
I have inclded questions that were sent in early December because I thought there was no need to wait till next month. Gary responded in one day - I was taken back!
As usual some questions have been reworded though only slightly this time, mainly to enable us to get more info from Gary.
I'd like to remind people to state their name and location on their questions. It is a pain for me to have to email people for more info. I think it only courteous for Gary to know who is asking the questions (many email addresses are quite anonymous).
It is quite noticeable that most questions come from people in the USA, UK and Canada. I know we have subscribers in many non-English speaking countries. Don't worry if you think your written English is not first rate (very few can claim that here) and I will adjust any questions that may have some basic problems.
OK, onto the Qs & As.
I thoroughly enjoy the Human album and have a couple of questions considering the soundtrack and instrumentals: Q1. How did the sountrack project for The Unborn come about? Will you consider doing any more soundtracks both pursuing them yourself or being asked? A1. The director of the film, a man called Rodman Flender, had bought 'Cars' when it was first available and remembered the b-side song 'Asylum' as being something that might be useable on his first film project 'The Unborn'. He got in contact with us to talk about it and it kind of grew from then on. I wanted to work with Mike Smith for speed and for moral support as I had no idea if I was capable of writing film music or not and so, together, we sent a steady supply of music over to America for Rodman to listen to, approve and comment on. To be honest it was all very easy although I think another director could make it a bit of a nightmare as you are totally at their mercy. I would like to do more film work, things are often being rumoured as coming my way, but it would have to fit around my main music. I would guess that about 4 or 5 film projects have been mentioned since 'The Unborn' but none of them have come to anything. I don't exactly hold my breath waiting anymore.
I would like to start (almost in cliche) by saying how much I have enjoyed your writing style and overall musical charisma..I feel you are one of the true musical innovators of our time..... I have three questions... Q2. On the DANCE album, you thank Roger Taylor (of Queen) for 'the airman..' could you elaborate as to the meaning of this credit? A2. The Airman was a small pub that put local bands on. Roger had come to visit me in the studio that evening and I had told him that, later on that evening,I was going to visit my brother John. John was playing his first ever live gig, as drummer, with his band at the pub. Roger said he would come along so it caused something of a stir to say the least that night when we both walked in to watch John play. Roger was very good with the public, very patient, and then he gave John some cool advice on drums and drumming which put John on cloud 9 for about a year. It was just a very nice and down to earth thing to do. One of my earliest memories is going backstage after a Queen gig in London when I was about 16 and being amazed at the time and care they had for their fans. I never forgot how well they treated them and it was a major lesson in how to behave, no matter how famous or successful you become. I've met them many times since, after my own success mainly, and they are exactly the same. They are VERY cool people. Real shame about Freddie.
Q3. I understand you don't keep in touch with Ced Sharpley, Christopher Payne, and Rrussel Bell but do you know what musical projects are they are a part of today? A3. Chris writes music for library archives. When you see a documentary about animals or whatever, incidental music, that's the sort of thing Chris does. I'm told he is very good at it and quite successful now. Cedric has a band of his own that plays mainly in military bases at dances. It's not full time though. Rrussell, as far as I know, writes comedy sketches now but I don't know who for or if he still writes or even plays music anymore. Haven't seen Rrussell for a long time.
Q4. Some artists claim they don't own their own albums...if this is not the case for you, what are your favorite songs or albums of your own...? ( my favorite numan song, is 'Stories'..brilliant!!) A4. I don't have a very good collection of my own stuff although Gemma does so I can get to most of it. I had trouble finding the sleeves to scan for the NuWORLD site and borrowed most of them from Gemma. This is in no way a well thought out list but without doubt my favourite album is 'Sacrifice'. It's been over a year now and I still think that so I tend to think that's a true statement and not just because it's the most recent. Songs, a quick top 10 and not including any from 'Sacrifice' would be: Absolution My Breathing Down In The Park Noise Noise This Is My House Slowcar To China Voix Rumour I'm An Agent (latest live version) That's it, can't think of a tenth. Maybe 'Respect'.
Q5. Why did you remix 'The Fear' and 'Puppets' on Babylon 3? Did you want to or have to? A5. I had to do one, Puppets, because the original master was missing and the other track was on the same 2" reel so I thought I would do it as I was already there so to speak.
Q6. If there were no limitations, are there any artists you would like to work with in the future and any you would like to work with again? A6. I don't really think that way to be honest. I suppose I'm a bit of a creative hermit really. I don't look around the business and look for people to work with nor am I so impressed with anyone that I long for a chance to work on a project together with them. This is not to say that I think nobody has any talent, far from it, as in my opinion my musical skills are minimalist to say the least and I look at others with great admiration. It's just that I'm comfortable in my own little world and I prefer to stay there, with only the smallest amount of outside contact, especially when it comes to work and music. Also, although I'm impressed by the talent of other people, they very rarely seem to have anything that I want to add to what I'm doing. I did try in the past to cautiously involve other people and I just slowly lost the 'Numanness' of what I was doing somewhere along the way. Hence the return to isolation resulting in the 'Sacrifice' album. However, who knows what will turn up in the future as I'm not saying no to any collaborations only that it would seem unlikely.
Q7. Since I started following your music...(I can't lie, it was the Pleasure Principle...what else, right?) to me, what made you so different than other artists was the obvious musical style changes you experimented with from album to album, tour to tour. In my opinion, this is why no one will ever be sick of Gary Numan's music, b/c if you get sick of one album or style, there are many others... My question is, what musical influences were the basis for these changes? Where do all these ideas come from, musically speaking? A7. Very hard to say. Creativity, inspiration, whatever you want to call it, comes from anything and everything. From your life and experience, imagination (and that is fed from who knows where) and just having your eyes, ears and mind open to as many things as possible. My nature, my character, is the glue that binds these other influences together. It is the basic shape that everything else is draped over and that is why I have what people call a 'style' or a 'sound'. Although the music itself would appear to have undergone many changes, underneath it all is a thread of continuity. Sometimes it may be difficult to spot because I've gone through a lot of growing up since I first started writing with some quite fundamental shifts in opinion and understanding but, nonetheless, my basic nature has stayed pretty much the same. I'm not sure this is a very good answer but it's impossible to list the infinite variety and mix of things that make us change as we go along.
Q8. Does Gemma have a particularly favorite album or song by you?? A8. Gemma's favourite album is 'Sacrifice' but she thinks that 'Exile' is already sounding better than that. 'Jo The Waiter' is her favourite song. Actually she just said that that is her favourite song by anyone, ever, so I guess that confirms it.
Hi Gary, I have been a fan for only three years. I found out about you through a friend who told me that you and I had the same "style" of music. I listened to his CD (which was Outland) and I thought he was insane (the reason being that my sound was closer to the Sacrifice). Until I listened again and again and realized that it was perfection. Anyhow time has passed and I have every album you've ever made (my favourite being Sacrifice). I know that we'll probably never meet but I was wondering: Q9. What is it that makes you write songs? A9. When I was young it was on overwhelming desire to meet women and make money. I was therefore shallower than a puddle. Then it became more artistic, then it became somewhat desperate and now it is more like a need.
Q10. Are you influenced by personal experiences or is it something else? A10. Personal experience is a major part of it and has been since Telekon onwards but many other things play a part.
Q11. Do you write the music or the words first? A11. I always write the music first, perhaps the odd lyrical line or two at times but I never write an entire lyric and then add the music. I think it's the wrong way to do it, certainly for me anyway. I have a real hang up about phrasing. I can't stand songs where people split words up to make them fit. Make the word 'street' have about five syllables, that kind of thing. I write the music and then I sing absolute gibberish across it making up noises as I go. These noises give me the correct phrasing, the best vocal 'feel' for the song, and I then make the lyrics fit that. In that way everything fits together like a hand in a glove. It also helps in that the mood of the music will lead me, often, in a particular direction lyrically. Very few of my songs have many rhyming lyrics. Accurate phrasing helps avoid the need for rhyming in my opinion and that, in turn, helps avoid cliche lyrics that seem to plague so many songs.
Q12. Do you spend much of your time creating (when you're not flying [or dealing with the Internet :-) - sorry couldn't resist - Derek])? A12. Quite a lot. Flying doesn't actually take up much time. Last year I only flew for about 30 hours for example. The Internet is taking up about 14 to 16 hours a day and has been for about 4 months now, off and on, which is another reason why moving the 'Exile' album back didn't exactly break my heart. I have an alternative NuWORLD site completely built that I'm running on test at home, mainly as a learning vehicle, and another radically new design that I've been working on that I may use instead of the current look. I'm putting a huge effort into it at the moment but I do expect that to calm down a bit in the new year. It will have to as I have a lot of tour prep to get underway and I still have 'Exile' to finish. Anyway, thanks for your time and I hope to meet someday...and don't every stop making music because it is your music that keeps me going.
Hi Gary. I have a simple question that has been on my mind for quite some time (years, in fact!): Q13. I've often wondered what Zom-Zom's was in Down in the Park "Come to Zom-Zom's, a place to eat like it was built in one day...." Is Zom-Zom's something that was just made up, or does it have any meaning to you? A13. It's not a place that I was ever aware of but I'm sure I heard it somewhere. It may have come from a 'Jobriath' song in the seventies as I was a big 'Jobriath' fan. Thanks!
Hi Gary, I'm an expat. Brit, living in Vancouver, Canada. I've been a fan of yours since the day I saw you do "Friends" on Top of the Pops all those years ago. I belonged to your fan club until I left Britain, and am sad to see that we can't belong from overseas. It's just one more thing I miss from home. My question is: Q14. When you're getting your material together for the "unplugged" album I hear about, PLEASE could you do something about "Complex". Complex has always been my favourite song anywhere, ever. However, there is something wrong with it. It's just too darned short. Can you make it about 10 minutes long, and play it again, just for me? A14. First of all I'm pleased to say that the fan club is international as from Jan 1st '96, you can get all the details from the NuWORLD web site. The unplugged album is still quite a long way off but I think that 'Complex' would be a good candidate for that album. Don't know about 10 minutes though, how depressed can you get? BTW If you ever feel like visiting Vancouver, I've got a venue for you to play.
Q15. Judging by the diversity, and the complexity of all your albums, it would seem like a lot of work for someone who puts out as much music as you do...were there any albums that standout as more of a pain in the ass to make, as opposed to others? or did you kind of develop a system whereby it flowed pretty smoothly throughout your career....(i know my band just recorded a cd and it took nine months and many grey hairs....) A15. One of the advantages of working as a solo artist is that I don't have to endure the endless 'debates' in a studio about what should go where and how loud it should be, the 'I think it needs more of me' syndrome. This is good on the one hand but on the other can be very lonely and frightening when I run out of ideas and have no-one to lean on. My worst album for that has to be 'Machine And Soul' where I ended up leaning on Kipper and putting out an album that was not very 'Numany'. I find this kind of problem even harder these days as I now do virtually everything short of driving the truck to the shop with the CD's in the back. I don't always feel as though I can spare enough time to just lose myself and wonder the way I would like to because there are just so many jobs to do.
I think Human is beautiful and have been waiting to hear you do something like this since I first heard your cover of Erik Satie's Trois Gymnopedies back in "19whatever". Q16. I've often wondered if there was any reason you chose to cover that particular piece, and why only the 1st movement and not the other 2 also? A16. It was always my favourite piano piece which was the main reason for choosing it and, in those days, I didn't realise it had three parts. I was only aware at the time of the one that I did, I think it was on a TV ad or maybe a nature program.
Not much is known about your relationship with Robert Palmer back around 1980. All we've got is the fact that you've got co-writer credits on his "Found You Now" and "Style Kills" songs, plus of course he covered "I Dream Of Wires". We also know that you're credited with performing on keyboards in both "Style Kills" and "I Dream Of Wires". My questions are: Q17. How did this relationship come about? A17. I was told that Robert was playing a couple of my songs live and so I went along to see him play at Hammersmith Odeon (Apollo), met him afterwards and he then invited me and Paul Gardiner out to work on a few tracks at his place in the Bahamas. That's where he first heard 'I Dream Of Wires'.
Q18. Have you ever given any thought to recording either "Style Kills" or "Found You Now"? A18. No, not really. I like both those songs a lot so maybe I should.
Q19. Does your relationship with Robert continue to exist in any form? A19. I haven't seen him since an Italian TV show in about 1981 but he was over here recently and still had kind words to say about me in an interview which was nice. For what it's worth 'Addicted To Love' is one of my all time favourite songs.
Hello Gary, Q20. I read that you have an interest in firearms and was wondering what your favorite handgun was. I purchased a Glock 17 9mm awhile back and really enjoy it. Have you had any experience with Glock? A20. A small interest yes but I don't really know one gun from another. I have a SPAS 12 shotgun, although made virtually useless by British regulations, and another over under shotgun. When I lived in America I had a couple of AR15 rifles (one smaller than the other, can't remember the names of each model), an Ithaca pump action shotgun and a Beretta (dodgy spelling I'm sure) handgun. I enjoyed them a lot but it's just too difficult here to really get involved unless it is a MAJOR hobby. I sold the guns when I left America.
Q21. On the cover of the 'America' single is a blurred image taken from a television screen which seems to depict two men, one standing, the other sitting. So you have an idea what program or ad the image is from? A21. I'm looking at it now and no, sorry, haven't got a clue. The sleeves for the IRS singles were mostly done without my involvement. Most things at IRS were done without my involvement actually.
Dear Gary, Q22. My first question to you is, why did you choose a Gibson Les Paul? A22. Mick Ronson and Marc Bolan used them. My first one was a 58 gold top but it was stolen when our house was burgled in 1977.
Q23. Do you feel more comfortable writing a song on the guitar than you do on keyboard? A23. No, I don't play guitar very well so I tend to write the same kind of thing thing on guitar whenever I pick it up. I'm not very good at keyboards either but I can at least come up with slightly different things. As soon as I put on a guitar the frustrated rock God inside of me leaps to the fore, poses intact and arms punching the air. If I didn't write music I would probably have ended up trying to get a job in a rock band.
Gary, Everyone seems to explain what an impact you have had on their lives, and I for one can certainly vouch for that. I remember back in '82 my mum saying, "It's just a phase, you'll grow out of it" Here I am, 27 and more a fan today than I have ever been. Also very excited about the newer darker Numan, really asking the questions that seem to be taboo. I have a slightly strange question really. I am an amatuer Magician and as such obviously find your music very powerful for performance. Q24. Have you ever considered teaming up with a quality magician to mutually raise your profile? There is a British Magician 'Wayne Dobson' who I am sure you have heard of, he seems to suffer a lot of the things that you do with press etc. I strongly suggest you see him live as his show is extremely dark in places and would work well with your music. Not really sure how you could work together, but the idea I think would suit your current music excellently. A24. I can't think how we would work together either. I did tour New Zealand once and I think the support act did fire breathing and juggling. I thought about using a hypnotist as the support a while back but decided against it. I don't think that I could work with a magicain in a live situation, our on stage demands are very different, but I would be glad if they used my music during their shows.
Q25. On the _Replicas_ album, the speaker of the songs seems to be a human living in a futuristic environment. On _The Pleasure Principle_, the speaker appears to have changed to a machine/robot. Was there any conscious decision by you for making this change of speaker and perspective? A25. Replicas was my only true Sci Fi album. I had a few songs before it and a few after that drifted on to the Pleasure Principle album, but since then they have been few and far between. The change in perspective from Replicas to Pleasure Principle wasn't an intentional change in any way. Replias was very much a collection of short stories that looked at a potential future, based around a particular city. The songs on Pleasure Principle were already becoming more personal, 'Cars' for example being about my fear of people and my feelings of security when in the car. The Sci Fi songs, M.E etc were seperate to the Replicas idea, probably because they didn't fit in with the Replicas scenario and where really just loose ends from my Sci Fi period. I don't actually have much interest in reading that stuff anymore either although I am very interested in future technology and still love Sci Fi on TV and at the cinema.
Q26. Also, given the dramatic change in style between the _Telekon_ and _Dance_ albums, I'm almost inclined to believe that there is something missing from this period. Are there any experimental tapes/demos or songs from this time that reflect a synthesis of the two albums which were never released? Thank you and keep up the great work! A26. None whatsoever that I can remember. The thing to bear in mind is that I went through a massive change of life between those two albums. Telekon was my first, and very early, reactions to becoming famous. Dance was written after I'd had a short while to get used to it although, as it turned out, I was more confused then than perhaps at any other time of my life. I can't think of many bigger changes that someone can go through than the onslaught of fame from nothing. For a while I was one of the biggest selling artists in the world, that brings with it pressure that's just impossible to convey, especially as most creative people have a hint of instability running through them to begin with. I took it all very badly, reacted strangely, coped with it like a spoilt frightened child and eventually, when it was too late, realised what was so amazing about it and have tried unsuccessfully to recapture it ever since. I think the radical change that those two albums, and others, are witness to is what makes them so interesting. I can remember feeling that way, I can remember everything that was important to me about those days, I just can't remember the lyrics. ---------------------------------------------------------- That's it Derek, thanks as always. Gary Numan.
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