As usual, info on how to send questions are at the end of the session.
As ever, Gary responded in a very timely manner.
I'd like to remind you all to please not post questions to the Digest and to state their name and location on their questions.
Nice to see our subscribers in Germany taking part. How about you guys down under or in the Scandnavian countries? You outnumber the German contingent manifold (yes that is a challenge) :-)
In this session, Gary reponds to your comments as well as questions. All his text is indented. I have noticed some of you are writing paragraphs ahead of your questions. Please try and restrict the tendency as Gary already spends a day answering our questions and I don't want to take even more of his time.
I am really looking forward to Exile (especially after downloading the .au's from NuWORLD!). One thing, though; I heard it mentioned that, in the wake of the upcoming Castle dance-mix album, you were considering signing to Castle. For all I know this may be an utterly unfounded rumor, but if not, I am concerned, mainly because I felt that what made "Sacrifice" so strong was your complete creative control over the entire project. As Castle has already made demands such as wanting the Prince cover on the remix album, it doesn't strike me that they would be willing to be the sort of label that just accepted the tapes and put your albums out the way you wanted them with no interference. I know the wider worldwide exposure a major label deal would bring would be marvellous but I'd just hate to see you fall into another IRS debacle now that your career, both musically and in the public awareness arena, seems to be in a genuine renaissance. Anyway, my long-winded point would be: one major label I think would do you justice is Trent Reznor's Nothing, which is distributed through WEA, I think. And Nine Inch Nails have reportedly recorded a cover of "Metal." Q1. I'm just curious if you WERE considering seeking a new deal with a major at all, and what you might think of my idea? What do you think of NIN and Reznor anyway? Just a thought, really. PS I'm very impressed by your willingness to talk directly to fans via the Internet and NuWORLD but please, don't let us interfere with the real work. Feel free to tell us "Piss off, I'm recording" whenever you like. A1. I am looking at trying for a deal with a major. ANY record company will interfere and so creative control becomes comprimised and you end up in a political tapdance to try to get as much of the record the way you want it as possible. It's horrible and I hate that side of the business. Signing with a smaller label CAN take away some of that interferance but also takes away the selling power that is so important, particularly for non mainstream music like mine. Don't forget that IRS was hardly a major label but they sure interefered. I don't know anything about Trent Reznor's Nothing label so I can't say whether they would be interested in me, good for me or whatever. I like Nine Inch Nails though so it would be quite exciting to be involved in that set up.
Gary: Count me in for a BIG "Yes" vote for an unplugged album. I can think of many songs (i.e. Stories, Complex, etc.) that I'd like to hear acoustic versions of - I'm sure you have some favorites too. Just look at how well "Jo The Waiter" has gone over on the past two tours. Hope to see you in America in 1996!! Q2. On the "Music For Chameleons" single, the b-side contains the track "Noise Noise". What exactly did David Van Day do for the track to be credited for helpful hints? A2. He was just very funny to be around. The credit was more a thank you for his good humour than anything musical. Q3. Was there a particular reason you used the "medical symbol" as part of the Sacrifice covers, image, etc.? A3. I had no idea it was a medical symbol at the time, that all came out later. I just thought it was a good blend of shapes with religious overtones. Q4. Can you describe some of the more interesting "trinkets" that fans have throw up on stage at your concerts? What do you do with them all? A4. Bras, knickers, sanitary towels (unused), whips, handcuffs, dildo's, inflatable toys and teddy bears. Thanks again for all the music over the years! Keeping the Gary Numan discography up-to-date has been quite a task :-) Keep the music coming...
Gary, Q5. Please can you tell us the latest keyboard set-up you use. Are you still using the D50 and M1? Plus What's your favourite keyboard? Thanks, Andy A5. I have a GEM S2 Turbo, Alessis Quadrasynth, Akai S1000, Roland D-550, Korg M1REX, Korg Wavestation SR and a Digitech Valve FX guitar unit.
Hi Gary, I wanted to thank you for your honest (and often amusing) answers. It seems to me that this interaction is a rare occurrence in the music world today (with some of the arrogance of big time artists). It's that which has made me more of a Numan fan than in the last 15 yrs of my Numanoid-ism. (forgive the word) Q6. If you remember, what is the joke in the lead-in to "My Centurion"...It's a neat way to begin the song to include that outtake of your chat with the engineer. (It's so much a part of the song to me, that if I ever covered that tune, I would include that :) ) A6. I'm not sure but I used to have an ongoing joke with Nick Smith, the engineer, along the lines of 'what disgusting, dangerous or unpleasant things would you do for a million pounds'. I think that intro to 'My Centurion' is the tale end of one of those 'Would you?' questions. I have read a dozen references or so about you over the years as being an instrumental part of the "electronic revolution" of the late 70's/early 80's. I've even heard you referred to as "the leader" of said revolution...no one knows more than you of the exaggeration(both good and bad) of the media. So, what i would like to know is, Q7. Where did you pick up all your knowledge of synthesizers? and where does this knowledge fit into the time frame of this "electronic wave" that everyone rode at that time. A7. I learnt as I went. I had no great knowledge then and don't really have a great deal now. It was more to do with how I used the technology rather than how much I knew about HOW it worked. I've always said that I arrange noises. I'm not truly a musician and I'm certainly not a technical wizard. I was one of the first to succeed with synth based music, nothing more. I have two Tubeway Army related questions I've been wondering for many years Gary. Q8. After Replicas, what was the reason for your Uncle Jess' disappearance from the Numan scene? A8. He didn't want to play in the band professionally. He had a good job and saw the security of that as a better bet than the uncertainties of the music business, especially playing a new and unusual style of music. I was a huge Paul Gardiner fan. Always found myself partial to his playing despite the amazing talent and stylings of Pino Palladino, Joe Hubbard, Andy Coughlan etc... Q9. If i may be so inclined, was there a reason for his absence from the post Telekon albums prior to his unfortunate passing?> (actually i just remembered he played a bit on 'Dance'...but other than that?) A9. The reason for Paul's absence was due to his increasing drug dependancy. I always said to Paul that every other bass player was just filling in time until Paul could get it together again and rejoin. Q10. Can you briefly describe your recording techniques? Is a lot of it done live, or layer after layer? Have you ever brought a video camera into the studio and filmed? If so, is it readily available? A10. It's all layered into the sequencer where arrangements and parts are sorted out. A version is then put to 2" tape where I then put on guide vocals. I then fiddle some more in the sequencer, come up with the final arrangement, sometimes using samples of the guide vocal, and then put it all back to 2" as a final recording. The final vocals and guitars are then added. Before mixing I have what I call a 'nitty gritty' period where I add any last minute details that I can think off and then mix it. A fair amount or re-re-arranging goes on at the mix stage as well, using hard disc editors. I've never used a video camera in a studio. Studio work is incredibly boring to watch in my opinion. I may sit at a keyboard for hour after hour playing almost the same thing again and again and again until I'm happy with every last little note and key pressure. Staring at a computer screen as I edit the parts, sometimes for an hour or so at a time. This is not good television. I have heard it said that you prefer to have yourself on the cover of your own records. I am glad to hear that because i very much enjoy the strong imagery of the characters you portray from album to album...for instance, Telekon and Pleasure Principle very much evoked the mood that you set in the albums music (maybe its because i just have associated the visuals and music for so long), but i really am intrigued... Q11. Can you give a little bit of insight as to how you come up with these images...is it just randomness or is there a meaning? (i.e.. is the guy on Telekon saying 'back off' to the media?) A11. It's quite random actually. I made 'Berserker' white because the image before had been black, simple as that. I went for the smart gangster look as a change from the leather clad style. Sometimes it was to suit the title and forthcoming stage show, as in 'Warriors', sometimes because I just found a really cool jacket that I liked. 'Replicas' was a definite concept based on a character from the stories that I'd written prior to the album. I don't have any kind of creative process or system that I go through. thanks, as always...dan
Hello, I've been a fan since seeing the video for "she's got claws" on MTV in the US, way back when MTV was hurting for anything to show and couldn't even sell commercial time. I used to leave the TV on at work, hoping I'd get to see it again. Q12. I've always really loved the song "Bridge, what Bridge?" All my friends love it too. It's hysterically funny. But what is it about, or what was the motivation behind recording it? Is that Mick Karn or Pino Palladino on bass? A12. Mick Karn is playing the bass. It was made to show off to a girl I was interested in at the time. I had said that it was easy to write a song if you weren't too concerned about it's content so I wrote that in a few minutes, and we had it recorded in about half an hour or so. The current joke at the time was making fun of a lot of dance music that kept on having lyrics like 'take it to the bridge', which is why the song is titled 'Bridge, What Bridge?'. My friend Nicky Robson came up with a comment that made us all laugh while we were recording the vocal. Q13. Other than your music, I collect drastically different remakes of familiar songs. It is especially wonderful when I find such a remake of one of your songs, such as the Judybats version of "Cars" or Marilyn Manson's "Down in the Park." Have you heard these or any others? Do you find them amusing, flattering, or insulting? A13. I haven't heard any of them. It's quite flattering to have a song covered but if that cover is making fun of me or the song then that wouldn't be so good. I don't think that'd happened though so, at the moment, I'm very happy about the covers that are coming out. Q14. Giving _Dark Light_ a good listen, I must agree with the other digest members who think Richard Beasley is a really great drummer. I realize your studio space may be limited, but have you considered bringing him in to play just the hi-hat? That's where he really shines and samplers don't. I seem to recall you did that some on the _Strange Charm_ album. A14. No, I hadn't thought of that actually. I'll think about it. Thanks so much for your time!
Special thanks to you for inspiring me with your early synthesizer 'machine music '. Q15. As a fellow musician I'm interested to know how you met the line up that recorded 1979's ' The Pleasure Principle' and who consequently toured with you (Ced, Rsussell, Chris, Billy Currie). I know Chris penned Visage's ' Fade to Grey ' with Billy and perhaps Midge Ure - how much do you know about this. A15. Chris and Cedric came via auditions at a rehearsal room in London. Chris was one of only two keyboard players to turn up and the only one that could play so he was easy to choose. We did get about five drummers turn up but Cedric was by far the best. One turned up in heavy hiking boots and then complained that the music was too difficult. I'd asked them to play along to 'Are Friends Electric' and 'Down In The park' which are far from difficult to a drummer that can play even moderately well. I can't remember how I met Billy Currie, probably via Pete Gilbert and Frank Drake who used to have their own punk fanzine and be something to do with Ultravox. As far as I'm concerned Chris and Billy were the driving force behind writing 'Fade To Grey'. They used to work on it during the sound checks on my '79 tour. Cedric was also heavily involved. In those days it was called 'Toot City'.
Dear Gary, As happens quite often, several of us (Jim Benson [email@example.com], John von Seggern [firstname.lastname@example.org], and I) recently had a long Internet discussion of some of your lyrics. But we could never come to an agreement on one thing, so I thought it might be a good idea to ask you: Q16. What does "See boys say I'm mayhem" mean? A16. A referance to my chaotic state of mind, thought processes and general instability. You once said "I don't play guitar very well." Hate to disagree, but I've always thought your guitar playing was really innovative. Don't stop! Thanks but I'm honestly not a good guitar player. Looking forward to Exile and the tour, Simon http://www.wln.com/~bensonj/sgbwrit.html
I have been a fan for 10 years now and want to tell Gary that I have yet to find any music that I love as much as yours. My question: Q17. Tell us a little about your studio: instruments, sequencers, recording equipment, etc... How do you have the whole thing hooked together? And, finally, have you changed your recording or writing style with the change in keyboards and synthesizers over the years? A17. The instruments I've already listed above but I also have a Gibson Les paul guitar. I use the E-magic Logic sequencer through a Mac Quadra 650 computer. This is linked to the instruments and to the studio via an Opcode Studio 4 interface. The studio desk is a Soundtracs Quartz (32 Channel, the little one), Quad amp and Tannoy Little Gold speakers. I have an Otari MX-80 24 track 2" tape recorder which I mix onto DAT via a Soundtools hard disc editor. (An Atari version so it will have to go soon). I wired the room myself and, surprisingly, it works quite well. I've changed my writing style a great deal. Using computer based sequencers changed everything for a lot of people I think. I use to have a clicking metronome running and then play along on piano and record it onto a cheap little cassette player until about 1987. I was quite behind the times for a while. Thanks so much for all the music over the years. I have to sign off to go pick up my copy of Berserker on CD (!!!!!) which just arrived at the store. Can't wait.
I am glad that 1996 looks very good for you (and us). Q18. If offered, would you object to a Rockumentary (a 2 hour film) about you, your music, and your life (so far)? Would you mind it being shown on the major video channels? A18. It would depend on what it focused on, how well filmed it was, the question content, the narrative content and the overall quality of the work. I would insist that the flying be part of it for example as that is such an important part of my life and that could be expensive to film. A bad Rockumentary could do as much harm as a good one could bring benefits. I would love to be the subject of a good one.
First I'd like to wish you a very happy and successful year Gary!!! My questions and thoughts are about gaining wider popularity again. While being popular or getting chart positions are normal wishes for most musicians, I am not really sure if you really work for or want to get an entry in the charts today. Rather, I believe that you now work for yourself and for us fans. Q19. Is that a reasonable assessment i.e. having had the experience of being at the top before do you not need it necessarily again? A19. I don't need it but I would like it. I work for me first and foremost, even before the fans. I can afford that indulgence because the media has turned it's back on me for so long now I have nothing to lose by abandoning my attempts to win them over. Given a choice however and I would very much like to be number 1 again, but doing what I'm doing now. Assuming you would like some chart success, I'd like to address the means of gaining a chart presence again. I have some ideas that I'd like to give you. Nowadays charting is not a question of music but of tactics and promotion. It always has been in my opinion. My suggestions are: - concentrate on just a few discs in a year due to limited fan budgets (particular in these days). - having a successful single requires concerted action in the UK, because that is where your biggest fan base resides and only a success in the UK can lead to success in other countries in Europe, and maybe in the US! - produce a video clip for this single; no single can be successful without a video clip. - Make sure as many fans as possible (Fan Club, Internet etc.) know when this single will come out and ask them to delay buying it till the 2nd week of release. That makes sure the single is widespread in the UK and can be bought en masse to improve the charting possibility!! - Make sure your distributor(s) reach the whole UK record market . Do Pinnacle do that? I realise things are harder than this might seem. Q20. Any comments on the above? A20. Yes. (Point 1) Fans have complained long and hard over the years about my lack of releases which is something we have tried to improve in recent years, the last two particularly. It's all very well saying concentrate on just a few discs a year due to limited fan budgets but what about MY budget. I only earn a living by selling records. It's a bit like me saying to you, only work two days a week because of your employers limited resources. You couldn't afford to do that and neither can I. This is my living and I have to sell records to survive. If I go down there will be no more Numan albums. EVER. This is not something I'm prepared to risk at the moment. (Point 2) Partially true, but it is not impossible to have a career take off in other countries that are currently less successful for me than the UK. Indeed for many years we had high hopes of breaking other countries and then using that success to re-launch myself in Britain. It is also a reasonable argument that small success in many countries is actually better than big success in just one, especially when the one is a relatively small market like the UK. Also having a successful single in the UK requires, almost without exception, support from Radio One which I do not have. All the concerted action in the world is for nothing without Radio One. (Point 3) Video's cost a small fortune as a rule. I've been lucky to make one or two for incredibly small amounts in the past but that advantage dissappeared along with the girlfriend that got those deals together. Most people can justify the expense of a video because the same film is used around the world, on a huge variety of programs, to sell the same record. In my case a video is normally only seen in the UK and often not even here. This gives that potential one TV appearance a cost in excess of #10,000 (Pounds) and upwards. It would be cheaper to buy TV advertising space for a day and probably more effective. Without a wider TV audience video's are out of the question unless I can get a cheap one done somehow. This is another one of the advantages of going with a major record company, they have the resources to make good videos, and the power to get them on TV all around the world. (Point 4) I'm not sure but I believe that anyone at Numa issuing instructions in any form would be considered as chart rigging and therefore illegal. This is something for the fans to organises amongst themselves as the point made is a good one. (Point 5) Pinnacle are very good but they cannot force a shop or retail chain to stock the record. It is very easy for a shop to say to a fan 'We've ordered it but Pinnacle haven't delivered it' when in fact they haven't ordered it at all. The shops make the biggest profits and take the smallest amount of risk out of all of us, artist, record company and distributor included. They are, for me, a bigger problem than radio One. You have a strong UK fan club and you have strong internet fan publicity. If fans can be coordinated, this initial push by all the UK fans might get the single in the UK chart, because it was bought in the same week, not spread over months. A decent chart placing would create interest in other people because of the magazine, radio and TV exposure a chart placing would create. Possibly, but remember I've been in the chart countless times and Radio One still refused to play the record. Chart position is far from the complete answer and one or two weeks in the chart doesn't carry that much weight anyway in our experience. We've lived through all these scenarios many times before. 'This Is Love' and 'I Can't Stop' were both well placed in the chart, as were other releases before those, but changed nothing. So I feel we have more power than ever before to make this happen. Q21. Do you feel that is so? A21. No, actually, I'm afraid I don't. I would love to think that was so but true power will always remain with the big record companies. The Internet and fan pressure can help in many ways but it will only ever be an aid, not the answer in itself. Sorry, this was not one question. (Did I forgot something important?!?). Thank You for reading! Bye Gary ... P.S to Digest readers: I would be glad to get comments in the Digest, to find out what other fans think about my suggestions!
Hi Gary, I've been looking forward to asking you some questions. Thanks for all the wonderful music, you are a big part of my life, love ya lots. Well here goes: Q22. How long have you and Gemma been together, and how did you meet her? A22. About 3 and a half years. We have known each other for a long time as Gemma has been a fan for ever. Q23. How is John, and is he married yet? A23. John is very happy and doing well. He has just been promoted to airline Captain so that's a major achievement. He's not married yet but he is still with Maria, they have a house together in Staines, not far from our parents. Q24. When you tour the U.S. again would you come to Chicago? The last time you were in Chicago you played at the Park West. I saw that show, it was excellent. A24. Hopefully, just getting to America at all at the moment would be a dream come true for me but, when it happens, I really just go where I'm told to by the various agents and promoters that get these things together. I would have thought that Chicago was a safe bet though. Q25. Are you still into McDonald's hamburgers, and is Coke still "It"...your favorite thing to drink? A25. Absolutely. Well that's it for now, glad to hear you like Cats. P.S. My kitty is cuter than yours........just kidding. Bye Gary, love ya. Deana.
Q26. A while ago when 'Sacrifice' was released, you said (on the Numan Fan Club telephone update line) that the initial copies of 'Sacrifice' on vinyl had gone out without lyric sheets. Indeed, my copy has no lyric sheet. You said that you should be able to order it separately from where you bought your vinyl. Is it available? Does the lyric sheet exist ? A26. Yes, lyric sheets were made for it but a mistake at Pinnacles end meant that the albums were shipped without the lyric sheet inside. All of the pressed vinyl albums had lyric inner bags printed and we were promised that all the shops that stocked the album would be sent those inner bags. I'm hoping to be able to make these bags avaialble via the NuWORLD site sometime in the future for those people that didn't get one. I designed it, I want you all to have it.
Thank you for many years of musical inspiration and memories relating to your songs. :) Q27. Can you tell me anything about your appearance on Saturday Night Live? (playing Cars & Praying To The Aliens) A27. Only that everyone, stars and crew, were incredibly nice to me. I was very nervous to begin with but by the time it went out we had gone through it so many times it almost seemed run of the mill. It remains the largest TV audience I've ever played live in front of and it had a quite phenomenal impact. I'm told it was seen by 50 million people. Q28. What are your favorite films? A28. Battle Of Britain, Bladerunner, ET, The Killing Fields, Apocalypse Now, Predator, Alien, Terminator, Waynes World and more that I can't remember. Loads, I love films and go to the cinema all the time.
Q29. Listening to Babylon 5 and Human, which I enjoy very much, I can't escape the impression that "Icehouse" and "Tread Careful" pre-date the "Outland" sessions as they seem to have more in common and fit better with the "Metal Rhythm" era. Am I completely wrong? A29. They were probably written early on in the 'Outland' sessions. This is often a cross over period. Q30. To get the definitive word, is it "Big Alien" or "Big Alten" on "Human" (the former is on the back insert, the latter on the CD itself)? I understand the confusion that someone may have had transcribing titles. The "Human font" is kinda difficult to read. A30. It's Big Alien. I didn't proof read the artwork very well and let the mistake slip through. Q31. Is it some sort of UK convention to have track times for songs on the CDs themselves but not on the CD inserts? I find this a tad frustrating as I can't look at timings while the disc is in the CD player when making Numan compilation tapes to indoctrinate, I mean initiate, people with your music :-) Or is it just case of the artwork being ready before the CD is pressed and the true times being taken from the actual CD and included with the CD label side information at the factory. A31. Shame on you Derek for making ILLEGAL copies of my music onto tape:-) I think that the timings can make the sleeve artwork look a bit junky and messy which is why I don't do it. It's not a convention though as far as I'm aware. To be honest it's irritated me a bit at times for similar reasons as your own. ---- That's it, bye. Gary Numan.
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