Gary Numan - Numan Drives Music More Than Cars
On the phone with Philip Anderson - 2001
Mystique can go a long way, especially in the entertainment industry. In music, it is almost the definitive between being an artist "of the people" or being a theatrical performer. In the case of one British musician, mystique is something that occurred purely by happenstance but became widely accepted and created a legacy. Gary Numan is one of those rare artists for whom luck was waiting. Here is an artist who was androgynous, but manly in a dark way - mysterious, yet openly honest - frightfully gloomy, yet lyrically enticing. Gary Numan's career has spanned almost a quarter century since releasing his first single and there seems to be no stopping him as a resurgence seems to be happening once again
Gary Numan is one of those aliens amongst us whose sole purpose is to create, not prove anything or dazzle with brilliance. His songs reflect many moods that any one of us could have felt at some time or another. Although the recurring themes are of loneliness and losses, there is still something comforting about the music that Gary does. His latest release, "Pure," on Spitfire Records continues to move Gary into a dark realm of heavy air that chokes and yet relaxes. His visions of dark fortitudes cause us to want to look away, but also peek deeper into his psyche.
Right before embarking on his latest tour, including a return to the United States, we had the chance to speak with Gary Numan while he was finishing up rehearsals in England. Despite his appearance and lyrical settings, Gary is very open and worldly, charming and humorous. It was almost surprising to hear him laugh as often as he does. Throughout his travels - including piloting his aircraft around the globe - he has seen and learned quite a bit from the world and shares some insights of that, along with his opinions about the music business. As we begin, he has just finished practicing.

K2K: So, to get a bit of background, how long have you been doing the music business?
GN: I went professional in February of 1978. That's the day that my first single came out. It's been 23 years now.
K2K: Before that, what other bands had you been in?
GN: Nothing you'd know, obviously. Just a couple of punk bands. I can't even remember their names, now. I was number one when I was 21, which is the first band that I put together myself. It all happened fairly quickly for me. All I'd really done before was just messed around with punk bands for a year or two. Nothing happened, just doing tiny little gigs. There was only a handful of those really.
K2K: Punk bands like the standard punk bands in Britain at the time?
GN: Yeah. Yeah. It was 1976 - 77, that sort of time when the whole punk thing was kicking off.
K2K: Were you one of those "snotty nosed" punks on Kings Row?
GN: Yeah, I was there. I was kind of a part of the whole thing really. You know that there is a really famous film of the Sex Pistols at the Notre Dame gig in London. I was at that. In fact, that was on TV the other night and there I was, leaping around. I had forgotten that.
K2K: What's the name of that film?
GN: I'm not sure what it's called, actually. It's a film about... They did a gig at a place called Notre Dame Theater in London. A lot of people were there. I was there, Billy Idol was there, Souxsie was there.
K2K: How did you make the transition from being a punk to what you eventually became?
GN: The Electronic music? It was just a strange chance thing really. I went into the studio to do my first punk record, my first punk album. I had a whole lot of songs together for that. When I got there, there was a synthesizer that had been left behind by the band that had been there before. I don't know who they were. This synthesizer was a Mini Moog, just laying in the corner waiting to be collected. They let me have a go at it before they took it away. In fact, they didn't take it away, they left it there. That was really where it started. I had never really seen a real one before.
I had a go of it and I couldn't play keyboards really. I pressed a few buttons here and there. Luckily it had been left on a sound that was really powerful, a really cool sound. I thought it was fantastic. I thought that had been the thing that I had been looking for. It could have been left on a sound that was dreadful, like a terrible 't'doo' type s*** sound. I would have thought synthesizers are rubbish and not been interested at all. So it's just really lucky that it was there and really lucky that somebody had left it on a really cool sound, and lucky that I was allowed to use it. It was that one moment that changed everything for me. I then went out and started to learn how to play keyboards properly. (laughs) Properly? I can't play them now, but I tried to learn. I went out and bought an old piano. It just changed everything, my whole way of songwriting changed.
K2K: See how fate and destiny come together.
GN: Yeah. Yeah. I believe in it completely. Lucky coincidences are what make the world go around.
K2K: What else do you play? What else do you play well?
GN: No, I don't play anything well. I can play guitar, obviously, bass, keyboards, and a little bit of drums, but not very well. I don't really play anything very well. If I have any talent at all - and I know that is questionable, depending on who you talk to - but if there is anything that I can do that sets me apart, is putting noises together. I deal essentially in sound. I have no real musical ability at all. I'm not a good player of anything, so I've had to rely on other things. I can't do any blindingly good solos. I can't play incredibly good in grooves and riffs and so on, so I have to go about things in a different way. So I deal in sounds and noises, which is why synthesizers - especially electronic sampling - is so useful to someone like me because I spend a great deal of time creating sounds and putting them together in certain structures which, eventually sound like music.
K2K: So you are a creator and an arranger more so.
GN: Yeah.
K2K: I like the way that you have taken simplicity to a different form where it's not boringly repetitive but interesting.
GN: Yeah, you can listen to a lot of dance music which would be repetition that isn't taken anywhere interesting - there's nothing wrong with that, but if that particular approach doesn't appeal to me... If you can develop a sense of atmosphere, a feeling of menace or whatever it might be, and add that to the music, then I think that that's a skill in its own right.
K2K: Are you familiar with the Church Of Gary Numan?
GN: Him? Jim Collins. It's one guy.
K2K: He sent me his CD of his coverage of your music. I was curious what you thought of it.
GN: Umm... There's a number of those things. He's done that one. My band used to be called Tubeway Army and this other man had done one called Tubeway Navy. It was cover versions of all the same songs. He was on the cover looking like me. I find it all a bit strange. I would have thought that if you have any kind of creative ability in you whatsoever, you would just want to do your own thing and not have it revolve around somebody. I find it a strange way of dealing with your own creativity - if you truly have it. As such, I don't dismiss what these people have done at all. It's very flattering. I should be sort of honored by it, I guess, and I am, kind of, but it just feels... I think that maybe if you could put all that time and effort into "that" - covers of my stuff - then why not do your own stuff.
K2K: Right. Or at least be influenced but do your own thing.
GN: Yeah, absolutely. I would have thought that would be a better use of their time. Like I say, I struggle sometimes to understand why somebody would want to put that amount of time and effort into something like that when it's obviously taken an awful lot. They're very proud of it.
K2K: When he [Jim Collins] sent the CD, it almost looked as though you two were "best buddies" and that you've endorsed his project.
GN: No, I've never endorsed it. He's never asked me. I would never endorse anything like that.
K2K: Did you like his representation of your music?
GN: I honestly don't get involved. It's not my thing. It's somebody else's project and whether I like it or not, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. I would never want to talk about what I did or didn't like. It wouldn't be fair to them. They've done it with really good intentions, I'm sure.
K2K: My own personal thought was that I wouldn't have touched it. I agree with what you were saying.
GN: I was done the way I did it and that's kind of the way I think it should have been. (laughs) I'm happy for them to go around and change it any way they see fit, but that's up to them to do that.
K2K: To go back to talking about Tubeway Army... Who and what was Tubeway Army?
GN: Well, it varied really. It was me.
K2K: Was it just you or an actual group of people?
GN: No, it was a group of people. It was me and my uncle - my uncle Gerald was the drummer - and my friend, Paul Gardner was the bass player. I used to write the songs, play the guitar and do the keyboards. I did all the production work and the sleeves. It was kind of me but a different name really. Paul Gardner committed suicide actually. He was a heroin addict. He wasn't then, but he became one and then he killed himself. That was a bit sad.
K2K: How did the name come about?
GN: The Tubeway Army? When I was about 15 or 16, I think, there used to be - during a very short space of time, in London - there was a gang of people who were going around on our underground systems, underground trains. They would get to a station, get off and beat up anyone who was there, then get back on the train and disappear. The police couldn't catch them. They were just terrible. That's a terrible thing to be doing. The name comes from there. I don't think that they were called that then, but I remember the story and it stuck in my mind. I just thought it would be a good name for a band.
K2K: Sounds a bit like "Clockwork Orange."
GN: Yeah, it was a bit like that. It was probably at the similar time, actually.
K2K: In regards to your later albums - 1980s and further - was the experimentation of your music planned or were you still trying to find your "sound?"
GN: No, I was trying to find more sounds. Whatever album I had done before, I wanted to move on and go somewhere else. It was a definite decision to keep finding different kinds of music, but I think, looking back at it now, a lot of it was mistaken really. Then again, you have to do those things to realize what was good and what was bad in those years. I don't regret it in that sense, but certainly there are records that I probably shouldn't have made.
K2K: Do you feel that that made your career suffer?
GN: Oh God, I think there are lots of things that made my career suffer. Quite a lot. But yeah, I guess that some of those musical directions would definitely have had an effect on it. But, so did as many other things as well, so I would never be able to point the finger at those particular albums and say they did it. There really were lots of reasons. I made many, many mistakes and I had lots of good luck but had plenty of bad luck and it all plays a part.
K2K: How conscious were you of the fashion statements that you were making?
GN: None, actually. (laughs) God. Me and fashion, never the two shall meet as the rule.
K2K: What about the romantic look with the fedora hat and the nice suit?
GN: Yeah, well I was doing that about two years before the New Romantics came along, so it wasn't an intention.
K2K: You were a glam Frank Sinatra almost.
GN: (laughs) That's cool.
K2K: I was thinking about the classic pictures of you from around the "Pleasure Principle" time when you had the eyeliner and the fedora and the nicely pressed, crisp suit. It was like Frank Sinatra.
GN: Yeah, right. A glam Frank Sinatra. I like that one.
K2K: You are Glam Sinatra. There you go. How much of your look was planned to be androgynous?
GN: Well, I think that once a man starts wearing make-up, it's almost inevitable.
K2K: I never really thought of you as androgynous. Alien, maybe.
GN: It was never an intention of mine. I've got a hairy chest for one thing. Do you know the honest to God truth reason why I started wearing make-up is because I used to have really bad skin. It was to cover that up and then it sort of became an image and people started to react to it. So I kept it going.
K2K: Would you consider yourself Dark Glam?
GN: I guess so.
K2K: Kind of moody but dressed up.
GN: Yeah. (laughs)
K2K: How much influence would you say that you had on New Wave and Electronica?
GN: It's not really for me to say.
K2K: How much would you say, if you had any.
GN: Most of the stuff that I listen to, that I'm actually credited for being influential to, I really don't hear much of me in it. Then again, somebody could be the tiny spark that becomes somebody else's inferno, so it's very difficult to say. I read an awful lot of things that say if you trace back far enough, you will find me at the end of it. That applies not just to dance music or Electronica. If you listen to Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor and people like that talking about me influencing them. Then Africa Bambaata, he said the same thing about hip hop, that he was playing my stuff when getting the whole hip hop vibe together. There's a fairly wide and diverse range of music that will talk about me as being influential in the way it started. Now, I honestly don't know. If they're saying it, then they must think it's true. I'm very flattered by it and very proud of it if there is any truth in it. It's not something I ever expected. I was just trying to do my best at the time. I never once sat down and thought, "God. This is really clever. This is going to influence a whole lot of people." I just thought, "God, I wish I could play better." I couldn't play very well.
K2K: Well, you know, with practice... I'm sure you've been doing it long enough to play great by now.
GN: (laughs) Ah. I don't practice though, you see.
K2K: Do you like the direction that Electronica music has come to date?
GN: It depends really on... I think that Electronica is different things. Most of the people I've been talking to recently talk about dance music being the current version of Electronica that they're kind of referring to. I wouldn't honestly, hand on heart, say that I'm a big fan of dance music, but I love Nine Inch Nails and stuff like that. Yet there is a huge Electronic element. Trent Reznor talks about my "Pleasure Principle" and "Telekon" albums as being hugely influential on him. If that's an element of Electronica, then I think it's brilliant. It really depends on what you would consider as Electronica, I guess.
K2K: Then we're getting into the realm of Industrial music. From Germany's Einsturzende Neubauten to Nine Inch Nails and everything like that is considered more Industrial.
GN: Yeah. My own leaning would be towards Industrial rather than dance.
K2K: And it shows on your new album.
GN: Yeah, and the one before.
K2K: Who, to you, has been amongst the most valid artists in the New Age and Electronica and Industrial music?
GN: Trent Reznor. I think that Trent Reznor is about the closest thing to genius that we have.
K2K: What about in the 1980s during New Wave?
GN: The only band I really, really cared for when I was first starting out - Electronic wise - was Ultravox. The one that had John Fox as the singer, not Midge Ure. It was before Midge Ure. When John Fox was in Ultravox, they didn't really have any success, but it was much more interesting music. When Midge came along, it was much more successful but much more lightweight and poppier and not really my cup of tea.
K2K: What do you listen to in your spare time?
GN: Deftones. Nine Inch Nails. Marilyn Manson.
K2K: Aha! You are more of a metalhead then. OK, not quite really metal.
GN: Well, not really. I like Snake River Conspiracy. There's a British band called Sofa that are really, really cool. I like KoRn and Limp Bizkit and stuff like that, but if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to go with Nine Inch Nails and stuff like that.
K2K: What might be something surprising for people to know that you listen to, that doesn't follow your norm?
GN: Let me think. Enya.
K2K: Any thoughts about the film "Urgh! A Music War"?
GN: I can barely remember it actually.
K2K: You were in it though, right?
GN: Yeah, I'm in it.
K2K: That was an interesting film.
GN: I saw it once when it came out.
K2K: How did you come to be in it?
GN: I think the man who was putting it together had something to do with my videos.
K2K: Do you remember the American music TV show called "Niteflight?"
GN: No.
K2K: It was on around 11:30 pm and years before MTV. I saw your "Cars" video back then. I was thinking that you were almost scary. So depressing, yet so captivating. Here was this lonely guy in his car. Poor man.
GN: (laughs)
K2K: Is there a collection of your old videos?
GN: I think there are a few collections out there from record companies.
K2K: Are they anything that people could get?
GN: No. They're very hard to get a hold of at the moment. We were just looking at getting as much of the old stuff together as we can and making it DVD.
K2K: Absolutely. That's the best way to go.
GN: I think of lot of it is missing. It was licensed out to other people who sublicensed it to somebody else. All of the masters disappeared. It's frustrating but we are picking up the pieces as we go along.
K2K: How did you feel about the advent of music television?
GN: I thought it was excellent. I thought it was the future of everything.
K2K: In regards to the song "Cars," do you feel that that has become too much of your signature?
GN: I think it has done so far. It's one of those things that I baffle with, really. I'm very proud of the song and very glad about what it's done. It's fairly well considered to be a classic in most places, so I'm proud of that. But without a doubt it's overshadowed much of what's come after. Today, if I'm going to anything - be on radio, do an interview, do a TV show, you can guarantee that they're going to play that song. It's nice that it's something so recognizable but it does signature me in a way that is not relevant today and hasn't been relevant for some time. It's tended to overshadow much of what's come after. But that's my particular problem. Other people have different problems. I'm not complaining or whining about that, it's just the way it is. It's something that I have to constantly work hard to minimize any damage that that could be doing.
K2K: So it doesn't define Gary Numan.
GN: No, no. Not at all. If anything, it's a mis-sign because it's probably the most poppy song I wrote. It's probably the only true pop song I wrote and it's got nothing to do with what I'm doing now or have been doing for some time. Having said that, I'm really proud of it. But if I had one song that was representative of the music that I've made over the years, then it wouldn't be that song.
K2K: I have "Down In The Park" running through my head for the past two days.
GN: Now that would be a much better song if you were going to pick one that is representative of what I've done.
K2K: I remember hearing the Foo Fighters' version on the "X-Files" soundtrack. It really stood out.
GN: Yeah. Their version was quite good, actually.
K2K: Was "Cars" your answer to Kraftwerk's "Autobahn?"
GN: No. Coincidence.
K2K: What was the meaning behind some of these songs?
GN: "Down In The Park" is from an album called "Replicas." "Replicas" actually started out as a series of short stories that I was working on just for fun. I couldn't really finish up the stories so I turned them into songs instead, so it became a bit of a Sci-Fi album. So that's the way it was really. It's part of a Sci-Fi sort of scene. It's something to do with there being a curfew and machines that were programmed to do all kinds of hideous crimes to get people who were out after curfew. There was a special restaurant where certain people who are allowed to be out go to watch. It's kind of like a high-tech version of the Gladiatorial games that the Romans used to do.
K2K: What about "Cars?" Any deeper meaning?
GN: I was in traffic in London once and had a problem with some people in front. They tried to beat me up and get me out of the car. I locked the doors and eventually drove up on the pavement and got away from them. It's kind of to do with that. It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world, which is probably why you get things like road rage. When you're in it, you're whole mentality is different, in a car. It's like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.
K2K: I read an interview with you around 1980. From the best that I remember about it, you seemed so sad and despondent about the industry - about music and the business. It looked as though you were going to quit everything and I was surprised to learn that you went on to do more albums. At that time, you had made reference to you being so lonely being on the road because of empty hotel rooms and that there was no reality behind it all. You performed and then went back to your room and life sucked. Were you really that bummed out at that time?
GN: I was at that time. Shortly after that, I did get out of it for about two or three years. It didn't do it anymore. It's just a case of growing up, really. Learning what was good about it and then learning what was bad about it, learning what to avoid and what to enjoy. I love it now.
K2K: You really seemed like a sad little boy who needed a hug.
GN: (laughs) Yeah, well I was just very childish. It took me a long time to grow up, actually.
K2K: Did you ever garner any groupie attention?
GN: It was all right.
K2K: I mean was it ever around? Did you have your share of groupies?
GN: Yeah. Well, I think you could look like a toad and find that there's groupies wherever you go. It's just that wherever there is music, you will find people who want to sleep with it.
K2K: What did you feel the music industry was like in the late 1970s?
GN: I don't think that there is a great deal of difference from what it is now. I guess the only difference that I can see is that there had been much more interest in cultivating someone's career, in those days. I think the opposite is true now. They really would look at you as a three to four album project and build you up for those three or four albums - nurture you and bring you on and so on. Not with me, but in general there was that kind of approach to it. Now they make one single and give it to radio. If radio won't play it, then they'll drop the band. That's kind of depressing. It's why music is so s***, I suppose. You have to be incredibly radio friendly. It's all a similar format, a similar sound, because that's what radio is playing. The cost of that is that it's stuck in a terrible rut. It hasn't moved anywhere. It's very bland, very puerile, and very boring.
K2K: What has been your biggest selling album to date?
GN: My biggest selling album would be "Pleasure Principle" in America, but the one before that, "Replicas," was probably bigger in the U.K.
K2K: Your new CD is called "Pure" on Spitfire Records. How is that doing?
GN: "Pure." That's right. In the U.K. it's done better than the last one but it hasn't done as well as I had hoped. I couldn't get any radio play for it whatsoever. In Europe it's doing quite a lot better than the last one, but I still need it to do much more than what it's doing. Later this year we have a festival season, we do a lot of big festivals across Europe. We hope that that's going to make the big difference for it. That will be the first time that it's been heard by people other than my own fans. Because the album isn't radio friendly, it's very difficult to get it exposed outside of your main hardcore. I'm very proud of what's been happening on that side, but the problem is getting beyond that, getting people to actually hear it and know what the reviewers are talking about. That is going to make the difference. That's why the touring part is so important in order to try to generate opportunities for people to actually hear it.
K2K: How long has it been out?
GN: Five or six months in the U.K. and four in the U.S. Now the main drive will start kicking in.
K2K: I thought the first song would be radio friendly.
GN: The trouble with it, lyrically, is it goes through a person's mind who is about to rape and murder somebody.
K2K: Umm... maybe not then.
GN: (laughs) That's the problem. Lyrically it's quite heavy.
K2K: What inspired you to write the song "Walking With Shadows?"
GN: It seemed to me that when someone is in a coma, there's all this talk about people who stand around the bed and try to bring him out of the coma back to us. It just struck me that maybe that person likes being there. Maybe there's a whole different world going on that we're not aware of. Maybe they don't want to come out but they want us to come in. So "Walking With Shadows" is that, about something being in there with someone in a coma that wants us to come in for reasons that are a bit menacing rather than good.
K2K: Well, maybe they're in a happy little dreamland.
GN: Not entirely happy. It's reasonably heavy and sinister. It never quite says why they want you in there, but it leaves the impression that it's not particularly good. It talks about pain a lot, and tears and tortured souls and so on.
K2K: Is the songwriting that you've been doing on the past couple of albums more for your own personal demons or other inspirations or how you view the world?
GN: The previous album was a complete look at religion and where I see some fatal flaws in the way we have misinterpreted the Bible. I'm not a believer at all. That was the last album, it was devoted to that. The new one is very much a mixture. Some of it is incredibly personal. My wife and I had a baby and the baby died so there's a few songs about that. There are some other things that are pretty heavy. Some are about people I know and some of it is pure fiction. It's a real mixture, sometimes within the songs. There are things on it that are personal, extremely personal. You can't get much deeper than your own children dying, obviously.
K2K: That's about as heavy as it can get. I wanted to mention also that you had done the soundtrack or some such for the comic book "Cry For Dawn." What was that about?
GN: The comic thing? No. What it was is that that was actually my "Sacrifice" album that came out in 1994.
K2K: So that wasn't a soundtrack?
GN: No. They gave it that "Dawn" title and different art work. The man who does the "Dawn" comics did special artwork for the album. Sirius is the publishing company, the comic publishing company put it out. It was kind of a new direction for them. The man who runs the company is a fan and he was excited about doing it that way. We didn't have a deal in America at that time, so we went for it. There are a lot of people who misunderstood what it is. They think it's a completely different album.
K2K: That's kind of how it's pushed.
GN: Yeah, yeah. I've seen it since it was done and I can understand why people misunderstand.
K2K: It does have a very nice cover, especially the EP version with the foil cover.
GN: Yeah, oh it's beautiful artwork.
K2K: How do you like your new label, Spitfire Records?
GN: It's good. This tour will be the thing that really begins to tell. It will be the first time that we really work together. Everything that's happened for me so far has been good. They are spending money on PR companies. They're supporting the tour, spending a lot of money to make sure it happens. I can't say how it's going to go yet in terms of how successful they'll be. But, in terms of people who I can sit down and talk to who can answer questions that I need to ask, I've found them to be excellent. Really, really good. I'm very confident that they are committed to the album and that they will do the best they can for it. The thing about Spitfire is that they are not a Warner Bros., not a massive label. I have to remember that this is a label who doesn't have millions of dollars that they can sell our project. I'm old enough and realistic enough to realize the difference between a Spitfire and a Virgin. Having said that, you still want a record company to do be doing what it can as best as it can. So far I'm very, very happy. It's only when I get there and start doing the tour that I can begin to see if they actually are doing the things that they say they're doing.
K2K: What is the meaning behind the title of the album, "Pure"?
GN: No special meaning. It was the first song that I wrote for the album. I think musically that song is representative of what that album is going to give you. I tried to find a better title but couldn't, so I ended up calling it "Pure."
K2K: Would you say that you are seeing a Gary Numan resurgence?
GN: In a small way. So far as credibility and respect and for being influential, definitely. I'm in a very strong position from that point of view. In terms of interest, I guess there's a resurgence of interest, but how big it's going to be and how much effect it will have remains to be seen. But it's definitely much better than it's ever been, since I first started anyway.
K2K: Sometimes it's hard to ask questions like that without maybe sounding demeaning when talking about ups and downs in a career. I have always respected what you have done throughout your career though.
GN: I've done plenty of things that, with benefit of hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done. I've done some good albums and some not so good albums. I think, at the moment, I'm very happy with where I am. I think the songwriting is improves. It's as good, if not better, than it's ever been. All I have to do with this record is make sure that enough people get to hear it to choose whether it's the sort of thing that they want or not.
K2K: Hopefully it will all work out then.
GN: Hopefully. For every me, there's another thousand people around the corner who are also doing good albums and not getting radio. It's just a constant battle to make sure that you're the one they play.
K2K: Are you hoping for the "big time" again or is this more for personal satisfaction?
GN: I'd love to be huge.
K2K: I only ask that because during the last interview I did, I was told that this person didn't care less about fame and fortune and just loved making records.
GN: (laughs) I'm in the position now that - it's a bit of a difficult thing to explain simply - but I'm making the music that I want to make. I spent a long, long time in the 1980s and early 1990s making music that I was trying to make commercial success with. All around it was a pretty foolish thing to do. Then I started writing music for the fun of it. What I'm hoping for is that the side-effect of the songs I'm writing now is successful. That isn't the main reason that I sit down to write these songs. If it was the main reason, then I wouldn't have written an album that was this heavy and this dark and this radio unfriendly. I would have done something much poppier and easy-listening. The music alone says that I'm obviously not going for commercial success as the main thrust of it, but I would be lying if I said I wouldn't want it. It would be lovely to have it. I want it with the music that I genuinely want to make, rather than writing music for commercial success.
K2K: Speaking of darkness, you have a song called, "Dark" on the "Dark City" film soundtrack. Did you see that film?
GN: Yeah, that's from the previous album. I loved it. Good film.
K2K: Had you been approached to do anything for "The Crow" film soundtracks? - As terrible as the sequels were.
GN: (laughs) No, I was never asked to but I would love to do things like that.
K2K: What other films have you done music to?
GN: That was about it. I think... There was one of mine on "Speed 2."
K2K: "Speed 2"? Now there was a big film.
GN: Yeah, it didn't get on the film though.
K2K: It didn't? Good. That's probably better for your career then.
GN: (laughs) God, that was a terrible film.
K2K: I haven't seen it and don't plan to.
GN: Yeah, you've missed nothing.
K2K: Have you ever thought about acting?
GN: No, it's not for me. I did a small thing in British comedy about a year ago, and that small thing was enough for me to realize that I'm never going to be an actor. Ever. No. Definitely not. I won't even think about trying.
K2K: What about this comic book that you are a character in?
GN: Yeah, that didn't happen.
K2K: It's being promoted in your Bio.
GN: Yeah, they shouldn't do that. It was the same people who did that "Dawn" thing. We did a two-page thing where they'd taken the lyrics from the song "Dark" and drew in a cartoon for it. That was really good and it was fun. What they were going to do was that I was going to write a comic story and the man who did the drawings for it was going to do the drawings. It would be good fun. But I never got around to doing the comic story yet, so it just hasn't happened. It's kind of something to do in the future.
K2K: So are you a writer as well? Do you write books?
GN: Yeah, that's what I expect to go out. When the music thing is finished then I'm going to end up writing novels and that sort of thing for a living.
K2K: What genre?
GN: Fantasy horror, most likely.
K2K: I can see it after the latest album. Did you ever read comic books?
GN: I have done. I'm not a real comic fan.
K2K: What do you read in your spare time?
GN: Mainly anything by J.R.R. Tolkien. Right now I'm reading "The Gardens Of The Moon." What I would do is read "The Hobbit," then I would read "The Lord Of The Rings." Then I would read a few other things. Then I would read "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings" again. I kind of do that rotation. Every two years I tend to read "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings" because they're my favorite books ever. But I've just read "The Hobbit" and now I'm reading "The Gardens Of The Moon" instead of "The Lord Of The Rings." I've broken my ritual.
K2K: Hey, you know what? I was in the play of "The Hobbit" in junior high school. So there.
GN: You was? (laughs aloud)
K2K: I were.
GN: (keeps laughing) Were you good? Who were you?
K2K: I think I was one of the elves in a troll jail scene. I don't remember exactly. It's been so long. But I do still have my pictures of that. It's too bad that you didn't get in on the soundtrack to the new Tolkien "Lord Of The Rings" movie.
GN: Yeah, isn't it though.
K2K: Did you approach them?
GN: I'm looking forward to that. I'm just about to talk to Universal about a publishing deal so hopefully that will come together. Film work will be much easier for me to get in the future.
K2K: You have the song "Cars" licensed to several computer games, correct?
GN: Yeah, but which ones I don't know.
K2K: Have you been asked to do any original music for any games?
GN: No, not yet. But I would love to. That is something that I would be very interested in doing.
K2K: Are you a computer nut?
GN: Basically. It's an essential part of everything I do. I can usually fix my Mac when it decides to go crazy once in a while.
K2K: You're a Mac person?
GN: Yeah.
K2K: Good man. I have so much more respect for you now.
GN: (laughs)
K2K: Are you internet savvy?
GN: I'm basically internet savvy. We've had our own website since 1995. I'm not an expert on it though.
K2K: Is that NuWorld?
GN: That's it, yeah.
K2K: Do you ever chat with any fans online?
GN: No, no. Not on my website. I do, but not on my site.
K2K: No fans or stalkers?
GN: I just like to keep it a bit more arms' length than that.
K2K: What are some of your favorite sites or things to trawl for online?
GN: That depends really. I use it as purely an information source. As an example, I've just been buying a camcorder so I was online looking for information about them. Before that, when we lost the baby, we went to Florida for a holiday. So I was actually checking the basic things about Florida - where to go, what to avoid, things like that. So it really depends on what I'm doing at any given time. I never get down to the computer and just troll around it for fun. I always go there if it's for a specific purpose.
K2K: Have you been to the website for Numan Boy?
GN: Numan Boy... yeah. Not for a long time though. That's Randy Ellis, isn't it?
K2K: That is associated with Boys Like Us.
GN: Yeah, that's the gay one.
K2K: Boys Like Us. The gay, lesbian and bisexual fans of Gary Numan. What are they like?
GN: Usually the websites... the thing is that there are so many of them, that I just don't have time. I used to check them all regularly just to see what they were saying but there were so many that I can't keep up with it anymore.
K2K: How long have you been married?
GN: Four years in August.
K2K: On one site - Ben's Homepage - you are cited as being a punk, android, techno-wizard, pilot, warrior angel, and gigolo. How did he get gigolo?
GN: I don't know. Maybe before I was married.
K2K: You have a lot of interesting hobbies. You are also known as being a great pilot.
GN: I do air shows across Europe.
K2K: What air shows? Anything well-known?
GN: None that you'd know. Britain has more air shows than all of Europe put together. I've been doing that for about 17 years. I'm an instructor, I'm an examiner, I teach people how to do it. Any major British air show that you would hear about, I would have done it.
K2K: What sort of planes do you like to fly?
GN: WWII combat airplanes mainly. Piston engine airplanes.
K2K: What about your first attempt at flying solo around the globe?
GN: It wasn't solo. I went with a friend of mine. The first attempt, we got arrested in India.
K2K: You were arrested as a spy?
GN: Suspicion of a spy... and smuggling, actually.
K2K: How did they get to that decision?
GN: (laughs) Very short-sighted people. We had cameras and we had two watches each. One for local time and one for international time. They thought that was suspicious, which shows you how ignorant they are. We had cameras, zoom lenses, and video and stuff like that. Not video, we had 16mm film cameras. We were making a documentary to help finance the flight. The flight was costing me a fortune. They thought that was suspicious because we had big lenses. I said, "Where we come from, that's quite normal, really."
K2K: What year are we talking about?
GN: 1981. At the end of 1981. We ended up in this small village on the East coast of India, called Vishakhapatnam. I don't think that they had seen a camera before, let alone a big lens.
K2K: Did they force you down?
GN: No, we had rough running with the airplane and had to land. It was really kind of a scary situation. We were 60 - 70 miles out in the Indian Ocean, heading towards Bankok, and it started to run very badly. We didn't know if we would make it back to land or not. We got back there and found this little airfield and landed. It all kicked up after that. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
K2K: But you finally did make a trip all the way around the globe though.
GN: Yeah, on the second attempt. Same year. We got back from India, got the plane ready and started off again.
K2K: Nobody cared when you got back though?
GN: When we started it, we got national radio, TV, everyone was interested in talking to us. With a radio station, I had to ring in every day to go live across the whole of Great Britain talking about what we'd done that day. By the time that it had finished, nobody was interested. Nobody wanted to talk to us, no newspapers turned up when we got back, no one cared at all about it. That didn't really worry me. That wasn't the reason that I had done it in the first place. It was interesting about the attention span of the British public.
K2K: Did you ever finish your film documentary?
GN: No, no. We couldn't because when we got arrested, the Indian exposed all the film.
K2K: What?
GN: Yeah, they were very spiteful people.
K2K: Do you believe in UFOs?
GN: Yes, I do.
K2K: Have you ever seen any?
GN: I've seen something. It wasn't a ship, I saw a light which was very strange. My dad saw one. He was on a bus with a lot of other people, going to work. It was just beneath Heathrow Airport. It was seen by thousands of people. It was on television news. They tracked it right up the country. It was actually tracked on radar. It was a round sphere in front with some kind of solid thing in back of it. The weird thing was that everyone saw it as a different color. They tracked it right up to the Scottish mountains and the radar lost it. Obviously they didn't "lose" it. It must have come down somewhere. In England it was very, very famous.
K2K: What year?
GN: I was very young, so it must have been mid-1960s.
K2K: What is your involvement with race cars?
GN: A long time ago I used to sponsor a racing car. I didn't drive it, I sponsored it.
K2K: What about your Ferrari obsession?
GN: I used to have one. I don't like new Ferraris. They're dreadful cars. I've got a new one now from a British company called TVR. They make the most monstrously powerful sports cars that you could imagine. I have the most powerful one. It's called the Cerbera. It's kind of based on Cerebus, the guardian of Hades.
K2K: Is this a new company?
GN: No, I think that they designed this one in 1997. They come up with new cars every two or three years. It's just phenomenal. It's hugely fast and stupidly powerful.
K2K: Define hugely fast.
GN: We're talking about 200 mph. It does 0 - 60 in less than 4 seconds. It gets to 100 in 8 seconds.
K2K: What size engine?
GN: 4 1/2 liter. 420 horsepower V8.
K2K: How many speeding tickets have you amassed over the years?
GN: You know, I don't have one yet for that car.
K2K: I meant in general.
GN: Oh yeah, quite a few.
K2K: Do you have any other children right now?
GN: No, no children.
K2K: Would you want your children to go into music?
GN: Yeah, I would be happy about that. I think my wife wants them to be actors and actresses actually.
K2K: Well, it's all entertainment. What about future plans for you after the tour?
GN: Straight into the next album. I'm very keen to make it more quickly than the last one. The last one took a long time.
K2K: Are you then looking to sign with a bigger label?
GN: That depends. I have one more album to go with Spitfire. If they take that option, then obviously I will be obliged to stay there. If they don't take that option, which I will know in the next three or four weeks whether that's going to happen or not, then I'll have to think about it, whether to go with another label or make it on my own again.
K2K: What kind of hobbies do you currently have? What do you do when you're not working?
GN: I fly airplanes. I've got a little jet boat that I drive around.
K2K: Any time for domestication?
GN: Yeah, I'm quite domestic really. We got a lot of animals. We've got two dogs and six cats. I've got about four acres. We've got a fairly cozy kind of home life outside of the other things that we do. We're very family-oriented actually. We just need a family.
K2K: I'm sure that it will all work out for you.
GN: Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. We're trying again now, so we'll see what happens.
K2K: Any final thoughts for fans?
GN: No, not really. From everything that I've heard, America seems to be most likely to be receptive and interested in what I'm doing. For that reason alone, that makes this tour the most important of all.
K2K: The last time I saw you perform was in 1979 in San Francisco, so I look forward to seeing how your perform this time.
GN: Oh, it's a completely different animal.
K2K: As a final thought, what do you think of Napster?
GN: When it first came out, I thought it was a bad thing. I've read messages from people who said that they've heard my stuff on Napster and then went out and bought it. I can only assume that it can actually work the way Napster says it can. I think that it isn't necessarily taking records away from people like me. When you start to take away revenues that record companies make - everyone seems to think that record companies make too much money - but the truth of it is that, Spitfire for example - if you were to take away some revenues from them, the first thing to go away would be the tour support, so I wouldn't be able to play live. So, what actually is going to happen is that you're going to find that bands will find it difficult to tour, if the record companies can't afford to give them tour support, because they're not seeing the same revenue. So there's actually a knock-down effect of what Napster is doing. On the other hand the record companies should wait and see if Napster really is the evil thing that they think it is. They shouldn't just attack the first person who happens to look around the corner. Give it some time and find out what will happen first before going overboard.
And then it was time to call a close to the interview at hand as we had been chatting for quite some time and had more business on our agendas. Don't miss the chance to see Gary Numan in concert as well as checking out his latest release, "Pure."
For more information about Gary Numan -
Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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