I was very honored to get on the phone with legendary artist Gary Numan today. He played Denver last year and it was one of my favorite shows of 2017. I look forward to his return to the Gothic later this month, which is sure to be an electric show. Savage was his 22nd album (!!!) and he’s getting ready to start #23 next year. He was very open about his work, the process and what’s next.
Interview With Gary Numan
I feel like your music has always stayed a step ahead of the curve. What is your process for creating music?
It’s pretty simple really. I’m interested in new sounds that have not been done before. I like to stay up on the latest tech and the latest software. But then it’s also really just sitting down with the piano, starting with the melody and structure and then bringing that to the production. I work very closely with my producer Ade Fenton, but I do a lot of the work initially, and then he takes it from there, and then we pass it back-and-forth between us a lot. I have a strong desire not to repeat any of the things that I’ve done in the past, and I like to find new ways of working with sound. That attitude really helps.
That brings me to a more tech question – what’s your view of AI music creation?
If it gives people something they want to use as a tool for making music, that part is good. But I also think there is something tragic about having the human element taken out of making music. No matter how electronic music may be, it comes from feelings and whatever you’re struggling to portray. AI may come up with some beautiful music but it would be terrible if there was no human element to it.
Your latest album, Savage, is set in a post-apocalyptic world. What was your inspiration for that? (Note: I stumbled on the word “apocalyptic” but made up for it by proving I could pronounce “anonymous.”)
It actually came from a book that I’ve been trying to write for quite a long time. I’d say the album is a broad outline of a story that is the basis for the book. It’s embarrassing how long I’ve been working on this book, but then I was able to use the album at least to create a musical version of it. I didn’t initially want it to be about a post-apocalyptic world, but then Trump came along and spurred me to do it. Of course, in making the songs, they needed a narrative – so it actually then went backwards and helped the book along.
A friend told me that “Are Friends Electric” was the first single her husband ever bought… what’s the first music you ever bought with your own money?
Well, the first music that I ever bought with my own money was for my mum. I bought her a Don Williams country album which she got pretty teary-eyed over. As far as for myself, I actually bought a Monkees album. My friends and I used to play their songs up and down the street for money and go buy sweets at the store with it!
I was blown away by the intensity of your live show. Is that difficult to keep up night after night?
At the moment, yes, it is a little bit difficult to keep up with. We are playing five shows back to back with one day off then six and five. It’s OK though. It’s great to keep active and we work hard to do a show that has powerful music. I also don’t go out and party every night like I used to – so that helps.
I read an op-ed that you wrote – about how savage the political rhetoric has become in the last few years.
This is a bit difficult to talk about without taking a side. But we seem to have forgotten how to respect each other. If you’re having a disagreement, it automatically becomes hostile. We’re having some of breakdown of the recognition that other people’s thoughts are valid too – we should learn from them. And it’s all happened so rapidly that it’s shocking.
I agree with Gary and enjoyed talking with him. Thank you for taking the time!
The Denver show is September 28th at The Gothic but the remainder of the Savage Tour is listed below. Definitely go see him if you can!
Gary Numan – 2018 North American Tour Dates:
Sept. 13 The Ready Room St. Louis, MO
Sept. 14 Bogart’s Cincinnati, OH
Sept. 16 Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH
Sept. 17 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale, PA
Sept. 18 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, ON
Sept. 20 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
Sept. 21 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Sept. 22 Irving Plaza New York, NY
Sept. 23 The Queen Wilmington, DE
Sept. 24 House of Blues Cleveland, OH
Sept. 25 Headliner’s Music Hall Louisville, KY
Sept. 27 Slowdown Omaha, NE
Sept. 28 Gothic Theatre Englewood, CO
Sept. 29 The Depot Salt Lake City, UT
Oct. 1 Vogue Theatre Vancouver, BC
Oct. 2 Neptune Seattle, WA
Oct. 3 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR
Oct. 5 Bimbo’s 365 Club San Francisco, CA
Oct. 6 The Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, CA