As well as celebrating his 50th Birthday just last week, 2008 has heralded another major landmark for Gary Numan – his 30th year in music. To mark the occasion, we at Gigwise decided to let Gary’s faithful fans pose their questions to the great man himself. Of the hundreds that came through, a final 20 were whittled down for Gary to answer in person, and here they are:
1. Almighty Gary,
Back in the mid-eighties, I believe NME or some such magazine named you Wanker of the Year....Do you feel vindicated, being one of the most influential musicians of our era?
Gary Numan: "I don't think of it that way at all. In the 80's some journalists thought I was a wanker, and I might have been, today another generation of journalists think I'm influential, and they might be right. I'm glad that I'm seen in a far more favourable and positive light these days but I don't feel vindicated in any way. I haven't lived through the last 25 - 30 years with a chip on my shoulder or felt that I was badly treated in any way. In many respects, although the press back in the 80's was quite hostile, I could have handled things better and so I accept much of the blame for that bad situation."
2. I'm only 17 and listening to your material loads, even though some people raise eyebrows that I listen to '80s new wave. I wanted to know in your own words what you think it is about your music that makes it so enjoyable for your long-time fans and younger audiences like myself?
Thanks for the music, see you on the 14th in Southampton!
- Sam North
Gary Numan: "If it's 80's new wave you are listening to I can't really help you. I don't much like it myself. Personally I was glad to see the back of the 80's. I think my best music was 1979 - 1980 and then from 1994 onwards. I couldn't really say why some people prefer that 80' stuff, it's a genuine mystery to me."
3. Gary I’m going bald and girls run away when I want to kiss them. What do you think I should do?
Gary Numan: "Have a wank and leave the girls alone until you can afford a hair transplant."
4. I want to thank you for saving my life. At the time when ‘Replicas’ came out, I was at a very bad time in my life and was thinking that it just wasn't worth it anymore. When I picked up that album, it gave me hope. It allowed me to feel the surface coldness and numbness that was there but it still had a very emotional and hopeful feeling lying underneath. That combination allowed me to realize that I wasn't alone and that you could put on the novocaine long enough to heal. It is something that has been a constant in your music, regardless of the changing that you have gone thru. Thank you.
My question is that you have had a constant theme of anti-god or anti-religion in your music for sometime. Is it anti-god or anti-religion that you feel?
- Alan Malmstrom
p.s. congratulations on such a beautiful wife! Damn good job!!!
Gary Numan: "I'm not anti God at all. I would need to believe there was a God to be anti it. I do not like religion it's true to say although my problem is, if anything, more to do with the individual faith than religion."
5. Me and my friend are going to see you on the 8th of March, which is your birthday. We've planning to give you a cake for ages, as we're really excited. Would you like us to give you a cake?
- Josh Flynn
Gary Numan: "I only eat Angel layer cake so, if that's what you have, thank you very much. If not, and you're okay with it, I'll share it with the band and crew. Whatever it is, thank you very much."
6. Hiya Gary, still a musical genius after all these years, we luv ya! My question is, what do you think about tribute bands, and especially the few Numan tribute bands that have been/are around today? Do you feel flattered by the fact that people want to keep your music alive in pub gigs in between your tours and hopefully ignite interest in people who may come and see you out of curiosity?
Gary Numan: "I'm very flattered that Numan tribute bands exist but I'm not entirely convinced that they raise too much public interest. I can go on TV and be seen by millions and not really notice any upsurge in public interest so I'm not too sure that a Numan tribute band playing at a local pub is making that much of a difference. But that's not the point. I'm genuinely blown away that people put so much time and effort into getting these tribute bands together and playing their gigs. It's an honour that they feel that connected, and that supportive."
7. Hi Gary...I have been a big fan of yours since the 80s. I noticed you changed your sound. More harder, funkier...what made you go that route? Most musicians, as they get older tone it down.
Gary Numan: "In 1994 I realised I had been writing songs for a number of years that were designed to keep my career alive and that I had lost my way creatively. I changed from that moment on and went back to writing things that I loved and felt passionate about. As soon as I did that the music was harder, more aggressive and I haven't looked back since."
8. This is Cindee Kay from Sacramento, California USA. I have one more question that is a little more "personal."
I hear you really like your sex, how often do you get to have it? And are you dirty in bed? Are you a face man? Ass man? Or boob man?
HOPE this didn't offend Gary, I mean no disrespect, just curious :P
Gary Numan: "Whenever I want, with a beautiful woman who never says no. I don't know if you would consider me dirty in bed or not and I have to say that my interests go far beyond being a 'face man' or a 'boob man'. Until I met Gemma I lived the single mans dream to the full. I was successful, had money, wasn't ugly and so things were easy and plentiful. Since Gemma I haven’t even looked longingly at another woman. Can you even begin to imagine how good she must be?"
9. Your first ever record was released on 10 February 1978. If you could go back in time to meet yourself on that day, what advice would you give to yourself?
- Warren Farr
Gary Numan: "So much to say. I was totally unprepared for almost every part of what was to come and handled much of it very badly. I would warn myself about what was coming, what to enjoy, what to avoid. How to stay calm, how to rise above certain things. What things really matter and what doesn't. Who you can trust, who will shit all over you. It would take weeks probably. Most importantly of all I would tell myself not to forget to enjoy it. Not to be too busy trying to make sense of it all that I don't miss all the great moments. I would dearly love to live through that again with an older head."
10. Hello Gary,
Your music has been used quite a lot in advertising. Do you feel that these ad's, when they appear, are good or bad for your profile?
Gary Numan: "I think getting music on ad's is great for profile. I don't own all my own music so I honestly don't know if I could stop someone from using a Numan song owned by another publisher but I'm sure `I could with songs I own myself. So far it's not been a problem though. I haven't wanted to stop anything."
11. With so many 'surplus songs' around that time that never made it onto the to Repliacs album ( each one bloody fantastic in our opinion and a very worthy album track) how did you ever decide what to leave off? And how did the album end up having the two classic instrumentals ending it? - a very brave choice if you don’t mind us saying?
- Adam and Sally
Gary Numan: "It didn't seem much of a problem at the time. I think the songs on the album were a reasonably good choice. I never wanted b-sides to be second rate songs either so I always had other places to put songs that didn't appear on the album. Nothing felt wasted. Those songs that didn't make it to b-sides or albums were, in my opinion at the time, the weakest of those I had written. I think a song like The Crazies for example was quite weak compared to things like Are Friends Electric and Down In The Park so it was easy to leave it out."
12. Hi Gary,
I realize US has always been a hard market for you, but the fans in the US would love to see you tour here more often. We realize it has to be profitable. an you tell us why there has not been a bigger push or investment in the marketing of your music in the US?
Is there anything that fans like myself can do to help get the word out? Because once people hear your music, they want more. "If you play it, they will come". ;-)
Best wishes to you,
Gary Numan: "Investment questions are best sent to the various record companies that have released my albums over the years as it's those people that have decided how much, or how little to be more precise, should be spent on trying to sell my music in the U.S. It has been a constant disappointment to me over the years and somewhat demoralising at times. I can't think of anything fans can do other than continue to spread the word as best they can and for that I will always be grateful. But we fight on and continue to look for opportunities and labels that could help get the music to the ears of as many people as possible."
13. Nine Inch Nails is a fan of your work, and you are a fan of theirs. Why haven't you tried to use this to gain greater exposure in the United States by touring with them the way that David Bowie and Bauhaus have? Given that many of your fans in the US are also Nine Inch Nails fans and you are now both independent artists I think it would be a killer bill and a win-win situation for the fans.
Thanks for the great music,
- Tony D'Agostino
Gary Numan: "Great idea but you don't just walk up to Trent Reznor and say 'I'm going to support you on your next tour'. There is far more to it than that."
14. When you’re telling the kids off for the umpteenth time for drawing on the wall etc do you ever stop and think:
‘I’m Gary Numan, THE Electro-Rock God - I shouldn’t be having to do this!’ ;-) And what do they think when their Dad is leaping around on stage looking mean and moody?
- Simon Everest
Gary: "No, I never think that. I'm very well adjusted and have no problem sliding into the rock star thing and back out again. Both my older two daughters have seen me play live now and it's been great. They both loved it. The only question Raven asked after the show was 'Why were you so angry?'. She doesn't quite get the performance part of it yet."
15. Are you really a robot? If you really are not, would you be offended if I still think of you as a robot? It's better that way.
- Kristen from Salt Lake City
Gary Numan: "Of course I am. A robot with wrinkles, chest hair and a slightly lop-sided lower lip. With chipped teeth after smacking myself in the mouth with a microphone for too many years doing my little robot speeches on my little robot stage. Would you be offended if I thought you were just a tiny bit weird?"
16. At the darkest moment of your career, which I guess would be after the release of ‘Machine and Soul’, what gave you the inspiration and “get up and go” which was to result in one of your best albums for many, many years, ‘Sacrifice’ which has led on to you releasing some of your best music ever ?
- Best wishes
Gary Numan: "Get up and go is another way of saying ambition in some respects and I have never wanted for ambition. I just figured out what my problems were and fixed them. I made it all fun again and stopped taking it so seriously which sounds a bit strange considering how heavy and serious sounding the music has become."
17. Many people overlook the fact that you have written some amazing ballads throughout your career - Complex, You Walk In My Soul, This Is Love... to name but three. Which is your favourite and why?
- Anthony Burrows
Gary Numan: "You Walk In My Soul is probably my favourite but Little InVitro is without doubt the most painful. Little InVitro is about our unborn child that died during pregnancy and to this day I have huge problems trying to sing it live. Everything comes back, every feeling, as though it happened yesterday."
18. Hi Gary, my question is ”do you feel that having Asperger syndrome as influenced your writing style?
Gary Numan: "In many ways yes because my writing style is based largely on how I see the world and that world view is an Aspergers view and so it has to have a bearing on what I write and the way in which I write it."
19. Your music conjures cinematic scenes in the mind and I know you've created music scores for a few films. What about writing and scoring your own movie? Could be a full feature or a 20 minute concept piece. I'd love to see a Numan penned sci-fi film.
- Alex Wallis
Gary Numan: "I would love to write the music for one, I would even love to have a hand in writing a story but I really wouldn't know where to start when it came to actually making one, or of finding the money to do it."
20. I've been a fan of yours since I was a little kid and I respect your opinion more than anyone else's... so who do you think would win in a fight? A viking or a samurai?
- Steve Van Veen
Gary Numan: "It depends who had the biggest bat."
An anniversary edition of Gary Numan's classic album 'Replicas' is available right now through Beggars Banquet.