1. What is your birthday?
I was born on March 8, 1958 in London, England.
2. When and how did you first become interested in music? How long have you
When I was very young, about 4 when I first became aware of music but nearer
to 7 or 8 when I really became interested. It wasn’t really music that interested
me though to be completely honest. I saw a band on the TV and I was fascinated
by the fact that the guitar player had an electric guitar, with switches and
dials. It was the technology that grabbed me not the music. I became seriously
interested in music many years later, long after I had a record deal. My main
interest was always the machinery that made sound, and the sounds themselves
of course. Music was almost a by product, a side effect. I grew to love music
eventually but my fascination with the technology remains very strong. I can’t
remember for sure but I began to play guitar when I was about 10 and keyboards
when I was about 19.
3. Tell me about your music history.
Well I’ve been a professional musician for just over 25 years so covering that
in any detail would fill a book. I’ve made about 19 albums of new material or
something like that. In the UK I’ve had about 30 chart singles, maybe more,
and about 25 or 30 chart albums, including live albums and what seems like a
never ending flow of Numan compilations courtesy of old record companies. My
first single came out on Feb 10, 1978, which was also the day I quit my ‘real’
job and took up music for a living.
4. What is your most memorable show and why?
I don’t have a ‘most’ memorable show. I’ve never played a show that was so much
better than the others that it stands out as being the best, or worst. Well
maybe Jacksonville a few years ago could be the worst come to think of it. The
promoter had heard that I was considered influential with some dance acts and
so promoted my gig by giving out handbills at a few dance clubs. Hardly anyone
turned up and those that did didn’t expect what I was doing, which was industrial
more or less, and it was not a happy night. As we walked out of the venue back
to the tour bus a woman ran by screaming that someone had just shot her boyfriend
in the head. It was all rather odd. I’ve had great shows pretty much everywhere
else I’ve ever been. I love touring, more than anything. Every tour seems like
a life within a life, you get to experience so much, at such an amazing pace.
To pick out any one show is just impossible I’m afraid.
5. Tell me about your latest music project.
I’ve got a few going on at the moment. The most important is my new studio album
called Jagged Halo. This I will have ready by the end of the year hopefully.
I’ve also just recorded a new vocal for one of my songs called Metal that Afrika
Bambaataa is covering for his new album. This is the same song that Nine Inch
Nails covered on their Things Falling Apart album. I’ve also co-written a song
with Junkie XL who had that massive hit recently with the ‘Little Less Conversation’
Elvis remix. I’ve co-written a few other songs with different people and I have
a collaboration single called ‘Crazier’ with Scottish artist Rico coming out
in a few weeks time. We just filmed the video for that in Berlin. The co-writing
thing is something I’ve not really done that much before. I have well over 300
Gary Numan songs released since 1978 and only 20 or so more that are co-writes
in that same 25 year period. That’s why Jagged Halo is my main interest. It’s
my own thing and that’s where I’m most comfortable.
6. What else do you do besides play music?
I fly historic aeroplanes at airshows around Europe. I specialise in World War
2 combat aeroplanes and low level formation aerobatics. Actually I haven’t done
much of that recently as my team mate was killed in a crash a while back and
now my wife Gemma doesn’t want me to fly anymore. I used to be an examiner for
air display pilots and taught aerobatics at a special flying school in the UK
for a while. I believe it was the only school in Europe that taught low level
display aerobatics but that might not be true anymore. I also have a boat which
is good fun, I’ve just completed two courses on sea navigation. I like to take
my car on race tracks whenever possible but it’s getting more difficult these
days to find decent organisers for that. I run my own NuWorld web site so that
takes quite a lot of time, I write stories, in fact I expect to do that instead
of music at some point in the future. I did, until a month ago, run our own
Gary Numan quarterly magazine, called Alien, but it took up too much time and
the internet killed the demand for a printed mag in any case. I dabble at video
editing and CD-Rom design and I’m just getting into DVD authoring which is very
interesting. I’m also into animal welfare and take part in campaigns against
cruelty to animals and such like. And finally I’m now reading everything I can
about babies as Gemma is pregnant and, hopefully, after seven years of trying,
I’m going to be a father which is very cool.
7. Do you believe in psychics? Why or why not?
I believe in ghosts, I believe that certain people can communicate at some level
with them so I suppose the answer is yes. I’m more than a little uncomfortable
with people that charge money to give ‘readings’ though. I don’t really know
why but I always seem to be very skeptical about those ‘around the table holding
hands’ type of events. We have a fantastic TV show here called Most haunted
and that has a psychic on a regular basis who wanders around various places
talking to things. I find it fascinating and more than a little disturbing.
8. Who are your musical influences and why?
No one band or person in particular but I do listen to a lot of things so I
am constantly influenced. I listen to anything that can help me write whatever
I’m working on. I suck things in all the time. Not just music but noises, pictures,
films, words, anything at all that can help. Everyone, no matter how imaginative
or creative, needs a little spark at times to ignite that imagination. I search
constantly for sparks. So I don’t listen to anything or anyone for a specific
reason. Inspiration is everywhere, you just need to have your eyes and ears
open every waking moment. I really iiked the last Korn album, I love things
like Nine Inch Nails and the UK band Sulpher. I was at a launch party for the
new Marilyn Manson album a few days ago and that sounded very impressive. I
like the German band Rammstein, I like Curve, but I just listen to things all
the time. Usually it’s heavy and aggressive, or menacing in some way.
9. Have you ever inhaled?
No. I’ve never smoked a cigarette of any kind, I’ve never drunk alcohol either
so I’ve never known the delights of being drunk and throwing up on your best
10. What do you think about the war with Iraq? What are your thoughts on Eddie
Vedder and the Dixie Chicks onstage actions concerning the war and the president?
I don’t know what the Dixie Chicks and Eddie Vedder did as it didn’t make the
news here so I can’t comment. On the war I don’t really know what to say. IT
seems to me that the only information we get comes via the TV or the press.
It’s time limited into sound bites, compressed into a news item or column inches
and, mostly, highly opinionated with a pro or anti twist to it depending on
the author and the subject. Therefore this type of information can only be treated
with a great deal of suspicion. This makes it near on impossible to know the
truth about any situation, but especially something as dangerous and deadly
as war. All I can say is that it’s a great shame that it was, or was thought
to be, necessary. But sometimes they are. It’s not a perfect world.
11. What is your favorite song that you have played on and why?
My current favourite Numan song is either ‘Rip’ or ‘My Jesus’, both from the
Pure album. They both have extreme dynamics, those ‘here comes the good bit’
moments, and the tunes not bad. I can’t say why I like my own stuff, it feels
like looking in a mirror and saying hello handsome. It’s just a little bit embarrassing.
12. What is the worst job you have ever had and why?
I was already famous in the UK as I turned 21 so I didn’t have much opportunity
to have any really bad jobs. I was once fitting air conditioning sections into
the basement of a big bank in London when the grips slipped and the large shaft
we were moving rolled into me. I was pinned against a wall by several tons of
metal. Plus it was snowing heavily above and my prison basement was filled with
icy slush. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be slowly crushed to death, freeze
or drown. It took them about 30 minutes to get me out.
13. If a movie were made about your life, what would the theme song be?
I can’t believe I can’t think of a good answer to this. But I can’t at the moment.
14. If you were god for a day, what would you do?
15. If you had a chance to bring back one person from death, who would it be
Jesus. I have a few questions I’d like him to answer.
16. What is the happiest you have ever been and why?
Now is pretty good. Why? Because I’m alive and healthy (and that should never
be taken for granted) and things have gone from shit to great career-wise over
the last few years and I’m writing some of the best songs I’ve ever written,
my wife is perfect and has been since the day I met her eleven years ago, it
looks like I’m going to be a Dad, I was virtually bankrupt not too many years
ago and that’s all fixed and, apart from all that, I just love my life.
17. Tell me about an average day in the life of Gary Numan.
I don’t have average as it depends on whether I’m touring, writing, recording,
flying, etc etc. So, this is a slight invention but a typical day can be as
follows. I wake up, look out across the beautiful rolling hills of England that
just happens to be the view from my bedroom window, see the sun is shining and
think to myself, "I think I’ll go back to sleep". Such is the freedom
of the professional musician and, more than all other pleasures that being a
pro musician brings, that freedom to choose my day is the one that I appreciate
the most. More likely though is that I get up, go through my e-mails, update
the web site, go to the studio and put in at least a few hours until it gets
too hot (my air con unit is not the best) and then play with my dogs for a while.
I’ll probably work on some of the other things that need to be done. I design
all the Numan merchandise for example so, if a gig or tour is coming up, I’ll
need to design the t-shirts and such like for that. I may have the band round
for rehearsals which will go on late into the night. We also have a large on-line
merch store on the web site and I work on designs for items that will then be
added to that on a regular basis. I might go to a gig or to a friends. Quite
often I’m studying for a licence or qualification of some kind either for flying,
boating or something else along those lines so I’ll put time aside for study.
I always end a normal day by reading. I go to gigs all the time and meetings
with record company, agents, promoters and other musicians seem to be a fairly
regular thing. I do several interviews every week so they can fill part of a
day at times. Obviously if I’m touring a day is very different. Also, as an
album nears completion it becomes an 18 hour a day obsession and so those days
are quite different again. My work ethic sips a bit in the summer. Nice weather
is a rare thing in England and I do tend to put work to one side when the sun
shines a little too often.
In all honesty if I go over the last 50 days every single one of them was different
so it really is impossible to talk about an average day. That simple fact is
the answer to your next question.
18. What does success mean to you?
Freedom to choose the life I lead rather than have life lead me and the fact
that every single day is different to the one before. Where I am, what work
I’m doing, everything changes all the time. It’s rarely dull.
19. How did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I’m somewhat embarrassed to say it was when I realised that musicians always
seemed to get the best looking girls and drove great cars. I was young and my
desires were few and simple.
20. Who do you think the greatest musician of all time?
I have no idea and, if I’m to be absolutely honest, I couldn’t really care less.
I have little interest in great musicians. I love songwriters first and foremost
and great musicians do not often make great songwriters. It seems to me that
great musicians write songs that are intended to do little more than show off
their great musicianship. Song after song of endless solo’s and chord structures
that are extremely difficult to play, and usually not very nice to listen to
either. My philosophy when it comes to music is why play a thousand notes when
one will do. I love atmosphere, a sense of hidden power or menace. One slowly
evolving single note drone can hold far more emotion than the fastest, and longest,
guitar solo’s. Keep your widdling and facial distortions Mr Great Musician.
This is all a bit of a sweeping generalisation I know. There have been some
very good songwriters who were also quite gifted when it came to playing as
well. But they are few and far between and I would rather listen to someone
who can’t really play that well and yet can touch your soul somehow than all
the ‘Great’ muso’s put together. Have you ever noticed how so called great singers
add about two dozen extra notes for every one that was originally written? I
find that very annoying.
21. Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
I was in the studio, got a phone-call after the first plane went in and then
watched the rest unfold as it happened. I cried, and I am not one for tears
as a rule. I don’t think I’d cried since our first baby died. I couldn’t believe
how enormous a tragedy I was witnessing. I couldn’t believe the bravery and
heart breaking courage of those in the buildings and on the ground and I could
not believe the evil that planned and carried out such a thing. It affected
me very deeply.
22. What is your favorite movie of all time?
The Battle Of Britain. I doubt you’ve ever seen it or even know what it’s about.
It’s really very good especially if you know your English history and it also
helps if you like old aeroplanes. It’s when we stopped the Germans during World
War 2, a year or two before America joined in.
23. What is your greatest achievement of all time?
Becoming one of the few low level aerobatic pilots in the UK I guess. I once
saved my parents house from burning down when they were out when I was only
young although I did set it on fire in the first place so I’m not sure that
should be counted as an achievement. Getting a number 1 single and album a few
times is something to be proud of I suppose but it has a lot to do with luck
so I can’t really think of that as an achievement. I flew around the world in
a light aircraft once. That was something to experience and more than a little
terrifying at times. I’m not sure really, one of the above.
24. What is your favorite place to play a live show and why?
I love London most of the time as it’s my home gig and, usually, we have some
amazing shows there. I’ve also had great times playing shows around the world
though and I do especially like touring the States (apart from that one time
in Jacksonville). If I had to choose a favourite country, I’d choose the United
States. It seems more willing to enjoy itself than anywhere else.
25. Do you have a message you would like to send to your fans? If so, what
I never write songs because I think I have a message or something important
to say. I write for very selfish reasons. I write as therapy, very much for
my own inetrest and as a way of getting things out that would be unhealthy if
they stayed bottled up. If I then touch people somehow then I’m very happy about
that but that connection is not the reason I do it. It’s a happy coincidence.
The only thing I ever want to say, and I need to say it again and again, to
my fans is thank you.
26. What is your favorite quote of all time?
Aim for the stars. You might not make it but you won’t end up with a handful
of mud either. (Something along these lines was uttered by an astronaut many
years ago, I forget his name I’m afraid)