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Gary Numan

Gary Numan
Gary Numan

Looking To The Future

Having garnered some of the best critical reviews of his career for his last album, 2013’s Splinter (Songs from A Broken Mind), electronic pioneer Gary Numan is coming to Perth for one show only at the Astor Theatre this Sunday, May 25. TRAVIS JOHNSON checks in.

You might be able to name Cars, Are Friends Electric? or Down In The Park, but Gary Numan’s output over the past couple of decades didn’t make as big a cultural splash as his early explorations into the possibilities of electronic music.

That doesn’t mean the man has been idle though; he’s been working steadily over the years, building critical, if not commercial credibility, culminating in last year’s Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) putting him back in the limelight.

Numan himself is bit perplexed at the album’s success. “It’s difficult to say, really.” he says when probed on the reasons for its ascendance. “It could be it’s a build up of things that have slowly been coming together for some time. The music took quite a different direction quite a long time ago – it was about ‘94 when I started going through my heavier industrial kind of thing and I’ve been progressing that ever since. So it’s taken a while for people to accept that’s what I do now.

“There’s lots of other people who’ve been saying pretty cool things over the years and that’s become more recognised now – people doing cover versions, other people sampling my stuff – so there’s been a general building of awareness and credibility without me ever having big hit singles or anything like that. But it just feels to me that there’s been a gentle kind of building over the last decade or two.”

“Some people have always appreciated Numan’s work, though, such as high profile fans Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor. “Certainly a lot of the people who have said cool things about me, some of those have been pretty big people. There’s obviously a great deal of credibility that comes from that, but also it introduces you to a whole new audience via their own fans. All of these things have been slowly contributing to what’s been going on.”

While his recent successes please him, Numan is also aware of how fleeting such things can be, and although he has no immediate plans to retire, he is acutely aware of the need to keep his options open. His recent relocation to Los Angeles was at least partly inspired by a desire to start working on film scores – a good fit for his strong sense of mood and imagery – which is only one of several alternate artistic avenues he is keen to explore. After all, he can’t tour forever.

“Bear in mind,” he says, “I’m 56 this year. I’m closer to 60 than I am to 50. I’m certainly not running out of ideas or running out of creativity. I don’t have any worries from that point of view – the career is stronger now than it has been for 20 years. It’s really an age thing. I might be able to keep doing this for another 15 years, but it seems fucking unlikely, to be honest. I’ll be 71 – who wants to come and see that?”

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