The full video on Vimeois an fantastically unguarded, intimate, and funny message and performance. It’s amazing to see such a seasoned performer letting his guard down in such a humble way, and it really seems to be resonating with people!
I’m assuming he’ll put more full-length videos like this on his Vimeo channel. You can check that out, as well more of his stuff, here:
Gary Numan will be playing Denver tonight (April 4, 2014) at the Gothic Theater. Show starts at 8pm. He’s currently on tour supporting his fantastic album Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). I caught the show at the Mountain Oasis Festival 2013 and will be at the show tonight. It’s an incredible show so if you are in Denver area come on down.
For those readers not in Denver and for those who have not yet bought the album visit so visit http://www.numan.co.uk for more information on the album and tour.
Gary was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for Modulate This!
Mark Mosher:I love the amazing amount of sonic space and dynamic range in the mix of Splinter.
I especially like how your vocals are right up front and you can hear
the amazing detail in the music and sound design. Even when songs like
“Who Are You” are running at full tilt, the mix has enough sonic space
so you can make out interesting sound elements like scraping metallic
noises and such. Can you shed some light on the overall development of Splinter
and your collaborative process with producer Ade Fenton to create an
album with such drive and emotion without losing all the sonic detail?
Gary Numan: No
special tricks or processes were employed to get the album to sound the
way it does, just a lot of attention to detail and care. Ade worked
very closely with Nathan Boddy with the mixing at their respective
studios in the UK and those mixes were sent over to me for feedback.
There was a lot of communication and discussion obviously as things
progressed. The songwriting part of it is fairly simple. I start with a
piano and work out the melody and structure. When I’m happy with that I
turn to the technology and begin to flesh the song out, building the
dynamics and mood. A rough guide vocal without real words follows so
that I can get the phrasing exactly right without trying to squeeze in
lyrics that don’t really fit, then, when I’m happy with that, the actual
lyrics, then the final vocal. At this stage I will have a fairly well
developed demo that gives Ade the guidance he needs to know where I see
the song going. Those files are then sent to Ade and the production part
of it begins. From then on it’s a lot of to and fro as we move the song
forward. We do argue but it’s rarely angry, we’re always trying to get
the song as good as it can be rather than win a contest between us. It’s
quite difficult to comment on the way we work as being anything unusual
because it really isn’t. I write the songs and create reasonably high
quality demo’s, Ade makes them sound much better and, quite often, will
take the song in a new direction. Sometimes that works, sometimes not,
but I’m always happy to try out his ideas and see where they take us.
Mark Mosher: My favorite track on the album
is “A Shadow Falls on Me”. It has such an interesting arrangement. The
non-vocal elements of the song are conjured up in a wake behind your
vocals. The end result is you really pull the listener along and make
them try and anticipate what’s coming next. Was this a idea pulling the
listener along with the vocals and melody a conscious idea from the
beginning or something that happened as you developed the song?
Gary Numan: Yes, pretty much. The idea was to build
the song with each new vocal section, increasing the level of emotion
and power at each step. Ade came up with a huge drum part that was great
and changed things considerably but it was just too much to have
running from start to finish so we adapted it and used the idea to build
an even bigger series of steps, following the original idea but with a
greater shift in power and emotion each time. Interestingly the vocal
line started out as my first attempt to collaborate with the band
Battles. They weren’t too keen on my first vocal idea for their My
Machines song so I used it on A Shadow Falls On Me instead.
Mark Mosher: There are some amazing textures and sound elements on Splinter. What’s your creative process for creating unique sounds to support your song writing?
Gary Numan: Sounds can come from anywhere. Walking
around the street with a recorder kicking things, slamming things,
scraping, dragging, whatever. Using software packages like Omnisphere
and Massive, whispering words and phrases and then manipulating those
sounds beyond recognition, recording journeys, trains, cars, absolutely
anything and everything, and then finding ways to mess with those source
sounds until you have something you’ve never heard before. There is no
process as such, just a real pleasure from finding new ways to create
Mark Mosher:There is a fantastic video on the Nine Inch Nails YouTube channel where you make a surprise appearance and perform “Metal” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehMqEXUspfs) back in 2009. You’ve gone on to share the bill with NIN for a series of concerts and NIN guitarist Robin Finck both plays on Splinter and has played with your touring band. Can you tell us more about the Gary Numan-Trent Reznor-NIN connection and perhaps how this connection has deepened since you have moved to LA?Gary Numan: Trent came to see us at a show I was playing in Baton Rouge many years ago, this was when he was making The Fragile. He brought with him a copy of a song of mine that he had covered called Metal which was fantastic. After that, whenever NIN played in London I would go and see them and we would meet up briefly for a chat. Then in 2009 I was invited to join them on stage at their O2 gig in London, then to do the same thing when they played the last four shows of that version of NIN in Los Angeles that same year. When I moved to Los Angeles Trent wrote the first of my Testimonial letters for the US authorities which really helped. As soon as we moved to the US he invited to his house a couple of times and made us feel very welcome, then the recent shows and some other social things. He’s been a good friend, in his own, quiet way, on several levels and I’m very grateful to him.
Gary Numan: It’s a very cautious thing for me. The
musical side of that idea is very exciting but the political side of it,
or at least the horror stories I’ve heard about it, are really quite
daunting so I’m not sure whether it will suit me or not. I’m just
finishing my first film score, which I co-wrote with Ade Fenton on this
occasion, for an animated movie called From Inside. A grim and
heavy story about a pregnant girls journey on a mysterious train after
the world has been destroyed. It has been a gentle first step into
writing scores for both of us and again, I’m very grateful to the people
involved, John Bergin the Director, and Brian McNellis the Producer,
for giving me the opportunity and for making it a stress free project.
We’ll see where it goes from here.
Mark Mosher: Rather than fall back on
“nostalgia” you have really pushed the envelope to try new ideas
throughout your career. Do you have any advice for Modulate This readers
on how to take the “long view” of their craft and their music careers?
Gary Numan: I’ve always been aware that everything
you do today will stick to you in the future so you must be very
careful. You need to think about how today’s actions will be perceived
in the coming years. Will they hurt your reputation, weaken your fan
base? Are you doing things now for short term gain that might kill your
career growth in the coming years? I’ve made some terrible mistakes over
the years but the thing that has always been important to me is never
to rely or dwell on past glories, no matter how big they might be. Try
to move forward musically with every album, don’t be afraid to try new
things, constantly, and avoid nostalgia at all costs. Of course, if you
just want to be rich then milk the nostalgia route for all it’s worth.
Plenty of people make very good livings by simply repeating things they
did decades ago but I think that’s a pretty empty way to look at
creativity. Write music because you genuinely love what you are doing,
not because you think it might get you on the radio or keep the record
label happy. I went through a period of writing ‘strategically’ and the
music suffered and I did nothing that I’m proud of or still play today.
It was soul destroying actually and almost ruined my career. For the
first part of my career, and certainly for the last 20 years, I’ve
written songs with no thoughts at all about how they might achieve
commercial success. I want that of course, but you must NOT try to
design your music to achieve it. Write what’s in your heart, what you
love, and then hope for the best as far as commercial success is
Special thanks to the fantastic photographer and musician Rod Tanaka for coordinating this interview.
Directed by Logan Owlbeemoth with effects by Omebi Velouria, this video was made using a Tachyons + video glitch synth effected live via a HI-8 camera and a CRT television to create triply, blurry, VHS-style images of Gary Numan as he sings the song. In a nod to Gary's analogue roots, no computer post production was used in the making of this video.
Gary Numan is currently on tour in the US, then off to Australia/New Zealand followed by the UK (http://www.numan.co.uk/tour/). He’ll be playing Denver on April 4th at the Gothic. Visit his official web site for more news and links to the new album http://www.numan.co.uk/.
Besides having the honor of bringing the 9 Box to the Mountain Oasis 2013 Festival this year, the biggest highlight for me was getting to see Geary Yelton’s interview with Gary Numan for Electronic Musician. Geary was my host during the festival so that made the interview even that much cooler :^)
The interview took place in the 500 seat Diana Wortham Theater which was totally packed. Geary had great questions and Gary was super open, funny, and direct with his answer which was really interesting and refreshing. It’s a must see video if you’re an electronic musician IMHO as Gary offers some really great insight on the industry and being an artist in general.
My favorite part of the interview was Numan's take on hardware vs software vs analog vs digital (question starts at 43:19) "It's all about making noises. Who gives a shit about whether its analog, digital, software… if the noise at the end of it is a cool noise, that's the only thing that matters."
I'm really looking forward to Gary Numan's next studio Album "Spinter" which is due out Oct 14th. Here is a video which includes some of the new songs to give you a taste of what's to come – "Gary Numan – Full Performance (Live on KEXP)". Thanks to friend and electronic musician Scott Patire for a great find.
Gary Numan has released 2 “work-in-progress” clips on Soundcloud from his upcoming album Splinter. The first track is called “I Am Dust’”, and the second is “We’re The Unforgiven”. I’ve embedded a Soundclould player below these new songs plus some remixes of song from his previous album Dead Son Rising. I’m really loving these new tracks and I especially like Ade Fenton’s production work on this in bringing Gary’s voice out in front of mix for these songs.