Gary NumanGary Numan takes on global issues
By Naughty Mickie 

Gary Numan, the electronic industrial rocker best known for number one hits, ďAre ĎFriendsí Electric?Ē and ďCars,Ē released his 22nd album, ďSavage (Songs From a Broken World)Ē (BMG) Sept. 15. The effort explores humanity on an apocalyptic post-global warming Earth in the not-too-distant future. Numan set up a Pledge Music campaign, allowing his fans to follow the process of his work, from creating and recording the songs to the finished album shrinkwrapped and ready for sale. He has been touring in support of "Savage" and we caught up with him when he was in California for some shows. 

DB: I read that a novel inspired "Savage," is this true? 

GN: Iíve been accumulating ideas for something Iíd like to write, but Iíve been doing it for years so itís really borderline pathetic to be honest, how long Iíve been working on it and how little Iíve got to show for it. Itís something that rather than having a storyline and a beginning and an end of an idea thatís going on itís just this ever increasing bucket of ideas that I just keep pouring into it. But nonetheless I am trying to write a novel.

When I started to work on the album, which it took towards the end of 2015 to early 2016, I normally write about things that are bothering me. The last album was to do with the three years of depression that I went through and trying to recover from that and the problems that come with it and so on. Itís all very personal things. When it came to write the new album life was really good actually. Iíd moved to Los Angeles, Iíd was very happy, the children were all healthy and enjoying school and I had no problems to write about. I turned to the ideas on the novel - "Iíll just borrow a few ideas from that to get me going" - and the novel is going to be about a post-global warming, apocalyptic future, the world is all desert and that sci-fi kind of stuff, and I started to write a couple of things and as that happened coincidentally Donald Trump appeared and started to make his moves for the election. He started to say things like global warming was a hoax and many other things I thought were a bit silly and so I started to write more songs about global warming and in a very short space of time, as the songs continued to progress, the album became effectively an entire theme album about this possible future because it struck me that it could just be that Trump is the wrong person at the most delicate time.  

And just as we were looking to see if we had global warming not beaten by any means, but I think the world is finally coming together and realizing it is a genuine problem and they were trying to do something about it, which was what the Paris Accord was all about, then you have this one extremely powerful, but not very bright person to stumble into the middle of this and start to undo everything. In my mind global warming, because of the Paris Accord, had almost become yesterdayís story. It was being dealt with, it was going to be OK and then you had Trump. It felt as if we had taken two or three steps back from the edge of the cliff, from the abyss, and then I felt as if Donald Trump had pushed us back towards it again, pure ignorance. What started out as a couple of songs on the album to get me going became something much more important to me and that was it. A year or so later I had an entire album. Itís not meant to be a prophesy or anything like that, but an album thatís based on the idea thatís itís more likely to happen now than it was before. 

DB: You are known for always being on the edge of technology when creating your music, which seems as odds with your environmental concerns, can you talk about this please?

GN: I think there are certain technologies in opposition to environmental improvement, but I think there are a great many technologies that are going to do major things to help. There are a number of things out there that are going to be enormously important in fighting the damage. I think fossil fuel technologies seem to be the things thatís doing the most damage. Iím not an expert on this, Iím not a scientist, Iíve watched "An Inconvenient Truth," I get my bit from a Leonard Dicaprio documentary so I canít be any kind of an authority on this whatsoever, but Iíve seen enough that makes me worried, frightened actually, about the future of where weíre going and just unbelievably disappointed on how much beauty there is thatís just been destroyed and the rate at which itís happening. Thereís been more damage in the past 50 years than thereís been in the 50,000 years before it and so on. Itís shocking.

Gary NumanDB: What can we do about fixing things?

GN: We can vote. Thatís probably the best thing. We have to vote people in who have the values that we have and the foresight and the willingness to make the changes and unfortunately there are some things that need to be done that in the short term will be difficult for groups of people so therefore if you recognize that, but you still feel that those changes have to be made you have to do everything you can to make sure that those people are taken care of rather than just abandoned and forgotten and feel like they have no voice so they turn to someone like Donald Trump who comes blasting in saying all the right things to attract those sort of people. Itís got to be done with a great deal of care for the the damage- fixing the planet will cause damage not to the planet, but to the people that live on it and we have to find a way of taking care of those people We need politicians that can come along with good ideas that can not only protect the planet, but can help look after the people that will suffer in the short term because of that.

DB: Tell me about your Pledge campaign for "Savage."

GN: The technologies that have come along recently, the internet primarily, have changed the nature of the music business and itís changed to a very large degree - or it needs to -the way we relate to the fans we have. I thought for a very long time that we need to have a much closer, a much deeper relationship than the one that we have at the moment so I tried to do various things.

Meet and greets are becoming very common, Iíve been doing them for a very long time. Fifteen, 20, 25 years ago even I had a fan club and we would hold monthly competitions where fans could come out and do something with me be it paintballing or go-karting or whatever, trying to find ways to know the fans that youíve got rather than just being a slightly aloof figure that runs past them after a gig and doesnít sign anything.

This closeness with an audience is absolutely vital to longevity and apart from that itís not a horrible thing to do. These are genuinely nice people who support you and like what you do. Itís not a difficult thing to meet them and to hang out and get to know them a little bit more. We have people coming to rehearsals now. I try to do as much as possible, Iím trying to think of things all the time that not will destroy the mystique or what some people want in the people that they follow, but nonetheless find a way to bring you closer. This campaign was very much a part of that.

Itís never been about funding because I have my own studio and I donít want for that kind of thing, it was about trying to find a way of showing people a process that they probably have never been that aware of before. I wanted people to see how a song begins, how it evolves, why it changes, why it might go in one direction and doesnít work so you unravel it and go in a different direction, why the lyrics are the way they are, why they change if they change, why some titles may change and everything from the musical point of view to the visuals. I had a whole album cover designed and in my head, which after a while as the album progressed was completely wrong and I changed directions and did something different. I wanted people to know that that happened and why and what the thinking behind it was.

Ultimately if a fan buys an album, they get it home, itís all shrinkwrapped and lovely and they open it and they like it or they donít like it and the two or three years of work thatís gone into it is going to be dismissed in a one hour listening session and I just thought, I wonder if you were more aware of what it took to make it, of all the ups and downs and the emotional challenges that went into make that record, all the days that Iíve sat here terrified that Iím not able to think of another song, that Iíve not had any good ideas for a week and you get really frightened that you might have lost it, if they could be aware of all of that I wonder if it would make the album a more interesting experience than just putting it on cold and thatís really what I was trying to get to. I wanted them to feel more involved in it not in an interactive way, I donít mean that, I still very much do my own thing, but I wanted them to feel more involved in it, more aware of what it took to make it so at the end when they listen to it they have a greater appreciation of it as a piece of work rather than just a collection of tunes that they like or dislike.

DB: Your previous album, "Splinter," was personal, "Savage" is global, so what's next?

GN: The thing thatís next for me isnít must at all itís going to be a serious effort to try and get the book itself finished and get the story done. If I could do that within the next year and a half to two years then it would still be a part of the overall "Savage" campaign. Iím not really having any thoughts creatively beyond truly next what is going to be because Iím still thinking about how I can find the time to get the book done because Iím touring now until Christmas, then Iíve got some more studio work to do, some more songs, a special version of the album, itís coming out next year. Next year is going to be a lot more touring and festivals right up until the middle of November.

I havenít got anything created beyond that, Iíve still got the story to finish. Iíve got this book idea. Iím really nervous actually. I really want to write the book and itís a major ambition of mine to write a novel, at least one, but Iím still not convinced that Iím actually going to be any good at it. But I would love to do it.

DB: Is there anything you would like to add?

GN: Thatís pretty much been my whole life for the last few years. Touring obviously is the important next part of it and getting the new songs onto the stage so people can hear them. Thatís kind of the good fun end of it, when all the hard work is done.

Itís one of the most successful tours Iíve done so far in decades. So far itís been a really fantastic experience. The album did really well in Britain it got into number two in the chart, which is the best chart position Iíve had since 1980 so itís all very positive. Itís a shame that itís a slight depressing subject, but you write about life, you write about the things around you, and you reflect to some degree the concerns that people have in general.

To find out where Gary Numan will be next and to learn more about "Savage," go to https://garynuman.com

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