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    Interview: Gary Numan

    Gary Numan is one of the world's most influential and iconic musicians. Reknowed for classic albums including 2013's Splinter, Numan has announced a tour that looks back to three albums in particular: Replicas, Telekon and The Pleasure Principle. In this interview about the upcoming shows, including a date at the Liverpool Olympia, Gary tells us more about the tour...


    Your tour sees you revisiting three classic albums - Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon. How does it feel to know that these three albums are still inspiring fans and musicians around the world, over three decades later?

    It’s very cool, very satisfying. I’ll confess though, when I was making them they didn’t feel particularly ground breaking. I was struggling to understand how synths worked for one thing. For these first few albums we would rent in a synth for a day, or half a day, and try to get as much done as we could before they were taken away. I would fiddle around with the switches and dials until it made a noise I liked, then quickly record it, sometimes keeping minor mistakes as we were so pressed for time. By the time Telekon came along I had bought a few of my own and that really helped obviously. I was also writing everything at home on a very out of tune, old, pub upright piano that my Mum and Dad had bought for me. It was all very amateurish so it never occurred to me that I was making albums that would become classics.


    The three albums feature iconic songs such as 'We are glass', 'Are 'friends' electric?' and 'Cars' - are there any particular songs that you are excited to perform on the upcoming tour and why?

    I’m not a big fan of retro in general so doing these type of Classic Album tours is quite a rare thing. But, having said that, there are quite a few old songs that are still very exciting to play live. 'I’m An Agent' from Telekon for example, 'Metal and Films' from The Pleasure Principle and 'Replicas' and 'Down In The Park' from Replicas all stand out to me. Those songs inparticular feel much closer to what I’m doing now and so don’t feel dated. I feel very proud of them.


    The three albums still sound as incredible and sonically mesmerising as they day they were first released. As a teenager I listened to your songs and now at age twenty five, 'Replicas' still remains one of my favourite albums of all time. How does it feel to not only have the fans who heard the music the first time around still listening your music, but also a younger generation who are discovering your music for the first time?

    Now that is amazing, and it’s something that pleases me enormously. To have seen this music at the forefront of the entire electronic music revolution back in the late 70’s still inspiring and influencing new artists so many years later is incredibly flattering and rewarding to me. Of course, the hope is that the music I’m making now is continuing that path of innovation. I am somewhat obsessed about moving forward musically, another reason why playing tours of old songs doesn’t happen very often.


    You've referred to the upcoming tour as a celebration of those early days. Looking back on those early days, what were the main influences on the music you created?

    My early success was so massive that I felt it overshadowed everything I tried to do in the following years. Because of that I had an almost childish resentment of it and so would play very little music from those early days and tried to distance myself from it at every opportunity. But, when the Splinter album came out in 2013 the reviews were so amazing, all over the world, I felt as if I’d finally done it, finally stepped out from under that shadow. With that I was able to look back on my earlier albums with a new found pride rather than embarrassment. It fundamentally changed how I saw my history. That has made it possible to now enjoy that history and so that’s why I see this tour as a celebration of those earlier career shaping albums. I never celebrated them before, or the impact they’ve had on music. But as for influences, I only had one main influence back then, and that was John Foxx and his version of Ultravox. He set the standard that I tried to raise myself up to.


    Much like the three albums you are touring, your most recent album Splinter is a classic too and you've been touring the album for the past few years. Do you have plans to perhaps revisit Splinter in the future, in the same way you are revisiting your first three albums?

    No plans at the moment as it’s only three years old, but I can definitely see that happening at some point. I’ve been around quite a long time now so I have albums that are nearing their 40 year anniversary and yet another new album will be out in 2017. So, I have albums that are approaching a wide range of anniversaries, 10, 15, 20 25, 30 years and beyond. My ability to play never ending anniversary tours is enormous but, as I said before, I’m obsessed about moving forward. 99.9% of my waking moments are spent thinking about what I’m doing next, not what I’ve done before. I have zero interest in living on past glories, but creating new ones is very important to me.


    Your new tour will visit the Liverpool Olympia this autumn. What can audiences expect from your show? Did you tour to Liverpool when the three albums were released in the late seventies/early eighties?

    Yes, I believe I came to Liverpool in ’79 and ’80 when all those albums came out but I can’t remember for sure. On this tour we are just playing songs from those early albums, not interspersing the set with new songs, so it’s entirely focused on that one period of my career. We play the songs very much as they were on the original albums with a few enhancements here and there. With new technology you can recreate exactly what you had back then and yet somehow make it twice as powerful. I don’t think they sounded anywhere near as exciting in ’79 ’80 as they do now.


    Can you sum up your new tour in three words?

    At the beginning.


    By Sarah O' Hara


    Gary Numan will be at the Liverpool Olympia on Friday 16th September.

    To find out more and to purchase tickets, please call the box office: 08444 77 1000



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