Gary Numan: Exclusive FAULT Magazine photoshoot and interview preview

Gary Numan

I know exactly what I’m doing and I’m in a really good place.”

Photo: David Richardson
Styling: Margherita Alaimo
Grooming: Gemma Webb
Words: Flora Neighbour

Given his new-wave edge and awkward façade, not to mention his well-documented Asperger Syndrome, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gary Numan was a shy, introverted man. You’d be mistaken. The quick-witted and honest songwriter has a lot to say – both about his own past and his (partly) Trump-inspired vision of a near-apocalyptic future. Despite maintaining a cult following to this day, the 80s electro trailblazer has only recently returned to the limelight with Savage, his first top 10 UK album since I, Assassin all the way back in 1982.

FAULT: How’s the tour going?

Gary Numan: It’s great! Last night in Bournemouth was fantastic – much better than the first night, which was a huge shock to the system. I’m still trying to get to grips with it all again while remembering my lyrics. It’s been a completely different experience to my other tours, but I’m really enjoying it.

Do you feel more in control of your work nowadays?

I’ve always felt that I had a say but, now that I manage myself, it’s opened up a whole new path for me. I was always fairly in control of my work before: I’ve always written everything and been hands-on in the process, so it doesn’t feel that different. The thing about my new album, Savage, is the self-managing aspect. It’s been the first big project that I’ve been in charge of from beginning to end without anyone to lean on. I’ve had to make all the big decisions myself, which was a bit daunting to begin with but, strangely enough, once I got into it, I began to realise it wasn’t that too difficult. There’s no black magic involved, just staying organised.

 

Can you talk us through the ideology of Savage?

It came from a book I’d been writing, which was set in a post-global warming future. The idea being that the earth’s temperature wasn’t controlled and it became this unstoppable phenomenon, leaving the planet with a large amount of desert and full of despair. That’s it in a nutshell.

If you go into it further, it looks at people living in that world and how brutal it would be. It looks at the evaporation of [grouped] eastern and western cultures and the potential for us to become far more fragmented and tribal. The album presents snapshots of how brutal it would be, and how unforgiving and savage the environment would become.

It was also influenced by Trump and how he’s come along and started to undo all the good that has been done. I didn’t write the album because of Trump but he certainly helped it along.

 

Gary Numan was shot at Cable Street Studios, London

How has your style developed over the years?

Visually it’s certainly evolved, but I have adapted musically as well. I think it’s easier because my music is essentially electronic. Every time I’ve started a new album, there’s been new technology that helps me to adapt my style and create new sounds. It’s difficult not to change your sound and move forward if you’re working with electronic music – every album should sound like a progression of the one before. My early stuff was very minimal and simple and, as I’ve grown as an artist, it’s become more complicated and heavier. The thing that has never changed – in terms of being recognisable – is my voice.

Would you call yourself a British icon?

No way! I don’t really know what makes an icon. What qualifies an icon? There are many people I look up to but I wouldn’t call them icons. I’m a huge Trent Reznor [Nine Inch Nails] fan. I think he’s done pretty amazing things but he’s not British.

There aren’t many people I would say I look up to, but there are many British people I admire. If you have a look at the music industry now there are some pretty phenomenal artists. For example: M.I.A. In terms of what she’s trying to achieve – both in the music industry and outside [it], she’s definitely someone I admire. There are definitely a lot of artists doing a hell of a lot of good.

What is your FAULT?

I don’t think you’d have enough ink! If I have to choose one, it would probably be my lack of patience. My wife, however, would say that I’m very, very moody. Actually, let’s go with that. My kids would love that I’ve admitted to being moody.

Find out who else will appear in the issue here

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