Fun Fun Fun Fest 2014 Saturday Interviews
Gary Numan3:15pm, Blue stage
"There are still people trying to work out what a genius Gary Numan is."
That quote tops the current bio for said cold wave pioneer. You might find its source – Prince – surprising. If all you know of the London native is his clanking 1979 electro hit, "Cars," be advised his career ran well past that Top 10 hit.
Coinciding with a serious SXSW profile in March, heavy industrial depression fest Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) soundtracked someone's nervous breakdown, possibly Numan's. Meanwhile, the list of the 56-year-old singer's fans remains impressive: Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Jack White, Beck, and Kanye West – besides the diminutive Minneapolitan genius. Not bad for an ex-punk rock opportunist.
"The Sex Pistols were all right," allows Numan, almost apologizing for his early Tubeway Army records. "But I never really liked much of the other punk bands. Every record label was signing punk bands, so I used it like the mercenary person I am."
He chuckles. Then he winces over the robotic nature of the dystopian electronic music which built his name.
"Never meant it to be robotic. That was due more to lack of talent, I think," he jokes. "I couldn't afford the equipment. I think I made three albums before I owned a synthesizer. I had to rent them for the few days I had in the studio."
Studio/equipment limitations thus created a sound that TV ads and films have licensed on a semi-regular basis even as his career's waxed and waned commercially. Living in Los Angeles with his wife and family these last few years, he's grateful for a loyal audience for his tours. That said, he's forever puzzled about his first blush of success, about which he laughs.
"People still talk about [1979 breakout] The Pleasure Principle as a groundbreaking kinda thing!"