Electronic pioneer Gary Numan speaks ahead of Roadmender gig
When Gary Numan headlines the Roadmender on Sunday, it'll be on the back of the most successful 18 months of his career.
His latest album Savage (Songs from a Broken World) was released last year to critical acclaim and tells the story of a post-apocalyptic future in a world ravaged by global warming.
Numan himself admits that with sold out tours, an Ivor Novello award and an album which reached number two in the charts, he’s having the time of his life and jokes about “Coming back from the dead.”
Reflecting on the Savage tour, he said: “It’s been great, surprisingly good.
“We did the first major tour in late September it seemed maybe too soon to be doing a second one.
“The original idea was to do much smaller places but it hasn't ended up being like that.
“We went to Scandinavia and across Europe, some places we haven't been to for a long time.
“The first eight shows of this tour were in seven different countries and it’s pretty much sold out.
“It's been a mixture of being happy and relieved to be honest. It could have been a disaster. “
Following this run of shows, Numan will return to LA before heading to Mexico and back to Europe before the band starts their second major US tour.
He will then return to the UK in November where he hopes to play shows with an orchestra before the band head back to Europe.
He said: “By the time this run is finished, I'll have done about 115 shows - it'll be the biggest tour I've ever done, including at the very beginning of my career. It’s been great.”
Savage’s predecessor, Splinter, squeezed into the top 20. “That for me was a massive step forward,” he explains.
“That was the first album I'd had in the charts for several decades. It felt amazing.
“All I was worried about was about was not doing any worse. When Savage got to number two it absolutely flawed me.
“In the first part of my career I had three number one albums but I didn't appreciate it the way I probably should have done.
“The sense of accomplishment with this album and the sense of coming back from the dead really was huge, absolutely huge.
“The appreciation of this one and the sense of satisfaction just blows the others into the water, it really does.
“I couldn’t take the call on the morning about the chart position, my wife had to take it.
“When she said it was number two I cried for a good 10 minutes. It was overwhelming.”
Even during recording process, Numan didn’t foresee the album doing as well as has, explaining it’s easy to lose sight of how good something may be during the recording and mixing process.
“By the time we were doing the artwork for it, I hadn't listened to the record for some time,” he explains.
“I played it again and I remember thinking 'I like this, these songs are good,’.
“In a bizarre way, the fact Trump had his small hand in it helped, it became very topical when he was saying the things he was about global warming.”
Numan’s daughter Persia featured on the first single and again added to the interest building around the record.
“The amount of interest that seemed to generate was extraordinary,” he explains.
“She's on the record for genuine musical reasons, she came home from school and walked into the studio to say hello.
“I'd been struggling with a particular song all day and just wondered what it'd be like with her voice. “I knew she could sing and that song became the first single.”
Numan’s wife Gemma helped forge the accompanying imagery of the artwork, finding clothes relevant to a post-apocalyptic future.
In May, Numan was presented with the Ivors Inspiration Award, something he describes as the “probably the coolest thing ever”.
“To get an Ivor Novello as a songwriter must be cool, but to get one for inspiration is about as good as it gets.
“It meant the world to me, it was one of the proudest days of my life.
“2017 up to now has been the best 18 months of my entire career in terms of how happy I am.
“To be having success at this stage in my career which has been so up and down is an incredible experience.”
Numan explains there has been pressure from people to relax into relative ease of becoming a nostalgia retro act.
“There’s people who think I should have done that 25 years ago let alone now, just going out and doing endless versions of Cars and Are Friends Electric.
“I'm still making music I think is progressive and it’s doing well. I'm proud of myself.”
Explaining he’s unable to write on the road, Numan said when the Savage tour does finally come to an end, he hopes to finish the book he’s been writing which his latest album was based on.
When that’s done, he will start thinking about a new record.
Joining Numan on stage every night is Northampton man Tim Muddiman, who also fronts Tim Muddiman and the Strange.
Numan said: “Tim is a really good bandmate, his onstage performance is brilliant and he's got more and more confident as the tours have gone by.
“Him and my guitarist Steve take a huge amount of pressure off me. I'm able to step back and let them go ballistic.
“The stage is so energised now, they’ve helped make such a big difference and this is the best band I've ever worked with.
“Tim is a massive part of that. On top of that, I love the music he’s writing as well.”
Gary Numan also features in the documentary 27 Gone Too Soon.
Released later this month, it which looks at musicians and mental health and the number of musicians who died young.
Numan added: “My contribution was talking about the mental health side of things.
“Splinter was written after I spent about three years or so diagnosed with depression and writing the album was a big part of my therapy which helped me coming out of that.”
Gary Numan headlines the Roadmender on Sunday, March 25.
Support is by LA art rock trio Nightmare Air and Tim Muddiman and the Strange.
Tickets are sold out. Contact the venue for any returns.