Gary Numan: The relationship with Ade has moved on considerably since we made ‘Jagged’. First he joined the band in 2007 for all my live shows. In 2009 he became my co-manager, along with Steve Malins, and since then we have been working on the Dead Son Rising album so it’s become a very close relationship. Now we are working on my next album, called ‘Splinter’, and so it continues. Ade is a very important part of what I do now, both in the studio and out of it, as a musician and as a manager.
CHAIN D.L.K.: How much of what you had in mind at the beginning of the project can we find on the finished album?
Gary Numan: Dead Son Rising was originally intended to be a ‘filler’ album. Something that we thought would be reasonably quick to make and would fill in the gap between the previous studio album ‘Jagged’ and the intended follow up to that, and album called ‘Splinter’. I expected ‘Splinter’ to take about two to three years to make and so putting something out during that gap would help to keep fans interested. This plan did not work out at all.
‘Dead Son Rising’ was originally going to be made up of unused songs that had been written for the previous three albums, ‘Exile’, ‘Pure’ and ‘Jagged’. They hadn’t made it on to those albums for a variety of different reasons but I still thought they were good songs, just not quite right for the albums they were originally intended for. I had about 14 tracks that we felt we could finish off fairly easily and which would make a very good album. Ade went to work and quickly came back with a number of tracks that sounded strong and near to completion. I did various bits on some of these, vocals and lyrics for ‘The Fall’ for example and progress was made but, I have to admit, almost from the beginning it didn’t come together the way I’d hoped. I began to dislike most of the chord structures and melodies that I had written for those songs and the more Ade did, the more I felt that my part of the process was letting the project down. In 2009 I had to admit that I really didn’t like any of it and turned my back on the project entirely.
Then, after about 18 months of ignoring it, I found myself on holiday in America and I heard my wife Gemma playing some fantastic music from another room. I rushed in to find out what it was only for her to ell me it was the Dead Son Rising tracks that I’d said I hated 18 months earlier. I called Ade and said that I’d changed my mind yet again and committed to finish the album as soon as I got home. Luckily, Ade had continued to work on the album during my absence and had improved many of the songs and so, when I did start to contribute again, it was quite different to the earlier version, and much better. I then became obsessed by it and worked flat out for a while, adding far more lyrics and vocals than we had originally planned. The end result is an album that has almost nothing of those early demo versions that we started with. It’s about 95% brand new material, not a ‘filler’ album at all, and so I’m very proud of it. And very grateful to Ade for sticking with it and for bringing me back in.
CHAIN D.L.K.: The main thing that stood out to me the first time I listened to the album is that the title is “Dead Son Rising” but on the track list there’s a “Dead Sun Rising”. Can you explain what kind of link there is, if any?
Gary Numan: Originally the working title for the album was ‘Resurrection’ but my management thought I’d written enough about God and my atheist feelings and so they wanted me to remove any religious, or anti religious, connections. I actually went for the Resurrection title because initially we were going to use old, dead songs and bring them back to life. I didn’t intend a religious meaning at all. When they asked me to change the title I decided to call the album ‘Dead Son Rising’ simply to be awkward as it means exactly the same thing as Resurrection from a certain stand point. I still kept the title Resurrection but applied it to one of the instrumentals on the album instead. Much of the lyrical content for the album comes from stories that I write for a hobby in what little spare time I get. I love science fantasy writing, writers like Glenn Cook and Steven Erikson, and I would love to write novels full time at some point. For now though, I take those ideas and condense them down into lyrics. Songs like ‘Dead Sun Rising’, ‘We Are The Lost’ and ‘When The Sky Bleeds, He Will Come’ are all taken from my story writing ideas. The song ‘Dead Sun Rising’ has no direct connection to the album title, apart from it’s obvious similarity.
CHAIN D.L.K.: I read that “Dead Son Rising” contains elements of a sci-fi novel you are writing. Can you tell us something about that?
Gary Numan: I once described the song to Ade with this message: ‘Imagine a future time when mankind has been wiped from the face of the Earth. All that remains are a handful of embryos still living inside the dead bodies of their mothers. A miracle in itself. These are the future of mankind and their survival will mean the survival of the human race, their death will mean the end of it. What protects them from attack, mainly demonic but not entirely, are the ghosts of the dead people that caused the destruction in the first place. That’s what it’s about.’ The bigger story looks at this situation but from a variety of different points of view.
Gary Numan: I thought it might be interesting for fans to hear the very different ways that a song can be produced, how it can be built in very different ways. All coming from one original piano idea. It has always fascinated me the way a song evolves, and always worried me a little that the way I choose might not be the best way.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Long time fans of the last decade witnessed your sound becoming darker and more guitar based and you even did some collaborations with Fear Factory for their version of “Cars”. What has been the spark that started all this?
Gary Numan: In the early 90’s my career was in such a bad way that I thought it was over. I had no record deal, no-one was interested and so I went back to writing songs for a hobby, not as a career move. I found that as soon as the pressure of trying to salvage my career was taken away I suddenly became far more adventurous and excited about what I was doing musically. It was as though a great weight had been lifted and I loved being in the studio again. What came out of that was a new, much heavier direction, which, ironically, saved my career and I have been able to build it slowly but surely even since then. I no longer write music to push my career, I write music I love and then hope for the best.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Recently you played live with John Foxx at the “Back To The Phuture” tour . Have you ever thought of collaborating with him? What do you feel you guys have in common?
Gary Numan: I was a big fan of John Foxx when he was with Ultravox in the late 70’s. Ultravox were like the blueprint for what I was trying to do in my early years and John Foxx was my hero. I thought he was a fantastic, enigmatic front man. I really loved what he did. To see him still going strong today, and putting out great music that’s not stuck in the 80’s, is good to see. John was a true pioneer and seems as passionate today as he was then about his music. I have a huge amount of respect for him.
CHAIN D.L.K.: For those concerts you had a contest with many people remixing “Scanner” (I was one of them actually). What did you appreciate most of those versions?
Gary Numan: I was very flattered by how many people got involved and sent in mixes. It was an extremely interesting project and I had a good time listening to many of them. I was impressed by the way some people took the song into entirely different areas from the original. The quality of some of the mixes, and the creativity found in them, was amazing. I will definitely do another remix project for fans in the future. Most likely when the new ‘Splinter’ album is released next year.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Recently you performed the whole “The Pleasure Principle” live. What were some of the difficulties and the pleasures of performing one of your classics?
Gary Numan: The difficult part is that I don’t really enjoy nostalgia in any shape or form. Playing those old albums is very much a sign of my gratitude to many of the older fans who don’t get to hear much of my old stuff when I play live as I tend to concentrate on newer music, with just a few older songs in the set. I play an old album once in a while to say thank you to those people that want to hear more of that era but it’s not top of my list of things I want to do. It’s okay though, it’s not as though I hate it, it’s just not as exciting as touring a new album. I am beginning to appreciate my back catalogue though. For a long time I did my best to ignore it but I’m now learning to be proud of it and the kind things people say about it. I was recently given the Mojo magazine ‘Inspiration Award’ and obviously much of the reason for that is due to my earlier work.
CHAIN D.L.K.: “Jagged Edge” is a re-make of “Jagged” and contains reworks and first versions. Did you want to let your fans know something more about the process of making an album or was there something you weren’t pleased with in the final version?
Gary Numan: No, I loved the original version. But, much as I did with those few songs on Dead Son Rising, I wanted people to hear the alternative versions we had worked on for Jagged. I wanted them to hear the other ways we took some of the songs before deciding on the final listing for Jagged. I thought they would find it interesting and it also gave me a chance to show the amount of work that can go in to making an album. It’s not just putting out the first ten songs you write. Each one can have many versions.
Gary Numan: I haven’t done many lyrics for it yet but my intention is for it to be the heaviest, darkest, most aggressive and anthemic album I’ve ever made. I hope that it will become a defining moment in my career. More than that, I intend to tour it in as many countries as I can for at least 18 months after it’s released, which will be sometime in 2012. I’m very excited about ‘Splinter’, I think it could be the best album of my career.
CHAIN D.L.K.: What are your next projects and collaborations?
Gary Numan: ‘Splinter’ obviously is the most important thing at the moment. I’d like to release another album co-written with Ade Fenton, along the lines of Dead Son Rising, as soon after ‘Splinter’ as possible so we could, perhaps, tour them both simultaneously. That would be fun. I have no collaborations planned at the moment but I still hope to work with Trent Reznor at some point. We’ve talked about it a few times so it would be good to see that happen. I’m a huge fan and he’s a very cool man, very clever.
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You can find the Italian version of this interview at www.fucinemute.it