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Still Going Strong - Gary Numan
You’ve been playing for a while now, do you still enjoy the touring process?
“I still love it. Of all the things I have to do when promoting it’s by far the most fun. In fact, I enjoy it more now than I used to! When I first started, I had an array of worries; remembering my words, hoping the lights were going to work or even just falling over and making a fool out of myself! Now I’ve been doing it a while, and all those things have already happened, I’ve just become relaxed with it. Every show becomes a unique experience and I never know what’s going to happen. I guess the self-confidence just creates a relaxed vibe; I don’t get stage fright anymore.”
Did you used to get stage fright?
“Yes definitely. Particuarly at the small venues where people are right in your face. When you get to bigger stages, where you’re high up and there’s thousands of people, it becomes easier because there is no eye contact. When you first start playing, crowds can often be very hostile – it’s understandably daunting to have these people two feet from your face.”
How’s the new album Splinter coming along?
“It’s getting there! I moved to America halfway through recording which has caused a slight relocation issue, but I’ve managed to set up a kind of studio in my house, I’m still in the song writing process at the moment so all I need is a keyboard and some headphones.”
Has the wavering popularity of synthesised music changed the way people react to your music over the years?
“I don’t think it’s anything to do with the popularity of synthesised music; it’s just very difficult to have a career that lasts 30 years in this business, and it’s even harder to have a career that lasts 30 years and remain consistently popular.
“Look at my career; in the early 90s I was dead and buried, but eventually I managed to come back to a reasonable extent through my own good luck and judgement. It’s just not a sustainable business, It’s like a cycle; I’ve got to bring in new fans to replace the older fans that I am losing to real life concerns like mortgages and kids. A career build requires bringing in more fans than are being lost. I’m doing alright but I’ll never get back to where I was, I’m not getting top ten singles anymore.”
Do you still see younger fans at your gigs then?
“Yeah there’s loads .I think they’re the only reason I’m still here; if there were no young fans, my audience would be getting smaller and smaller.
There was a point where I would know everyone in the first three rows and the audiences were huge, then the audiences started dwindling, and then the people in the first three rows weren’t there anymore either. This was the early 90’s for me and it was terrible, I just couldn’t sell any tickets.
“Then the audiences got bigger again and started to consist predominantly of people aged 25 or younger, whereas before it was people 35 or older.
It’s not that I want the older people to disappear, but if they are going to, it’s good to have people replacing them.”
What’s the plan for the future? I have read of your interest in potentially scoring films...
“It isn’t at the top of my list of things to do at the moment because I still love what I’m doing. The whole process of making an album and touring it is brilliant and I don’t really want to do anything else. If I could keep the album-tour cycle going until I was 100 then I definitely would, but realistically, there’s going to come a point where I’m just too old. I’m hoping that over the next ten years my career will gradually evolve into something else, but not yet, it’s a long term plan.”
Finally, do you get bored of playing (1979 UK no. 1 single) Cars?
“There was a period where I was sick to death of it, the early hits became burdens because people wouldn’t let me move away from them. Over time, as my career started to get better again, I began to see them as examples of high points in my career again that I was proud of, so I started performing them again, and I still do, just heavier, reworked versions.”
n Gary Numan will be performing at Southampton Guildhall on Sunday with support from Officers.