Under the Radar met up with electronic giant Gary Numan for a chat: Groundbreaking electronic artist Gary Numan is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his seminal album, The Pleasure Principle. As part of this revelry, he is returning to New Zealand for the first time in 31 years and UTR caught up with him to discuss how it feels to revisit an album three decades later, whether he knew the album was going to have the impact it has and what made him write such music in the first place.
You’re coming to New Zealand this month, are you looking forward to it?
Yes, it’s been 31 years since I was there last, so it’s very cool. I’m very very pleased to have the opportunity to come and do it again but I’m also very aware that a lot of time has passed and I don’t know what to expect really. So I’m very pleased that I’m coming I just not really confident, I have to say, I really don’t know how it’s going to go.
Is it crazy to think The Pleasure Principle came out over three decades ago?
It’s funny, actually. Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday and sometimes it feels like it was 130 years ago. So much has happened since I wrote that album that I feel like such a different person to what I was when I wrote it. It’s a little bit weird going back to it after such a long time and I have to say that I’m not really a fan of looking back into the past, I’m much more of a fan about what I’m doing tomorrow than yesterday.
When the 30th anniversary came along I didn’t want to make a big deal about it but I didn’t want to ignore it either, so I thought I’d just do one show in England and all the hardcore fans can come along to that. Then that sold out really quickly so it became four shows and then at that point the record company got interested and they wanted to do a special anniversary issue of the album with all these extra tracks they’d found in the archives, and so it turned into a much bigger tour. And then the Americans – it was quite a big album over there when we toured it there – got interested. So what started as a single gig has grown into this much bigger thing that I never planned.
I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would, because I’ve always found anything to do with nostalgia is sort of taking a few steps backwards, and I’m really not that interested in playing old songs so for me to do this is quite a big thing. Having said that it’s been really interesting to play the music I wrote when I was a boy.
The Pleasure Principle is what the tour is about, so what we’re doing is playing that album for the first 45 minutes but then we’ve got another 45 minutes or more which tends to be new stuff, and quite often we’ll do two or four songs that aren’t even released yet. For me it’s quite interesting to be playing things that are right from the beginning and things that are so new they haven’t been heard, all in one show. It’s a nice way of showing people something I’m proud of from when I started but also how it’s evolved into what we do now.
How does it feel to have an album that is still musically relevant three decades after it was released?
For a long long time I didn’t think much about it at all. Obviously when I made it I was keen to make it sound as good as I could and then out it went. Some people in the press liked it but most people didn’t – it generally got pretty bad reviews, especially in the UK. The press didn’t really go for it here, so it took a long time before people started to view it the way they do now.
A really interesting thing happened a while ago where the NME Magazine did a retrospective review of it and said how important it was and how innovative it was – all these really complimentary things – but when it came out they absolutely slagged it into the ground, they hated it. Since I’ve gone back and re-visisted it again, I do feel proud of it in a way that I never was before. I think when it first came out it was quite a quirky unusual record for the time and I appreciate it more now than I did then. It just sounded like a record that I’d made rather than anything that was particularly unusual or different so I’ve grown proud of it and I appreciate it now more that it was quite an unusual record for the time.
For all who are in need of Recoil, here is a timely reminder to attend the additional performance of “A Strange Hour ‘to be held at the Back to the Phuture festival in April. The festival consists of two shows, which take place at the Academy 1 – Manchester on Friday 1st April and Troxy – London Saturday, April 2, with live performances from Gary Numan and Recoil in Manchester, and John Foxx at the show London.
Motor will also participate on both dates and Mark Jones will go to the music of the past, present and future – his sets, focusing mainly on new talent like Hurts, Villa Nah, La Roux, Little Boots, Prison and Ellie Golding Penguin.
Back To The Phuture began as a radio show on BBC 6 Music in 2009. This program connects the recognized pioneers of synthetic music with artists in the electro scene currently celebrating 30 years of electronic boldness. Mark Jones has proposed radio fun and educational with guests such as Arthur Baker, Phil Oakey (The Human League), Daniel Miller (Mute Records), Gary Numan, Martyn Ware (Heaven 17), Andy McLuskey and Paul Humphries ( WCO), Steve Strange (Visage) and August Darnell (Kid Creole & the Coconuts).
Here are links to help you get more information, sample music, and participate in various competitions related to the event.
Event page | Official site BTTP
Free downloads of each participating artist: http://soundcloud.com/bttp
YouTube page devoted to festivals BTTP: www.youtube.com / backtothephuturetv
Then here’s your chance
Gary Numan and John Foxx have announced a new remix contest – the Back to the Phuture Remix Competition:
To celebrate the upcoming Back to the Phuture Live shows at Manchester Academy April 1st & The Troxy, London April 2nd we bring you the first ever Gary Numan and John Foxx Remix Competition.
Remix Scanner by Gary Numan or Shatterproof by John Foxx & The Math.
- A pair of VIP passes to the London or Manchester show
- A signed copy of Gary Numan’s “Jagged Edge”
- A signed copy of John Foxx & The Maths “Interplay”
- Your remix played over the P.A. at both shows
Entries judged by Gary Numan, John Foxx and Mark Jones
- Visit the competition site on SoundCloud
- Download the stems for “Scanner” or “Shatterproof”
- Use the stems to create your remix
- Upload your remix to the Gary Numan or John Foxx remix group
Deadline for entries – 18/03/11
You can download the stems at the Back to the Phuture page on SoundCloud.
1. Motor – Death Rave (Skrufff remix)
2. Gary Numan- Scanner (Full Track)
3. Recoil – Want (Architect Steppa)
4. John Foxx – Flightpath Tegel
5. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof (Medicine Edit)
JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS STEMS:
1. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof (Medicine Edit)
2. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof – ARP odyssey bass
3. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof – Drums
4. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof – Moog modular
5. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof – Synths
6. John Foxx and The Maths – Shatterproof
GARY NUMAN STEMS:
1. Gary Numan- Scanner (Full Track)
2. Gary Numan- Scanner – Bitcrush
3. Gary Numan- Scanner – FlexiPad2
4. Gary Numan- Scanner – FlexiPad
5. Gary Numan- Scanner – Chorus Vocal
6. Gary Numan- Scanner – Verse Vocal
7. Gary Numan- Scanner – Growl
8. Gary Numan- Scanner – Halo Pad
9. Gary Numan- Scanner – Jerusalem Keys
10. Gary Numan- Scanner – Pads
11. Gary Numan- Scanner – Piano
Friends of Foxx will like this
a 3′ 30 edit of the opening track from the forthcoming album, Interplay – out on March 21
You can pre-order the album now and receive one track, Evergreen, as a download – http://www.townsend-records.co.uk/art…
John Foxx performs with Gary Numan and Motor at the Troxy London on 2 April.
Alan Wilder’s (ex Depeche Mode) tour visiting world with its project, Recoil, and the show “Selected Events 2010 – A Strange Hour”. After a series of live dates before in Europe and the U.S. the show now returns to Europe for a number of closing dates in November and December. For the new dates will show also include all-new parts, materials not previously been played during the tour, but also completely virgin video.
Special guests will also participate, including Gary Numan, Ade Fenton, Architect, Sono and Northern Kind.
“Syyn Labs, the folks who created the Rube Goldberg machine for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” video, recently did a commercial for DieHard featuring Gary Numan performing his classic song “Cars” on actual cars (their tuned horns), playing them like a piano, all powered by a single DieHard battery. We were intrigued and asked them to tell us how they did it. They sent us this behind the scenes video. The commercial is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4YsMV… You can read an article about the making of the commercial and the tech they used here:
Following Recoil’s recent US leg tour announcement, we got word that the gig taking place at The Metro in Chicago on 26th October will be a double bill featuring both Recoil and Gary Numan. Numan and his band will be performing his classic “The Pleasure Principle” album in full. Also on the bill for that evening is Architect. Tickets are available from the following outlet (www.etix.com) and are already on sale. Tickets for several other shows can be purchased at Ticketmaster.
Gary Numan lends his person and most famous composition to Sears for an inspired commercial about the latest DieHard battery. Utilizing a two-octave Car Keyboard, Numan “plays” his famed ’80s hit on tuned car horns. Although, he looks miserable throughout, he’s probably laughing on the inside…all the way to the bank.