'I don't do much old stuff when I play live ... three or four songs out of 20'
A SIDE from the obvious bands who followed Gary Numan's pioneering electro-pop of the late 1970s and darker industrial sound of the 1980s, there are a number of artists from varying genres who have acknowledged his influence. They include Lady Gaga, who said: "Numan proves that music has always been really inventive for the masses," while Prince added: "There are still people trying to work out what a genius Gary Numan is." His tracks have been sampled by everyone from Basement Jaxx to Damon Albarn, Afrika Bambaataa to the Wu-Tang Clan.
He's on a tour of the UK that ends at Rock City this weekend. Numan will be playing songs from the forthcoming Splinter album, plus new versions of tracks from 2011's Dead Son Rising album, which have been remixed by the likes of Alec Empire, The Duke Spirit, Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails, Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and Gazelle Twin.
Tell me about the new album
The new one is Splinter and it's coming out next year but there's another one out now as part of an iPad app. It's a Gary Numan special with remixed versions of the previous album, Dead Sun Rising. The remixed album is called Dead Moon Falling.
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Many big names have acknowledged your influence on them so who were your musical influences?
Marc Bolan and T-Rex was the first band that got me wanting to be a musician. I was late getting into Bowie because of the friction between the two camps and I was a loyal Marc Bolan fan. Musically the band that had the biggest impression on me was Ultravox, the original version. When I first got into electronic music, they were the band I looked to more than any other. There was a period about 92-93 when Depeche Mode put out an album, and that changed how I thought about music. I guess more recently, Nine Inch Nails are the band I find the most interesting. There's always a band whose new album you look forward to more than any other, not just because you love the music but because they tend to keep moving the goalposts and pushing forward. I was talking to Trent (Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails) the other day and he's working on a new project, so again I'm very much looking forward to that.
You have a varied fan base, what age range do you attract?
It does vary. For a long time I'd look out and wouldn't see anyone under 35. Over the last few years, it's unusual to see anyone over 25. I think as fans get older there's a natural phase where they can't get to gigs due to having children and a mortgage and so on.
On the subject of younger audiences, you appeared in The Mighty Boosh. What was that like?
Brilliant (laughs). I love them and was a huge fan of the programme. I met Noel (Fielding) and Julian (Barratt) a few times. I went to see them when they were touring and got to know them a bit. When they asked me to do it I couldn't say no. It's a cool thing, a clever comedy, and they're nice people to work with. I did a tour of Australia a few years ago and I reckon about 90% of the crowd were there because of The Mighty Boosh.
What are you listening to at the moment?
The last thing I had sent to me was a band called Officers and I loved that massively. They supported me on the last tour, and they're supporting me again. They're the best band I've heard in years.
Do you have any plans to tour whole albums again?
It's not something that's at the top of my to do list. I've done it three times now (Telekon, Replicas, and The Pleasure Principle). I don't do much old stuff when I play live, maybe three or four songs out of 20 odd. For some of the older fans that's not enough. Once in a while I'll go out and do an album live and hopefully that keeps the older fans happy, so I don't have to put too many old songs into the set that aren't relevant anymore. An old song sticks out like a sore thumb because it doesn't suit the current music. The rest of the time I'll concentrate on what I'm doing right now, for the fans. Although I do play Cars, obviously!