Music2deal’s Richard Rogers interviewed electronic legend Gary Numan last month in Oberhausen, Germany before a sold out gig. The successful European tour followed Numan’s UK number 2 album ‘Savage’ released last September on BMG Records that included the huge single ‘My Name Is Ruin’. ‘Savage’ is Numan’s biggest charting album for 36 years.
Gary has just contributed the Foreword to Richard’s new book ‘Depeche Mode – Violator: The Ultimate A&R Guide’ due out in June through Glamour Puss Publishing.
In the first of a three part interview Gary discusses the current tour and a forthcoming UK tour in November with a full orchestra behind him that will see the light as a new DVD and live album.
Richard Rogers: Hi Gary, welcome to Music2deal. Music2deal is a platform to help everyone connect with professional music industry people in all areas of the music business whether as an artist looking for a manager or vice versa, songwriters looking for publishers, managers hunting for songwriters, agents, labels or publishers looking for songs etc.
Gary Numan: Hi. Music2deal is German based yeh but international.?
RR: Yes that’s right, it’s based in Hamburg. There are over 30 platforms internationally.
GN: It’s a great idea, I didn’t know there was anything like it.
RR: Firstly, let’s talk about the new album from last year ‘Savage’.
GN: That came out in September but I was doing promo for it from August so that’s been my entire life for quite a while. The current European tour finished March 29th but we’re halfway through so by the time we are all done by the end of November there will have been about 120 shows for the album. We’re about 60 odd shows into the tour. So there’s a big American tour to do and then a small UK tour with an orchestra. Then there will be a European tour but the tour with the orchestra should be pretty cool. It’s been a bit of a headache setting that up but I think it’s worth the aggro.
RR: Will there be a live album culled from that? The reason I ask is that OMD did some shows with an orchestra a couple of years back and they went down a storm and it came out as a DVD.
GN: Yeah I think so, probably a live album and DVD. The orchestra that are going to work with me are called the Skaparis Collective and they are based in Manchester and they’ve done one song already. It’s kind of like a demo to see if the idea worked and to see if their idea of what I was after worked and it was proper tingles up the spine stuff. The difficult part has been the cost of it, it costs a fortune to cart an orchestra around so i’ve been trimming it back with the orchestra people. How small can we make this before it stops being as powerful as it’s meant to be. We’re there now but it’s shocking the expense of everything for this.
RR: I can understand this entirely. I did a World Cup Football album one year for a record company and we did everything with the Lubjana Symphony Orchestra just to get costs down.
GN: Actually it was suggested to me by a friend that I could use an orchestra in Prague. One of the biggest costs is the accommodation for the hotels and the travel for the flights and from the airport onward costs and so on. It was kind of financially spiralling and going round and round. There were two ways really to get everything down to a price more affordable and you could make the fans pay for it by whacking up the ticket prices but that didn’t seem fair or secondly you cut down the number of people you are using so it gets to the point where it becomes more manageable. I think we started off with 54 people and that doesn’t even include my band and now we are down to just over 20 odd not including my band. So we will end up with over 30 people on stage which is quite a bit isn’t it.
RR: It’s a hell of a lot of people! I think I remember seeing Duran Duran play with a string section once at the London Dominion but that was only three or four extra persons.
GN: Well I was watching Delores O’Riordan of The Cranberries the other day (she recently died) and they did a tour with an orchestra so I think i’m the last person to do it! I think some music lends itself to the orchestra idea more than others and I believe because there is more of a filmic sense to some of the stuff that I’ve done in the very beginning and more so with my recent music that it fits well with my music. If the demo song they sent me is a guide to the rest of the material then it really is fantastic, I love it. It is going to be a lot of tracks from the new album, a lot of that and then selected songs from further back in my career.
RR: Another new album or from the ‘Savage’ album?
GN: From ‘Savage’. It can be awkward. To be as artistically cool as you wanna be. ‘Savage’ comes from a book i’ve been writing so what i’d like to do next is finish that book and get that done. However it’s a long long way from being finished and will take a long time and all the time i’m sitting at home not earning any money and that is the problem as it were as i’m still working hand to mouth. I’m not sitting there with millions stuck in the bank that I can live on so I need to keep working and don’t have the luxury of sitting for six months or a year where I can lose myself in writing a book which would be nice to do from a creative point of view but is totally unworkable. So really I do need to get on and work on a new album whenever I decide to do that and somehow I need to squeeze all these things in. There is another big project, which i’m not allowed to talk about at the present but it’s massive for me and a huge opportunity and huge fucking pressure and possibly that’s happening this year as well. It is busy but i’ve just got to keep on earning money. It’s kind of a difficult thing to juggle around in keeping on wanting to do the things you want to do creatively and doing the paid things that keep you living really while you are doing these other things. Let’s face it, it could be worse as things are getting much better. It’s been a really good year this one. Last year was a good year.
RR: I should think so with your biggest charting album for over 35 year in ‘Savage’ charting at number 2 in the UK and only kept off the top by the new Foo Fighters album. Who of course are fans of yours and covered one of your tracks.
GN: Yeh, it’s been an amazing year so far even better than last year and it looks as though it’s going to carry on pretty well. So it all looks like it’s building pretty good with the album and on the live front.
RR: Well I saw you twice last year at the Standon Festival near Stansted in the UK and playing a decent sized venue in Cologne at the Essigfabrik and the new material went down a treat. I think Chris Payne turned up for that show (ex Numan band, the group Dramatis and writer of the Visage hit Fade To Grey).
GN: Yeh he was actually.
RR: I worked a tiny bit with Chris as a non paid roadie back in the very early 80’s when he had this band called Kalenda Maya. We used to hump all this equipment to a place in Henfield after playing venues like the Bridge in Shoreham or Worthing or Angmering in Sussex. The band and he would give me a lift back to Burgess Hill. I bought this cassette tape off him (I can even remember the song ‘Fine Art’) and on the inlay card it said ‘Kalenda Maya – You’ll never get anywhere with a name like that’ and they didn’t.
GN: Oh brilliant. Laughs.
RR: Actually Chris and I were possibly looking to do some work a while back when I had a studio in a tower in Malta with the embryonic idea of doing some music industry lectures together. It didn’t get off the ground unfortunately as I had two strokes and open heart surgery and was out of the scene for two years and he’s probably wondering why I never got back in touch.
GN: Oh fuck! Really?
RR: Such is life. I must get onto Chris. So what gigs do have in the UK for November with the orchestra?
GN: Cardiff St. David’s Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Newcastle City Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. I think we may may record the live album and DVD in Manchester. The one that you really want is the Royal Albert Hall in London and we’ve got that venue. It’s expensive but a top venue. We’ll have to talk to BMG about that one. Then there is the European tour which is mainly Scandinavia. They seem to really like my stuff in Scandinavia which is surprising as I haven’t been there forever. I’d never done any promo there but this tour with 3 or 4 shows up there sold out before we got there and the other sold out on the night. The promoter up there is very happy and wants us to go back and it was a lovely surprise and we did various promo things in Copenhagen and that went down well so we’ll go over and do more shows in bigger and better places.
Part 2 of the interview will be available on music2deal shortly.