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Gary Numan interview Part 2

Music2deal’s Richard Rogers interviewed electronic legend Gary Numan a couple of months back 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 forthcoming new book ‘Depeche Mode – Violator: The Ultimate A&R Guide’ due out through Glamour Puss Publishing very soon.

In the second of a three part interview Gary discusses the orchestral tour in November that will see the light as a new DVD and live album. Plus the Old Grey Whistle Test, lost songs, tour support groups and Hohokam.

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Richard Rogers: So from what you were saying earlier the Orchestral Tour is going to be massive and will take in songs from Savage and selected pieces from the earlier work in your back catalogue. Was there anything you didn’t like that you put out previously.

Gary Numan: The one I didn’t like was ‘Machine And Soul’ which I hate with a passion. Dreadful album.

RR: The demo b-sides on the CD singles to that album were really good.

GN: Were they? (Laughs) I don’t remember those at all. There will be a live album from this tour and we may record it and film it at the Royal Albert Hall but they want an outrageous amount of money to do that so we might end up doing it at Bridgewater in Manchester. We are going to go up and tour in Scandinavia again as we did really well there which is surprising, however on the recent tour we had 3 gigs that sold out immediately and the other sold out on the night. I haven’t done much promo either. I did a Q and A session in Copenhagen in some library and that was packed and I didn’t expect any of that. It’s all been a big surprise and the promoter is very happy so we are going back there. We also seem to be doing really well in Belgium as all the shows on the recent European tour were the first to sell out.

RR: Do you think it is anything to do with that one off gig you did in Brussels years ago?

GN: Well I did really well in Belgium to begin with and then it fell away a little bit and then the whole of Europe vanished which was disappointing, largely my fault I suspect but disappointing all the same. I don’t know if it’s all to do with the previous album Splinter or the new one Savage but it’s all picking up again and i’m not trying to make any big claims. But from where I was to where I am now is extremely positive and seems to be on the up. I’d like to see the same thing happen in Germany as it appears to be on the up.

RR: The Savage album did actually make the lower reaches on the German chart.

GN: Cool. We went to Luxembourg for the first time yesterday as i’d never been there before and we went to France and the show was great. The last show i’d done in France was years ago and was horrendous but this time there were 3 or 4 more times the amount of people and everyone knew the words which really shocked me. It’s noticeably better than it was before whether that’s the new album or not I don’t know.

RR: Well as an A&R man I don’t say this lightly, it is a superb album.

GN: Well we did the Old Grey Whistle Test a special one off, a couple of weeks back and we were given two options in the rehearsals. We could do one new song, one old song live in the studio or they said you can come in for a chat and we play some of the videos. I went for the chat to save all the problems getting all the gear in for the band as I assumed they meant they’d play one new video and one old video. I thought it would be great as we started with our first ever show on the programme in the late 70’s and the whole thing would have come full circle. There would be a talking point as my daughter Persia who was on the last single and video for My Name Is Ruin would also have her first TV appearance on the same show. They then told me they will only show old songs if I come in for an interview so I changed my mind and we had a right old messy day sorting out the band and equipment for the show. But we did it. Persia was there and we played a heavy version of Are ‘Friends’ Electric? and My Name Is Ruin. Then we had a little chat but I didn’t say much. Joan Armratrading and Dave Stewart were there on the sofa and they did all the talking.

I love Dave Stewart, he doesn’t live that far away from me in Los Angeles. He is very clever and funny. The two of them took a bit of a ‘bashing the industry’ kind of stance which a lot was true but I don’t want to go on TV and keep moaning because I wanted to be a bit more positive than that because it’s not all bad, it’s just different. Album sales are not so great but ‘sync’ income and live income is flourishing so you’ve just got to adapt to it and accept it.

RR: But do you not think it is much much harder for a new band particularly to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder? Gary, Because you have a name and reputation and acts like yourself and OMD can go out and play live and you know people are going to turn up and you can make at least a fair living out of it whereas it is OK if you’re Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber but if you’re not one of those names and new on the scene you’re fucked really.

GN: I don’t know really because it’s hard to get a true grasp on it now and i’m not in that position but I remember when I started off to get gigs. I remember one guy at a particular venue who would only give you a gig if you had sex with him. You know there was so much weird skullduggery and taking advantage of little young pretty boys in bands and there was a whole load of shit going on. So it wasn’t fucking brilliant back then and nobody would give you any money for gigging. It was really difficult and the record company deal at the end of it seemed like a lifeline. I got my record deal with Beggars Banquet Records and there was no money and I was still on the dole, legally of course for ages. It was difficult back then, I didn’t have a car so borrowed my Dads. Personally I don’t see it being more difficult now than it was back then. When I play live I bring onto the tour (as support acts) bands that I genuinely like. They don’t pay to be on the tour, in fact they all get paid to be on it, not a fortune but they get paid.  The band that were with us in America got $500 a gig and I never mess anyone about with soundchecks, they all get one and I don’t fuck anyone about. I try to make it as friendly and as nice an experience as possible. They all get a dressing room and a rider that I pay for. You try and do as much as you can to help out new bands. The last 4 or 5 bands have been female fronted artists such as Me Not You in America, I speak Machine etc. It’s trying to do what you can to help out if you see any injustice or a difficulty and not do it by charging a grand a night to new acts just because they’re utilising my audience. That to me just seemed greedy.

RR: But that was the record companies fault, they charged bands an extortionate amount of money to go on tour to line their own coffers. I remember in the early days you taking on tour bands such as Simple Minds and OMD to support you and I think you didn’t charge any of them.

GN: OMD supported me in 1979 and I never charged them in fact I put all their gear in my truck and carried their gear around for them and they travelled on our tour bus with us. I found out they didn’t have any money so I just helped them out. We’re all in this together. I’ve had so many people support me who have gone on to be much bigger than i’ve ever been. You don’t want to fuck people over because firstly it’s just not nice and secondly it’ll come back to haunt you.

RR: I must ask is this what happened to the band Hohokam? On the back of one of the singles it says ‘From the Forthcoming album Seven Deadly Sins’ on Numa Records your record company at the time. However the album never came out.

GN: They fucking imploded. They were nasty to each other, they were rotten to me, they were very unusually, a self destructive group of people.

RR: That was such a shame as they had some really decent songs.

GN: Yeah, I thought they were good.

RR: One of them is dead now.

GN: Yeh although I don’t know what happened to him. One of the guys was all right actually. But they would come in and you would be the one they got at because although i’d signed them they hadn’t become rock stars in the first ten minutes. It was a mixture of ignorance, naievityand ingratitude. There was a lot of back stabbing amongst themselves and I thought I don’t want anything to do with this.

RR: One question I will ask you is the last time I interviewed was in 1983 and the question was ‘You’ve got this B-side out on the single ‘Sister Surprise’ and it’s called ‘Letters’ and yet it’s the same track as ‘Face To Face’ the B-side to your top 40 hit ‘Love Needs No Disguise’ with Dramatis. Is it the same track’. Your reply was ‘ask me next time you interview me’ so 35 years later I’ll ask you again.

GN: My memory of it is they are different tracks and they mastered the wrong one by accident and that’s as much as I can remember. I think there was a mistake and it shouldn’t have been the same bit of music. As far as i’m aware they were two different songs and I don’t think that one has ever seen the light of day. Beggars Banquet have put out so many things that they seem to have discovered which I swear blind is more than I ever wrote. (laughs). However I am surprised it hasn’t come out with all these releases they’ve been putting out.

 

Part 3 of the interview will be available on music2deal shortly.

 

Link: Music2Deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

English · Interviews

Interview with Ade Fenton – Part 2

Music2Deal pulled off a real cracker last month when Richard Rogers interviewed producer Ade Fenton about the new Gary Numan album Savage (Songs From A Broken World) that was released last week. We are proud and extremely pleased that the album looks to have gone in at number 2 into the UK Chart this week beaten off only by the new Foo Fighters album but with almost almost 3 times the sales of Ed Sheehan in third place. In fact the Savage sales and chart position is even more startling as it steamrollered ahead of new releases from Cat Stevens, Madonna’s new Rebel Heart album and the new Doors compilation. It is 36 years since Gary Numan last had a top 3 album and in part two of the interview Ade and Richard talk about the new album, Dj’ing, how Sennheiser was important to both of them and working on film soundtracks.

 

Ade Fenton with Gary Numan

Ade Fenton with Gary Numan

 

RR: You’ve put out over 40 releases so when was your first release?

 

AF: 1998 or 1996 I can’t remember. I’d got really into the techno thing, I just happened to be going out with a girl and she had these turntables and we’d gone into the clubbing scene quite big and she’s gone into the house scene and i’d gone down the techno path because I liked aggressive music and I started messing around with these turntables and I realised I could beat match really easy. I had a normal job for many years and I was made redundant so I took all my mates to Ibiza with my redundancy money and had the best two weeks of my life. I came back with no money and thought ‘What am I going to do now?’ So I decided I’m going to give making music a go because I was so in love with the scene. So I started making music with an old program called Cool Edit Pro not knowing what I was doing so I just taught myself. I found a distributor for the record and put my email and number on the record and the calls just kept on coming in and it took off. There you go, timing, it was a shit record, really embarrassing now but it is what it is. Later I met Gary Numan and I was into industrial music and realised i’d learnt what I needed to do.

 

RR: What is your favourite release of your own material?

 

AF: I did an album in 2007 called Artificial Perfect and Gary guested on the album and we did a track called Recall. I listen to the rest of the album now and go ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ but Recall was quite a dark track after I broke up with a girl at the time and I was in a low place. I can listen to that song and think ‘Crikey I like that it’s quite good’ and i’m quite self deprecating. All the stuff with Gary has been the highlight year after year. Dead Son Rising Gary and I wrote together and was a huge stepping stone from Jagged in terms of production. Splinter i’m obviously massively proud of but with Savage it feels like the next level again, and i’m very proud to have produced it.

 

RR: From the My Name Is Ruin single it feels like a great taster for the album and slightly exotic with the structure of the song which is so different to anything out there. It seems very eastern based with a pumping rhythm. Was that your idea or Gary’s?

 

AF: That was Gary’s. It is very electronic. We stuck very rigidly to the structure and when Gary gave me the song we ensured the drums are processed to hell through a Sherman Filterbank so it’s really gnarly and with all the sparkly bits and everything. I did think of the structure at the time like yourself ‘Blimey, that’s unique’. It felt like we could be more experimental on the new album than Splinter. I’’m saying this in inverted commas but there isn’t really an industrial rock track on Savage like there perhaps was on Splinter. Because it’s a half concept album there is a story behind it like there was with Replicas or even Dance it is one of the reasons we went full on with it and it’s quite war like in places and in other places it’s really stripped back and there’s a track called ‘And It All Began With You’ and it’s very gentle and minimal with weird electronics and with a thunderstorm going through the song, very experimental and we’re both very proud of that.

 

RR: That’s a beautiful song, lightly sung and atmospheric almost hypnotic. I will put that in one of my DJ sets. Are you still DJ-ing now?

 

AF: Not really. I still do the occasional thing if i’m asked to do it and I like it. It’s like riding a bike I can still do it reasonably well but I just have other things going on really and having a young toddler of 16 months, I don’t want to miss anything with him at the moment. I don’t want to miss him putting his first sentence together, depending on what he says of course.

 

RR: If you were going to have a basic budget DJ set up what would it be to get you started?

 

AF: I always went with a Mac running either Serato or Traktor and personally I love digital vinyl. A lot of people use CDJ’s and I can but I really love digital vinyl and my personal choice of mixer was Pioneer DJM 600 or 800 as that was my preference as I loved the digital effects on board. DJ-ing has a different meaning now and DJ-ing can be put in inverted commas and for me it’s not really DJ-ing. DJ-ing was mixing records together and that’s not always the case now which is why I love people like Dave Clarke as there is proper skill in that. PMC 228’s are my speaker choice but they are not budget speakers, I think they retail for nine or ten grand and i’ve had them for 3 or 4 years. I chose PMC because the clarity is ridiculously good and they do a more affordable range although they are still not really budget but if I were to recommend monitors to anybody I do recommend PMC.

 

RR: On the headphone side i’ve always loved Sennheiser, i’ve got three pair of them and still have a pair from 1989 without the foam surrounds sadly as they wore away. I bought a fabulous pair of cordless ones last year too, the HDR 118’s. What would you recommend?

 

AF: I use Sennheiser as well. Several pairs of them, absolutely battered some of them as well particularly my old DJ-ing Sennheiser headphones. Sennheiser is all I use to be honest. I’ve got some with the mic too. Sennheiser were always reliable and the quality second to none.

 

RR: I always found them a superb company for headphones particularly the overall sound and design, I think they are German but I don’t know where exactly they are based, I know they also do microphones but I never used any in the studio as the Sennheiser microphones were more difficult to find in the UK. It should be easier to find now I live near Cologne.

 

AF: I didn’t know you could get Sennheiser mics, are they studio mics?

 

RR: If truth be known, I don’t know. I’ll find out and ask them. I co-produced the last Karel Fialka and Racecar album (Karel had a huge hit in the GAS territories with ‘Hey Matthew’ in the eighties with over 650,000 copies sold and a lesser hit in the UK too) and I always ensure we do a playback session when a project is completed to sort out any minor glitches. I invited the guys from the project over, one said ‘no it’s OK, we don’t need a playback session’ and the other never bothered to show up. Incredible, you always need playback sessions no question! For me I always listen to the album on my old Roland Monitors for an open playback and then with the Sennheiser headphones for a closed playback. There were only me listening through headphones and the Sennheiser cans picked up a lot of production faults a treat. Startlingly so. I always advise artists to have two playback sessions as well as outside professional mastering. Sadly some artists never listen. So for any Music2deal members out there what is one piece of advice you would give them if they were thinking of treading a path into the music industry professionally?

 

AF: Apart from buying Sennheiser and PMC products for quality I would say for the music industry, always have a back up plan. You’d be very lucky if things fall into place really quickly these days because making money out of music is very difficult. I was dead lucky, timing is a massive thing as well. I was lucky that when I started the first record I ever made sold quite well and I started getting DJ bookings and suddenly i’ve got a career. For me I’ve got into the film world as there is no age barrier in being a composer and I love making music for film and TV. For me it was a long term decision to do that as there will come a point that i’m not as young as I used to be and that matters less in Film and TV. So my advice is have a back up plan but if you make it work it is so worth it?

 

RR: What other projects are you working on?

 

AF: I’ve been working with Jayce Lewis who is supporting Gary Numan on the forthcoming World Tour as well as a band called Puzzle who are superb. Other than as I mentioned i’m really trying to get into the film music, film soundtrack area and music for TV. The next TV project out is 8 Days That Made Rome. Gary Numan and I did a soundtrack a couple of years back to a film called From Inside and i’ve been involved in a lot of horror soundtracks but i’d like to broaden the scope if I can.

 

RR: Are you aware if the deal for the Savage album with BMG is a one album deal or more?

 

AF: As far as I know it’s a one album deal but I’m sure there are options in the contract.

 

RR: Will you be going out on the road for the Savage Tour?

 

AF: Unfortunately not as I have other booked work coming up. Even today i’m working on a remix of a track from Savage that will be an extra track on the Japanese version of the album. It’s a bit of a  mad remix.

 

RR: Finally, apart from Gary Numan, if there is one other artist you could collaborate with who would it be?

 

AF: Oh come on you know the answer to that one – Trent Reznor of course.

 

RR: Ade, thank you very much for your time and good luck with the release of Savage.

 

AF: My pleasure, thank you.