A brief chat with Gary Numan
Gary Numan plays the Crofoot Ballroom on Friday, March 28 in support of his new album, Splinter (Song From A Broken Mind). We were offered the opportunity to throw a few questions at the electro pioneer, and so we did. Enjoy.
When was the last time you were in Detroit, and what do you remember about it?
It was quite a few years ago, 2010 perhaps, maybe longer. We played at the Crofoot then as well and I remember we had a really good gig. Unfortunately touring at my level is very full on and hectic. We have very few days off and those are only because we are traveling long distances. It’s a sad truth that touring the world often means you actually see very little of it. I see a lot of stages and dressing rooms, and a lot of my bunk on the bus, but we don’t get to venture out very often. It’s even more hectic these days because we now also do Meet and Greet sessions with fans before the soundcheck, which I enjoy, but it means there is even less time to check out the places we visit.
Tell me about the new album, Splinter… What makes it different to your previous work (if anything)?
It’s a lot more personal than most of the others I’ve made in that it looks back at the last few years. I was diagnosed with depression in 2008 and spent the next four years dealing with that, and the cure that comes with it which is almost as bad in a way. I didn’t write a song for nearly four years, my career was fading away, my marriage got into trouble, it was a very difficult time. Most of the songs on the album are looking at that period and, in some cases, specific aspects of it. I’ve not done anything quite as deep before. Some of the songs are taken from ideas I’m working on for a dark and heavy science fantasy novel I’ve been working so it’s not all personal stuff, but most of it is.
Has Detroit been a happy hunting ground for you over the years? Good crowds?
Mostly. The crowds have always been good although the numbers have fluctuated quite drastically from time to time. I did one show many years ago that was about a quarter full, that was pretty demoralizing, but things are going much better now, The new Splinter album has had an amazing reaction, some of the best reviews I’ve ever had, and that’s quite a thing as I’ve been doing this for over 36 years now. That reaction seems to be echoed by the fan base so the vibe and interest in this tour has been great, very encouraging. We seem to have an entirely new generation of people coming in which is very cool to see.
What can we expect from this set?
There is, understandably, a focus on the new Splinter album but we mostly flick from new to old to new as the set progresses. We play songs from The Pleasure Principle, Replicas and Telekon from the early years, and Pure and Dead Son Rising from more recent times. I pretty much ignore everything in-between. Partly because a lot of it I don’t think suits what I’m doing now, partly because I don’t like much of it and partly because the set is already long so adding more songs would just tire people out. We’re touring with two other great bands, Roman Remains and Big Black Delta so by the time we come on the crowd have already been standing for a few hours. Then they have to stand for another 100 minutes or so for my set. It’s hard on a crowd when you have a full line up like this and I think you have to consider that to make sure people enjoy themselves. We also have some cool lights with us on this tour and an amazing lighting designer called Michelle Sarrat who can make a flash light look exciting.
What’s next for you, after this tour?
I’m finishing off a film score for a dark and heavy animated movie re-release called From Inside, a collaboration track with Jean Michel Jarre, I start on the next new album, we’re working on a documentary, I have to get on with the novel I mentioned and a long overdue update to my ‘Praying To The Aliens’ autobiography as so much positive stuff has happened in the 15 or so years since the last edition came out. Apart from that, more touring and festivals. We go to Australia and New Zealand in May for example and back to the UK for a big show in London in November. That show will probably wrap up the promo for the Splinter album.
Gary Numan plays with Big Black Delta and Roman Remains at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 28 at the Crofoot; 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $25-$30.