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Lachlan Kanoniuk Joined: 9th December 2010
Last seen: 12th December 2013

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Gary Numan

Ever since exploding as a bonafide pop superstar in 1979, Gary Numan has forged a musical career that has since left a spasmodic contrail soaring and stuttering throughout the past thirty years of musical history. After releasing a series of albums that have gone on to accumulate deep reverence as harbingers of the electro genre, the momentum stalled as Gary’s passionate fanbase of ‘Numanoids’ scaled back in numbers, but remaining ever-fervent in worship, while enduring a mixed bag of critical response. Though still maintaining a steady output of industrial compositions in the 2000s, recent touring success has stemmed from a series of commemorative shows marking the 30th anniversary of his earlier works, culminating in recreating arguably his most lauded work, 'Pleasure Principle', live in full.

However it seems reliving former glories is a notion that the man himself struggles to come to terms with at times. "I genuinely believe that we should not remain popular or respected for something that I did thirty years ago," Gary states frankly. "While I go out and enjoy doing every show, I still believe that the album that I put out next, that any sort of ongoing career I have should be based on that album, and the one after that, and the one after that. And if any of those albums are shit, you should dig a hole and put me in it."

 

Though dating back more than three decades, Pleasure Principle does possess a sense of timeless quality, thanks in great deal to the overwhelming resurgence of electro pop. "Ah well actually it doesn't feel timeless to me," Gary laughs heartily.

 

"It's a bit of a weird one. When I listen back to Pleasure Principle, especially with doing the tour over the last few years, I'd have to say I've grown to like it and become quite proud of it - because I hadn't really been like that before.

 

"I'd sort of looked at it from a producer's point of view and thought, 'Oh, we could have done so much more with it than what I did at the time.'" he muses. "Those people that are making new albums now that sound like what people were doing for the first time thirty years ago, I don't really get that," he ponders. "I find it so surprising that people want to stick to 'plinky plonky' little popcorn noises. All the [production] presets are a big part of that - where's the challenge? Where's the skill?" he queries.

 

In showcasing Pleasure Principle to a new generation of fans, some of whom take heed from The Mighty Boosh's Vince Noir and his rampant fandom, the dilemma arises in just how to present the work in a modern context.

 

It's a challenge that Gary, a proponent of music technology modernity, thought long and hard about. "One of the decisions I had to make when we started touring and doing the album live again is should we take advantage of all these technologies. Do we do it as though the album came out now, if we recorded again? Or do I keep it true to the original?" he queries.

 

"I kind of battled with that for a little bit until I decided that no, it's meant to be the 30th anniversary of that album. It's not the anniversary of us making a new one.

 

"So I tried to keep it original, as things were. I do struggle with it a little bit, because you are singing songs that are thirty years old… as they were thirty years ago, so it sort of grates a little bit just thinking 'Oh this could be so much more powerful now.' When I'm doing my normal shows, I still do some of these songs. But they're massive new versions," he grins.

 

"But in celebrating this album, I feel that it has to be kept true to the original album. Like when we do Films, it just doesn't have the power that it has when we do it conventionally in the other shows. I know it could be better, but people just go, 'Oh, this isn't like the album,' but I dunno."

 

While there's a lot not to like about the notoriously scathing British media, we can pay credit where credit's due for inadvertently playing an unwitting part in the dawn of electronic music, as Gary recounts. "When Replicas came out it hit number one here [in the UK], and there was quite an anti reaction to it in the media, the music press in particular. They really didn't get the whole electronic thing and just didn't get what I was doing at all.

 

"The thing with electronic music then was, 'Is it real music?' It didn't have any guitar on it, it wasn't 'properly written' and all that sort of stuff. I was reacting against that quite a bit. I purposely didn't put any guitars in it to prove a point. It gave it a sound, a production style, which it wouldn't have had if I did put guitars on it.

 

"Now it is what it is, all because of this childish reaction to what the press had said about the debut [Tubeway Army]. I was just doing it just because some little shit in the media had slagged off the album before," he laughs. "So I'm afraid it wasn't a high musical ideal that I was aiming for, just a childish reaction to some bad press.

 

"When I was making it, at no point did I sit down and think that 'this is gonna make a difference, people are going to listen to this and it's going to change things.' I never thought about that at all. It's been a very, very pleasant surprise as the years have gone by, especially recently, to see the albums pop back up again. It's very rewarding to hear just how much of an effect it's had."

The ever incredible GARY NUMAN returns to Australia to perform his revolutionary landmark album The Pleasure Principle in full – and as it was made to sound – along with special guests Severed Heads (coming out of retirement for this tour) and Motor at The Forum this Saturday May 14. Tickets from ticketmaster.com.