Here, Gary answers a selection of your questions recently sent to us via the Feedback page.
Why has it taken so long to release Dead Son Rising. You said in 2009 that it was coming out later that year.
Well, to put it simply, It’s taken a long time to get an album that I was happy with but the story is a bit more complicated than that. Dead Son Rising started out as a collection of songs that hadn’t made it on to the Pure and Jagged albums, perhaps even as far back as Exile. These were songs that had not been used initially because they weren’t finished in time to be included on Pure and Jagged, or didn’t have quite the right vibe for the albums they were originally intended for and other reasons. I have a very small collection of unused songs because until relatively recently I erased everything that I didn’t use. I must have erased hundreds of songs over the years which, eventually, I realised was a stupid thing to do. But, for many years, it was all part of the process for me to keep writing new stuff and not labouring over things that hadn’t worked as well or as quickly as I wanted them to. It was obvious that the new Splinter album was going to take some time to make and so we thought it would be a good idea to put something out in the meantime. Something that fans would find interesting and that would help to fill the gap between Jagged and Splinter. The idea of finishing off an album of songs, many of which were already nearly finished, seemed to make sense and shouldn’t take very long.
I sorted out about fourteen songs, including a few new ones, and Ade started to work on them. Within a few months we had an album nearly finished. I had some reservations about it and so work continued for some time until the only thing left to do was write the lyrics and sing them. This was about two years ago and this was, I think, when I announced that it would be released in the very near future. Unfortunately I had another crisis of confidence and decided that I actually hated everything about it that I had contributed. I thought Ade had done a brilliant job of making shit sound good and I considered that what I had given him to work on was useless. I went off the melodies, the chord structures, all of it. Most importantly, I no longer wanted to put it out but didn’t know what to do about it, so I just left it alone and stuck my head in the sand.
Then, last October/November 2010, I heard some music being played in another room while I was on holiday in Florida that sounded really cool. I rushed in to see who it was only to be told that it was me, the same Dead Son Rising stuff that I’d said I’d hated the year before. I don’t know what happened but it now sounded fantastic. I loved it. When I got home I spoke to Ade and told him about yet another change of heart and so we started to work on it again. At first we were thinking of putting it out as a mini album but then ideas just kept coming and we ended up with more and more music to put on it. The songs with vocals went from four to seven, added to other instrumentals, and so it became a proper album. Interestingly though the version being released is almost entirely different to the one that was originally planned in 2009. The last nine months has seem the album almost entirely reworked from the ground up. It may even be worthwhile to make some of those earlier versions available at some point in the future if people are interested.
The finished album is nothing like the original demo’s. Almost 95% of the music is new and bears little or no relationship to those demo’s that started the whole thing off. It is not an album of older songs that didn’t make it on to Pure and Jagged but an album of newly written material. That alone makes it far more worthwhile to me and something that is much more satisfying to release.
So, I do totally accept that it’s been a long time coming and that I unintentionally gave a few inaccurate announcements along the way. It has also backfired in that Splinter is still not ready and so the gap between Jagged and Splinter is even longer than it would have been, because of Dead Son Rising. However, even though Dead Son Rising has been a most tortuous album to make, I’m glad we did. It’s ended up being something I”m really very proud of.
Why have you split the Dead Son Rising tour into two sections, one in September, and another in December?
We started to plan a short September tour when we were still thinking of Dead Son Rising as a mini album. We expected that it would only be of interest to the more hard core fan and so only planned a fairly modest tour to promote it. Obviously, as things have turned out, there is a lot more interest in the album than we expected and so we wanted to expand the tour to bring it to parts of the country that weren’t being visited in the September tour. But, we found it hard to find available venues in September and we were unable to build a longer tour around the shows we had already announced. However, we were able to find venues in December and so we decided to run the tour in two stages. Also, as we were already playing the ATP Festival in December, it made sense to build the second leg around that festival date and so incorporate the ATP Festival into the DSR tour.
Is Dead Son Rising the follow up to Jagged, and if so, what has happened to the ‘Splinter’ album?
No, Dead Son Rising is not the follow up to Jagged, that is still what the Splinter album is intended for. Dead Son Rising is an alternative project, put together and co-written by me and Ade Fenton. With my conventional Gary Numan albums I follow a plan from concept to completion that gives the album a sense of identity and cohesion. The songs, although they are all different, all sound as though they come from the same place. They have a sound and an atmosphere to them that identifies them as coming from a certain album. With Dead Son Rising, because of the slightly erratic way it was put together, and because it started life as a collection of older unfinished songs, it didn’t acquire the same guidelines that other albums do. That has allowed it to meander more, to be more flexible in style and content. It’s a more quirky album.
Will you co-write more albums with Ade Fenton?
Definitely. Dead Son Rising is a project that has had, despite a difficult process, a very good ending. I think we have come up with a good collection of songs and I’m very happy with it. It would be mad to not do it again at some point. Also, I think it allows us to create music that we might not if we were working on our own albums. It allows us to move sideways a little, from both a songwriting and a production point of view. I have found it a very interesting thing to go through and I’m very grateful to Ade for sticking with it so brilliantly and for putting up with my nonsense.
Why did you make Dead Son Rising in three different packages, Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe?
Special packages are now a very normal part of releasing stuff. Pretty much everyone is doing it in one way or another from Placebo to Bjork, from Nine Inch Nails to U2, from Kiss to Pink Floyd, Lady GaGa and Nirvana. Everyone is doing their own thing as people try different ways to adjust to the rapidly changing face of the music business. Making and selling albums is not the simple process it used to be and as new technologies come along, as the expectations of fans change, as the alternatives to buying albums increase, artists are looking at ways of keeping their fans interested, both in them as artists, and in the music they make. To some it’s a very scary time. Album sales are plummeting, record companies are getting ever more demanding with what they take from an artist, with the collapse of the major retail chains outlets for music are getting fewer and fewer and more and more people are finding other things than music to buy or are downloading music illegally. I’m one of those that doesn’t find it a scary time, in fact I welcome it. I have made a lot of noise over the years about being an ‘independent’ label and artist, fighting amongst the powerful companies. The changes sweeping across the music business are frightening but they also bring with them great opportunities. The three format packages for Dead Son Rising is just our tentative first step into this new world of opportunity. We have tried to come up with a range of packages that will appeal to hard core fans and those not so hard core. We have made all three packages quite different in what they offer, at quite different prices, but they all contain the basic album, the music itself. We will learn a lot from our own experience with Dead Son Rising, and we will learn a lot by looking closely at what other artists and labels do in the future. Those lessons will evolve into ever more interesting and thoughtful packages in the future.
I believe that, for fans, this is something of a golden era. Many fans now expect far more than just a basic CD and now they are getting far more. Whereas before with each new album you knew what you would be getting, now we have no idea. It could be on a USB stik, an album downloaded a song at a time, a film, even sung in your own living room, who knows? And new things are always just around the corner.
Why is the Super Deluxe so expensive?
Because it has such a huge amount of things in the package. It’s crammed with stuff, it’s big, it’s of the highest quality manufacture and so it’s extraordinarily expensive to make, even more so when made in small numbers (and we have only pressed a small number) and everything in it has to be created, written, filmed, recorded, designed, signed and it takes a lot of clever people a lot of time to put something like that together. However, if you look around, you will see many other ideas by many other artists all going out at different prices, I’ve even seen one as high as £1,000.
We made sure that people that only wanted the music could still buy it, and even then with a quality gatefold sleeve, for just £9.99, which I believe is the cheapest album we have ever released directly. For those that wanted something a lot more, we made the Deluxe package for £21.99. For the few that wanted something really very special, the Super Deluxe. No-one was forced to buy anything, everything was available to pre order from day one and none of the prices were hidden or had hidden extras. No tricks were employed to bully or push people towards one package or the other. We have simply made three packages that we feel cater for the wide range of Numan fans out there and we are very proud of them all. Of course, if you don’t feel any of them are worth it, you don’t have to buy them. I don’t see how anything could be fairer than that.
Is it true you now hate England and want to leave?
No, that’s utter rubbish. I love England and I love being English. I think this has come about from some rather off the mark misquotes being printed when I talked recently about possibly moving to America. I have never been abused in my local high street, which I think one newspaper quoted me as saying, I’ve never had any trouble of any kind since I’ve lived here in Sussex and I’ve been here for many years now. But, I am thinking about moving to America.
I do worry about the way England is changing and, because I love it so much, it’s quite painful to witness some of those changes. We do have something of a thug culture. I see it when I tour and when I travel around the country with the family. Gangs everywhere, roaming the streets drunk and loud, violence and unpleasantness seems to have reached even the quietist country villages and just a gentle walk with your children seems to have an element of uncertainty about it. My wife was recently out with our three young children and was surrounded by a gang of teenagers loudly telling her what they’d like to do to her sexually. It didn’t seem to matter that she was with a 7, 5 and 4 year old, all frightened and upset. This seems a common thing, all over the country. In some places even worse, with beatings and stabbings a daily occurrence.
And then we have the recent riots. It makes us look like a country of ignorant savages, beating up people already injured, pretending to help while stealing their things, hitting old men, killing them. It’s disgusting. Is this the best place to bring up three little girls? Two years ago I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of moving anywhere else but now I’m not so sure.
Added to that I have a career to think about. As I grow older I need to think about what I do with my musical future. A move into film work seems an obvious step in the coming years but in the UK we have no meaningful film industry to speak of. Certainly not one big enough to be able to give me a meaningful career as a music writer for films. So, where does give you the opportunities to consider that as a realistic option?
I have made no firm decision about leaving the UK but the thugs and the riots are helping me towards one. Leaving here would be the hardest thing but it’s not only me I have to consider. I have a family and, to be perfectly honest, I would move them to the moon if I thought it would give them a better life. Everything I do is towards giving them the best life I can. If I see somewhere that seems safer, happier and will give them a better life than the UK, I’l take them there if I possibly can.
How did you feel winning the 2011 Mojo ‘Inspiration’ Award?
I was absolutely thrilled to get the Inspiration Award. It meant a huge amount to me and I was happy to stand up and say so when I was given it. It’s a very prestigious thing to get and I was very grateful to the people at Mojo for giving it to me in 2011. I’m looking at it now, it sits next to my desk in just the right place so that everyone visiting can see it. I’m not shy about showing it off in the slightest.
What plans do you have for the next two years?
Finishing the Splinter album as soon as possible is very important. With that complete 2012=2013 will be a period of relentless touring all over the world. We will be able to tour both Dead Son Rising and Splinter overseas and we will also be able to tour the UK with our most extravagant stage for some time. Back To The Phuture were our biggest, most lavish shows in years, perhaps since the early days of the Touring Principle and Wembley in 1981, and that’s very much a direction we want to continue in. We want to make more extravagant and innovative shows in the future, topping the Back To The Phuture events which were very much our first steps back into bigger things. I’m very excited about that. I’m scared to talk about albums after Splinter as I doubt people have much faith in my future album predictions but my intention is so start the follow up to Splinter within a year of its release and have it out no more than a year after that. Working on Dead Son Rising has fired me up enormously and I’m really enjoying working on the release, the packaging, the tweets, the press, the gigs to come. It’s all really exciting and we’re already putting ideas together for the Splinter release next year. Plus some more collaborations of course. I’ve really enjoyed the Battles – My Machines project and I would like to do more things like that.
How did you feel when you heard Lady GaGa was a fan?
It’s always good to hear that other artists are aware of what you do, always. And it’s a good feeling when you hear that they think you’ve made an important contribution to music. I remain convinced though that we are only as good as our next album. If I want to stay as an ongoing viable artist then I have to keep delivering albums and music that justifies that. Because I did something a long time ago that people now consider important or ground breaking doesn’t mean I should be celebrated now, It’s what I’m actually doing now that still counts the most. And that’s why I sometimes find starting a new album a little daunting. It’s having everything to prove to myself all over again.