Visionary. Pioneer. Genius. Whatever you call him, its
hard to find a musicianelectronic or otherwisethat cant claim
Gary Numan as an inspiration in some way. With decades of experience under his
belt, millions of fans worldwide, and a few years since his last release, Numan
now has the element of surprise with Jagged, his deepest, darkest and
most powerful opus to date. He is primed for a renaissance, and it begins
Daryl: Barring the wet blankets out there, do you
find that youve earned more respect for having waited so long to release
Jagged? I think theres something to be said for bands that
arent album-pumping machines.
Gary: Some people have given me respect for wanting
to make the best album I can rather than the quickest, others have said
Im wasting my time and getting distracted by other things. There is a bit
of truth in both points of view to be honest. But I was distracted by things
that mean the world to me and I dont regret a second of it. Since the
last album weve had two daughters and I didnt want to miss a single
moment of their early lives. If that and my desire to make a really good album
means they take a little longer to make, then so be it.
D: How much of a perfectionist are you with your
G: I am quite bad actually. I have to be careful that
I dont end up tweaking and fine tuning things that no one but me will
ever notice. Im getting better but I probably still waste a lot of time
fiddling with things that really are fine as they are.
D: With all of the positive response to your last
album and now Jagged, are you inspired to release music more regularly?
G: I find it brings more pressure strangely enough.
With each new album you run the risk of people not liking it as much as the
last one. It becomes more difficult to keep moving forward musicallyand
also to keep people with youso therefore it can take longer. With each
step forward that you try to take with the music you risk leaving people behind
that want you to keep doing exactly what you did last time. It goes way back as
well. I still have fanssoon to be ex-fans I would imaginewho want
me to just rewrite new versions of Cars for the rest of my life and that
just isnt going to happen. For someone like me, someone that wants to
keep moving the music forward, losing existing fans is a constant risk and a
constant reality, so I need a steady flow of new people getting into what
Im doing to survive.
D: How much control do you have over your music now,
in terms of old songs and other previous work? What is your current
relationship with record labels?
G: It depends on the label, but generally Im
okay with most of them. As for control: I have little over the original
recordings, especially the earlier stuff, but I now have the right to re-record
pretty much everything Ive ever done. Not that Im interested in
doing that to be honest. Im far more interested in writing new songs than
redoing old ones.
D: Jagged is both powerful and subtle; it is
never overbearing or abrasive, yet it also strays away from being sappy or
emotionally flabby. What aspect do you think makes this album more intense than
G: We tried to produce it in such a
way that it takes many listens to really appreciate everything thats
going on. On first listen you obviously hear the big melodies and main musical
lines, but then, on subsequent listens, you can hear just how much else is
lurking underneath those melodies. There is a huge amount going on in
Jagged. Almost every chorus is huge and so we wanted to maximize that
here comes the big bit idea by making many of the verses, or
alternate link sections, more gentle. For such an aggressive sounding album,
some of the verse lines are almost prettysometimes strangely ethereal. I
love that change from the floaty verse to the all-out and anthemic chorus and
it makes playing the songs live a very exciting thing to do. I think the
production gives the album an almost relentless feel to it, a constant
onslaught of noise. The intensity probably comes from that.
D: I know the lyrics on this album were inspired by
broken or unstable people youve known in one way or another.
How much of the lyrics are real and how much are manufactured?
G: Much of it is actually about some of the darker
things that Ive been involved in or fascinated by, as well as some of the
people that Ive known over the yearsso its all based on
truth. However, it is at times exaggerated somewhat for the sake of drama, but
only exaggerated. Very little is manufactured.
D: Your music has remained on the darker side for
some time, regardless of events in your life
Do you ever feel like
creating songs that are completely off the wall or outside of your style?
G: I do write other stuff from time to time, but I
have no interest in releasing any of it. I only want to release songs these
days that I also want to play live
and that means the current darker stuff
for the foreseeable future. Its already a problem trying to play songs
from the middle period of my career as its such a different sound to what
Im doing now
it just doesnt fit well at all.
D: Is there a song that strikes you particularly hard
now that the album is finished and people around the world are listening to it?
Anything that gives you goosebumps?
G: The song called Scanner. Its the only
song on the album that isnt about the darker side of my past.
Scanner is about still wanting to protect my children after I die, and
how I would try to come back as a ghost to watch over them. Im not an
overly sentimental man but when I sing the song I think about not being with
them and it makes me upset
then I cant sing anymore and it all falls
apart. It can be embarrassing on stage.
D: You dropped the word Halo from your
working version of the album title, and religion peeks through only
incidentally on this album
Have you said all you need to about the
G: I doubt it, but I dont want future albums to
be devoted solely to that topic, so it will probably crop up again from time to
time on certain songs. Dropping the word Halo from the title was
more an attempt to stop people thinking that Jagged was yet another
album about my dislike of religion and my lack of belief in God. Calling it
Jagged Halo was likely to give the wrong impression as to its
D: Any clues as to what we can expect from you
G: I really like where I am at the moment musically
speaking, so I wont be straying too far from it. However, I do have a
constant need to move forward, so Im looking at making the next album
more up-tempo, more aggressive. I would also like to include even more of the
Arabian feel that is on some parts of Jagged, maybe develop that idea a
lot more. This one tends to sit in that medium to slow, menacing range when it
comes to tempo. The next one needs to move up a gear.