Gary Numan: “David Bowie asked for me to be thrown out of the studio”

The industrial veteran on flying, synths and hanging out with Queen

Trending Now

Paul McCartney appears to confirm Glastonbury headline slot

Cryptic tweet backs up Michael Eavis's hint

The 25th Uncut New Music Playlist of 2019

Aoife Nessa Frances, Beck, Craven Faults and more

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

You were meant to tour Japan with Japan during the 1980s. What happened there?
Susie Lever via email
If my memory serves, they suggested I come on tour as guest performer with them. It was all a bit vague. Anyway, I made my own way to Japan. I went to their hotel and they didn’t seem to be massively pleased to see me! I noticed them fucking off out the side door of the hotel. So I jumped in a cab and chased them to the first venue. I sat out in the auditorium waiting for someone to come and get me to do the soundcheck. Next thing I know, the doors are open, the venue is filling up and I realise no-one’s got the bottle to tell me they’ve changed their minds and they don’t want me after all. As I made my way back to Tokyo, I saw on a poster that Queen was playing at the Budokan. I went to the show and the next thing I know I got taken backstage. Queen were lovely! I got adopted by Freddie. The band took me out after the show to a sushi restaurant – but I don’t really like sushi, so Freddie sent his chauffeur out to get a McDonald’s. They couldn’t have been nicer to me!

Has your Asperger’s affected the way you make music?
Lee Troughton, the Wirral
It’s been a massive benefit. It gives you a focus that’s almost unparalleled. One of the traits of Asperger’s is to have obsessive tendencies – which is quite useful in the music business. That kind of tunnel vision and the ability to emotionally disconnect at times can be very useful when dealing with criticism. The only downside is that I don’t think I’m very good socially – in fact, I’m awful! But it’s a small price to pay. I think it first became apparent when I was 14 or 15 – so 1973, ’74 – although I don’t think they had an official diagnosis for Asperger’s until the mid-’80s.

I went to see you in Croydon Fairfield Halls in 2001; it was my lowest Numan-fan moment. What was your lowest moment? I’ve seen you 63 times.
Lilley James via Twitter
My lowest point was when I put out an album in ’92 called Machine And Soul. I will regret that to the day I die. It’s just a really shit album. I’d run out of ideas, I’d lost my confidence, I thought my career was over. Imagery was shit, subject matter was shit. Musically it wasn’t shit – but it was just not a Gary Numan album, that’s for sure. Everything about my life at that point was shit. I was in massive debt. I hated the music I was making. I hated everything, it was horrible. Fortunately, I got it together again from ’94. I went back to doing music for the love of it.

What was your greatest excess?
Charlotte Bowyer, Eastbourne
Airplanes. At one point I had three – I had two and my brother had one. I had a Ferrari, but it was second-hand, mind. I had a big neo-Georgian house on Wentworth golf course, but I was convinced it was haunted. Some weird shit had been going on – I’d come home and the house was in darkness when I was convinced I’d left the lights on. So one day, I made a point of turning on every single light in the house. I got back from the studio and – fuck me – the house was in total darkness. It freaked me out completely. I had this room set up as a bedsit, with a little bucket to wee in and a deep-fat fryer to cook food – I only ate chips at the time. I’d lock the door and wouldn’t come out until the morning.

The December 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from October 17, and available to order online now – with Bob Dylan on the cover and an exclusive unreleased Dylan track on our free CD. Elsewhere in the issue, there’s Robert Smith, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Pink Floyd, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Prince, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Lynne, Booker T, Tindersticks and much more.

Advertisement

Latest Issue

Inside: the highs and lows of Bowie’s breakthrough, the best albums of the year, interviews with Bill Callahan and Van Morrison, and more!

Features

MORE LIKE THIS

SHOP UNCUT

Commemorating 40 years since Unknown Pleasures, the latest in our Ultimate Music Guide series covers both Joy Division and New Order. Drummer Stephen Morris...
Inside: the highs and lows of Bowie’s breakthrough, the best albums of the year, interviews with Bill Callahan and Van Morrison, and more!
Bob Dylan, Robert Smith, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Pink Floyd all feature in the new Uncut, dated December...
Commemorating 40 years since Unknown Pleasures, the latest in our Ultimate Music Guide series covers both Joy Division and New Order. Drummer Stephen Morris...
Inside: the highs and lows of Bowie’s breakthrough, the best albums of the year, interviews with Bill Callahan and Van Morrison, and more!
Bob Dylan, Robert Smith, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Pink Floyd all feature in the new Uncut, dated December...

Subscribe to Uncut today and support our award-winning team of writers and reviewers.

Save up to 35% when you subscribe online