Before there was Nine Inch Nails, there was Gary Numan.
In fact, Trent Reznor is such a big fan, he wrote a letter to the government supporting Gary’s claim as a person of “extraordinary ability” so the UK artist could permanently move his family to LA.
Gary has called LA home since 2012, which influenced his new album – his first since 2006 — as well as his decision to choose KCRW’s Apogee Sessions series as the place where he would debut most of his new songs live.
This was his first show in LA this year and at least a handful of tracks had never been played before. The adoring audience of about 200 people were thrilled at every turn.
When Gary launched into the first song of his set, “I Am Dust”, the first single off his new album “Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind)” , it was easy to see the connections between NIN and Numan – they both tend toward dark, powerful, propulsive, industrial electronic rock with all kinds of sound design and occasional pop elements. Some of the other songs had long instrumental openings that could have easily served as the score to a dramatic/suspenseful movie, before lifting off to new heights (or depths?) with Gary’s vocals.
Gary comes across as a dark figure, with jet black hair, all black clothes, and even posing with a decorative Halloween skull in some pre-show photographs. But, as Jason Bentley introduced him to the audience, he’s not just a New Wave pioneer but a “real gentleman, a husband and a father”.
In the interview, Gary joked that the unique sounds that set him apart on his now legendary albums were discovered by “absolute mistake”, but that doesn’t take away from their influence and significance in the world of electronica and music at large.
And it’s clear his recent change of scenery is quickly shaping his musical future. When Jason asked what he loved about LA he said “everything, everything. I come from England”. He says the move represented a fresh start, a new beginning, and his most prolific period of songwriting in years.
As he noted, the sunny weather didn’t cause him to all the sudden start writing happy songs (sample titles of a few new songs: “Lost”, “Love Hurt Bleed”, and “We’re the Unforgiven”) but it helped him get motivated to work.
He also said he’s made his peace with the songs that have come to define him to most people – “Cars” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” — and is “reluctantly proud” of them, even if at times they seem to prevent him from moving forward.
The session, engineered by Bob Clearmountain, will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday, October 15, the day “Splinter” is released.
Gary Numan Live on KCRW – Set List
I Am Dust
Everything Comes Down to This
Love Hurt Bleed
We’re the Unforgiven
My Last Day
Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
Down in the Park