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Gary Numan: It's Easy to be Happy When You're Financially Secure

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, May 9, 2005
"Without doubt, there are unexpected pressures that come with success, that I would be surprised if many people are prepared for, or even aware of beforehand, that takes getting used to. But then again, when you're doing very well, you earn a great deal of money so at least you can sit there worrying in a nice big house, rather than a little house. When I became successful, although there were a lot of things about it that were really, really shit, and really unexpected, generally, yes, I still wouldn't change it. I would say success does coincide with happiness, yes."

Ever since his seminal synth-pop classic Are Friends Electric topped charts in 1979 closely followed by his worldwide hit Cars, Gary Numan has occupied an unusual position in the British psyche, loved by his adoring fans though more often than not loathed by the media for his individuality and eccentric sometimes bizarre behavior. Famously taking up flying at the height of his mainstream success, he qualified as an Air Display Flight Evaluator in 1990, though his musical career ebbed and flowed as record label wrangles took their toll. Throughout they, he remained an unusually public figure, followed by the tabloids as he pursued his own path.

"I went through a long period of being reasonably well known and poor and that's shit: seriously shit," he admits.

"Everyone knows who you are and expects you to have money but you haven't. I went through about ten years of trying to pretend I was really eccentric, and that's why I had shitty car that broke down all the time, and that's why I didn't have any proper furniture. All my furniture was broken because I couldn't afford any more, but I tried to pretend to people that I really liked it that way. You go through all through this weird stuff because you desperately don't want people to know that you've run out of any money, because it's like the kiss of death, especially in this business. So you end up just pretending all the time and that was weird."

26 years after Are Friends Electric changed his life, he's back on the up, not least with the aid of the Net ("It's an absolute lifesaver, I love it') and the curiously cyclical nature of fashion which has seen the synth pop music and iconography of his early days moving centre stage once again. Extremely down to earth, painfully honest and immediately likeable, however, he's the first one to stress that his success is relative.

"I'm just cult level," says Gary, "There's no point in lying saying I am doing really, really well because I'm not; I'm cult level."

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) Starting with your new DVD Hope Bleeds, what stopped you from doing DVDs in the past-

Gary Numan: "I'd really dragged my heels on the DVD thing, though the format has obviously been around for many years now. Hope Bleeds is the first one that I have actually done. There's lots of reasons for the delay, not least because it was unbelievably expensive to do them when DVDs first came out.I was also just a little bit unsure as to what to do on a DVD so I bought lots and lots of them and tried to find what I thought was good, and what I thought was bad about them. Then some people make such a big thing about 5.1 (surround sound), and stuff like that, and I was struggling to understand what was so good about it, to be honest. I don't know, I don't know if I even want to use it, I'm not sure if it really matters having the drums coming out of your arse.

I haven't done this DVD as an exercise in advancing technology it's just felt like a really good time to record this particular band, which is a completely different band to the one I had before. For this particular music at this particular stage of my career I'm now able to do slightly better things than I was doing before when the career was in deep trouble. Things have obviously got a bit better now, and I just wanted to get something out. That's all there is to it, I've got no great claims for it beyond - it's just