Gary Numan is terrifyingly topical with “Intruder”
Where on “Savage (Songs from a Broken World)” the world was already destroyed and he described humanity from a scifi view, Gary Numan mainly buys time with his new successor “Intruder” to further elaborate the realistic picture of climate change. Started by a poem by one of his children, who will soon also bear the burdens. Gary Numan unleashes a frightening topical album on the world with “Intruder”.
Gary looks relaxed, on his spacious couch, in front of a still beautiful painting, somewhere in LA. ‘It is nine o’clock in the morning here, the children have gone to school and yes, it is nice and quiet now.’ His latest album, his eighteenth solo album, is ready to be shown to the world: “Intruder”. He is satisfied, but ‘I am still quite nervous. It’s so final when you can’t change anything anymore.’ Still that uncertainty, more than forty years after “Are ‘Friends’ Electric”, with which he helped transition the music world from punk to electro… ‘Yes’, he laughs with his timeless smile, ‘still. Nothing can be taken for granted. Each album is a new challenge. You never know what people will think of it.’
For the man who in his long career has been both reviled and adored, at the same time misunderstood and a great source of inspiration for many an artist, an opinion is still important. ‘For my career, for sure. That determines my way of life, the lives of my children.’ Artistically an opinion affects him less. ‘I made the album as good as I can, within the time that I had.’ Yet he still needs that confirmation from the public, musicians and press. ‘I don’t have that confidence. I always worry if I couldn’t have done better. But,’ laughing, ‘it’s not that bad either, I’m not shaking on this couch.’
He called his new album “Intruder”. Who are those intruders? ‘We, the people, humanity’. “Intruder” highlights climate change, which Gary says is the biggest problem of our time. The perspective is the earth. ‘What if she could speak, what would she say? Would she be disappointed, disillusioned, emotionally hurt, hurt, angry? Does she feel betrayed, does she want to fight back? Maybe she’s already fighting back and is Covid-19 the first battle? And will the fighting get tougher and more deadly?’ Ominous questions… ‘Yes indeed. Does the Earth now see us more as intruders than welcome guests? Does she want to lose us?’ Humans as intruders, intruders, that is. ‘According to science, an earth without people would really flourish. We are the problem.’ And whether there is also a solution? Gary grins. ‘The album really doesn’t have a happy ending, certainly not.’ And in the real world? ‘I’m not a scientist or an expert, I just write songs, but I do have an opinion. We need to talk about it, put it at the top of the agenda, to force our leaders to buy as much time as possible for our children. Those kids will have to do the real work. They will grow up with the consequences.’ However, current events do not make it any easier. ‘Trump has thrown us back, we have lost time. He reversed things that we were already doing well. We have to pick up those things again, and are four years back in the Oval Office.’
In a few minutes, Gary, Daddy Gary, is talking about kids, his kids a few times. ‘Yes, they have made me more aware of the seriousness of the matter.’ The idea of ”Intruder” even stems from his children. ‘My daughter, when she was eleven, wrote a poem, “Earth”. In it, the earth explained to other plants why she was sad and what made her feel abandoned. Really brilliant. Then I got the idea to expand it a bit and make an album about it.’
Science fiction has always played an important role in Gary’s life. This can also be read in his autobiography “(R) evolution”, which was published last year. He reads and writes it himself, and also uses the genre in his music. ‘But to me “Intruder” is not science fiction, precisely because of the realism of climate change.’ The previous album “Savage (Songs from a Broken World)” from 2017 was. ‘There I looked at the world a hundred, two hundred years after the great Apocalypse. The earth has been destroyed. How would humanity react? What cruel, terrible things would we do to survive? “Savage” is therefore not specifically about the consequences of climate change. That’s what I wanted with “Intruder”. And talk about it in a different way, just like in my daughter’s poem.’
His fascination with the catastrophe of man and the earth remains great, even after the recording of “Intruder”. ‘I think I will continue with this on a next album.’ He leans back and visibly thinks, fantasizes, fascinates: ‘There is going to be a fight between the earth and humanity. What would it look like? What will happen? Maybe I’ll go back to science fiction.’ Maybe a trilogy? ‘Haha, yes maybe, although it makes me nervous, that word.’
Although “Savage” and “Intruder” show similarities and differences thematically and lyrically, both albums are musically close to each other and are a natural follow-up to “Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)” from 2013. ‘My way of songwriting is the same, my voice, just like the overall sound.’ So no radical change. ‘And I will not do that either. I am so satisfied. I’m just trying to do it even better, expand our sound palette even more. Just keep going the same way; wherever or whenever it ends.’ A road, a sound that Gary Numan is visibly satisfied with. ‘But it’s not just my sound. Ade Fenton also has a major influence on it. He is great.’ It is not without reason that Gary has been working with this producer since 2006. I wrote and produced “Intruder” here in LA. And then everything went to Bath, England, where Ade made the sound better. Even better, haha.’
“Intruder” will be released worldwide on May 21, 2021. The first two singles have now been released: the title song and “I Am Screaming”. “But the most characteristic song is “The Gift”. It starts quietly, and gets bigger and bigger with every line. And then Görkem Şen comes in, with his yaybahar. The Turkish musician is one of only four guest musicians on this record, playing his self-built and self-appointed acoustic string synthesizer on multiple tracks. ‘It is truly unique. That sound palette we just talked about. “The Gift” is about Covid-19, one of three songs I wrote at the time. The rest was already ready.’ And that is precisely what is so bizarre: ‘I had already written a song about a virus that would conquer the world. Just creepy. That Corona came when I was actually already writing about it… ‘ Gary Numan unleashes a frightening topical album with “Intruder”.