Tuesday 08 October 2019, 6:30pm - 10pm
The Nick Rayns LCR, UEA
Notorious for hits such as 'Are 'Friends' Electric?' and 'Cars', Numan's early career was too often misconstrued, tainted by a sometimes fraught relationship with the media and challenged by the hostility of the music industry at the time, still deeply committed as it was to the guitar, bass, drums approach of old. Numan, however, stuck to his guns, outlasted his naysayers, and became renowned not just as a pioneer but as an institution. Today, with a career that has spanned nearly four decades, his approach to electronic music remains an inspiration to artists across genres and eras, from stadium goliaths such as Depeche Mode, Prince and Nine Inch Nails to alternative heroes such as Beck, Damon Albarn and Marilyn Manson.
Now, Numan is preparing his 22nd studio album titled ' Savage (Songs From A Broken World)'. He's a busy guy. A self-proclaimed “one man band”, Numan has always been something of an outlier living on his own terms. These days he manages himself, so has to balance being the artist with all manner of other duties; booking shows, designing flyers, endless scheduling. 'Savage' is set in a post global warming, apocalyptic, Earth in the not-too-distant future. There is no technology left and most of the planet has turned to a desolate, desert wasteland. Food is scarce, water even more so and human kindness and decency are just a dim and distant memory. Western and Eastern cultures have merged, more because of the need to simply survive than any feelings of greater tolerence or understanding. It’s a harsh, savage environment, as are the survivors who still roam across it.
While he was writing the record, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. It made sense to make him and his climate decisions the catalyst for the apocalypse theme of the album. “The songs are about the things that people do in such a harsh and terrifying environmnent. It's about a desperate need to survive and they do awful things in order to do so, and some are haunted by what they've done. That desire to be forgiven, along with some discovered remnants of an old religious book, ultimately encourages religion to resurface, and it really goes downhill from there.”
Made partly in his own studio in LA, and partly in the UK, the album was produced by long-time collaborator Ade Fenton. He also set up a Pledge Music campaign to create an experience for fans that would let them see how an album was put together from first note to the finished shrink wrapped package. A strategy that brought Numan closer to his fans, and allowed him to communicate the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making a record. “I find every album I make to be more difficult than the one before,” he says. “It’s like climbing a mountain, and it gets ever steeper. I wanted people to understand what it takes, how hard it can be, the emotional roller coaster that is part and parcel of doing this, and that it can be a real battle, with yourself as much as anything. Confidence comes and goes and you can be your own worst eneny at times.”
With ’93’s 'Splinter' album having received the best reviews he'd ever had (not to mention the best chart position he'd had in 30 years), the pressure was on to beat it. “I don't want to repeat myself,” says Numan.