April 17, 2020
NUMAN IS FAB
Greetings, Spy Vibers! How's everybody doing? I know it's quite intense in many areas right now, so I hope everyone is staying safe. In this post I want to spotlight a cool episode of the Gerry Anderson podcast. So many of us grew up as fans of the ever-innovative and dynamic programs created by Gerry and Sylvian Anderson. I was pleased to learn that one of my biggest music heroes, Gary Numan, not only used to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail every night as his comfort viewing, but also the Gerry Anderson shows loomed large in his life. Gary sat down for a great 40min chat in 2018 with Jamie Anderson to talk all about cool shows, gadgets, aesthetics, art, and much more! From the episode description: "Music legend, and the man behind hits like 'Cars' and 'Are Friends Electric?', Gary Numan joins us today. Gary's a huge fan of Gerry Anderson shows and credits them for some of his iconic looks and musical inspiration." It was so fun to hear Gary talk about his early recollections of Fireball XL5, TV21 comics, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Space 1999, his fascination with all the cool vehicles (Thunderbird 2!), collecting the Corgi toys, and dreaming as a little boy of becoming one of those pilot characters (of course, he did become a pilot!). Gary also mentioned that, as a boy with Aspergers, he often felt more comfortable with machinery than he'd ever been with people, which fed his enthusiasm for all the mechanical designs in the shows. He also talked about how endlessly fun it was to see sequences, like the Thunderbirds intro, over and over: "It's like listening to a band play your favorite song for the hundredth time; you still love it." And he made a great quip about the length of some of the launch sequences: "I suppose, really, by the time it launched, the emergency was over!" Jamie said that Gary and his dad, Gerry Anderson, would have found a lot in common with each other. As one might guess from the amount of detail in the programs, Gerry was quite fascinated with airplanes. I hadn't known that Gerry's brother had been an RAF pilot and was shot down during WWII, and Gerry himself had RAF experiences at the end off the war. Jamie's conversation with Gary Numan was fluid, fun, and often deep. As an artist, Gary revealed that the shows really fed him creatively as a young guy. When asked if Barry Gray's scores were an inspiration, Gary admitted that he has rarely looked to music for ideas; rather, he said his inspirations have been almost entirely from aesthetics, books, films, and daily observations. He described these as the sparks in life that generate truly personal work vs. emulation or pastiche. If Spy Vibers haven't checked in with Gary Numan since the 1980s, I really recommend seeking out albums like Pure and Splinter, as well as the recent song When the World Comes Apart (expect an industrial vibe); and take a look at the excellent documentary Reinvention. The 2016 doc Android in La La Land also goes very deep and honest into his emotional life and family; it's worth watching until the end (streaming on Amazon). But if you really want to see his growth in a powerful snapshot, check out this 2018 appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test singing with his daughter Persia. Numan has just grown better and better with age and experience! Also, check out this amazing performance of Are Friends Electric?, produced as part of the AllSaints Basement Sessions filmed in an old air aid shelter in East London (might be my music clip of the year). Another great clip is Pressure from 2009. He's a fantastic, down-to-earth guy and a unique artist- and we have Gerry Anderson to thank for some of that spark-magic! Listen to the 40min interview segment at the Gerry Anderson Podcast (starts at 34:00). Oh, and speaking of cool Corgi collections, here's one for the fans: Corgi Premiums actually produced a die-cast model of Gary Numan's futuristic Telekon Chair used in stage performances of "Down in the Park.". It was only available during his last tour and there a some left on the website. You can order one (with a signed card!) at the official Gary Numan shop. Stay safe out there ("safest of all- in cars"?). Below: beautiful designs for Gary Numan's 2015 residency at the Forum to perform some classic albums, the Telekom-Era Corgi toy, and a whimsical Captain Scarlet-Numan mashup image posted by Gary when he announced this podcast. Spectrum is Green!
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