Electronic music pioneer Gary Numan brings ‘Savage’ songs to Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Gary Numan
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, Dec 19, 8 p.m.
How much: $30/general admission; $45 reserved seating
Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com
Gary Numan blazed the trail for electronic music and synth-pop and he set the stage for new wave nearly 40 years ago, along with crafting the classic “Cars.”
When industrial music went mainstream, its stars like Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson — along with more traditional rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and Weezer — hailed Numan as a key influence. That helped attracted a new generation of fans to Numan, who hail him as the proto-goth rocker.
His legendary status remains a bit baffling to Numan.
“I’m very proud of it,” Numan, who headlines Belly Up tonight, said recently from his home in Los Angeles, “but the strange thing is you read these things and you hear these things and then you come home and you’re hanging out with the kids and watching television and you don’t feel any of that. I don’t go to bed thinking, ‘I’m a legend.’ … I go into the studio to make a new album and I feel just as nervous as when I first started.”
The ever-innovative Brit has never stopped going into the studio.
His current shows feature a mix of his newest and oldest material. He’s remained creatively fertile since releasing the “The Pleasure Principle” and “Replicas” in 1979. Early mega-hits like “Cars” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” from those earliest albums sit comfortable on setlists next to the fierce industrial pop of his two latest critically adored records, “Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind),” released in 2013, and “Savage (Songs from a Broken World),” released in September.
“I don’t really do anything from the 16 or 17 albums in between,” Numan said, adding with a laugh: “The trouble is ‘Savage’ is the 21st or 22nd album — I’ve actually lost count. I have so much material that I have to find songs that complement what I’m doing at the moment.”
The in-between records veered at times into a more jazz-centric, less synth-based style. So Numan has reworked classics like “Cars” from the earliest records to take on a “more aggressive” sound to match tracks from “Savage.”
The new record is an immersive concept album about a post-apocalyptic world decimated by the effects of global warming. It’s a doom-and-gloom tale with a dark but danceable sound to match — filled with soaring, cinematic industrial rockers like the lead single “My Name is Ruin.”
The new record was inspired by a fictional world Numan has been crafting in a dystopian novel that’s still in progress. He didn’t set out to make a concept album, he said, but was inspired to continue writing songs about this post-apocalyptic society as he watched President Donald Trump’s candidacy gain steam despite his climate change denial.
“It was a bizarre coincidence, really,” Numan said. “I was writing songs about a future world destroyed because of global warming and he’s saying it’s rubbish, a hoax created by the Chinese, and all these things. So it suddenly went from science fiction to something that seemed more relevant.”
He’s enjoying pairing the new songs with his earliest — and still most popular — ones, although he’s grown up a lot since 1979 and his “android” persona of that phase in his life.
“I wrote those songs when I was 20, 21 — so very young, not married, no children, still trying to find my way,” said Numan, who will turn 60 in March. “I listen to things like ‘Cars’ and it’s just not the person I am anymore.”
Still, he’s grateful to have created songs that have endured the test of time.
“It’s a good problem to have if you have songs that are that old that people still want to hear,” he said. “I don’t mind.”
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Aspen Words’ literary conference and festival is back in-person after a pandemic hiatus and a move from June to autumn.