Interview: Gary Numan - First Word
The legendary electronica artist on sausages and ape-populated planets
Musical pioneer, forward thinker, family man and helpless impulse buyer like the rest of us, Gary Numan talks us through his terrifying formative cinema experiences, his inability to tell lies and sausages
First record you ever bought
A Hank Williams Jr. album for my mum.
Last extravagant purchase you made
I bought a dirt buggy a couple of years ago.
First film you saw that really moved you
The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston in it. Terrifying. At the end, God is sending down lightning down from the sky. I was really little though, before I realised God was bollocks, so it really bothered me a lot.
Last lie you told
Yesterday, to my kids. [Gary has 3 children, aged 7, 5 and 4.] They wanted to know when we were going be home. I only lied to stop them from getting upset.
First movie you ever went on a date to
Planet of The Apes. The first one. Not really a romantic movie, but a good one though.
Last time you cried
May. We keep sheep as pets, and we had a german shepherd puppy that attacked and killed three of the sheep. That was fucking horrific. Really upsetting and it really got me.
First thing you do when you’ve got time off work
Spend time with my children.
Last great meal you cooked
Ha! I’ve never cooked a great meal. The last shit meal I cooked was about a week ago.
Teresa Cunningham. When I was about 8. Loved her.
First great piece of advice you were given
Early on in my career, a Smash Hits journalist told me I needed to learn how to lie, and that I was too honest. It’s also the best piece of advice I’ve been given, but not one I’ve been able to follow as I am an open book I’m afraid.
Last time you were star struck
Easy. At the end of the Mojo awards last month [Gary got the ‘Inspiration award recognising the reach of his influence]. Jimmy Page and Ringo Starr. I was so starstruck. I’m grinning like an idiot in the pictures going ‘How fucking cool is this?’
First thing you’d do if you ran the country
Last meal on earth – what would it be?
Chips. [Thinks] And sausages
First song you’ll sing at karaoke
Ha! I’d sing ‘Cars’. It’s all over in about 60 seconds and it’s about the only song I know all the words to.
Last time you exploited your position to get something
Hmm. Not sure I have, but my wife exploits it mercilessly. Last time was to get into The Ivy for Valentine’s Day at short notice. I could never do that. There’s a 50/50 chance they’ll never have heard of you. You’d feel like such a knob.
First time you realised you were famous
Walking up Hogarth Road in Earls Court and a street cleaner asked me for my autograph. That was when I realised people I’d never met knew who I was.
Last time someone criticised your work
About an hour ago? It’s pretty constant.
First three words your friends would use to describe you
Moody. Difficult. That’s it. I’m too shallow to warrant a third.
Last time you made an impulse buy and regretted it
Yesterday! I went out to buy some cheap office shelves and came back with a fucking great wooden monstrosity from Thailand. There’s one ugly red file on them with accounts in. Ha!
First concert you ever attended
Nazareth at The Rainbow in 1973 or 1974.
Last time you bought someone flowers
A month ago, a friend of mine’s mum died.
First object you’d save from your burning home
Outside of people and animals? My laptop.
I used to install air conditioning units into banks in London.
Last person in the world you’d sleep with
You mean if the world was about to end? My wife.
First word you spoke
Don’t know about me, but one of my little girls’ first words was sausages. Ha!
Last crime you committed
Speeding, embezzlement, fraud, lying to the taxman. The usual stuff.
First song at your wedding
It was Closer by Nine Inch Nails. You know the one? With the lyric ‘I want to fuck you like an animal’? My nan was there. I hadn’t thought it through, obviously.
Last song at your funeral
Probably something like Everything I Own by David Gates. It’s about not saying the things you want to say to people whilst they are alive. I’m no good at that sort of thing.
First person you’d thank in an award acceptance speech
First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
Last thing you think of before you go to sleep
I need to read before I go to sleep to slow my brain down, which can be thinking and worrying about a million different things at once, so probably something related to what I’ve been reading, which is invariably sword fighting blokes hacking each other to bits.