By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | September 22, 2021
Gary Numan admits he’s insecure.
Since scoring era-defining hits such as “Cars,” “When the World Comes Apart” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric,” Numan has been hailed by music pioneers such as Prince, David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, and Kayne West and Lady Gaga credit him as an influence.
The electronic music godfather’s low self-esteem reared its head during the recording of his latest album, “Intruder.”
“I don’t go out to the studio sort of brimming with confidence and thinking I’m God’s gift to music and everything’s great,” Numan says during a Zoom call.
“I’m the opposite of that. I’m constantly worried. My confidence is fragile at best. It seems to be crumbled and at the edge all the time. I’m always fighting against my own self-doubt, worries and anxieties.”
Numan describes recording an album as standing at the foot of a mountain and looking up. Each album, he says, feels a little bit steeper and taller than the one before. Numan plugged his way through it to produce what critics have called his best music.
“Intruder” is Numan’s 18th solo studio album and follows 2017’s “Savage: Songs from a Broken World,” which became his highest-charting set in almost 40 years when it debuted at No. 2 on the U.K.’s official albums chart.
“Intruder” was recorded between sessions at Numan’s home studio in Los Angeles and at producer Ade Fenton’s studio in Bath, England. It was their fifth studio album together.
A concept album, “Intruder” sees Numan speaking on behalf of Earth about its poor treatment, with climate change and whatnot, and identifying humans as the problem.
“When COVID came along, in a sort of really tragic way, obviously it just fed straight into that,” Numan says. “Maybe COVID is one of these ways that the Earth is fighting back.”
Numan says he’s very excited about “Intruder,” which was released in late May. He planned to tour in support of it, but shows — including one at Crescent Ballroom — have been postponed to 2022 due to concerns with the delta variant of COVID-19. New dates have yet to be determined, but existing tickets will be honored. Refunds will be offered to buyers who can’t attend the new date or its meet and greet.
“It was something really interesting to explore and something I hadn’t really thought about a great deal before,” he says of the album. “It was a really interesting thing to do. The idea wasn’t even mine, though. If I’m truthful, the idea was actually my younger daughter’s (Echo). When she just turned 12, she wrote a poem a few years ago about the Earth speaking to other planets, explaining why it was sad, and how horrible people were and all these terrible things that they would do to it.”
Numan says it was impressive for his “brilliant” young daughter to come up with this theme.
“She was such an important part of the whole idea coming together that when you open it, I put her poem on the sleeve. My other two children sing on it as well. Persia and Raven sing on a handful of the songs on the album.
“It’s very much a family affair,” he says.
Although he and his wife, Gemma, have three daughters who are musical, Numan doesn’t listen to music much.
“It does bother me a little bit,” he says. “I feel like I should be more involved or I should be more aware of what’s going on.
“The children are massive music fans, and they keep me up to date. My wife, Gemma, is a music listener. I don’t think I’ve sat down and listened to an album for pleasure.”
Numan has a theory about this. He spends so much time making music and performing it that when he’s not touring, he wants to get away from it.
“When I listen to music, it’s difficult not to analyst it and try to figure out, for example, how they got that drum sound,” he says.
“If it’s brilliant, you feel envious and you feel inferior. If it isn’t, you feel annoyed because, gosh, they could have done better than me. Music has also changed over the years. When I was younger, listening to music was one of my biggest sources of entertainment and pleasure. I just lost myself for hours every night. I’m living the dream now, so it’s different.”