Gary Numan: “I’m not interested in nostalgia or the ‘80s or anything like that.” (5/4 at Franklin Music Hall w/ Ministry)

“We’re going on before Ministry, so we won’t be doing any ballads.  We’re gonna keep it as hard as we can,” gothic/industrial/dark wave legend Gary Numan (who is far...

“We’re going on before Ministry, so we won’t be doing any ballads.  We’re gonna keep it as hard as we can,” gothic/industrial/dark wave legend Gary Numan (who is far more light-hearted than you’d imagine) tells me during a recent phone chat.  Numan is currently on a tour that has him playing every night in-between headliners Ministry and openers Front Line Assembly, which will be playing Franklin Music Hall this coming Thursday, May 4th.  “I’ve not done a package tour before.  I don’t know if they’ll know much of my stuff,” says the ineffably humble Numan, who has 19 solo albums under his belt.  While all three acts are industrial legends in their own right, Ministry and Front Line Assembly certainly have a tendency to be at least slightly heavier than Numan’s brand of the genre, which he seems to be well aware of: “I’ve been to see Ministry before, and they’re ferocious live.  They’re gonna make me look like a lightweight [laughs].”

“I’m gonna concentrate on things that I like, which is the recent stuff, the heavier stuff.  I’m not interested in nostalgia or the ‘80s or anything like that,” says Numan, who has been making music since the late ‘70s (originally as the frontman of Tubeway Army), who scored a smash hit with The Pleasure Principle, his 1979 solo debut and new wave classic, featuring mega-hit “Cars,” in addition to “Metal” and “Complex.”  But by the early-mid ‘80s Numan had become largely forgotten and ignored outside of the goth/industrial community.  However, over the course of the past decade and three albums [2013’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), 2017’s Savage (Songs from a Broken World), and 2021’s Intruder] Numan’s popularity amongst critics and fans has seen a massive resurgence, for which he tells me he couldn’t be more thankful.

“It’s been amazing.  I try to be cool about it, but it’s been amazing.  To be able to come through that and still love what you’re doing, ‘satisfying’ doesn’t do it justice.  It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed and hoped could happen.  I’m incredibly grateful.”

Gary Numan has been touring Intruder for quite some time now, which included a headlining date last March at Union Transfer (which he also packed in 2017): “We’ve done about 80 or so and, by the end, it will be more than 100.”  However, there was one show that did stand out for the musician to a pretty astonishing degree: “In 1981 I played three nights at Wembley Arena and then my career took a nosedive.  It became an ambition of mine to get back to the point where I was big enough to play there again.  I think at the time I thought it’d take two or three years, and it was 42 [laughs].”  Numan, who is obviously sincerely grateful for any and all of the fandom his music has garnered, admits that he doesn’t think he had that attitude in his early years: “I’ve really learned to appreciate it more.  When I first started, I didn’t realize how amazing of a thing it is to do, to experience all the things that come with being a band and touring.  I didn’t appreciate just how cool it is.”

The US dates behind Intruder — which feature headlining dates on off-nights from Ministry, in addition to a week of headlining dates after the Ministry tour wraps – will conclude with Numan performing at the Cruel World Festival in Pasadena, alongside the likes of fellow legends Siouxsie, Iggy Pop, and Love And Rockets.  However, he’s got much more in the works.  When I ask what his immediate future holds, he tells me, “I’ve got to do jury service in July.  I’m a bit scared about that.  Hopefully it doesn’t go on too long, because I’m playing some shows in Europe in August and I don’t want it to cut into that [laughs].”  He also has a handful of super special dates in the UK this October: “For the first time ever, I’m doing an acoustic tour in October in Britain, just eight dates…  I’ve never considered my music able to do that, but during lockdown we recorded like 13 songs, and I realized the songs can actually work in an unplugged, acoustic manner.”  And there’s even more: “Most of the time this year I’m meant to be making a new album, which I haven’t started [laughs].”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.