The reptilian return of pop android Gary Numan ... like he ever left
The synth-pop, new wave phenomenon talks about new albums, Asperger syndrome, his midlife crisis and why he left Britain
Gary Numan had just turned 21 when he released the album Replicas with Tubeway Army 40 years ago. The image of him on the cover – black shirt and tie, bleached white hair – was striking, but the Essex misfit had limited expectations.
“I didn’t see any songs on there that were capable of being hit singles,” he says. “There are no boxes ticked by Are ‘Friends’ Electric? You can’t dance to it, it has no chorus, it’s too long ...”
It went to number one, with the now black-haired, kohl-eyed, unsmiling Numan a strange apparition on Top of the Pops. The song, drawing inspiration from Philip K Dick’s novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, predated Blade Runner (1982) by three years, and established Numan in the minds of the nation as something approaching an android himself. He would later reveal that he had Asperger syndrome. “I’m not good with emotional things,” he tells me. “I feel things differently.”..