“At the end of the 1970s a nervy young musician topped the music charts...
He quickly became one of the most famous men on the planet...
Three decades of ground-breaking and hugely influential music would follow...
Then six long years of silence...Until now.”
Android In LA LA Land is about the breaking of that silence. It’s shot as a semi-bio and semi-fly on the wall documentary by filmmakers Rob Alexander and Steve Read. It follows Gary Numan as he leaves the safe and leafy suburbs of southern England to transport himself and family to LA LA land.
This is something Numan has always wanted to do at various points in his musical career. A career that has seen him at the very top and also in the depths of musical despair. His dramatic rise to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s saw him conquer the world. Yet his ease with fame and all its trappings was never something he ever really dealt with. His recent diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome explains the problems he faced in an industry that at the time would not have understood his condition or more importantly even cared. The media was always quick to label had him down as a freak. “Is Numan Human?” was one headline, with another paper going as far to say he shouldn’t have even been born.
However we now find him embarking on a new life and plans for making his new studio album Splinter.
This transformation has been made possible in part due to his wife Gemma. She was a lifelong ‘Numanoid’ and even stalked Gary through his early career. She gives a fascinating insight to the life of a dedicated fan and then her own part in beginning the resurgence of his career. At a time when he was suffering from severe depression and facing bankruptcy she convinced him to get back into the studio and back on the stage. This was done via Numan acting almost as a recluse and releasing the works himself as he confirms that during this time he had no record company that would touch him.
However the strength of his fan base allowed him to justify making these albums and helped to form a new-found love for touring and an ever younger, growing number of fans. Now it’s time to get back to what he does best and he realises that the United States is a great opportunity to tap into. He also mentions that he would ideally like to work on movie scores and again LA is a perfect setting for this.
It helps that he is moving to a modern day castle complete with tunnels and secret corridors which his three daughters Raven, Persia and Echo are obviously excited about. That and the new swimming pool. Although not quite able to explain what dad does, they can confirm that he sings but doesn’t go to work like a proper job, he doesn’t work in buildings he just sits at home and sings.
Work on the Splinter album is soon underway in his new home studio. We gain a fascinating insight into his recording methods and how he creates sound to vocals. This is then whisked off to production in London and the album starts to be built. Gary speaks openly about the pressure of building an album and the sounds he hopes to create. The panic in the process and what he started with and what he hoped to achieve changes and evolves over the process.
We then follow the journey through to the mastering of the final album. He reflects that this album feels completely different from anything in the last 30 years. He openly admits to panicking about its reception and confirms that if this doesn’t go well then he simply won’t know what to do. Speaking in very open and candid terms Numan attempts to describe what fame is actually like.
“It’s like watching a speeding train fly past you on a platform, you stick out your hands and you are rushed away…everything’s a blur… at some point you lose your grip and fall off and you find yourself alone, battered and lost …"
The album is a huge success and gives him his highest position in a UK album chart in over 30 years. The following European and North American tours are equally successful and his conquering of his new hometown is captured in a live album released this year Here In The Black : Live At Hollywood Forever Cemetery. His return brings his career to an almost full circle. He is now selling out venues in the UK and a new album is due out next year. This film shows his vulnerability along with his charm. He is very open about his past and the mistakes he made with his family. Now he’s in a place that allows him to simply work on what he wants to do. Settled in the Hollywood hills with his studio and family he is ready for another train to race towards him.
Here In The Black is available from iTunes.