THE CHURCH OF GARY NUMAN:
A DARK CELEBRATION
History Behind The Tribute:
The Exile Tour in England and the North American Tour
The Church Of Gary Numan: A Dark Celebration is a tribute to Gary Numan and his music. It is a celebration of his art and lyrics, his music and styles. It is a gift given by a fan back to a man who has motivated, energized and uplifted generations of listeners. This tribute pays homage to the most important figure in modern electronic music – Gary Numan. It is also a tribute to his fans all around the world who share at least one thing in common… a love of his music.
The tribute project began in August of 1999 by me, James Collins. I had always wanted to record a tribute but really never thought that it would come about until one weekend in 1997, when my wife and I flew to London to see Gary's last show of the Exile tour at Shepherd's Bush Empire. The show was breathtaking and dream-like. Blue lights and fog filled the concert hall. English fans were dressed as the many characters that Gary played throughout his career. The trip was definitely worth it.
That night, Anabel and I met Gemma and Ade Orange, but could not get to Gary himself. This was the last show in England before the start of another leg of the tour in Europe. There was no time for Gary to come out after the show to talk to and meet his fans. He had interviews and business to take care of before they moved on. It was quite understandable and all was not lost. Gemma was warm and friendly to both of us that night. She chatted with us for a lengthy period of time. She was amazed that we had traveled all the way to England from The States just to see Gary in concert. Ade was extremely friendly as well, and had a great sense of humor. He left an impression on us both that he was as a really cool, laid-back guy who enjoys what he does for a living.
Over a year and a half had passed and news that Gary was touring North America hit the Internet. The buzz was on and thousands of his fans from the United States and Canada were terribly excited about his arrival on North American soil after 16 years! Many Numanoids started to keep in touch with each other on a regular basis concerning the tour dates and places. A group of fans met at Starbucks across the street from The Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia the night of Gary's first show. The energy was high and many of the fans were anxious to see Gary for the very first time ever.
The show that night… words are not enough to explain the feelings or the emotions that were felt that night. Any fan in the U.S. knows what this means. Eyes were wide open. Jaws were dropped. Hands raised into the darkness of the concert hall to honor this man. People yelled to him, they screamed and subsequently lost their voices that night. But it was a good thing.
That night, me, Anabel and a handful of hard core Numan fans heard that Gary would be arriving at the Best Western Hotel at around 3AM. So, we waited. Some of us had rehearsed what we would say to him. Me in particular. The drive from Poland, Ohio to Philly wasn't all that bad due to the CD player pumping out Numan music and the rehearsing of what I would say or ask when I finally met Gary in person. Anabel was very patient and played along.
Everyone at the hotel met Gary that night. Hearts sunk and pulses raced as he stepped out of the tour bus with the band and his wife, Gemma. The fans welcomed him back to America and told him how great the show was that night. Gary responded with a questioned grimace on his face: You really think so? He was indeed humble about the entire affair. I approached him ready to welcome him and let the questions pour out but at the last moment I froze, became speechless and simply gave him a little hug! To this day, I wonder what Gary had thought of that!
The following night in New York was incredible. Many of the same faces were there. The crowd was somewhat different that night. They were a bit more surreal. The night had felt like a moment that was captured for all time as in a painting. It is hard to describe. Gary was gracious after the show and met and chatted with his loyal fans. Pictures were snapped. Many people went home very, very happy that night.
Anabel and I then rearranged our schedules again to get to the Pittsburgh show. This one wasn't too bad, because it was only 45 minutes from our home. It was in Pittsburgh that I had finally calmed down enough to act somewhat normal around Gary, Gemma and the band. I met up with Gary and company after the show and really talked and asked questions that made sense. I was on earth again. Gemma was very colorful that night. The band was very pleasant and even playful after the show and they all stopped to take pictures with everyone on the sidewalk outside the club. Gary walked away to get a burger at McDonalds. We should have stopped him!
The final night for Anabel and I to experience Gary live was in Cleveland, Ohio in the Flats. By now, I had become a spectator. I could sit back and enjoy the concert without becoming so terribly psyched up and emotional. The show went over incredibly well and Gary once again came outside to meet the fans who were in a line 100 people long! Everyone waited to get their moment with him. People snapped photos, talked and asked questions. Gemma and the band jumped into several photos. This is where Anabel and I said goodbye to Gary, Gemma and the band. It was sad to a point, but very gratifying. Driving home that night was draining and all slept very well.
I had become very serious about creating a tribute to Gary, especially now after the tour and meeting him. It was only a matter of time before the project would gain some substance and take off. Getting started was the most difficult part, because I wanted to take 10 to 12 of the most significant Numan songs and reinterpret them in my own way. Where to begin? I toiled over which songs to cover. I finally settled on at least 3 songs in the beginning and then went from there. The songs that I covered first were Cars, Down In The Park, You Are In My Vision. I had always loved Cars and wanted to do a couple versions of it. I ended up doing a rock version of it and a jazz instrumental.
I found that I had to pay homage to Cars because I have always and still feel that it is the epitome of an electronic pop song. I loved it so much I did 2 versions. Down In The Park and You Are In My Vision from Replicas were a must! These songs and the entire album still makes me feel the way it did when I was 14 years old. It is such a great sci-fi album. One of Gary's best. I wanted to stay true to the original DITP and make it a bit harder, darker, atmospheric and lay a sci-fi, droning vocal line or two to it. YAIMV turned out to be rather poppy and guitar oriented. There is also some play on the vocal lines throughout the song.
At first, I worked at home in my small studio. I recorded keyboards on a Tascam Digital Mini Disc 4-Track. I then experimented with guitar work and vocals. I could not get the sound that I needed and asked a student of mine if he knew of anyone in the recording business who I could trust. He gave me the name of Josh Roman at Mind Rocket Studio in Sharon, PA. I hooked up with Josh and we had a great chemistry right off. I began to work with Josh in his studio every week starting in September, 1999.
After I recorded 2 version of Cars, Down In The Park and You Are In My Vision, I worked on Stories from Dance. This was always one of my favorite albums and I felt pushed to do something from it. Stories was a great song to reinterpret and record. It has a nice feel to it and is a bit poppy but serious.
The next song that I approached was A Question Of Faith from Sacrifice. I love the song and the entire album. Gary really went back to the basics on this one and reached into his dark side, which I had always loved about him. This was the song for me. I wanted to do it a bit different, with a driving techno beat, but with a dark and heavy gothic-industrial finish. That is how it turned out.
Joe The Waiter from 1st Album was the next Gary Numan classic that I felt I just had to do. I have played this song on my acoustic guitar for 20 years! Whether my family or friends wanted to hear it was not the issue… I played it anyway. Over and over again. I also played this one out live with one of my bands Punching Lucy. Joe The Waiter is a fun live song. I changed quite a bit of the song around. I added a new bass line and rearranged the guitar chords and where they are played. The vocal line is also different than the original.
I looked through my enormous Numan collection and tried to decide which song will be next. Something from Exile is in order! Which song would it be? Dominion Day without a single doubt! A originally wanted to record it very dark and gothic, but I took a phone call one day while I was in the studio. It was my friend and former band mate Rick Franklin. I played it for him over the phone and he said trash it! Play it with your acoustic guitar only and see how it sounds. I did. Needless to say, this is the way it appears on the CD. I wanted to really sing this one with my guts. Just me and the acoustic guitar.
The Fury has always been one of those Numan albums that you either love or hate (according to many Numan fans). I happen to be one who loves it. I really like what Gary did on the entire album. It is very stark and technical. Funky and filled with filth, lies and skin issues. That's good enough for me! I Still Remember is a sad song. It is filled with pain and suffering. It is about loss. I can relate to that. I wanted to sing it depressed and in a mood that would come across to the listener as a guy who is hurt and in need of comfort. I also needed a depressing Numan song for the tribute, so this was it.
I then turned to Telekon. This, to me, has always been the groundbreaker record concerning dark electronic music. It is very moody and psychotic at times and had remnants of sci-fi themes from Replicas. Regardless, this was and still is on of my top 3 favorite Numan albums. I struggled to decide which song I would cover, and then decided to do I Dream Of Wires. This song has such great atmosphere and climax qualities. I had to cover it. I was drawn to it.
As most fans would agree (in my age range, anyway) Pleasure Principle was a ground-breaking album. It was the weirdest, most wonderful album of that year. It changed my life. Even though I had already created 2 version of Cars, I wanted to do just 1 more song from that album! Metal was the song I had to go with. What a song. I wanted to try to stay true to form with this one. But, I also wanted to really rock it out and get a little attitudinal. Metal was fun to do in the studio.
I was now approaching my 12th song and I came to a stale mate. I didn't know which would be the last song on the CD. This was a very tough decision to make, because this would be it… the final cut. I searched through the pile of records and CDs, looking for that last song. I came across a vinyl copy of Warriors. This seems to be one of those forgotten Numan releases and though to myself – I should do a song from Warriors. After all, I have always liked the album. Love Is Like Clocklaw is another sad song that I felt I just had to record. I love the original and I thought that I could make it slow, sad and work in a lot of guitars on top of synthesizers and bass guitar.
This project has been a gratifying experience for me as a musician, artist and as a person. I have always dreamed of one day creating and recording a whole CD of Numan covers done my own way. I have worked very hard and have let a lot of things in my life take a second seat to the tribute. But, I don't regret a thing. As a matter of fact, I am glad that I worked all the way through to the end of this CD.
I play all instruments on the CD, sing each song and have written the reinterpreted music for each piece. I have produced and mixed the CD along with Josh Roman. Rick Franklin helped throughout most of the project. The cover art consists of original photographs that I have taken along the way.
The CD and a documentary film will go on sale next month, if all goes well. If not, hopefully the following month. Fans who are interested in a copy can E-mail me their name, address, etc.
I am proud to release The Church Of Gary Numan: A Dark Celebration and I hope that Gary's fans will enjoy the music that I have put