But are 'friends' electric?
Only mine's broke down,
And now I've no-one to love.
Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), known professionally as Gary Numan is one of the founding fathers of Synth-Pop, best known, at least in the U.S., for his song "Cars".
He began his career under the band moniker Tubeway Army, their early Punk Rock singles recorded with the sole intent of becoming famous. He discovered a Moog synthesizer in the studio, and he was so impressed by the sound that he incorporated synths into his music with their first Self-Titled Album, slowly transitioning his style to that with which he did become famous. Their second album, Replicas, broke them into the mainstream in the U.K., aided by Gary's striking Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego; "Are Friends Electric" was one of the first Synth-Pop singles on Top of the Pops, pissing off some other synth-based bands that were well established before him. He dropped the Tubeway Army for his third album, The Pleasure Principle, which gave his sole U.S. hit "Cars".
Following his fourth album, Telekon, Gary began incorporating Jazz and accessible pop sounds into his albums, and his chart success waned. He hit his personal nadir with 1992's Machine and Soul, after which he dropped the feeble attempts at chart success and transitioned to an Industrial Metal sound with Sacrifice, which persists to this day.
As Tubeway Army
- 1978 - Tubeway Army
- 1979 - Replicas
As Gary Numan
- 1979 - The Pleasure Principle
- 1980 - Telekon
- 1981 - Dance
- 1982 - I, Assassin
- 1983 - Warriors
- 1984 - Berserker
- 1985 - The Fury
- 1986 - Strange Charm
- 1988 - Metal Rhythm
- 1991 - Outland
- 1992 - Machine and Soul
- 1994 - Sacrifice
- 1997 - Exile
- 2000 - Pure
- 2006 - Jagged
- 2011 - Dead Son Rising
- 2013 - Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)
- 2017 - Savage (Songs from a Broken World)
"It's the only way to live in tropes":
- The Cameo: In The Mighty Boosh
- Car Song: Well, duh. It's his most famous song.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Got pegged as one early in his career for being perceived as standoffish and arrogant. He was later diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
- Darker and Edgier: His career went through peaks and valleys of darkness. His original albums (especially Replicas) were dark before he went for much Lighter and Softer pop to try and court the market. After that failed he went darker again in the 90's with Nine Inch Nails-inspired Industrial and has been that way ever since.
- Dream Team:
- Epic Rocking: Berserker, The Fury, Machine + Soul, Sacrifice and Exile were released in two forms: one with the original song lengths and one with extended mixes of pretty much every song. Several of these added up to 30 minutes to the run time of the record. Reissues of these albums put out in 1999 would contain the original songs, with only a couple of the extended mixes as bonus tracks.
- I, Noun: I, Assassin
- I Am the Band: Tubeway Army was Numan's vehicle well before he started to appear under his own name instead.
- "I Am" Song: "I'm An Agent", as well as "I Am Dust".
- Industrial Metal: A noticeable influence in his later works.
- New Sound Album:
- Averted slightly, While his albums after Telekon were different from his original sound, they used the same 'style' of instrumentation and were all made by ex-Tubeway Army members of his backing band.
- Replicas moved Numan away from post-punk and into New Wave territory.
- The Pleasure Principle removed guitars briefly from his work, but remains a powerful example of Synthpop.
- Dance is an art rock album inspired by Japan and its lead singer, David Sylvian. The album is loaded with minimalist arrangements, jazz inflections, fretless bass lead lines and many guest performers.
- Berserker is Numan's first jump into sampler-heavy synthpop that screams "EIGHTIES" to the average listener. Though previous albums I, Assassin and Warriors incorporated female backup singers and saxophone solos, this one kicked off the run from 1984-1992 where Numan was really trying to Win Back the Crowd by being a full-fledged pop artist. Later albums of this period were highly influenced by Prince and the production team of Jam & Lewis (famous for producing all of Janet Jackson's work.)
- Sacrifice is a sharp turn into industrial rock, with Numan dropping all pretenses of being a pop star again and returning to brooding synthpop.
- New Wave: A pioneer of the genre.
- Non-Indicative Name: Dance is likely his least danceable album.
- Post-Punk: Tubeway Army through Replicas, which still prominently featured guitar but incorporated the synths and robotic rhythms that he would become known for when moving to full Synth Pop.
- Punk Rock: His early singles. "Bombers" managed to stay in his oeuvre past the 70s while the rest faded into obscurity.
- Religion Rant Song: "Prayer for the Unborn" off of Pure.So, I prayed
But you weren't listening
- Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pulled a real one in 2012, moving to California after having lived in Essex his whole life. Mostly inspired by widespread riots in 2011.
- The name and iconic album cover for The Pleasure Principle, as well as the picture above, are based on the painting of the same name by René Magritte.
- Berserker is named after the book series by Fred Saberhagen.
- "I am Render" from Warriors is based on the sci-fi novel The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny, while the album's cover art is inspired by Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.
- Take That, Critics!: "I Die, You Die" off of Telekon. The lyrics were aimed at what Numan saw as an increasingly vitriolic music press.They crawl out
Of their holes for me
And I die, you die
Hear them laugh
Watch them turn on me
And I die, you die
See my scars
They call me such things
Tear me, tear me, tear me