In 1979, Gary Numan went solo with one of the biggest New Wave hits of all time, Cars. Released in 1979, on his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle, the song topped charts around the world when it was first released and, in his British homeland, saw him return to the Top 20 for three decades running.
As well as being massively successful, Cars was massively influential; ushering in an entirely new electronic synth-pop sound that would more or less define the impending decade and beyond. One artist who makes no secret of Numan’s influence is Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, who has often paid homage to his pioneering forefather and even covered Numan’s own song Metal on NIN’s 2000 remix album.
In 2009, Nine Inch Nails invited Gary Numan on stage in front of a sell-out London crowd to perform his signature song, Cars live. NIN deliver an entirely faithful rendition of the track at industrial level heaviness, paying homage to one of their biggest influences; while Numan’s own admiration is palpable as fronts the band in Reznor’s place. Watch below!
NIN & Gary Numan | ‘Cars’
In this interview with Electronic Beats, Numan reflected on his relationship with Trent Reznor, saying: “When I first saw the now-famous Nine Inch Nails show at Woodstock on television in 1994, I understood immediately that Trent Reznor had a similar approach to performance as I did.”
“The image is, of course, well known: Trent Reznor standing on stage, covered from head to toe in mud. But the gig it’s taken from manages to surpass even that. It was such an aggressive and powerful performance; perhaps the greatest performance I have ever seen.”
He continued: “When I heard Nine Inch Nails in 1994, it was as if they were realizing the potential of whatever tiny ideas I originally had, except Reznor seemed to take these ideas so much further, sculpting them into a huge, professional sounding onslaught. This was the grown-up version to my naive experimentalism. Years later, a friend of mine named Alan Moulder, who was a producer of many of the big Nine Inch Nails albums, told me that when they were working on The Downward Spiral, Trent was listening to my 1980 album Telekon every morning on the way to the studio. I was blown away.”
“Then, in 2009, Trent invited me onstage with them in London when they were doing their last British show as Nine Inch Nails. When he introduced me, he talked about how he listened to The Pleasure Principle at the very beginning of the band’s genesis when he was trying to shape their sound. To find out that you’ve had a meaningful influence on a band that you’ve admired so much for such a long time—that’s an amazing experience that you can’t replicate.”
Gary Numan | ‘Intruder’
Earlier this year, Gary Numan released his 18th studio album, Intruder – check it out here. Speaking on the theme of the album, Numan explained: “Intruder looks at climate change from the planet’s point of view. If Earth could speak, and feel things the way we do, what would it say? How would it feel? the songs, for the most part, attempt to be that voice.”
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