Gary Numan: The Android Film, Depression & Me!
One should never underestimate the power of music!
No matter if it’s hip shaking Elvis, Mop topped Beatles, Jumping Jack Stones, Ziggy Bowie, Telegram Bolan, Highway Dylan, Anarchy Pistols Or Tubeway Numan! In 1979 when THAT sound of electronic synth meeting electric guitars something happened.. That once in a lifetime happening! Sure we had heard something similar before, elements from both sides were on the stereo, on the radio.. But no one had combined the two so gloriously as ‘Are Friends Electric‘ & ‘Cars‘ For the brief years that followed Gary Numan was just as innovative & important as ALL that had preceeded him.. In September 1980 the ‘Replicas‘ tour landed in North Wales… At The Deeside Leisure Centre.. And just as The Clash, Blondie, Kiss, Bob Marley, the Jam and others melted the ice & hearts in this Shotton town, Gary Numan produced a show that even today looms large in my memory & in my heart.. The production alone on that tour was so ahead of it’s time that iv’e yet to see it matched at that level of venue since.. The songs, well just get those early albums and embrace the future from the past.. rarely has ‘Sound & Vision‘ been so in tune!
I followed & loved Gary’s work for years after & when he ‘Returned’ in 2013 with a New Lp called ‘Splinter‘ once again the world tuned in and listened.. They made a film of the whole return called ‘Android in La La Land‘ which was shown on BBc4 & opened a whole box of delights and discussions from fans, lovers and haters… But the one thing it did prove is that music never dies, it lives on in the hearts and souls of the artists and the listeners.. It also brought gary back to the fore of public perception and back to the social landscape.. If you have not seen the film, check it out on your catch up or buy the dvd.. Either way read & understand that making music may be fun, may be a job, may be digital in an analogue world.. but above all.. it’s Human.. Jj 2016 xx
** BTW: Gary Has A New Lp On The Way: Pre-order now & become part of an exciting 12 month creative journey: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/garynuman
The Android film, depression and me.
I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the recent broadcasting of the documentary film Android In LaLaLand. Although I’m the subject of it it’s not my film, it was made by Steve Read and Rob Alexander. If I’m honest, I’ve had some reservations about it for a long time but, credit where credit’s due, people seem to love it, as Steve and Rob have always said they would.
However, it has brought back into focus my experience and battle with depression. The main album featured in the film, Splinter. Songs From A Broken Mind, was written primarily as a tool to help me recover from my period of diagnosed depression.
A good friend of mine wrote to me yesterday, shocked that he had been entirely unaware of my experience, and with a similar story of his own to tell that I, in turn, had also been completely unaware of. Last night, as I lay struggling to sleep as always, this time in a hotel bed in Mexico City (I’m here filming a video with a band called Titan), I decided to write back to him.
But, what started out as a brief email message of support and understanding, became more of a confessional lecture. With so many people, because of the LaLa film, now writing to me about how so much of it mirrors their own lives, fears and all, I thought it might be worth posting that email for everyone to see. Within it, it talks about money and other things because it was originally just a private friend to friend message. I hope you don’t find those comments arrogant or pompous, it’s not meant to be showing off. It is a window though into how depression can get hold and how society, to a degree, has made it a taboo subject to discuss. Thanks to the efforts of some great and caring people and organisations, far more intelligent and eloquent than I, those taboos are slowly breaking down, but I thought I would add my own humble experiences to the discussion nonetheless. So, to begin:
Money plays such a big part in the fear that affects so many people throughout their lives I think. No matter the scale. I now earn far more money compared to a few years ago but, stupidly perhaps, we allow our lifestyle to grow proportionally to that increased income, and so the worry doesn’t go away, the numbers just get bigger. Some lessons are never learned it seems, but some are.
I now manage myself in an attempt to hold on to more of what’s coming in, and it’s helping, but my day to day workload is now phenomenal, and somehow I still need to be highly creative, and a loving husband and doting father. That never ending demand for constant and world class creative output in itself has been a relentless, lifelong pressure. Where everything you do is frequently pulled apart by critics and fans alike in an often brutal, unfeeling, uncaring and entirely dismissive way. Every new record you make is a leap into the dark and yet your entire future, and that of your precious family, rides on it’s success or failure. To just keep coming up with new things that can hold their own against a constant flood of very talented and highly motivated, and younger, new blood is like trying to swim across a never ending ocean. The longer you try, the harder it gets. The sharks are constantly circling and biting, and the end of that toil will only come on the day you give up, because you will never win, you will always drown in the end. Like life itself I guess, you fight for longevity only, never victory. It is ultimately a life long struggle against only one, inevitable outcome. Some days, those difficult bad days, when good ideas are hard to find, that’s a hard truth to bear. But, the good days help 🙂
The ups and downs of relationships, be they marriage, family or friends, can take a heavy toll. The disappointments, the hurt, the frustrations, the regrets, sometimes shocking and devastating, can easily crush the weaker amongst us, especially when added to an already high pressured life. Age itself, and all the worries and grim realisations that inevitably come with that, can hit us in the most unexpected ways and suddenly knock you so far off track you lose sight of everything that had been crystal clear before.
Friends and family begin to die. Lifelong heroes begin to die. People younger than you start to die with increasing and terrifying regularity. The end roars towards you and you become obsessed by the increasing frailty of human life, your own especially. You begin to miss things before they’ve even gone. You worry through the very days you should be making the most of. And then, at some point in all of that, your mind quietly breaks down. So slowly you don’t notice at first, but eventually your behaviour is so erratic, so much more unusual than the ‘unusual’ it’s always been, you suddenly realise that it’s already happened and that you are in deep trouble, you are quietly broken. So late do you realise it, you find out to your horror that the things most important to you in the entire world, family, career, your future, are all hanging on by a thread.
And so you find the cure, and it helps for a while, and things seem to get oh so slowly better. But only then do you discover that without careful supervision the cure can be every bit as dangerous as the disease, and so begins the long process of untangling yourself from the cure. This is a vital, pivotal moment. That decision to move out of that protective bubble, that pill induced seductive cocoon that has been sheltering you from the harsh realities of life, which is by and large what the cure is, is a difficult one. Because you know, only too well, exactly what you are going back to, and it’s very frightening.
Eventually though you find yourself, almost reluctantly, back in the real world. Back into the pressure, the stresses, the fears, the hurt and the pain, everything that broke you in the first place, but you are now, somehow, strengthened against it. Luckily for me, and I think this is perhaps where my experience may differ slightly from others, I’m vaguely autistic, or on the spectrum at least, and so I am able to ‘detach‘, so to speak. To look in from the outside and watch, and learn, before sliding back in again. Most importantly, I can write songs, and so can use that ability as a highly effective form of self analysis, one that enables me to think and process very deeply, and to talk about everything in a most candid and exploratory way, to get it all out, to release it, and that, in my opinion, is what finally brought me out the other end. Not scarred or damaged in any way at all that I’m aware of, just stronger than ever, better able to deal with all the things that broke me before. My last album was called ‘Splinter. Songs From A Broken Mind‘ for a very good reason. But I’m better now, better than before.
Nothing that contributed to my illness has gone away. In fact, it is without a shadow of a doubt, far worse now than it has ever been. But I am now able to cope with it all with an ease that, even someone as resilient as me, couldn’t have imagined before I became ill.
Life, despite everything I’ve mentioned above, is amazing, or should be. Depression takes away our ability to see that, to enjoy life. That dread of having to open the bedroom door and start another pointless day. You can reconnect with that joy of living. It’s not difficult with the right help and supervision. Not difficult at all.
I strongly recommend anyone that even suspects they are suffering from depression to get help. It is, for most people, an entirely fixable condition. You can come out of it stronger than ever and enjoy life more fully than, perhaps, you ever have before. It is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by, it’s simply an illness, and it’s surprisingly common in fact. It’s not weak to have it, not weak to acknowledge it and it’s eminently sensible to do something positive about it. It is an ever growing threat to the well being of millions of people. A result perhaps, at least in part, of the world we now live in. But it is not something you have to live with or suffer forever. It can be cured, quite easily.
Lecture over 🙂 Bye, Gary.