Gary Numan at Fitzgerald's, 3/12/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Gary Numan
March 12, 2014

Though he'll be forever best known for "Cars," his enduringly popular hit recorded all the way back in 1979, Gary Numan has always been a man drawn toward the future, not the past. When most of his early contemporaries are cashing in on the rock-nostalgia circuit -- assuming they're doing anything at all -- Numan is writing and recording some of the best music of his long and influential career. Fresh off the release of last year's acclaimed Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind), the enigmatic Englishman is in the midst of a fresh creative peak, and his fans turned out to Fitzgerald's in force on Wednesday night to bask in the ethereal chill and industrial crunch of the innovator's electronic renaissance.

While Numan's early persona was deliberately cold, remote and mechanical, he proved far from robotic onstage at Fitz. As intense green lights flooded the audience, the singer took the mike dressed in a simple black T-shirt, sporting his traditional eyeliner and Bladerunner haircut. Rather than the emotionless automaton that many remember from his biggest hits, Numan instead played the part of a proper rock and roll front man on Wednesday. As his backing band disappeared into a sea of colored LEDs, Numan slithered and pouted his way through a set well-stocked with material from Splinter and his other 21st-century releases.

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Gary Numan's Life Beyond the "Long Shadow" of "Cars"

While his latest record, the dark and evocative Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) is giving him some of the best reviews of his 35-plus-year career, Gary Numan knows that many people associate him with one song: 1980's synth-heavy Top 10 hit "Cars."

The memorable song, and its equally memorable video, is like an instant time capsule, and is likely to be Numan's defining legacy in song. Which is both a blessing...and a curse.

"The blessing is that it's just gone from strength to strength," Numan writes via email while on a plane from London to L.A. "I don't think I'm being big-headed when I say it's probably one of the best-known songs in the world."

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Gary Numan: the Dark Genius Behind a Broken Mind

BB Gun Press
Gary Numan's own dark days inspired the creation of new album "Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind)."
"There are still people trying to work out what a genius Gary Numan is"
-- Prince

In the U.S., Gary Numan is mostly viewed a one-hit wonder. His 1980 Top 10 hit "Cars" (and its accompanying iconic video) remains a perfect little time capsule of synthy New Wave keyboards and a contagious melody guided along by Numan's robotic vocals.

But in much of the rest of the world, Numan is seen in an entirely different light, as a pioneer of EDM, synthesizer-based and industrial music, and an artist who is forever seeking to expand the technological frontiers of music with a deep discography. He's just released his 20th record and first full length studio effort since 2006, Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) to overwhelmingly positive notice. Combining elements of New Wave, industrial, goth, scuzz-rock and the occasional dreamy ballad, it's a dark work of foreboding and walls-closing-in doom. Not surprising, since it's mainly about Numan's fight with depression, with which he was diagnosed in 2008.

"I went through a fairly rough time and was on medication for three years and didn't write a song for four," he types in an email interview while on a plane from London to his current home in Los Angeles.

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Disney Goes Goth: The Mouse House's Five Spookiest Songs

Categories: Gothtopia

Netflix recently added a ton of older Disney films to its streaming service, so me and the Kid With One F have been making our way through them. While I am enjoying it, I have discovered that many films I loved as a child myself are dark as hell. The Fox and the Hound is absolutely brutal, though I do like the message that if you support a racist agenda, you'll get hit by a train.

Butt that darkness on the edges of Disney movies is certainly to be expected. Have you ever read any of the early versions of some of these fairy tales? Cinderella's sisters mutilate their feet to try to fit into her slipper, and Rapunzel's Prince Charming is thrown out of the tower and blinded by the witch. One of my first questions after seeing Frozen was, "Where's the bit where the devil's magic mirror is permanantly embedded in some kid's eye?"

Maybe that's why it's not all that surprising to see goth bands take on the House of the Mouse. Here are five in particular.

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35 Years of Numbers Memories: Music to Die By

Categories: Gothtopia

Over the last couple of days, we've looked at some Houstonians' best concerts and experiences from Numbers over the course of its 35-year history. Its legacy as a center of the excellent local gothic-music scene, as well as a unique size and scope that attracts an impressive array of touring acts, has continuously ensured Numbers' place as one of Houston's most legendary music venues.

REWIND: 35 Years of Numbers Memories: The Titans of Local Goth
35 Years of Numbers Memories: A Unique Place For Touring Acts

But it's the darker memories associated with Numbers that are the focus of this final cycle.

Probably the most famous death associated with Numbers is that of the late Shannon Hoon, lead singer of Blind Melon. Hoon, who had recently become a father to a little girl named Nico, sought to rehabilitate his drug use and had a drug counselor accompany him on the road. The counselor didn't last long, and was dismissed shortly before Blind Melon played its last show at Numbers on October 20, 1995.

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35 Years of Numbers Memories: A Unique Place For Touring Acts

Categories: Gothtopia

Photo Courtesy of Bruce Kessler/
The Cult at Numbers in April 1986
This week we are celebrating the 35 years of history that surrounds one of Houston's longest-running music venues. Wednesday it was a look at the excellent and vibrant local goth scene that set up shop in the club in the '90s and early '00s. Today we discuss another facet of Numbers that has always helped ensure its survival, its unique size and accessibility to bands.

I'm not sure what Numbers' official capacity is, but it's at least 1,000 people. Considering the large, roomy dance floor, it's rare for a concert to feel overly cramped and claustrophobic, leading to more relaxed audiences. More than that, the Numbers stage is enormous and fully capable of supporting large set-pieces without sacrificing movement for the performers. Basically, you get a stadium-lite feel in a more intimate surrounding that has made the venue the perfect fir for up-and-coming acts as well as special appearances by established artists outside a major venue.

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35 Years of Numbers Memories: The Titans of Local Goth

Categories: Gothtopia

That was a long time ago: Numbers before Numbers, c. 1976-77
The week, Numbers turns an impressive 35 years-old, making it one of the oldest clubs in Houston to stay at the same location. It's an institution; there can be no argument about that. To celebrate, we're bringing you three solid days of memories related to the old girl, who continues to move forward providing Houston with it's one-of-a-kind dance and concert experience.

I'll start.

Despite now being the unofficial journalistic spokesman of the Houston goth scene, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the club. I'd gone as a young, angsty teenager, but teenagers in dance clubs suck even when you are one. It was only as my wife and I were winding up our time as members of a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast and looking for a new place to haunt that she finally convinced me to go spend a few nights at Carmina Bell's Underworld nights.

Honestly, it took a lot of time to find a home there. As the song says, Kompressor does not dance, and I only took up drinking seriously when I started writing because it's like a law. Still, I made friends, most of whom I still have to this day, and all of whom made it a point to paint the night with dark fascination.

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Underworld Gets a Cyber Sister Night at Numbers

Categories: Gothtopia

DJ IEnigma
For a guy that makes his living covering the local music and art scene here in Houston I don't go out much. The wife is in school, and night time is when she studies while I bribe our child into dinner and bed. This last week was a rare night off between semesters, so we decided to check out Cyber Wasteland at Numbers as an excuse to put on some spooky clothes and leave our cave.

According to Carmina Bell, Underworld's majordomo who I ran into at the door, Cyber Wasteland represents an attempt to placate complaints from the city's always divided goth crowd. As far back as I can remember the deathrockers have moaned about all the Wolfsheim and VNV Nation, while the industrial set asked exactly how many times in your life it was necessary to hear The Sisters of Mercy sing "This Corrosion?"

Ironically, I had just come from dinner with Scarlett St. Vitus, one of the extremely pro-deathrock-y founders of the short-lived Bone Church here in Houston (Miss that place, yes I do). She herself has joined the EDM crowd, and lamented over burgers at Hobbit Café that she grew sick of trying to find new traditional goth tunes that would fill a dance floor. In this light, Cyber Wasteland makes sense.

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Top Five Reasons Nine Inch Nails' New Track Sucks

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a massive Nine Inch Nails fan. As an emo teenager, that was my band. Trent Reznor's angsty lyrics might fall short of the standards of an adult seeking intelligent explorations of the human psyche via pop lyrics, but no one seemed to understand my pain better other than Morrissey.

Reznor's resurrected band debuted their latest single, "Everything," earlier this week on BBC Radio One. So it is with great regret and a broken heart that I announce to you that it is the worst thing Nine Inch Nails has ever recorded. It just plain sucks -- no doubt about it -- and here's why.

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True Blood: Imagine Dragons... I Don't Get It

Categories: Gothtopia

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston. Much thanks to, who has offered to help us with tracking down the songs of True Blood post-episode.

So here we are again, friends and neighbors, at the end of a other season of True Blood, and like pretty much every other season. it ends on a "meh" note. I don't really know why this show has just never been able to really pull off a really first-rate season finale.

Part of it is the fact that the show has fielded exactly one good Big Bad in its run in the form of Russell Edginton. Warlow proved himself just another almost one-dimensional villain in the end, and his defeat, while triumphant in that the criminally underused Rutger Hauer made his return, was so unartfully done that it was honestly like watching two people play Mortal Kombat for the first time.

It's not until the end when Warlow lets all his grace fall away that I realize what a truly ham-fisted analogy his arc is for the heartbreak of an abusive relationship. He's pretended to come to her rescue, bargained with her for her hand, and now he starts hitting her and telling her she'll learn to love him. It is literally every single bad marriage I've ever seen in my life but with an Abercrombie and Fitch model with fruit-punch mouth.

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