THE SPILL MAGAZINE ARTIST PORTRAIT:
About 2017’s Savage (Songs From A Broken World)
Coming almost four years after his album Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) earned the best reviews of his career and his highest chart-placing in 20 years, the iconic and highly influential Gary Numan released his 22nd album Savage (Songs From A Broken World) on September 15. The announcement comes shortly after the British electro pioneer was awarded the Inspiration Award for songwriting and composition at the Ivor Novellos.
Savage (Songs From A Broken World) is an album with a narrative set in an apocalyptic, post-global warming Earth in the not-too-distant future. There is no technology left and most of the planet has turned to a desolate desert wasteland. Food is scarce, water even more so, and human kindness and decency are just a dim and distant memory. Western and Eastern cultures have merged, more because of the need to simply survive than any feelings of greater tolerance or understanding. It’s a harsh, savage environment, as are the survivors who still roam across it.
While Numan was writing the record, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. It made sense to make him and his climate decisions the catalyst for the apocalypse theme of the album.
“The songs are about the things that people do in such a harsh and terrifying environment,” explains Numan. “It’s about a desperate need to survive and they do awful things in order to do so, and some are haunted by what they’ve done. That desire to be forgiven, along with some discovered remnants of an old religious book, ultimately encourages religion to resurface, and it really goes downhill from there.”
The album was produced by long-term collaborator Ade Fenton, with recording sessions split between Numan’s own studio in LA, and in the UK. Numan and Fenton’s creative connection goes back to 2006’s Jagged. “Ade is not only extremely creative but ridiculously hard working, even in difficult circumstances,” says Numan. “It’s easy to discuss alternative ideas with him; he’s not precious about things and is always looking to make the music better, even if that means, on very rare occasions, undoing his own work and starting again.”
As the project took shape, Numan also set up a Pledge Music campaign to create an experience for fans that would let them see how an album is put together, from the first note to the finished shrink-wrapped package. It was a strategy that brought Numan closer to his fans, and allowed him to communicate the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making a record.
The album was previewed with its first single “My Name Is Ruin,” a menacing industrial march in which the unrelenting mechanized intensity is countered by the humanity of its sweet, swirling backing vocals that exude a palpable Egyptian influence. It’s immediately captivating but brutally uncompromising: the sound of an artist eager to continue to push both himself and his audience almost four decades after presenting his initial sonic prototype.
The video for the track was directed by visual artist and musician Chris Corner of IAMX. Filmed in the desolate deserts of Southern California, it features a special guest in the shape of Numan’s11-year-old daughter Persia, who also contributes vocals to the track. With the foreboding setting and temperatures reaching 118ºF during the shoot, the stunning location was the perfect backdrop for an album that examines a world struggling for survival after the devastation of global warming.
Savage (Songs From A Broken World) is available on CD, deluxe CD, double vinyl, cassette, digital and MFiT formats via BMG. “My Name Is Ruin” is available for download and streaming as well, and is available as an instant download with the full album iTunes order. CLICK HERE for all download, streaming, and order options.