Interview with Steve Read & Rob Alexander Director & Producer of Gary Numan Documentary: Android In La La Land,
Filmed & Directed by Steve Read Produced by Rob Alexander .
Numanme: How did the project start was you approached by Gary or did you approach him?
Rob Alexander: STEVE approached HIM actually!.. Steve...
Steve Read: July 2012, I’d just witnessed an incredible set by Gary and the band at The Hop Farm Festival and was immediately reminded of just how great his classics are AND struck by how good his new songs are, most of which I’d never heard. That and what an am amazing performer he still is.
Weirdly I’d been searching for the right subject for our next film, having just enjoyed a lot of accolades for the first, which was about to air on Channel Four that month and there he was..
Later that night I saw him wandering around arm in arm with Gemma and Ade, well arm in arm with Gemma that is, amongst the crowd. So immediately ran RIGHT AT HIM declaring “That was one of the most amazing sets I’ve ever seen Gary, better than Bob what’s-his-name (Dylan that is, who was headlining the main stage that same night)... Followed by, “I want to make a film about you!”...
I then ran off into the night....
Numanme: Had you heard of Gary Numan before you started filming Android In La La Land?
Steve Read: I was fan in the early on but he’d kind of fallen off my radar for a while, I’d connect with his music sporadically over the years, e.g. at the emergence of Detroit Techno, when I’d revisit my early Numan collection and be reminded of just how unique and influential his music was and indeed, still is.
Rob Alexander: Of course, I’m afraid I’m a little young to have remembered the impact of albums like Replicas and The Pleasure Principle when they first came out (I think I was about 4 at the time) But I’m a huge electronic, dance and hip-hop fan and you can hear his influence everywhere there.
Numanme: If yes what was the first song you heard?
Steve Read: Actually, I saw him perform on TV first before I heard him on record or the radio. My eldest sister (I would have been 9 yrs old), dragged me into the living room by my ear and nailed my face to the screen of our new Phillips colour TV, on it was Gary performing on The Old Grey Whistle Test. She announced in her highest pitch squeal, “This is the future of all music, and I love it!”. That incident has been etched into my mind ever since, I guess this film is my way of getting that image out of my head, destiny perhaps.
Rob Alexander: It would be Cars as it has just always seemed to be there, it’s an incredibly timeless song that never fails to get a fantastic response from crowds of any age when we have been filming. I also have very fond and hazy memories of Dj’s like Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Oakenfold & Dave Clarke driving the crowds crazy in the nightclubs of my youth with Gary’s stuff, sometimes playing 20 year old original material, or brand new remixes, which is incredible.
Numanme: Is there a website for the project?
Rob Alexander: We are available on all social mediums! www.numandroid.com www.facebook.com/numandroidfilm or twitter #numandroidfilm It’s been great to see the fans engaging with the film online, we are constantly posting new images and film clips and answering pretty much live, any new questions that the fans want to ask us. It’s a great way of finding out what we (and Gary) are up to.
We’ve also been offering the fans a chance ‘Ask Gary’, so if you have any questions you’d like to put to the Godfather of electronic music, or just want to stay in the loop, Follow us on twitter or like our fb page.
Numanme: Did you find it difficult to interview Gary as he can be quite shy?
Steve Read: I’ve seen interviews with Gary in the past that certainly supports that, I guess I have a fairly unusual approach with the way I interview people. In that, well it works like this:
1/ I find out if I am interested in them. Well of course I am because I’ve flown out to L.A. or Bulgaria or wherever to talk with them so I must be, so box 1 ticked...
2/ Can get on well with them? in this case yes, seems Gary and I connected fairly quickly (and importantly Gemma trusted me) so yes, box 2 ticked... Then...
3/ I just go ahead and ask everything AND anything that I PERSONALLY want to find out about them. With Gary and Gemma and the girls (luckily for anyone watching), it’s a tonne of great stuff because I find him (and Gemma) fascinating, highly engaging and most of all a fucking great laugh!
It means I’m pretty direct with my questioning and I think they’ve actually enjoyed that approach. Plus, it’s worth pointing out that much of the filming is more of an ‘actuality’ approach, just letting the camera roll whilst their lives play out in front of it, with some prompting here and there from Rob and myself. They’ve given us an incredible amount of access and been very open with us. I really think we’re seeing another side to Gary, one which I’ve not seen on any screen before, yes we know he’s cool and interesting etc but he’s also very funny, warm, candid and highly engaging.
Numanme: What time scale was Android In La La Land recorded over?
Rob Alexander: We are still filming, it’s all somewhat organic at the moment and have no set date to finish, we started just before Gary’s last UK gigs in 2012 and before he left for LA, we imagine we will be shooting until at around the UK Splinter tour, but it’s been that much fun we’d like to keep going if we can, it will depend on how best we end up selling the film later.
Numanme: Who commissioned the film?
Rob Alexander: At the moment, us! We’ve been working on it self financed, which you end up doing a lot on documentaries, especially ones that are time related. We are getting lots of early interest in the project, but you generally have to get it to quite an advance stage before documentaries get picked up, but like we said earlier, follow us on twitter and fb and we will let you know where and when you can watch it.
We can tell you it’s going to be a real treat for Numan fans.
It’s going to be a very special film and we are thrilled that so many people are excited about the clips we have released so far. You will definitely be seeing this film in 2014.
Numanme: What is your favourite Numan song?
Steve Read: If I had to name a classic I’d say Metal or Down In the Park, if I had to name a recent song, then it’s For You. If I had to name an album from any era, I’d say without a doubt Splinter, We’ve been lucky to hear most of it’s tracks and I think it’s his best work
Rob Alexander: A Prayer for the Unborn blew me away the first time I saw and heard it live, and seeing how festival fans, who only might know Gary from the early classics, respond when that synth arpeggio comes in, is a real moment every time. Of course the dark place that the song comes from only adds another layer to the emotions it conjures when you hear it. I’d also like to say that there are two songs from Splinter that I can’t wait to hear live.
Numanme: What was the most fascinating thing you found out about Gary?
Rob Alexander: I’m not sure if it’s fascinating for fans as I’m sure they know it already, but Gary is genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with, it normally takes a long time to create the right sort of bond to be able to make a film like this, for them to be comfortable enough with the camera around, but something clicked right away, I think there will be plenty people will find fascinating when we finish the film.
Numanme: I see from photos on your facebook page you took lots of photos of odd things from Garys house have you a favourite photo?
Rob Alexander: Standing on Gary’s Studio roof in the middle of the night projecting classic images of Gary onto his new house was pretty special, there are plenty of those images on the website and facebook page, I’m sure steve can fill the gaps here, I do remember getting bitten by mosquitoes, a lot.
Loved being on stage with him at The Ritz in Manchester last year on the Dead Moon Falling tour. Again, our level of access, allowed me to get right up close to Gary as he performed to an adoring crowd, I got some amazing footage from that night of Gary and the fans both moving image and stills, all of which are on the facebook page. I’d say the black and white shot of Gary from behind with his arm in the air, is my favourite photograph so far at least.
Numanme: Did the Numan’s make you
Rob Alexander: Very, all around the
project has been a joy really, from filming with the band
backstage to enjoying the girls singing for us, we’ve even
slept in what we like to call Numan Towers, Gary’s new house.
The only time I didn’t feel welcome was when the family’s
rather large dog, Wilbur started running at me at speed, I
won’t pick up a ball in his presence again.
Numanme: how did you find talking
to the fans?
Rob Alexander: It’s been great,
we’ve been filming at the Gigs in London and Manchester and
they have really responded well online to the film, so we spend
quite a bit of time each week answering or asking questions on
facebook, though Steve does have to be restrained from using
some terrible Numan song related puns! We want to get more fan
involvement as the film progresses, which starts at the Brixton
Gig on 8th June.
Steve Read: Yeah, I mean the fans have been brilliant from day
one, really supportive and always keen to be involved, for
which, we’re really grateful. We’ve already interviewed a
number of fans, including a great guy (and a huge fan by all
accounts), Lee ‘Leeski’ Carroll, who sadly passed away only
a week or so after filming. Hopefully he’ll be looking down at
us from somewhere up there and enjoying what we’re
Numanme: what is next for Steve
Read & Rob Alexander?
Rob Alexander: I always have
several projects on the go, I’ve just completed a film that
premieres at the Sheffield Documentary Festival and the East End
Film Festival called The Man Whose Mind Exploded and Steve and I
have a few other projects in development, but the priority is
Android In La La Land at the moment. .