Sunday, February 4, 2018

Pheaturing Gary Numan

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday... not just any Sunday... it's Super Bowl Sunday. I'm an Eagles fan for one day. I have to say I can't believe it's February... January 2018 was somehow the longest month that has ever existed in the history of THE WORLD. If you don't believe me, ask your nearest scientist or historian, and then proceed to alter their answer into "yes." But seriously, 2018 is already shaping up to be a weird and disorienting year (which feels expected at this point), which is why it's crucial to keep a solid sense of humor in tow.
The NFL has rejected an ad for their Super Bowl program and confirmed that, despite weeks of actual football taking center stage in football headlines, the kneeling controversy will never fade away. The NFL would reportedly not allow a veterans organization called AMVETS to take out a full-page ad in their printed Super Bowl program that asks the audience to #PleaseStand, saying the "game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and Super Bowl." "It's never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement," continued NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy in a statement. American Veterans leader Marion Polk responded in an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The message in question makes up in simplicity what it lacks in subtlety. The protests began last year when Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest mistreatment of black Americans, particularly by police. You might remember the issue escalating this year when President Donald Trump asked the crowd at his rally, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.'" The issue of national anthem protests then blew up, with players across the league kneeling in solidarity, Trump responding to the protests, and everyone getting really angry and upset. Hard to keep politics out of football. "American Veterans appreciated the opportunity to place an ad in the Super Bowl LII program at the invitation of the National Football League," wrote AMVETS leader Marion Polk in response to the NFL's decision, "but that appreciation quickly gave way to deep disappointment when we learned your staff had refused to publish our ad because of its simple, two-word message." According to the "L.A. Times," the NFL in turn claimed they tried to work with AMVETS to create a league-approved advertisement for the program. "We looked to work with the organization and asked it to consider other options such as 'Please honor our Veterans,'" said McCarthy. "They chose not to and we asked it to consider using 'Please Stand for Our Veterans.' Production was delayed as we awaited an answer." Meanwhile, the Veterans of Foreign Wars managed to get their "We Stand for Veterans" ad approved by the NFL. "Freedom of speech works both ways," Polk concluded in his open letter. "We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have found... and in many cases died... for. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale." Just as football has managed to make headlines unrelated to protest and social justice in favor of headlines about Tom Brady and referee injustice, the issue of kneeling comes roaring back. What if players kneel during the Super Bowl anthem? What if Brady kneels to run out the clock at the end of a possession? At this point, even that would probably cause a firestorm.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is getting dragged by people who think that he kissed his son on the lips for too long. Yes, for real. Brady has a Facebook docuseries called "Tom vs. Time." In the third episode, according to Perez Hilton, Brady asks for a kiss from his oldest son, John (a.k.a. Jack). Apparently his son gave him a quick peck, and when Brady asked for a longer one, the kid delivered.  People thought the length of the kiss was "weird." This isn't strange behavior for Brady, he's a kiss-on-the-lips kind of guy. He kissed his father on the lips after winning the Super Bowl, and people generally freaked out about that, too. This is just how some people express their affection, and there's no need for shaming. It's his family, for Pete's sake! Said that I don't like him, or his team, and I hope they lose today.
The much beloved pop icon and former NSync member who gifted us with the solo hits as "Sexy Back," and "Rock Your Body" will be headlining the Super Bowl 52 halftime show on tonight, but that doesn't mean he supports everything about the NFL. During a press briefing on Thursday, Justin Timberlake answered honestly when reporters asked if he'd allow his 2-year-old son Silas to play football. "He will never play football," Timberlake jokingly answered when asked. Although he didn't dig deep into the reasoning behind that answer, Timberlake went on to elude that yes, he would support his son's interest no matter what. However, football doesn't seem to be anywhere near the top of the list. "If he wants to get into the arts or sports, yeah, I would fully support that. I think I can hopefully offer him some advice on what to do and what not to do," Timberlake went on to clarify. Recent years have shed more light on the concussion rates and risks of CTE imposed on football players. In fact, a study in 2017 revealed that 99 percent of former NFL players who donated their brains to research suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. However, regardless of the validity of Timberlake's concern for his son, expressing it during a Super Bowl pressing likely didn't please the NFL.
Anyone familiar with Twitter knows that retweeting a message out of anger can easily backlash. Such is the case for Piers Morgan, who angrily tweeted a picture of himself eating Trump's ass, only to commit the ultimate self-own. The illustration in question was originally posted on Thursday night by the BBC2 satirical show "The Mash Report," as a playful critique of the brown-nosing present in Morgan's recent interview with Trump. Unsurprisingly, Morgan was none so pleased with both the critique of his interviewing skills and the graphic illustration.

However, his insistence on tweeting the illustration was a great way to unintentionally play himself. Because of his retweet, even more people have set their eyes on the disturbing but blessed illustration. In "The Mash Report" segment, the comedian Rachael Parris critiqued the staging of Morgan's interview with Trump. She concluded that Morgan's optics appeared similar to anilingus when compared to other typical political interviews. "Can you see the different style of interrogation there?” Parris teased, inferring that Morgan went far too easy on the commander-in-chief. Morgan coped by tweeting about the image not just once, but three times total. You mad, bro?! Twitter ate up the image even more avidly than Morgan ate Trump's booty. Happy Sunday, everyone!
If you have a mom, you'll want to call her immediately after reading this story. "The Bachelor" contestant Bekah Martinez was reported missing by her mother after not returning her calls for six days. According to the "North Coast Journal," Martinez was reported missing by her mother on November 18th, who hadn't heard from her daughter since November 12th when she reportedly "went to Humboldt County to work on a marijuana farm." However, the missing dates perfectly aligned with "The Bachelor" shooting schedule. This makes perfect sense, considering contestants go without cell phones or social media during the course of the show. When "The North Coast Journal" ran a story about 35 people missing from Humboldt County, a fan of "The Bachelor" recognized Martinez from the line-up. After the fan wrote into the newspaper, a public information officer from The Humboldt County sheriff's office was able to confirm that Martinez was in fact competing on the bachelor. Of course, none of this would have occurred if Martinez' mom was a diehard fan of watching "The Bachelor." Martinez has since been removed from the missing person's list, but I still have some questions about the pot farm. The jury is still out on whether she was actually planning to work on the weed farm after her television stint. I wonder what this Bekah Martinez looks like. Let's see...

Okay, she's cute.
Ever run into a celebrity and what you're wearing is a crazy coincidence? It happened to this guy...

That's funny. I do not like Bill Nye, and this might be one of the reasons why...

That's not very nice, Bill. I'll tell you my Bill Nye story some other time. Did you ever notice things are getting smaller and smaller nowadays? Check this out...

That'll be the smallest pot of tea ever. If you're thinking of cheating on your loved one you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

I can't really read it but I bet it's not nice. Some people have such bad luck... but not as bad as what happened to the person as this happened too...

Actually I don't really see what that is. I don't get it. If I had a TARDIS I would go back to the Super Bowl when the Giants beat the Patriots.

So, a lot people think Facebook has only been around for the last ten years or so, but it has been around a lot longer. This ad proves it...

Valentine's Day is ten days away and back in the day there were come really creepy cards you can give someone. I showed a few last year, I thought I'll show a few more this year...

That looks like me a bit when I was a kid. So, I love pie graphs and I was wondering something, so I put it into a pie graph...

Haha. So, my son and I were talking the other day about when we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. I'm glad he's not little now because that show sure has changed. So, once again here's the pheature called...

Strung out on synthetic marijuana, Telly attacked Elmo and started eating him alive.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, do you guys like Megan Kelly? Well, you might like this pheature...

NBC has offered the job of anchoring February's Winter Olympics opening ceremony to Katie Couric, which, according to Page Six, led to Megyn Kelly throwing "an Olympic fit." When she signed her $23 million per year contract with NBC, Kelly apparently demanded that she not be forced to do "special events" like the winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But prior to his departure in November, Matt Lauer had usually handled coverage of special events, so Kelly figured that she was next in line to get his assignments, on principle. That was clearly not the case, since the gig went instead to former "Today" co-host, Katie Couric. That allegedly made Kelly angry, enough so that she "complained to her staff, she complained to her agent, so that [NBC News chairman Andrew Lack] would hear about the fact that she was unhappy, but he didn’t care," the source told Page Six. The insider also said that Lack has come to realize that Kelly is "a diva" and that "she's not going to be part of the NBC News... inner circle.” However, an insider at NBC News told Page Six that there's "zero truth" to that rumor. He or she added that the whole idea of Kelly being upset about not hosting the opening ceremony is "laughable since [the opening ceremony is] the least desirable gig in broadcasting." The insider also said that Lack never called Kelly a "diva," and that "no one at NBC has ever heard him use the word 'diva' about anyone." Innnnnteresting.

Ha! So, President Trump falsely said his State of the Union address was the most watched ever. Guess whose really was?

On Thursday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to thank the American people for making his State of the Union address the most watched in history. Only one problem: it wasn't.

Although the numbers in Trump's tweet is accurate, the claim that his speech brought in the "highest number in history" is just a total lie. Even more embarrassing? He wasn't even close to the top spot. According to "Time," three former presidents... Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton... all got higher ratings from their first State of the Union than Trump did: 48 million watched Obama's State of the Union in 2010; 51.7 million tuned in for Bush in 2002; and Bill Clinton narrowly beat Trump by having 45.8 million people tune in for his address in 1994. At this time time President Trump has yet to issue a correction to his inaccurate tweet. Oy, this is going to be the Inauguration Day crowd controversy all over again, isn't it? Does anyone know where Sean Spicer is?

Oh. Right.

The 74th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

David will be the guest on the Phile tomorrow. And now for some Super Bowl...

Phact 1. A North Carolina man owns the only known recording of Super Bowl I, as CBS and NBC didn’t save it. The NFL countered his $1 million offer for the taping with $30,000, then later refused to buy it at all, yet warned him he’ll face legal action if he sells it to anyone else.

Phact 2. The Super Bowl has required national anthem vocals to be pre-recorded since 1993 when Garth Brooks declined to pre-record and then refused to sing live until a dispute over debuting a music video during the game could be settled, resulting in a delayed kickoff.

Phact 3. The Junípero Serra High School JV football team recorded a historically bad season in which they failed to win a game or even score a touchdown yet they never attempted to start their backup quarterback. That backup quarterback they refused to start is 5 times Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady.

Phact 4. In 2014, during the Super Bowl and Puppy Bowl, Nat Geo Wild showed the Fish Bowl, a 4-hour clip of a goldfish swimming in a bowl.

Phact 5. Because the NFL owns and enforces the trademark for the term “Super Bowl,” almost all ads and commercial uses will instead reference “The Big Game” or something similar. Colbert even used “The Supurb Owl” in 2014.

Today's pheatured guest is an English singer, songwriter, composer, musician and record producer whose latest album "Savage (Songs from a Broken World)" is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Please welcome to the Phile the one and only... Gary Numan.

Me: Hey, Gary, welcome to the Phile. It's great to have you here. How are you?

Gary: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

Me: I was surprised to find out you have a new album, Gary. Is this your first record in awhile?

Gary: No, this is a follow up to my album "Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind)," which did well for me and received rave reviews. I got into the charts again which is something that hasn't happened in a very long time so when something like that happened I spent five minutes going, "Yippee, that's great." Then I spent the next three years thinking, "Now I have to do it again." It's all very good having something that does well. It wraps up the pressure of the next one so I have been pretty stressed about this new one to be honest.

Me: Okay, so, how did you decide to make this the sequel album? Was it hard to do?

Gary: No, it wasn't that long ago I did the other one so musically I was in a similar place. I worked with producer Ade Fenton again so there is a definitely thread to it. That's really why I gave to the same kind of sub-title. I felt like it was the extension of the one before but lyrically of course it's an all different album altogether. "Splinter" was all personal with all the stuff going on with me, this one is not at all really. Well, there is a song called "Bed of Thorns" which is about the pressure of trying to write "Savage" after "Splinter." That's the first song I wrote for this so it got off to a good start with that one. Ha ha.

Me: I have to ask you about the first single from the album... "My Name is Ruin." I thought your name was Gary. Hahaha. That album has a kinda middle eastern sounding section in it, which was surprising in a way. Was that what you were going for?

Gary: I've always been interested in Arabian, middle eastern music for a long time and this song has the tiniest pinch of salt and pepper flavouring to it. I always intended to do an album that was very much that way. I never really done to, and I certainly never did it with "Savage." There was a little bit with "Splinter," so there has been little things of it that I have done in the past but not a lot. With this one I tried to do it a little bit, but it's a long way from a full-blown eastern influence album. That coincides with the vibe of it, what it's all about... the future desert like apocalypse. Even my tattoos are all Arabian so I have always been into the whole thing really.

Me: The album has a story, right? You kinda just mentioned it, but what is the story behind the album, Gary?

Gary: The story behind the album is cultures have essentially merged... there is no east and west anymore mostly because what happened: this post global warming apocalypse. People were far too busy just surviving than worrying what language you speak or whatever. In the world, what book it comes from, the ongoing, which will hopefully become a book, English has become the language but the writing has become a little more eastern. The book's not finished so all I've been doing is stealing half finished ideas, lifting them across to the album, and trying to make a musical version of what the book is going to be. It's not actually finished, but it's getting there. When Trump came along and did his Paris accord thing, pulling out of that, that gave me a focus on the story which I really hadn't had before. I haven't really decided why the world was going to be the way it was, I thought I'd figured that out later but Trump came along and I thought that makes sense. He'd be the trigger. Someone that's awfully powerful but makes an extremely stupid decision just at a key moment the whole world just topples into the abyss and it all made sense. It made the story makes sense and helped pull the album together. For the world it's a terrible thing but for me it was really useful. Ha ha ha.

Me: How long have you been working on this whole project, Gary?

Gary: I've been working on it for years which is embarrassing. You see, I've got childlike ambitions to be a novelist at some point in the future. That's how I want to end my days. I had a brief flirt with that I might get into doing film scores, which is part of the reason I moved to America, which was to satisfy that little longing. As much as I love putting the music to a film, I don't like all the politics with it. I'm now too old to get into all that crap. As I get older I want life to get more fun, not more stressful. It's stressful enough as it is, making an album and having kids and all that. I don't want to add to it by getting into a business that isn't worth it really. It's not a worthy aggregation so I switched back to book for ever, and I started to panic about my career. I tried to figure out what I should do next, and that's when I thought I should do film scores. I'm going to carry on doing what I'm doing for as long as I can rather than engineer a transition to something else which is what I was trying to do. I'll keep this going then if I EVER get myself to finish the first book, the "Savage" one, then hopefully will then have a momentum of its own... or I'm shot at it and then go back to doing film scores.

Me: You've been writing songs for a long time, Gary, you must still like doing that. Does songwriting come easy still?

Gary: I write songs but I don't see that as a particularly worthy skill. A lot of lot of people can do it and thousands of people are churning songs out, so it's a pretty easy thing to do really. But telling stories is not easy at all, it's a completely different discipline. I'd be really proud of if I was able to do that. I had fun writing songs and I nada brilliant life because of writing songs but I never felt particularly worthy. I would with a book, I'd feel I was pretty cool.

Me: So, your music has a lot of keyboards so I am guessing you write on keyboards, am I right? 

Gary: Yeah, pretty much, not everything but pretty much. Once I have the melody and structure of a song, it's almost impossible to mess it up. The song comes from a melody itself and that's just me and a piano really, and when I get that right the rest of it becomes easier. If I don't get that right I polish to for months and it's still going to be a turd. Ha ha.

Me: So, what comes first, music or the lyrics?

Gary: The lyrics come at the end of the process... not the very end of the recording but during the end of the writing process. That part only takes days anyway. For example: Monday morning, take the kids to school, come home, do some email and things, get that out of the way, go into the studio, and write a melody, get the arrangements sorted out and maybe out some simple drum grooves on it to give it some sort of pace of whatever, the next day I flesh it out a bit more, if that goes really well I do this gobbidy-gook vocals. I sing along to the song, which I worked out in the piano which is usually quite rigid. When I sing it properly I do a lot more with it, flirt around and I find other things come to mind as well. I don't have any words at that point, so I just sing nonsense, but I feel in that certain words of lines pop out, feeling natural because the music is there now and the whole vibe of the thing is beginning to take shape. It doesn't usually happen, but it usually does actually without knowing what the song is going to be about. If I write the lyric first I have to shoehorn it into a melody that doesn't really need that many words or maybe needs a whole lot more. Someone who is a great singer can sing anything, I'm not, so I have to be careful.

Me: Okay, so, I was reading your bio and I discovered something that surprised the fuck outta me about you. I don't know if you want to talk about it but you have Aspergers. How does that effect your songwriting?

Gary: Yeah, I have Aspergers so I have a very logical brain. What I think helps me in particular I'm pretty clear what sort of music I want to make in general. That means there are a whole load of snare drums for example, that I don't entertain, so I can cut 80% of them out completely. I do my research before, I packages of software and I go through it, and spend weeks into the studio just listening to stuff, before I even start to write songs. In that part of the process I am able to eliminate a whole of stuff. I make a short list of stuff I really love and what I think will sort my sort of music. I create the palette that I'm going to use for that particular album, and I stay within it. It makes it quicker as I don't have to go through everything every time.

Me: Okay, so, how did you first get into playing synthesizers, Gary? 

Gary: I started off in a three-piece punk band I was on guitar and vocals and my mate Paul on bass and my uncle Jess playing drums. We would put all the gear in my car and I would go into the studio to say hello to the manager while the other two loaded the gear and inside I saw a mini Moog in the corner... I've never seen one before. I thought that looked cool and asked if I could have a go on that. I had no ice what I was doing, and I had no idea how to set it up, but I turned it on and pressed a key on whatever sound it was left on and it blew my head off. I never heard anything that powerful, Jason. The room shook like it was going to fall in on itself. By the time they unloaded the gear I was done with punk. But we had all these songs and we were there for three days, so what did we do? What we did was instead of playing guitar I played the synth. Luckily they let me use that synthesizer. I actually thought it was a hired one but I read an interview with the man that owned the studio and he claimed it was theirs, that it belonged to the studio. I don't know what the truth is now, but anyway, it wasn't mine. I went back with this pseudo electronic hybrid... and I had to argue with the record company to release it because it wasn't what they wanted.

Me: So, would you say you're the electric pioneer, that you are the biggest synth fanatic?

Gary: No. I love them, love the sound that comes out of them, but I don't really know that much about them, I don't really care. I don't care what sort of oscillators its got, I don't care what the filter envelope is, or anything like that. I had so many arguments with people about this. People would talk about the difference between analogue and digital as if it matters. Who gives a shit really. What does it matter what makes the noise? It doesn't. The only thing that matters is is it a good noise. I don't care if its my mum screaming or my girlfriend having a go at me or an analogue synthesizer or me dragging a bit of concrete across the floor and recording that. It's all about finding sounds, unusual sounds, things that sound cool. I build up sounds in my machinery and find a way to turn those sounds into music. I have got a sound of me dragging a piece of concrete across the floor actually and it made quite a cool noise. I put that into a sampler and I made it sound like a 200 foot dragon. Then I thought how am I going to get that in song, and then I found a way to make that weird noise musical. If that's what you are bothered about then get out of music. Don't have a go at me because I think analogue sucks. I actually don't care.

Me: Your first hit was "Are Friends Electric?" What is it like having that first hit single?

Gary: It was five and a quarter minutes long, to long for a single, didn't have a chorus really, you couldn't dance to it, don't tick any boxes whatsoever for being a hit single, and didn't get play listed. It was number one for two weeks before they play listed it. There was quite a lot of resistance to electronic music when it first came out. No one could believe it happened. They made 20,000 picture discs of "Are Friends Electric?" which was a new technology that only just came out, so you got a brand new technology or gimmick, whatever you want to call it, but rather than using it on some big band they used it on a totally unknown like me, it was a weird sort of music that nobody had heard before, it was a bizarre little song that was never going to get played, only sold 3000 copies. Whoever made that decision has made my entire life, honest to god. I never found out who that was. That one decision to do that was enough to sell enough singles and got me to the lowest reaches of the chart. At the time "Top of the Pops" had a thing called "Bubbling Under" which they played a record that wasn't in the charts. They only did it for a short while, but they were doing that then and that week it was either me or Simple Minds, we were both bubbling under. I am told that "Top of the Pops" thought my band, which was called Tubeway Army was a more interesting name than Simple Minds and we got the short feather than them, just based on the name. So, I got someone in the record company making an extraordinary decision got it that far, "Top of the Pops" made a decision, and then it got to number one. And here I am at nearly 60, and I have been doing this my whole entire life. Those two people changed my life beyond measure. I've never felt talented in my life, but I've been really lucky.

Me: Wow! Okay, so, your biggest hit which most of my readers would know of, is "Cars." What was the creation of that song like?

Gary: I picked up a bass because I wanted to learn how to play bass better so I could tell my bass player what I wanted more accurately because he's a much better bass player than I would ever be. I get back to my mum's house, I open this case and I take this bass guitar out of the case, I put it on my lap and I played the "Cars" tune. Honest to god, the first eight notes I played were the first eight notes of "Cars." Half an hour later I had the lyrics, and now I got a song. With that song I've been a lucky little shit.

Me: That's true. Gary, thanks so much for being on the Phile, I know you have to go. When your book comes out please come back. I hope this was fun.

Gary: Will do. This was fun, it was a pleasure.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Gary for a great interview. I had so many more questions to ask him, so I hope he will come back again. The Phile will be back tomorrow with author David J. Hogan. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Enjoy the Super Bowl, if you watch it.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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