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Gary Numan Recharges 'Are Friends Electric-'

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Friday, 7 December 2007
Electronic music pioneer Gary Numan is re-issuing his 30 year old breakthrough album Replicas (retitled 'Replicas Redux - Expanded 2008 Tour Edition') next year including his breakthrough hit 'Are Friends Electric-'

The highly original synthesizer anthem topped Britain's pop charts for a month in 1979 as the punk/ new wave explosion withered and came about when Gary started messing around on an abandoned Moog machine he found in a recording studio.

"I went to record what should have been my first punk album for Beggars Banquet and when I got to the studio, I saw that a mini Moog had been left behind by the band that had been in there before," Gary told Skrufff in 2005.

"I'd never been a fan of them because I'd only been aware of people like Rick Wakeman and prog rock so my vision of synthesizers was that, arty nonsense with lots and lots of keyboard solos.

I asked the man who ran the studio if I could have a go on this Moog, and he said 'sure, till the hire company come and collect it, fiddle around with it, if you wish'. I didn't know how to set it up but I pressed the key down and it was like a thousand guitars, a huge wall of noise, it was so massive and powerful and deep and the whole room shook. Luckily, whoever left it there had put that sound into it and it was still on the machine.

"If that had gone 'dooooooh'. I'd have thought; fucking useless, I knew synthesizers were shit' and would never have thought about using it again probably, but instead the sound was amazing and it absolutely changed everything," he said.

The soft spoken Essex star was equally candid about how he wrote Are Friends Electric-, admitting luck and his own lack of song-writing prowess led him to create the still highly original track.

"I had two songs, the first synth part of the track and this talky bit in the middle but I couldn't finish either of those two songs so I stuck them together and ended up with this song which is over five minutes long-way too long for a single really. You couldn't dance to it and it didn't have a singing chorus. I can't step away from that and say what a great songwriter I am because it's quite the opposite. Someone with a better song-writing ability than me would have made two songs instead of one," he suggested.

"I was also lucky with the song-writing; one day I hit a wrong note, which was slightly flatter and it suddenly made the track grate a little bit and I thought: 'I prefer that actually'. So Are Friends Electric is a mixture of a lack of song-writing ability and poor playing - and you end up with a number one single for a month," he laughed.