Gary Numan on meeting Mark E. Smith: “He scared the shit out of me!”

"He got offended because I wasn’t enthusing about his compliments"

Gary Numan has opened up on how the late Mark E. Smith once “scared the shit” out of him, after he joined forces with the Fall frontman for a joint interview.

Numan was speaking to NME for the latest in our ‘Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells Series‘ when he opened up on how he had been referenced by Smith in ‘We Want You’, an unreleased 1997 duet with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann.

Opening up on meeting Smith, Numan said: “I did a joint interview with Mark E. Smith once. I was nervous because of his reputation and he was really complimentary and disarmed me.”


However, things soon took a strange turn when Numan realised that Smith had made a point of repeating every compliment that he made to the singer.

“He would repeat the same comments again and again, and you run out of ways of saying, ‘Thanks Mark, that’s really lovely’ and end up going, ‘Alright mate, you’ve been saying this for half an hour!’,” Numan explained.

Gary Numan
Gary Numan – Credit: Getty

“He got offended because I wasn’t enthusing about his compliments and he got weird. So I pretended to go the toilet and legged it up the street, got in my car and fucked off! He scared the shit out of me!”

As for the ‘We Want You’ lyric, Numan explained it referenced the fact that when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ and ‘Cars’ both hit Number One in 1979, he celebrated by booking a holiday to a caravan park…


“That’s how limited my worldliness was (laughs). It was where I used to go with my parents when I was a kid,” he said.

“All the normal people like us had little caravans down on the lower bit and all the rich people had the big caravans up on the hill. In my mind, I never lost that picture of the difference between rich and poor. If you made money, you rented the big caravan up on the hill!”

Numan will release his 18th album ‘Intruder’ on May 21.

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