By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
"There should be more variety of sound on it than there is," he says. "It seems as if I found the sound for the album, and then I stuck with it, really. Not having guitars on it, for example — that was almost a reaction to what the British press were saying about me. They had been pretty harsh with the first couple of albums, saying it wasn't real music.
"[With Principle] I wanted to make the point of where you could have an album that would be acceptable to the public and still be considered proper music, even if it didn't have guitars all over it. I thought it was trying to prove that electronic music was valid in its own right — it just wasn't a little one-off thing, not this temporary offshoot that would all fall away given time.
"I still think I could have done a much better job of proving the point, that electronic music was a very valid kind of music."
The Pleasure Principle North American tour wrapped up in Mexico City on November 6. (A UK tour happened last year.) As a musician who says he doesn't like "nostalgia" or "retro things," Numan admits that doing the Principle tour was "slightly uncomfortable" for him — in the sense that looking backward seemed counterproductive to his ongoing artistic progress. But he mitigated this discomfort by doing a second set of songs at each show, which focused on newer material from 2006's Jagged, unrecorded material slated for forthcoming new albums and older fan favorites. The second half of his Chicago show had the energy and spirit of a punk show, in the form of rusty-razor industrial aggression, metallic slashes and digital noise. On songs such as the "The Fall" and "Haunted," Numan contorted his body like a youthful performer with something to prove.
But doing the Principle tours has helped Numan warm to the album, he says — and has helped him see the LP's oddities through fresh eyes.
"Although I could have recorded it a lot better, my songwriting point of view [makes it] a fairly quirky little record," he says. "A lot of the songs don't really have vocal choruses, for example. So structurally it's quite unusual, it's quite quirky.
"I didn't really notice how quirky it was until last year when we toured [Principle] here [in the UK]. It's the first time I had listened to lots of those songs since we'd actually did them in 1979. Three or four of them I'm still familiar with, but lots of it I haven't heard for thirty-years-plus. I remember expecting to find the album a bit embarrassing — and I actually didn't. I actually thought — for the day, this must have seemed really odd and a really strange album. It made me appreciate it a bit more, as the writer of it, than I had been."