Hi Steve :-) someone (SNB) is thretening to write a book about you Japan. Does anyone have the possibility to publish a book about you Japan? We have ’74-’84 A Foreign Place by Anthony Reynolds, a Japan biography which I’m veeery happy of (I guess he will soon publish a new one covering following years up to Rain Tree Crow) Wish you and your Mates the Best Marta

SNB writing a book about JAPAN would be SNB writing a book about SNB. The only thing I’d like to read from SNB would be his bank statements covering years 1979~1983 but I suspect he feels that would be too much of an invasion into his private affairs, despite never being shy of spouting rubbish about others.

I contributed to Anthony’s book because his stance on digging below the surface of the true dynamics within the band and how the work was achieved had never been approached before and it seemed like a good idea to help shed some light on that. I genuinely feel it’s informative in that sense. No one else is going to write such a comprehensive, unbiased portrayal incorporating such a wide variety of meaningful sources, I don’t think. I decided not to contribute to the follow up mainly because post JAPAN involved too many personal struggles and the fact that I was involved in everyone’s work might’ve resulted in me having too big a voice in it whilst not actually having half as much output artistically due to problems with lack of support from both label and management at the time. I also had no desire to discuss other people’s various solo projects let alone any aspects of their personal lives post JAPAN. I trust Anthony has managed to do a good job regardless.

comment: The Nine Horses track ‘When Monday Comes Around’ is often my favourite Nine Horses track . Just finished listening to it for the first time in a while . There’s an intriguing “rattling” sound to the kick drum, which leads me to believe it’s not a traditional kick drum . The snare has a more “clean” sound . I also hear something that sounds like a shaker but with a quieter, more organic sound . Do you remember recording this track, what you contributed to it and are those muffled American sounding voices speaking frantically from a television ? The creaking doors are quite comfortingly creepy — if that’s what they are — and the “notes” they play don’t clash .

The rattling sound is on the ‘snare’ beat actually, whereas the bass drum is fairly normal sounding. What I was in fact playing was a ‘cajon’ which is a box drum, the type you sometimes see street performers using and which are thought to have originated from Peru. It can simulate a drum kit fairly well. I endorsed a manufacturer of the ‘cajon’ who called themselves POPercussion. If you follow the link there’s a comment from me down the page. Photos were also provided.

The shaker would have been one that we had in the studio, the background tv ambience was no doubt a random room recording (it sounds Australian to me when the guy says: “yer fucking kidding me” at 4:54) but I can’t recall what it was. We added various other samples. The more organic sounds (creaks and scrapes etc) were recorded in the studio. I believe the creaks were actually tension ropes on an ethnic drum but I’m not entirely sure … it was more than a decade ago.

Popercussion

 

Hi Steve. Someone has recently shared some photos of a few of your prints, which they purchased from you some years ago – including a couple of images of David, from the Tin Drum album shoot. I don’t recall seeing any of the shots previously, and wondered if you had any others from the session? Was there a reason why they didn’t appear in ‘through a quiet window’?

The simple answer is that I can’t locate the negatives so these prints would have been made around the time the photos were taken.

You’ve mentioned Johnny Thunders & The Blackhearts – ‘Chinese Rocks’ as being a favourite track at one time, and listening to it as well as Television tracks give the first two Japan LP’s a new perspective on how to hear them. ‘In Vogue’ stands out from the rest of ‘Quiet Life’, is a distillation of later Japan style and one you said, here, was your favourite Japan song. Was there anything musically or otherwise from your perspective that catalyzed the change from what was created before to ‘In Vogue’ ?

There were probably a variety of different musical influences from each musician’s perspective, and obviously I didn’t write the song therefore I’m not in a position to say what influenced the compositional content but for me personally the overriding association I have with that particular track is the album Manifesto by Roxy Music which was released in March 1979. Quiet Life was released in December 1979.  Manifesto was something of a musical backdrop throughout the writing/recording of Quiet Life.

Dear Steve, I spotted you playing drums on one of the songs of the album Magnetic by Gaudi. It’s quite an eclectic recording with a diverse group of musicians. I’m curious to find out how you became involved. Were outtakes of the Koi recordings used for this? If not, what material where you given to work with? I was surprised to see you paired up with noise mongers Merzbow and Bill Laswell, but you do hold your ground :). Your unique way of drumming really comes into its own on the atmospheric track! Any thoughts on the final result? Thanks for the amazing music and pictures all these years!!!

To be honest I’ve not heard it. The ‘artist’ known as ‘Gaudi’ has access to previous recordings for other artists on the same label (in this case the ‘Koi’ project that I worked on) then he re-uses the musician’s sounds and performances. To be honest I think it’s very questionable and the fact that I (and possibly other artists on the recording) have not approved it nor been asked if our names be credited before its release is wholly inappropriate.

Hi Steve, just wondered if you would care to share with us “fans” your favourite 10 songs of all time. I know they may change from day to day but songs that left a real impression. Could I also ask do you have a particular favourite artist you have worked with over the years aside from your ex Japan members of course, or a recollection of such (propaganda, annie lennox, alice, john foxx etc). Thanks in advance…it’s fair to say im a “fan”!!! :-)

I couldn’t possibly go into the top 10, I find those sorts of ‘favourite’ questions impossible to answer as it would require hours of serious contemplation. Favourite collaboration for sheer level of fun would have to be with Yukihiro Takahashi. Particularly the ’82 tour. First working with Masami Tsuchiya here on the wonderfully bizarre piece by Hajime Tachinbaba – ‘H’. Yukihiro and I are playing dual drums and very nearly bordered on duelling drum solos (after Masami’s solo around 2:30). If you compare this with the sort of mannered performances of JAPAN et al you can perhaps see why it’s different (and rare) for me to be involved in this type of show and therefore have fond memories of it.

 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some of the most intricate live performances that seemed to hang by a thread every evening, the arrangements were that delicately poised, were with Anja Garbarek around the time of her Smiling & Waving album release in 2001.

Although I have looked at your photographs many times online, I have only just bought your book, I now wish I had bought it ages ago. Although it’s obvious that looking at a print is better than staring at a bunch of pixels, common sense somehow failed me and it wasn’t until your beautiful book arrived that this dawned on me. I was as enthralled with the images as if it was the first time I saw them. The photos illuminate a soulful beauty that most people don’t capture. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos with us. I was wondering if there was one image that sprung to mind first, that you knew you just had to include, when you was offered the book deal?

Thank you, I’m always pleased to hear that the book is being enjoyed. I agree, it’s nice to view images in print rather than backlit on a luminescent screen.

I didn’t have a particular image in mind when the book project was decided because it happened gradually over a fairly long period of time. I’d been making prints available from my website for quite a number of years and therefore knew how they looked in print and would naturally make it into the book, but there were many more that I’d posted on this blog and others that hadn’t yet been scanned from the negatives and I was pretty curious to see how they would turn out. I guess for me the most exciting part was to allow the designer (Keiji Terai) to aesthetically present the images and design the format in such a way they would work in juxtaposition to one another on the pages.