Hi Frank. So you want to know what justifies being the composer and thereby claiming ownership of the music, (not ownership of the recorded music, which is very different).
The traditional, recognised elements of song composition are made up of chord structures, vocal melody and lyrics. David Sylvian was responsible for all of these with the group JAPAN and therefore it didn’t seem unreasonable when our manager (being particularly ‘old-school’) at the very beginning of the bands career determined DS as the sole composer. This wasn’t uncommon at the time and it went unchallenged in our band as we felt it must surely be correct due to the way that JAPAN songs were conceived. But bands evolved over time to understand there isn’t always the same emphasis on one person being responsible for developing and crafting the work to the finished sound which creates the bands success. Bands also recognised that each member needs incentive to dedicate their time and energy, as well as their particular skillset and interaction as musicians in arranging and structuring songs, and that the best way of achieving this is to divide a share of the compositional rights with them so that in the event the band are successful there is some publishing revenue for all concerned. Regrettably this was never addressed with JAPAN therefore no provision was set aside for band members. So whereas a session musician would be paid by the hour (or track), the band members worked without pay, which is all well and good if you own a part of the composition because you are building a repertoire, but without that you are simply applying your craft to someone else’s repertoire and this doesn’t bode too well over the long term as publishing is essentially like a pension if a band were to become successful. With EXIT NORTH we go to more the other extreme because no single member wishes to earn more than the other, therefore we divide the composition rights equally between all four members regardless of how the songs are conceived both in terms of the music and the lyrics. I don’t think that could have worked for JAPAN but it would have perhaps been fairer to have allocated a small writers share to the band members in order that they were at least ultimately being paid for their time and creativity for their years spent developing the band, rather than having nothing much to show for it. I doubt everyone would agree but that’s my own view.
Placing drummers centre stage is standard as the kit takes up quite a lot of space and usually makes the stage appear balanced by being central, and it also provides a more even spread of the drum sound in all directions for the band, and in the case of smaller venues, for the front of house mix.
Since the mid 90’s and performing as Jansen/Barbieri/Karn I would use additional equipment, (pads or keyboards & laptop) on my left side, so I would often be turning that way, and on occasion standing to play, which would mean that I would be facing sideways off stage with my back to half the band. By positioning on the right side of the stage (aka ‘stage left’ for the musicians) and facing across stage I could maintain eye contact with the band when at the drums or at the keyboard/pad. Also, when you’ve got a grand piano on stage, (as was the case when I toured with Ryuichi Sakamoto in 2005, David Sylvian in 2007 and Exit North last year) they take up a similar amount of space therefore you have the option to offset them at angles to one another off-centre. I think it’s nice if you can form the band in as much of a semi-circle as possible if the stage depth permits. The Exit North stage at Billboard in Japan was a tight squeeze as we had a quartet too and there wasn’t much stage depth to work with.
Exit North 2019
I like all of them for different reasons, I don’t think it’s a case of ‘either/or’. And as a group they were just very special.
There are rare occasions when I will listen to music that I grew up with, perhaps it’ll be on a playlist in the car or something like that. One doesn’t have to physically dig out records anymore so sometimes the thought of listening to a random album track you haven’t heard for decades does happen. And occasionally you hear things that you know directly influenced you in some way but had completely forgotten about.
The quick answer is that Billboard have a huge store of instruments at their live venues and it was a simple case of using what they had as opposed to going through the process of organising a separate process with TAMA. I don’t officially endorse TAMA but they are my drums of choice. Billboard had Yamaha only.
The photographer Thron Ullberg, renowned for his portraiture work, wanted to incorporate it into the shot. I think it breaks up the image and provides a good focal point and additional texture and perhaps makes people wonder why. Portrait photographers often incorporate props for these reasons.
Thanks for your continued support over many years, Hans. Regarding your second question the answer is no, you can rest assured you witnessed the very last tour of that kind. Regarding your first question, it’s not a question for me.
That’s a bigger question than you can imagine. I think the best thing I can do is point you in the direction of a recent book by Anthony Reynolds titled: Japan – A Foreign Place
The intent of the book was to shed some light on the workings of the band, in particular how the music was made. As that hadn’t been tackled before it was the reason I agreed to contribute. I think it provides the sort of insights you’re looking for.
I used the Roland Handsonic back in 2002 on a few songs live: ‘Rooms of the Sixteen Shimmers’, ‘Krishna Blue’ and an encore track that I can’t recall the name of.
Not much, I would say. We were quite strong about what we wanted to do musically. Working with Moroder was a whole lot of compromise. I believe the idea to collaborate originated with the German label we were with at the time. That project, as well as ‘I Second The Emotion’, were business decisions and were musically much more conventional than we would normally want to be, purely for the purposes of appealing to a wider audience.