Hi Steve. I know that you have said that you do not feel particularly nostalgic for your past but I wonder if you miss performing live, whether as part of a band, a guest musician, or as an ‘ensemble’ (as with Slope)? Do you miss the immediacy of live performance, where you are aware of the audience’s appreciation (or otherwise!) and can interact with them?

I particularly miss the discipline of live performance. Being well rehearsed for a tour makes you feel fit and focused. And yes, it’s good to know when your audience is having a good time (not otherwise!)

Hello Steve, I’ve been a fan of Japan for a good few years now, and I must say your photos provide a unique, intimate, insider’s portrait of a band somewhat misunderstood by and elusive to mainstream media of the time. It’s nice to see you have a healthy nostalgia for those days, if you don’t mind my saying it’s quite a contrast to your brother’s view no doubt. Japan’s music and artistry is very close to my heart so I’d like to thank you for your amazing contribution to a band like no other.

Thank you very much indeed! I don’t feel particularly nostalgic of those times, I think for that you require a certain sentimentality. I simply like how photographs and film footage, as a form of recording, become more significant over time, but I can’t feel any particular fondness … possibly the opposite. I’m kinda thankful those times feel as remote as they do.

Steve, really like the new track with Nicola Hitchcock.I also enjoyed the recent releases via burning shed and slope remixes etc.I notice that the tracks are keyboard or piano focused and drums rarely feature in any of your releases. I guess the piano is a percussion instrument!! my question would concern your approach and your relationship to piano and keyboards for your solo tracks. You do have an affinity with keyboards. thank you.

Playing drums is all well and good within a band but as a solo artist you need a bit more musicality and compositional skills. Actually I’ve never been purely a rhythmical musician. Initially I didn’t take to drumming right away, my beginnings were on guitar, then switching to keyboards and settling on drums, more as a means to an end since David and I were a ‘two-piece’ and percussion seemed more of a necessity at the time. Then it made sense to find a bass player and my role in that particular band was set. In the eighties after ‘JAPAN’ split I started to focus on composition, and therefore keyboards, a lot more. I’d been playing them on various recordings as well as live performances prior to that so I was no stranger to it. I had a Prophet 5, as most of us did, and bought an upright piano. I enjoy composition that doesn’t always rely upon a rhythm section. To be honest, I don’t think of myself as a drummer anymore, it’d be a bit limiting if I did.

Steve, I’d like to ask you about all this retro stuff that’s going on. We have Simon Napier-Bell’s book on the history of pop, Anthony’s pending biography of Japan and of course the lyric-based biog of David and his work. Much of this obviously is backward looking, and is likely to be appealing to those of us who were madeup adolescents in the Japan years, so there is a complex sort of nostalgia and connecting with the past. How do you feel about all this?

It’s a sign everyone’s getting old? But seriously they sound like three very different projects to me. I’m not aware of the lyric-based biog of David and his work. If I wanted to read fiction, I wouldn’t opt for SNB’s books as he seemingly hopes they’re perceived as fact. And Anthony …well he’s written to me so much I feel I’ve already read his novel, but I can determine he’s a jolly good egg and has a nice way with words so I hope it’s a work well received. He hasn’t paid me to say this … yet.

Steve, I’ve really enjoyed your recent download tracks ‘Captured through a Quiet Window’ and ‘Exit North’. I’m always very interested in the musicians with whom you collaborate. Could you share who contributed the rather wonderful woodwind on ‘Captured’ – there wasn’t a credit sheet with my download. Thanks for the information, and most if all for the music.

Thank you for sharing with me your enjoyment of these titles. It’s genuinely nice to know and to receive some feedback. In response to your question, I made those clarinet phrases along with the aid of a few technologies. The reason there are no credits for the musical performances on ‘Exit North’, ‘Captured…’ and more recently ‘Faced With Nothing’ is simply because there are no other players involved aside from myself.

Hi Steve. As always, thank you for sharing your amazing pictures. I wanted to ask, i,ve seen, i think, one, possibly two of your pictures from the Rain Tree Crow sessions , but ive always wondered, did you manage to take any more pictures from those sessions, and MOST importantly, did you manage to take any pictures of the four of you together ???

I did take a few rolls but they are seriously unremarkable. At Miraval in France where the work commenced with much enthusiasm we spent very long hours playing the heck out of anything that moved, (and things that didn’t) and when the day was finally done I was more likely to reach for a bottle than a camera, and simply enjoy a few hours chill time with Mick and Pat who would light up a few. Not much thought of taking photos …  not until the morning when the light was good, but since we all emerged at different times those are mostly photos of the resident dog. We spent a month like that and by the time we were well into our second month at Condulmer in Italy the novelty had worn off and the idea of taking pictures of band members would have felt akin to setting up a photo session with your cell mates.

On Slope, with the songs where you worked collaboratively with vocalists/songwriters, did you have an idea of the subject matter and titles for the songs you were composing or were the writers given free range to come up with whatever they felt most appropriate for the music? For eg, did you or Tim come up with ‘Sleepyard’ as a title? With your new material, are you working in a similar way, or using a completely new approach? Any chance you might be a “guest vocalist” on your new album?? :-)

With the type of vocalists I tend to work with I feel it’d be a waste not to allow free scope with lyrical content. Since I’ve written the music and played most of the instruments I’m really looking for someone else to inject their creativity into it, therefore I hope the music suggests something inspiring. In the case of ‘slope’ I think there were some pretty decent interpretations, only a couple of rejects in fact. If the vocalist hasn’t suggested a title then I’ll select one from the lyrics. In the case of ‘sleepyard’ I believe Mr. Elsenberg made the suggestion (not too sure). I’m working in a similar way with new material and I’ve not yet included myself in the line-up of lead vocalists.