What was the atmosphere like in studio when you and the other members of Japan reunited for Rain Tree Crow? Were the recording sessions tense or did everything feel like old times? Do you feel as if the album is the pinnacle of your collaboration with the group?

We had a lot of fun in the studio during the first few months of recording, and although we were older and more opinionated than previously, we were fundamentally all in it for the same reason and were as accommodating to one another’s quirks as possible. I can’t recall having any arguments except for a few heated debates over dinner but that’s what happens when you’ve spent two months in residential studios together – it’s either that or sit in total silence.

I personally feel it is the pinnacle of our work together in the sense that it’s the most listenable album to me. JAPAN’s music I find not as sincere, but that’s to do with age and era.

A typical start at Miraval Studios, South of France.


Over the years you seem to have mastered a wide range of instruments with almost alarming ease. Were any particularly difficult to get to grips with? Were you ever defeated by a fiendishly tricky flugelhorn, perhaps?

‘Mastered’ is a gross exaggeration. As long as you can make a noise it’s possible with today’s technology to tweak it into something musical. That’s why software can be as much a part of the musical process as playing an instrument sometimes. I like to avoid using audio off-the-shelf so as long as you have a go and use your musicality to apply it to the work it’s a good way to develop ideas and avoid the chance of one day hearing something you’ve incorporated into your music also on someone else’s album.

Hi Steve , many thanks for your music over the years , well 32 years actually ! Im looking forward to future releases very soon and later on this year . I was wondering how you choose the artwork on the covers especially Tender Extinction and Breakable moons ?

Tender Extinction imagery (shale on a beach) was amongst Carl Glover’s photography archives and for me it worked with the musical content. Originally I was thinking of using very different kinds of images by an artist I discovered on Tumblr, but although I still really like that work it was too ‘urban’ for the content.

I didn’t have much to do with the Breakable Moons cover. Originally it was to be the JBK image seen on the postcard that comes with the EP but it wasn’t of high enough resolution and the original negative wasn’t available. The label then provided three or four suggestions which Richard and I selected from.