Hello Steve, I love your photo skies taken with the iPhone. Do you prefer working with the analog or the digital camera?Which one would you suggests as more ‘beginner friendly’?

Digital is more beginner friendly because it’s a lot cheaper and you see your results instantly.

I like the accidents that can occur with real film because it reacts to light very differently and is somewhat unpredictable. Saying that though, there are quite a few accidents in this image taken today with an iPhone and tweaked in Snapseed. Obviously it’s not how things looked at the time but the composition was exactly as it appears, a reflection in a window caused by a dark area. The light is essentially the same, just more contrast and switched to monochrome. In digitising negatives from an analog camera you end up with the same level of flexibility in experimenting on an image so ultimately I guess it’s down to your own creatively and having an eye for composition. The one thing I do prefer is to look through a viewfinder which gives the sense you’re on the inside looking out.

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On the Rain Tree Crow record Mick’s bass playing was quite different from the Japan records. Were you all on board with the new sound? I know it was still fretless bass, but it was quite restrained and less “expressive”. Was there any pressure on him to tone it down or was it entirely his choice? Thanks.

The rhythm section was generally understated. I’m not sure if it’s easy to appreciate but we worked hard to simplify every aspect of how the bass and drums interacted, avoiding superfluous content but still attempting to form less conventional structures, it was challenging. Perhaps ‘Pocket Full Of Change’ was the best example of it. The musical direction we were heading in wouldn’t have suited anyone’s style from previous albums and to be honest that was the last thing we would have wanted to bring to that project. The whole point was to not sound like a Japan album. If I remember correctly it was a five album deal, and the intention was to develop a new direction together under a new name. Whether or not we could have achieved that is another question but that was the motivation behind reforming.

Was the approach of the recording (_ISM) similar to the sessions for RTC ? I sense a continuity there and think _ISM is on a par and musically more interesting.

It wasn’t too dissimilar in that we improvised ideas together until we hit upon something that we felt showed promise. We started the project in a residential studio too, as with RTC, and were similarly isolated from civilisation for a number of weeks, although for nothing like as long. A significant budgetary difference though, RTC cost a quarter of a million and still wasn’t enough. _ISM cost  a mere fraction of that.

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