When you said on Twitter about Dolphin Brothers releasing on vinyl through Universal isn’t happening yet because they are prioritising other Japan and solo releases, it was said in Japan’s Facebook group something like: ‘bitterness is there in Steve’s post about re-releasing the Dolphins album where he blames record company ‘priorities’ for it not being progressed.’ Is it correct to think it?

Someone’s not got enough drama in their life. Bitterness about what? It’s no mystery to me why it makes sense for Universal to release the biggest sellers first, I would do the same, which is why my comment was: “I’m guessing they are prioritising”. When a label that owns your catalogue informs of their intentions to re-issue an album it’s only a matter of courtesy. They can do it anyway, or they can just sit on it and wait for a time when they think it will fare better. As is obvious, they have staggered the releases of JAPAN and solo due to the fact that they wouldn’t want to saturate the small market they’re aimed at. That’s not rocket science. There isn’t any ‘blame’ on my part, this is just common sense. And from a personal perspective I’ve no interest in DB (or JAPAN) being re-issued. They are primarily little money spinners for when a label acquires a catalogue and looks for opportunities to exploit it, as is also the case with the likes of Snapper/Kscope and Burning Shed.

It was disappointing at first to watch this as a silent film but it’s also interesting to see a group of people reacting to sounds, performing sounds and yet there is no sound to experience as a viewer . The viewer is purely that, a viewer. (Alec Way)

There must be very clearly defined copyright laws concerning the playback of recorded works in film clips however (A) This wasn’t a soundtrack but a work in progress at the time, and therefore partially ‘live’ as well as recorded material that happened to be going on in the background (B) What was heard in the video is not necessarily what was included on the finished recording (C) The video was not monetised in any way.

Whether these points matter in legal terms hasn’t been pursued but it’s very unlikely that the music publishers would have had any real concerns about copyright but have no doubt been instructed to act by persons concerned with facilitating their personal need to control output, such is the way things are. It’s possible to get around it, and certainly possible to dispute it as it’s probably not a copyright issue, however as the film had already been widely circulated on YouTube and probably downloaded by those who know how, there’s little need to further tip anyone’s boat. It is sad that the other short film showing Holger at work, which was only uploaded as a sort of homage to him, was also disputed. Ironically, just about the only audio on that clip was my percussion performance, Holger’s ‘live’ guitar strums, ambient keys and a voice sample that was most likely lifted from an ethnic recording anyway. Even more curiously the entire album exists on YouTube without any concerns to anyone, which sort of speak volumes about this being someone’s determination to control the video output only, and is why I have chosen to leave both on Vimeo for now as silent pieces. I’m pleased if they can be appreciated as such regardless.

The response from the publishers read: Thank you for your email but I’m afraid I’m unable to correspond further on this matter as we consider it closed.

Kind regards,
Katrina Dewfall
The Music Sales Group

Steve. What happened to make you have such a bad accident to your hand on the Shaman tour? Just a freak things? Thanks.

This has been repeatedly asked over the years and now that there’s a chapter in a new biography referencing the event I’m sure people are reading and wondering again so, maybe I can put this one to bed.

Coming off stage a comment was made to me by another band member, delivered in the heat of the moment in a rather curt and rude fashion and incorporating the ‘f’ word if memory serves me correctly, in regards to the amount of time I would take to get from the kit to the front of stage to take the group bow. What wasn’t taken into consideration was that, as irritating as this might have been, it took time to get freed from wires (I was using a BPM machine via an ear piece) and various things needed doing in preparation for any further music that might be performed. Sometimes this would go smoothly but not always, either way  I felt I was merely doing my job, one that I take quite seriously and feel is more important than taking timely bows or leisurely strolls. Much to my shame and regret I felt simultaneously very angry and very hungry and whilst helping myself to a slice of cheese with Mr. Barbieri standing dangerously close to me, I felt the mindless and irresistible urge (no doubt partially due to the fact that I’d been hammering drums for the past two hours) to slam down whatever I was holding in my left hand into the table with excessive force. Unfortunately for me, (and anyone with tickets for the next few shows) this was a rather large glass cheeseboard dome 😦

Time off for bad behavour

Time off for bad behaviour (think this is a selfie by Robby Aceto –pictured right).

Hi Steve. I noticed recently you`re credited as `Drum programmer` on Annie Lennox ` DIVA album. Would it be possible to explain to this non muso what that entailed exactly, please ? I suppose i`m curious as to why, having programmed the drums, you didn`t play them, or likewise why the drummer used , didn`t program his own stuff. Kindest regards Craig

Hi Craig. Annie invited me to listen to a new track she was working on at her home studio in her attic space which I believe wasn’t really set-up to record drums. She sang a guide vocal on it and we discussed what sort of thing was required. Since programming had become a fairly common practice by that time I took the track away and programmed something up in my own recording space. I actually used some of the same samples that I’d made for ‘Blackwater’, Rain Tree Crow, (which was also programmed, that’s another story). I think I drove my neighbours a bit nuts at the time as my place was being refurbished and there was no sound insulation. I had a few complaints. The track was called ‘Why’ and that explains why there are no drummers performing on it. I think the neighbours heard it a lot more after that.

Hello Steve, My apologies if you’ve been asked this before. Your precise but highly creative approach to rhythmic composition has always strongly appealed. Even now, listening to Japan’s cover of ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ deceives me as much as when I first heard it. At several points in the recording, I find myself questioning where the ‘one’ is. I’m not sure if you perceive the same rhythmic illusion that I do, but can you recall if it was an effect you set out to achieve? Many thanks.

It’s in straight 4/4  and the 1 is as ever on the 1, however the bass drum and snare emphasise the ‘and’ (8th notes) on 1 and 3, so you are probably slipping into perceiving the 1 on the ‘and’. There’s also a BD on the (6th) 16th beat which adds to the illusion of a triplet rhythm if you’re thinking that the Tom on the (3rd) 16th is the downbeat, which might confuse things further.

Yeah I know, none of that helps really … how about a diagram? Probably doesn’t either. I don’t know, it makes sense in my head but being self-taught doesn’t equip you with the appropriate tools for teaching. I’ll bet Gavin Harrison could elucidate this matter in no time 🙂


Hi Steve, I noticed that Virgin have commissioned Abbey Rd Studios to “half speed master” GTP and T-drum. What difference will this make to the originals in your opinion. I am not familiar with this method hence unsure what benefits it will bring to the originals. Also I thought Virgin had “lost” the master tapes to Japan albums after being stored somewhere in a damp basement etc? Intrigued!

The short answer is that the half speed masters will preserve quality to the max and will be comparable to the actual master tapes, unlike the original vinyl which were far inferior but alas was the acceptable standard at the time. As a recording artist, listening to the vinyl was wholly depressing after hearing it ‘perfected’ in the studio. Half speed vinyl would have been a much more acceptable form of mass production.

The master tapes were not damaged or lost. However multi-track tapes were irreparably damaged, which means the music can not be remixed.

Hello, Mr. Jansen, it is me again with another enormous letter. I am writing to you with the strong need to feed my curiousity. Since it is interesting to know what you could think of something that was written about you and others, my question is: have you ever read any articles about Japan/yourself in the press? What was the most ridiculous gossip or article you ever read, and how others reacted if they had read it too? Also, what was your opinion on band PR back then? As far as I know, some gossips were started by your own PR-manager, but perhaps it did not work out fine for Japan and the band needed another promotion tactic. So, from your point of view, what is more effective in making an artist or band more popular: articles in scandalous cheap press or in serious magazines? Thanks in advance and best regards!

I would argue the buck stopped with manager Simon Napier-Bell, he was responsible for the characters he employed as PR agents. It’s fair to say that he was coming from a bygone era and it was time for a change but he wasn’t about to make it. I don’t think it could have been much more ludicrous than it was. Spinal Tap couldn’t do it justice. The idea that any press is good press was, in the innocence of the 70’s & 80’s, still a concept, and making the press listen seemed to be a measure of how good a flirt you could be. It appeared desperate, without any dignity and treating the public like morons. And it stained everything. A PR might argue that attaining press coverage is what made the group successful but that’s not the reality. No one holds onto sensationalist storylines for more than a few minutes of curiosity then it’s forgotten, or it becomes a token piece of worthless knowledge: “oh yeah isn’t that the guy that ….’ etc. and is most likely mocked. It does nothing to further a musical career. It’s short-sighted, like downing relentless tequila shots so you don’t sober up to realise everything’s shit. Keep creating a headline because no one’s actually buying the records, but maybe they will if there’s something … anything in the newspaper. Pour another tequila. That’s how the PR functioned. Must have been hard work but not at all representative of the essence of what the group hoped to achieve. Yes, we liked looking a certain way that might’ve warranted some attention by older generations but that’s just youth expressing itself. Our actual job was to focus on making music, and PR’s job was to make the public aware of it, but we were two completely different machines thrown together by default under the misguided concept that we were aiming towards the same goal but were in fact in different ballparks. Most of us made a speedy exit from that as soon as the band disbanded.