Dear Steve, I spotted you playing drums on one of the songs of the album Magnetic by Gaudi. It’s quite an eclectic recording with a diverse group of musicians. I’m curious to find out how you became involved. Were outtakes of the Koi recordings used for this? If not, what material where you given to work with? I was surprised to see you paired up with noise mongers Merzbow and Bill Laswell, but you do hold your ground :). Your unique way of drumming really comes into its own on the atmospheric track! Any thoughts on the final result? Thanks for the amazing music and pictures all these years!!!

To be honest I’ve not heard it. The ‘artist’ known as ‘Gaudi’ has access to previous recordings for other artists on the same label (in this case the ‘Koi’ project that I worked on) then he re-uses the musician’s sounds and performances. To be honest I think it’s very questionable and the fact that I (and possibly other artists on the recording) have not approved it nor been asked if our names be credited before its release is wholly inappropriate.

Hi Steve, just wondered if you would care to share with us “fans” your favourite 10 songs of all time. I know they may change from day to day but songs that left a real impression. Could I also ask do you have a particular favourite artist you have worked with over the years aside from your ex Japan members of course, or a recollection of such (propaganda, annie lennox, alice, john foxx etc). Thanks in advance…it’s fair to say im a “fan”!!! :-)

I couldn’t possibly go into the top 10, I find those sorts of ‘favourite’ questions impossible to answer as it would require hours of serious contemplation. Favourite collaboration for sheer level of fun would have to be with Yukihiro Takahashi. Particularly the ’82 tour. First working with Masami Tsuchiya here on the wonderfully bizarre piece by Hajime Tachinbaba – ‘H’. Yukihiro and I are playing dual drums and very nearly bordered on duelling drum solos (after Masami’s solo around 2:30). If you compare this with the sort of mannered performances of JAPAN et al you can perhaps see why it’s different (and rare) for me to be involved in this type of show and therefore have fond memories of it.

 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some of the most intricate live performances that seemed to hang by a thread every evening, the arrangements were that delicately poised, were with Anja Garbarek around the time of her Smiling & Waving album release in 2001.

Although I have looked at your photographs many times online, I have only just bought your book, I now wish I had bought it ages ago. Although it’s obvious that looking at a print is better than staring at a bunch of pixels, common sense somehow failed me and it wasn’t until your beautiful book arrived that this dawned on me. I was as enthralled with the images as if it was the first time I saw them. The photos illuminate a soulful beauty that most people don’t capture. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos with us. I was wondering if there was one image that sprung to mind first, that you knew you just had to include, when you was offered the book deal?

Thank you, I’m always pleased to hear that the book is being enjoyed. I agree, it’s nice to view images in print rather than backlit on a luminescent screen.

I didn’t have a particular image in mind when the book project was decided because it happened gradually over a fairly long period of time. I’d been making prints available from my website for quite a number of years and therefore knew how they looked in print and would naturally make it into the book, but there were many more that I’d posted on this blog and others that hadn’t yet been scanned from the negatives and I was pretty curious to see how they would turn out. I guess for me the most exciting part was to allow the designer (Keiji Terai) to aesthetically present the images and design the format in such a way they would work in juxtaposition to one another on the pages.

needs to be said….

Danny Morgan discovered the band JAPAN. He was one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. Always smiling, positive and charming. The band warmed to him and we would sometimes visit him at his home where he and his wife would invite us all for dinner, just to hang out and enjoy his company. Sadly, Danny’s life was cut short due to NHS contaminated blood products (he was a haemophiliac). Recently this topic has been raised in the House of Commons and there are finally moves to address this ‘cover up’:

A “criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” took place over the use of NHS contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, former Health Secretary Andy Burnham has claimed. More than 2,000 deaths have been linked to the scandal in which haemophiliacs and others were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from imported blood products. Speaking in the Commons, the Labour MP said victims were “guinea pigs”. Health minister Nicola Blackwood resisted calls for a fresh inquiry. She said thousands of documents had been released by the Department of Health in relation to the scandal, while two reviews had already been carried out. In 2015, the then Prime Minster David Cameron apologised to thousands of victims of the contaminated blood scandal. A parliamentary report had found around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products – contracting hepatitis C and HIV – the virus that can develop into Aids. The UK imported supplies of the clotting agent Factor VIII – some of which turned out to be infected. Much of the plasma used to make Factor VIII came from donors like prison inmates in the US, who sold their blood. More than 2,000 UK patients have since died as a result. Now Mr Burnham is calling for a public “Hillsborough-style inquiry” – echoing calls already made by the Haemophilia Society and victims’ families. source

Whilst on the subject I would like to refer to some text contained in a book written by our ex-manager Napier-Bell in which he not only speaks of Danny in a condescending, patronising and sometimes cruel way, but also attempts to suggest that the band shared his viewpoints on Danny as a person. I feel this needs to be addressed as it simply wasn’t the case (I can only speak for myself of course) and because Danny isn’t around to defend himself. I’m sure we were all irritating to some degree, not least of all Bell himself, but who would feel the need to attempt to portray themselves as being ‘cool’ in the presence of someone with disabilities by incorporating mockery? And why? Perhaps to give Danny some credit where it was due, Bell might argue? To put Danny on the map at least? But piling insult upon someone that has already been dealt such a bad hand in life is yet another aspect of Bell’s inability to demonstrate moral standing in his professional life. And yet he is continually invited by ‘morally guided’ organisations to talk/write on the workings of the music business, or gay issues or whatever else brings him out of the woodwork. I am baffled by this. Would that his own words actually condemn him: skrufff.com

 

Morning. I was just wondering if you enjoyed the OGWT “first time live on TV” experience ? (sorry, it must seem the most mundane of questions). Regards, John.

Growing up, ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ was the music show of its day. Prior to that there was only really ‘Top Of The Pops’ which was for the most part heavily laden with the worst that British music had to offer, thus representing the record buying public of all generations. ‘Top Of The Pops’ was simply so painfully uncool (what young person was buying music by ‘The Wurzels’ or ‘Clive Dunn’?) and being on that show was a deep source of shame. However, it was also incredibly powerful in terms of generating public awareness and subsequently record sales and was therefore compulsory labour, despite all the shenanigans of switching supposedly re-recorded backing-tracks with original ones, a manoeuvre that kept many a BBC union rep well wined-and-dined as he would knowingly turn a blind eye in exchange for an otherwise unaffordable gourmet experience.

‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ on the other hand had more kudos. I remember being glued to the TV watching live performances by the bands of the seventies. They would often perform more than one song, as opposed to the quick turnaround we were used to seeing, and you got a sense of their musicianship as opposed to simply being ‘performers’. This show was influential in teaching me how to play drums. To finally be in that same studio performing live (although not broadcast live) gave you the sense that you’d reached a certain status beyond the disposable pop category and were perhaps being taken more seriously as musicians. Just a shame that kindly, whispering Bob had by then been replaced by bitchy, rasping Annie. A sign of the times when music journalism was about people asserting their unpleasant, acerbic personalities. Put Nightingale & Morely in a room and you could probably clear your blocked drains.