Hansa Press Release - 1978
What can you say about JAPAN?
In the face of punk, New Wave, and now Power pop, JAPAN do not fit in. With mop top and spiky haircuts all the rage, JAPAN have all theirs dyed in shoulder-length shaggy manes. They wear make-up, eye-shadow, rouge and lipstick on and off stage, they walk about the streets of London wearing outrageous, bright flamboyant clothes. To say the least, JAPAN stand out like a laser lightshow. They find that because of their appearance it can be unsafe to walk about the streets of London, but then again they are staunchly independent and non-conformist. There is always a small price to pay in defense of your ideals. JAPAN have been together in an embryo form for a few years now. Their history or roots go back to their school days when Mick Karn, Steve Jansen and David Sylvian all knew one another and were already living their lifestyle of bright clothes, long hair and make-up. Obviously the threesome were mercilessly ridiculed for their dress but it didn't matter, they only laughed. Let everyone else be boring and staid look-alikes, theirs was the JAPAN look.
And the name, JAPAN, it must have significance, but it doesn't. It was one of the many suggested, and it had just the right ring, it was descriptive, it was far out, and it was Far East. It was ideal and it suited them.
Steve bought his first drumkit for £30 two weeks before their first gig. This gig was a momentous occasion for the boys because it was the first time they used electric equipment and it was also the same day that a live album by Eno and friends was released - 1st June 1974.
Half an hour before they were due to go on they were still practicing their set. It was all their own material written by David and he says about his songs "they are very real, I don't deal with fantasies. Everything I write is an emotion." They survived that first gig, but felt that the line-up needed expanding and one day they met up with ex-school mate Richard Barbieri. He was enthralled with the idea of becoming part of JAPAN so he bought himself an organ, practiced intensely for 5 months, came back and was accepted.
He didn't hesitate for a moment to give up his mundane job in a bank. At first he took a few lessons but he positively feels "after a while you have to learn to play in your own style". In the last 3 years he has made great strides in his musical development, presently experimenting in electronic music.
JAPAN still felt they needed another guitarist as their music was becoming more mature and complex. An ad was placed in Melody Maker and Rob Dean responded. Rob had had some past experience playing in various small groups and just before JAPAN he nearly joined a reggae band. That was in January 1976. His lead guitar work, heavily influenced by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and jazz guitarists, not to mention Iggy and David Bowie, has added a new dimension to Japan's music.
JAPAN were getting more and more gigs to the extent where they were asked to support Jim Capaldi on his last tour. Formal record company recognition came when they were signed to Hansa Productions, and subsequently Ariola/Hansa re: the German record company who recognised they were above the then current New Wave craze.
They have now completed their first album "Adolescent Sex", produced by Ray Singer, which is to be released on April 7th. As the title suggests and David opines "the main point of it is sex, but I don't find sex exceptionally great, I find it boring. It's only great when it is experimental".
All of the tracks on the album are written by David except for one, "Don't Rain On My Parade", the famous Barbra Streisand song from "Funny Girl" which has been chosen as Japan's first single.
Like JAPAN the country, the future for JAPAN the band looks very bright and rosy. With a unique and powerful first album under their belt and a support slot lined up with the hugely successful Blue Oyster Cult, JAPAN is all set to conquer England.
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