“No, I’m Not Nick Frickin’ Rhodes”: David Sylvian + Japan

2 04 2007


Image from the-raft.com

In their late teens, David Batt and his brother Steve stole some eyeliner from Bowie’s dressing room, some new last names from the New York Dolls, and sounds from both to create Japan. In a dyslexic homage to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, Dave took up singing and became David Sylvian, while Steve dropped a few letters from “Johansen” to become Steve Jansen. Synthesizing the look and sound of glam rock with a touch of the emerging disco sound, Japan was soon signed to Hansa and released Adolescent Sex in 1978. While a minor hit in Japan, of all places, their look and sound were staggeringly out of touch with the post-punk times in the UK, where they were largely ignored. After an equally spotty 2nd album, in 1980 they hit upon the idea of incorporating elements of the emerging Moroder Euro disco sounds, all shimmering synths and backbeat, into pop songs performed in a rock band setting. This time their timing was perfect, and Quiet Life is one of the first classics of the post-Bowie New Romantic era.

MP3: “Quiet Life (Extended Version) – Japan
Buy it on Amazon


Japan, “Life In Tokyo” (Youtube clip)

Having jettisoned most of the sonic aspects of glam for this Japan 2.0, the band’s only real remaining debt to that movement was sartorial. But while continuing down the trail blazed by Eno and Bolan, Sylvian took androgyny to a new place by dialing it back and making it less cartoonlike, and thus more accessible. Ziggy was outrageous, alien and somewhat threatening to the masses. But Sylvian cloaked his gorgeous, pancaked visage with the suave, sophisticated suit – and vocal stylings – of the aggressively hetero Bryan Ferry. Amazingly, this “gay but straight” look became pretty mainstream, and indeed still encapsulates what it means to be “totally 80’s.”

Dave
(Left: David. Right: Nick. Or is it vice versa?)

Just as their sound was taking hold, Japan took an abrupt left turn and started to take more and more out of the music. By their last hit “Ghosts” all that was remained was a droning synth and a vocal. Abandoning Japan at the height of its glory, Sylvian left to pursue a solo career further in that minimalist direction. In the mean time, Nick Rhodes copped Japan’s 16th note sequencers and mascara brushes wholesale and brought the whole package to a level of unprecedented global domination.

MP3: “Girls on Film (Night Version) – Duran Duran
Buy it on Amazon

While Duran Duran’s debt to Japan is undeniable (and to a degree embarrassing: Nick, dude, don’t you even want to *try* and hide your influences?), somehow it seems like an appropriate passing of the baton, from one gazza ladra to another.

Nightporter – Japan fan site
Japan on Wikipedia
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32 responses

3 04 2007
Johnatron

I might have to add a David Sylvian track soon…….

3 04 2007
Anu

Japan always had a weird streak that Duran Duran never did (until the very late period). I remember reading an interview with David Sylvian where he basically said “we tried hard to sound unique”. I love them for this.

Sylvian’s latest output is also great – his new “group” Nine Horses put out a great album (“Snow Borne Sorrow”) and some great singles.

Perhaps next you can explore the similarities between John Foxx’s “Metamatic” period and Gary Numan circa “Pleasure Principle”/”Telekon”.

21 06 2009
Paul Ellis

John Foxx couldn’t write songs as good as Gary Numan’s and so never had the same success; but he could come up with some good musical sounds. Curiously, though the only real commercial success Foxx had was when he pinched the buzz-saw synthesized guitar-sound from Numan’s 1979 No.1 hit ‘Are Friend’s Electric’, and Numan’s vocal style for ‘Underpass’.

5 07 2014
Joe Bittner

I believe Gary was quite influenced by Ultravox. Thirty-some years later, I find “Systems of Romance” and “Metamatic” far more durable than “The Pleasure Principle” or “Are Friends Electric”.

9 02 2008
coda

It’s funny that Nick Rhodes rarely mentions Japan as an influence, yet their first album clearly copped the Life In Tokyo, European Son and the Quiet Life album.

19 02 2008
Baron von Luxxury

@ Coda – I know, I’m a huge fan of both bands/artists but Nick gets points off for how shady his reverence appears to be. Nick could have at least included a Japan song on their awful covers album and send a few royalty checks in Sylvian’s direction!

17 02 2009
bella

what can you do? nick rhodes is a self-absorbed little shit who’s apparently been going through some sort of midlife crisis by picking up trashy young socialites. at least john taylor remains a class act…and unlike mr. rhodes, he is downright gorgeous…absolutely G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!!!!! simon ain’t so bad either. *drool*

1 09 2012
LadyIce

But at least he can get the younger ones ;)

3 05 2009
AIB

The first time I saw Japan was at Barbarellas in Birmingham in 1978. I seem to remember that Nick Rhodes (or Bates as was then) was at the same concert. This was before the image change, but , Japan became increasingly popular as THE group which summed up the club scene in Birmingham. They encapsulated the look, sound and were more cool by being obscure and slightly edgy. The Sylvian look-a-likes were everywhere. I don’t think that Rhodes would have felt that he had to explain his look as he was the same as every other teenager at the Rum Runner.
It was Sylvian’s choice and Rhodes very good fortune that events materialised as they did. Of course, Japan were far superior and attracted a different audience. Japan were serious musicians who attracted an intellectual audience whereas Duran Duran were a teenybop group who later found more credibility outside the UK than they ever did within its shores (probably due to the fact that Japan were virtually unheard of in the USA). Japan never wanted the fame and strived for musical independence which they still retain today in their solo/collaborative careers. Their sacrifice was our loss. Duran Duran can be blamed for their music but not for taking any of the limelight away from Japan.
The irony of it all is that Sylvian in changing his image and adopting the blonde/brown two tone hair was paying homage to one of his idols…Andy Warhol. That a few years later, Warhol was courting the attention of Rhodes makes it all a little perverse. That in citing his musical and cultural tastes, Sylvian inadvertantly created a monster by feeding the hungry Rhodes with a plethora of fashion ideas and musical idols. The irony isn’t lost on me that Rhodes now turns up to the opening of every envelope in London Society along with his buddy…Bryan Ferry. He has become a legend in his own lifetime and I’m sure he pinches himself when he wakes up each morning and can’t believe his luck.
I haven’t set eyes on Rhodes since the Rum Runners days of the early 80’s before they were famous. But my last encounter with Sylvian was at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham in 2007 and I am as in love with him and his music now as I was 30 years ago. I’m sure that Duran fans feel the same about their idols and I am also sure that Sylvian doesn’t hold any grudges.
I suppose the most difficult part of them all growing older is that Bryan Ferry looks as good as he did 40 years ago, David Sylvian is unrecognisable with his more laid back image and Nick Rhodes now resembles the dearly departed Peter Cook. C’est la vie !!!!

5 05 2009
baron von luxxury

Wow, amazingly well said! Interesting that you make the link to Warhol’s snap-on hairdo, I think you’re right about that. And speaking of Bryan Ferry, he was another one that both Rhodes and Sylvian were borrowing heavily from.

The late 70’s and early 80s must have been such an interesting time to be seeing live music in the UK. I imagine there must have been incredible class wars between this crue and my two other favorite Birmingham bands, ELO and Black Sabbath. With the passage of time I enjoy all four bands equally on my iTunes and in my DJ sets, but at the time would I have been crucified, or hailed as a visionary for not choosing a tribe?

Again, thank you for the great comment, AIB – whoever you are (Angela Bowie? Alec Baldwin?)

xx,
BvL

5 05 2009
AIB

Roxy Music and Bowie were the two most influential acts which crossed over from the early 70’s in England and became the heroes of punk and later the catalyst for the “New Romantic” movement to give it a loose term. It was these Ferry/Bowie nights which were staged at various venues around the country to counter the disco movement which to many of us was not our taste and also did not mean anything to us as Brits (later so eloquently voiced by Morrissey……hang the blessed DJ, because the music they constantly play, says nothing to me about my life…). Punk had turned violent and most of us, brought up on Bowie and Roxy were looking for something more sophisticated. Rhodes & co do like to harp on about Birmingham and how awful it was. To Rhodes coming from that side of town, it probably was as the bus route into Birmingham from his house was depressive. But to me, Birmingham was a place of great invention. I didn’t see what they were seeing. I would spend hours in the art gallery looking at the paintings of the pre raphaelites and reading books on the Lunar society by day and dress up and party all night. Funnily enough, I am reading the Great Gatsby at the moment and can’t help but compare Rhodes to Gatsby himself. Changing names, aspiring to a better life, surrounding himself with things that will impress but really, having little substance or original ideas. However, that isn’t knocking his achievement.
Birmingham has many varied music legends that span the decades. But non of them complement each other or have similar connections/management like for instance the bands from Manchester. ELO and the Move / Denny Laine from the Moody Blues and Wings/ Steve Winwood/Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath /Judas Priest…all from Birmingham but a different era and no musical influence on the bands which came out of the 80’s. Duran Duran were by far the luckiest….still can’t fathom it to this day ? UB40 broke at about the same time. Fine Young Cannibals and Dexys Midnight Runners, Steel Pulse. And if you haven’t come across them……another group from the Rum Runner called Fashion who still sound as fresh today as the music they created almost 30 years ago. But another irony here is that Nick Drake grew up and is buried only a couple of miles away from where Nick Rhodes and John Taylor grew up and yet who is it that quotes him as an influence on his music……..yes. SYLVIAN !!
And yes you were right. You couldn’t have been a fan of Black Sabbath and even hoped to have got across the threshold into the Rum Runner. They did have a very strict policy about letting only the “right” people in. Not that any Black Sabbath fans would have been seen dead hanging around with a bunch of men in make up !!

19 12 2010
Ben

“Japan were serious musicians who attracted an intellectual audience whereas Duran Duran were a teenybop group who later found more credibility outside the UK than they ever did within its shores”

What a load of nonsense. Duran Duran’s first two albums were amazing. Yes, they were originally considered as being a typical male teen pop band and yes, they borrowed elements from Japan during their inception, but they made great records and were very successful on both sides of the pond. “Duran Duran” and “Rio” are masterpieces. They did start to lose their touch after the third album as the fame slowly replaced the quality of the music itself. But look at them now, they’ve gone back to their roots, recorded a stunning new album (produced by the Grammy award winning Mark Ronson) and revived their much-loved early sound at the same time. The new album “All You Need Is Now” is the best album they’ve made since “Rio”. Perhaps if Japan hadn’t abandoned their “trademark” sound, they might be sharing equal success today. Just to make it clear, I love Japan’s music and “Quiet Life” is one of my favourite songs of all time. It belongs in every 80s music collection. I’m not dissing them, as that would be immature and silly (although that hasn’t stopped people dissing Duran Duran on this page, based purely on stigmas invented by know-it-all music critics)

I acknowledge the influence that Japan had on Duran Duran, but it was that influence which (eventually) went on to give us the masterpieces that are “Duran Duran” and “Rio”. I’m sure David Sylvian would be proud that the sound he created went on to inspire a whole generation thanks to Duran Duran’s mainstream breakthrough with these records. Anyone who knows Duran Duran will know just how talented the five members are (and indeed were) – or should that be “four” after the second departure of Andy Taylor? John Taylor is an exceptional bass player (but he’s also handsome, so will never get the full credit he deserves) , Roger Taylor is one of those rare drummers who can actually play to time, Nick Rhodes *still* produces some absolutely sublime synth sequences, Andy Taylor certainly hadn’t lost his touch before he left (again) and Simon Le Bon’s voice still sounds damn impressive, even in 2010. The point is, they all have (and had) a serious talent for music. They’re passionate about music, which is why they’re still making albums today. Do you think if they were only bothered about fame and fortune that they would still be making albums 30 years later, with an ever-dwindling public interest? I think not.

Did Duran Duran get lucky? Perhaps. But they were inspired by a great band and went on to become a great band themselves. We should be looking back on the 80s with fondness, instead of comparing bands to one another. The era as a whole was a great time for music, regardless of whether it was mainstream or alternative. Certainly Duran Duran’s later work (such as “The Wedding Album” and the new record “All You Need Is Now” which is a homage to their own 80s sound if nothing else) owes very little to Japan. Sure, they owe the early success to Japan, but since the early 80s they’ve had a lot of different incarnations and many different sounds. Certainly nothing they did after 1984 could be considered a rip-off of Japan’s work, despite them having had a second (The Wedding Album), third (Astronaut) and now a fourth (All You Need Is Now) wave of success.

23 12 2010
AB

Ben
I stand by the quote that you have decided to describe as “nonsense”. It is not nonsense to say that Duran Duran had very few fans over the age of 18 in the early 1980’s. Neither is it nonsense that they gained more credibility outside of the UK. Credibility does not mean popularity. Look it up in a dictionary. Duran Duran had little credibility as serious musicians within the music industry. The only nonsense in your posting is that you claim Simon Le Bon can sing and I challenge even the most obsessive fans to admit that is true. Oh and another, thing, I’m sure Sylvian isn’t proud of his influence on Duran Duran. I would take an educated guess that he wouldn’t give a stuff !! I apologise in advance for any mistakes in this posting but you cannot reply inside the message box as it doesn’t display.

16 08 2009
Carl August Simon

How refreshing to read these comments! It was not lost on us Roxy-Japan-DD fans that there was a lot of “borrowing” going on. Just take a listen to “Angel Eyes”, “Quiet Life” and “Rio”. Knowing that the latter was a John Taylor ditty called “See Me, Repeat Me” from before LeBon joined, it is not hard to see the timeline of what influenced what.

It is indeed ironic how Sylvian et al molded their admitted influences into something truly original, but rarely get the cred, while DD, and especially Rhodes, are hailed as great innovators. Never have they given any deference to Sylvian, or Japan as a whole. Now that there appears to be a common realisation of how inextricably linked the two bands are, this seems ungrateful at best and downright malicious at its worst.

Hopefully, Mr Bates has a moment of enlightenment sometime soon and pays some homage to the man and the band that made him and his comrades famous.

25 12 2010
zorin3

@”Never have they given any deference to Sylvian, or Japan as a whole.”

This is untrue, of course.

17 08 2009
Baron von Luxxury

Man I love this comment thread! I was just watching the Angel Eyes video the other day and thought about how much it resembles “Quiet Life” (which of course it preceded). Does anyone know who remixed the original single? Its practically a different song from the Manifesto version. Wikipedia just credits Roxy Music as producer, but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t sound like Moroder…or at least Punter!

14 09 2009
AIB

I forgot about this thread and just came across it by accident again. Since writing above, there has been a website put on the internet to celebrate the musical culture of Birmingham http://birminghammusicarchive.co.uk/?page_id=563
One of the original lead singers in Duran Duran before Le Bon came waddling along was a guy called Andy Wickett. He wrote Girls on Film and when the band got the opportunity to record their first single, they chose this song and paid Wickett a tiny sum to get rid of him and sign away all his rights to any future royalties. So I think that is a clear indication of how the band have operated throughout their career with Rhodes in the driving seat and a very good management team. How can someone be that sly and savvy at 18? I am the same age as him and I’m sure I wasn’t quite so on the ball…….if I had have been, I would have been taking lots of photos of them all down the Rum Runner etc. and making a fortune selling them now.
Bryan Ferry’s image was carefully moulded by Anthony Price and as soon as they became famous, DD were down the Kings Road buying suits from Price’s shop.
Roxy did mix their own music so I’m sure it was them and not any outside influence. But at the time when Ferry became the darling of the punk movement and later the futurists/new romantics. he had been living in America and was out of the UK music scene so he would have been heavily influenced at that time by New York disco and the sound would have been purely theirs. Sylvian would have picked up on this because up to then, Japan were sounding very different and more rock influenced. They had always cited Ferry and Eno as their musical influences from way back along with Be Bop Deluxe who are another group to get into just for the curiosity factor. Rhodes was always a bit of an anorak (English word for being a nerd) where music was concerned and so would have been well aware of all of the influences and how the scene had come together.
Eno……now that’s another thread. That man is the original genius and his influence spreads across the generations.

25 12 2010
zorin3

@”He wrote Girls on Film and when the band got the opportunity to record their first single, ”
Bullshit. “Girls on Film” was completely rewritten.

30 11 2009
Scamperoo

Loving the comments above, l always think, every time DD come around, that Rhodes must wake up every morning and pinch himself he so nicked the Sylvian look wholesale, l remember travelling down to London to see Japan at the Hammy Odeon it was a sell out l think and who was upstairs propping up the bar non other than the whole of DD obviously down for a lesson in cool, they moved freely through the crowd as no one in that London knew who they were, I always wondered whether they tried to go backstage after. Also the comment about Black Sabbath crossing the threshold of the RR made me smile as l clearly remember Andy Taylor turning up for his first Bowie night experience on a Tuesday wearing a leather bikers jacket with a sleeveless denim cut off over the top of it adorned with heavy metal patches including , yes you guessed it , BS. Twat

24 12 2010
n75

I definitely wish to be challenged on my opinion about the singing ability of Mr Le Bon.. if you compare it to any other singer of his age see Bono for instance you might note that he chooses very difficult high pitches as for instance Ordinary World final part.
To judge it however you need to listen to it.. unfortunately often people judge without knowing what they are judging… especially most often those who listen to music like lady gaga or kesha!!! that s really a paradox..

25 12 2010
zorin3

@”It is not nonsense to say that Duran Duran had very few fans over the age of 18 in the early 1980′s. ”

What a pointless statement. The same was for Elvis, Beatles, T.Rex, Depeche Mode, Sex Pistols, etc…

@”Duran Duran had little credibility as serious musicians within the music industry.”

This is untrue, of course. A flock of morons from “New Musical Express” does not equal “music industry”.
BTW, I wish you, “serious musicians”, such great songs as “Save a Prayer” or “Ordinary World”. Good luck, “serious musicians” :)

@”The only nonsense in your posting is that you claim Simon Le Bon can sing and I challenge even the most obsessive fans to admit that is true.”

Funny, because David Sylvian will never achieve these notes which are in “A View to a Kill” or “Come Undone” (not to mention about Bernard Sumner, Robert Smith, Roger Waters and others).

@”Oh and another, thing, I’m sure Sylvian isn’t proud of his influence on Duran Duran. ”

Oh, I’m sure Sylvian is more intelligent than you and doesn’t suffer from penis envy syndrome. If Duran Duran weren’t popular, nobody gives a damn for Japan today.

4 01 2011
Ben

I just wanted to post how saddened I am to hear of the news that Japan bassist Mick Karn has passed away, a truly great loss to the music industy. But if it’s any consolation, putting our “Duran Vs Japan” debate to one side for a moment, Duran’s own John Taylor has written his own tribute to Mick on Duran’s official website. Those of you posting that Duran never gives any credit to Japan for influencing them should read this…

http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/?p=17671

5 01 2011
baron von luxxury

@Ben Thanks for the link to the DD comment…interesting (and frankly a bit tasteless) to see Mr. Taylor place a jab at Mr. Sylvian in there!

I have just written a little tribute to Mr. Karn here:

http://www.discoworkout.com/?p=2156

12 01 2011
Medazz

I remeber that DD had one it’s infulences section, on myspace New York Dolls, and Japan. It was updated, and it no longer there, because of the AYNINstuff.It makes me sick to think there is bad blood between D2 fans, and Japan fans.
I found out about Japan in the late 90’s. DD will always be my favorite band.
People can like both bands, or one. Duran’s last album had a wink to Sylvian. Box Full o’ Honey… Kind of a “Dead Bee’s on Cake” homage. I’ve loved Medazzland, TWA, and many others. Each album has it’s own personality.

I don’t know David Sylvian ever did any pseudo-rap? Simon Le Bon did on “New Religon” as did Blondie. Many New-Wave, New Romantic bands covered ground… that other bands like Aerosmith get credit for.

People can dis Simon Le Bon, all they want. Thats fine with me. Everyone is entilted to an opinon. But my personal opinon is… Simon’s voice is sometimes like Paul McCartney, other times like John Lennon. He has tallent people don’t get… Simon is like half of the Beatles vocals/ plus his own unique voice.

Duran Duran should be loved more in the UK. But I don’t think enough credit. From “Third Wave” and “Fourth Wave” UK rock-bands. DD could try to be a cheap BeaTLes rip-off band. But they choose things that are “unsuccessful and underground”. For better or worse. I’m sure if DD tried in the 90’s to rip-off Oasis ripping off The BeaTLes. They could have been more successful. But DD chose to go in a differerent direction. Or they could have done more “lite country music” like Hootie & The Blowfish.

Duran Duran get mislabled as a “pop band” but U2 has songs like “the sweetest thing” are pure-pop. Without any trace of “rock & roll”.
The sad thing is when DD do techo-rock.. they never get any cred for being inovators… Other bands will totally ignore them… Thier remixes etc.

Alot of bands credit themselves as inventing “Techno” and “Techo-Rock”. But at least D2.. cites Kraftwerk as an infuence. Bands like D2 and Talking Heads, helped create the re-mix. That has influnced all forms of modern music. But again DD gets no credit from the press or the R&R hall of fame. People want DD to be one, thing or another. The problem is DD always change, sometimes they second-guess instead of just making music. I doubt there would be a Franz Ferdinan without a D2. The “tonight album” was kind of a wink to “Rio and TWA” plus a lot of Talking Heads. The “Dream Again” song was a The Chauffuer homage. It’s a bit like The Chauffuer meets John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

As far as JT taking a jab at DS. What can I say? As a DD fan.. It doesn’t make me “feel good” about JT. But I do love his music. People can choose to like what they like.. This isn’t Orwells 1984. If people all liked the same things.. it would be a dull world! I’m a prouid Duranie. Having a different view or a like/dislike makes us unique to eachother. But it also defines who “we are”.

Well thats the end of my elongated DD rant…(more later)

13 03 2011
Mi

Japan and DD the best bands ever ;}

11 06 2011
Ben Wheeler

Here’s an interesting recent interview with John Taylor, where he cites Japan as a significant influence, especially ‘Quiet Life’…

http://skin-trade.tumblr.com/post/6308781544

“Japan was a really characterful band and the way they incorporated electronics into their sound was so interesting to me. They had a disco drummer, a keyboard player who was more into sonic textures, a bassist who played fretless bass, and this great singer. I remember buying this album on a Canadian import and the first track was a blueprint for us. If you want to know where early Duran Duran was coming from, listen to Quiet Life.”

9 09 2011
baza sylvian

Japan were a head of their time, it took me a few years to get in to their music. but when i got it. david sylvian had left and the others went there own way, shame they didnt continue a few more years. even more of a shame they dont do a come back, but who wants to see a couple of old guys dwelling on the past, that would cause night mares to the way i remeber them now. so Japan will continue to be as good as they were back in the late 70s & 80s when i listen to their CD’s, as i remeber them for what they were then and not ageing guys now. Shame on Duran old farts.

9 01 2014
mar

Duran were a pretty serious band from the start. The lyrics and their aim was serious. Things just got out of hand……… and so they were stuck with the label forever. People just have no idea how unfair that is. At least not for their first album. They struggled to detach themselves from all that, to no avail. To say they were a band for hysteric teens is because of either
a. not having lived then and there when they began
b. not having even listened to their music

10 01 2014
dub rims

Since the admin of this web site is working, no hesitation very soon it will be famous, due to its feature contents.

28 03 2014
Jane ogden

I like both Duran and Japan if it wasn’t for roxy and Bowie we wouldn’t have two brilliant bands also if it wasn’t for Duran and Japan we wouldn’t have some ofthe best new new wave/dance punk bands ie franz ferndinand late ofthe pier and many others who sight Duran and Japan as major influences. So we have duran and japan to thank for these great new inonituative new bands. Old/new love em all.Guitars mixed with synths rule.X

5 07 2014
Joe Bittner

Duran certainly had a Japan-ese influence, but Bowie and Roxy figure in just as much. While I agree that the first two Duran albums are near-masterpieces, their subsequent work left a lot to be desired. Although some of the later work by Sylvian seems to be almost anti-pop, Duran’s output of the last two decades seems to be little more than feeble attempts at reclaiming their long-lost glories. I do miss the halcyon days of the early eighties, though.

3 09 2014
Bulgakov

I came across an interview with Roger Taylor from 2011, in which he expresses, along with the above-cited quote from John Taylor, what I think is to-date the most explicit acknowledgment of the influence of Japan on DD. RT always came across as the most down-to-earth member of the group (JT running a close second), so perhaps this isn’t surprising.

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2011/10/interview_roger_taylor_duran_duran.php

Relevant bit: Q. How was Japan an influence on your own music?

A. Oh, wow. There’s two other drummers that were really influential on me as well. One was Steve Jansen, of course, of Japan. The other one’s Yukihiro Takahashi of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. When I played on “The Man Who Stole a Leopard,” those drummers kind of came to mind when I played the groove to it. Interestingly, nobody else has spotted that until I spoke to you today. If you listen to the early Japan records, they had all the ingredients that the Duran Duran records eventually had. They were a huge influence on us with the way they combined the sequences and the atmospheric synths and the kind of disco rhythms and a little bit of edgy guitar.

Q. Did you get to talk to and hang out with Japan when, appropriately enough, you were both recording at AIR studio?

A. You know what? We were so in awe of them, I think we were kind of scared of them. We’d pass them in the corridor, and we’d be frightened to say hello. We were so in awe of these guys. It seems silly to think that now, but that’s how important they were to us.

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