“Japan were a pop band in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, and this was their last record. It brought together, at a moment in time, Mick Karn, an exceptional bass player who died, unfortunately, two years ago, and one of my favorite drummers, Steve Jansen.
“Now, Steve Jansen would sit here and tell you he’s not much of a drummer and has absolutely no technique. But what fascinated me were the incredible rhythmic designs between the bass and drums. They broke all the rules; there was no sort of ‘follow-the-bass-drum-with-the-bass’ Motown-style or putting the snare drum on the 2 and 4. They just made up weird, quirky rhythmic patterns where Mick would play between Steve’s notes.
“Steve is a very stylistic drummer, but he’s very, very simple. I don’t think he’s ever played a hard fill in his life, and he would probably tell you that he can’t. He came at drumming like a photographer – or somebody who’s not a drummer. Pretty much any drummer I listen to, I can hear where they’re coming from; I can tell their historic path. Steve Jansen might as well have stepped off another planet. I couldn’t understand where he got any of this stuff.
“This is an immensely modern record. It’s like part electronica/part ‘80s sci-fi record. I know both Neil Peart and Danny Carey are very keen on Tin Drum.
“The keyboard player from Japan is Richard Barbieri, who is now the keyboard player in Porcupine Tree. I got lucky enough to know Mick Karn before he died – I played on one of his records, he played on one of mine, and I went on tour with him. And I also got to know Steve Jansen reasonably well, too.”