Record Mirror, July 24, 1982 interview with Mick

Interviews with the band and ex-members

Record Mirror, July 24, 1982 interview with Mick

Postby heartofdavid on Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:57 pm

From “Record Mirror”, July 24, 1982 – a few months after the ZigZag interview, Mick states things a little differently.

Karn Buy Me Love – Sunie

Mick Karn is easily on the shortlist for my desert island diner party – except that he’d probably be too busy to make it.

An interview in a favorite Japanese restaurant makes business look suspiciously like pleasure. You mean I get paid for this too?

Mustn’t get too relaxed, though – easy on the sake, at least to begin with. Keep a clear head, girl.

My companion sits opposite me, duskier than usual after a holiday in Los Angeles spent with Rob, the group’s former guitarist.

If I can keep my covetous eyes off that piercing pink and green sweatshirt he’s wearing for a moment, I’ll start off on my list of questions.

Record Mirror – Why did you choose Ricky Wilde to produce ‘Sensitive’, your solo single?
Mick – Well, Virgin and I drew up a list of possibilities, but I began to feel frightened that some of them might be a bit overpowering with their ideas.
RM – Such as?
M – There was – oh, what’s that guy’s name? The one who does everyone?
RM – Martin Rushent?
M – Yeah, that’s it! He was the favorite. Ricky’s young and seems to have a good ear for a commercial sound, and the single came out exactly how I wanted it. But it’s not a taste of what’s to come on my LP, just a one-off.
The point of doing all this is not that I’m bored with Japan, but just out of curiosity. I wanted to see whether I could work with other people.

RM – Tell me about the lyrics to ‘Sensitive’.
M – Hmm. See, I’m a big softie, deep down. It’s about things you do when you’re under the influence of That Emotion – you make a fool of yourself but you don’t care, and people can’t understand it.

It’s hard not to apply the lyrics to a particular episode in Mick Karn’s existence, but we’ll get to that later. In the meantime, an orange juice for me and more sake for him.

RM – What do you think of Ariola (Japan’s old label) re-issuing ‘I Second That Emotion’?
M – Oh God! I’ve always hated that song! Me and Steve have always hated it – not the song but our rendition of it. It’s got such a gloomy, cotton-wool-wrapped-round-it atmosphere. I hear they’re planning to reissue ‘Adolescent Sex’ next, which is disgusting. It could blow everything off, it’s got nothing to do with us now at all.
RM – How much contact do you have with the rest of the group during a lay-off like this, when you’ve no work to do together?
Mick – Not that much. It feels really weird when they’re not here though. I’ve come back from holiday and everyone’s away, it’s really lonely. But we’re definitely all much happier for the break.
RM – It’s working, then?
Mick – Oh yeah, we’re all discovering so much about ourselves…
RM – Sound like you’ve just come back from L.A.!
Mick – Yeah, man! But seriously, we’re all quite naïve when it comes to everyday life. Once we’d stopped depending on our patents, we had each other. We’d always go out together, because of lack of confidence. That’s probably why we started dyeing our hair and wearing make-up. But I’ve really been wanting to get away from all this group activity. I’ve been wanting to do the solo single for about a year and a half now.
It’s like a little kid wanting to go shopping without his much, for once. With us all working apart from each other now, on our own, its making us grow up incredibly fast.

RM – There must be an awful lot of people buying tickets for this autumn’s tour on the strength that it could well be Japan’s farewell tour. Five nights at Hammersmith Odeon?
Mick – It was going to be nine but we cut it down. It’s hard to believe – nine dates at the same place! Couldn’t handle that at all. Is it a farewell tour? I honestly don’t know. What can I say? We haven’t discussed it. We start touring in October and it goes on until January, then…I just don’t know.
RM – Why are you doing this massive tour anyway?
Mick – Can you put the tape on pause a minute? (Thinks) Right, well to begin with we agreed to do a British tour, but then we hadn’t been to Europe or America for a long time, or to Australia at all. They all somehow got strung together – I think because our agent and the promoters and our manager are just as worried as anyone else that there won’t be any more afterwards.
RM – Did you develop your stage technique, which is really the focal point when Japan play live, to compensate for the fact that the singer stands still?
Mick – Oh, definitely. We thought it all out right at the beginning. Dave hates entertaining. He likes to just sing, concentrate on feeling what he’s singing, whereas I like to entertain. So it seemed logical for me to take over that side of things.
RM – Those strange, zigzagging movements, very stylized – you look as though you’re on wheels. Do you…
Mick – Practice? No! I tried that once at an airport and fell over!
RM – Are you a good bass player?
Mick – No, I don’t think so. Technically, I’m terrible. Look, let me explain – it may take a while and it sounds like the most farfetched thing you’ve every heard but it’s true. With anything I do, and that includes music and the sculptures, the only way I can make it work is by totally blanking myself, not thinking about what I’m doing at all. I just let my hands do it, and I’m playing. Or sculpting.
It’s the only way I can play. I can’t play rhythm and blues. I can never rehearse.
RM – So how can you improve – do you just rely on some sort of spiritual input?
Mick – Oh yes. It sound weird, but I really believe in the spiritual side of things. I hate to say it ‘cos it sounds so – I mean, I never thought I’d be saying these sorts of things.
RM – It doesn’t keep you up night, though, does it?
Mick – Only when I worry that there might not be any more coming from somewhere!
RM – If Japan does make another studio album, will it be very different from the last? Was the eastern-ness of ‘Tin Drum’ a thing apart?
Mick – I think it was Japan’s eastern album. We’re more likely to follow the direction of, say, ‘Sons of Pioneers’, rather than the very clinical feel of something like ‘Still Life in Mobile Homes’.
RM – Are disagreements within the band mainly between you and David?
Mick – No, if anything we argue less. What people don’t understand is that when we do fight, it’s like fighting with your brother. Afterwards, it’s just forgotten.

Sounds very civilized. But things were not ever thus – sooner or later we’re going to have to broach the notorious episode in which Mick’s girlfriend walked into the sunset with none other than David Sylvian. The affair became public knowledge and the tone of Mr. Karn’s comments then was rather more bitter than today’s.

RM – How much does the ‘inside Japan’ story vary with your frame of mind when you’re telling it?
Mick – That’s a good question. I like that…do I have to answer it? It alters a Jersey of a lot with the mood I’m in, which is probably why I regret that interview (in which the story came to light) now. It’s taken a long time, but that whole thing has taught me a lesson – a positive one, not just ‘don’t trust anyone ever again’. I’m a lot calmer about things now, because now I understand how Dave feels, which I failed to do before. I think he’s finding things difficult…
RM – All this growing up?
Mick – Yeah. It’s all so weird, finding yourself growing up. Being like the grown-ups. I’ve got a bank account this year, for the first time.
But about me and Dave - the personal side – look, I’m a big softie and an emotional guy, but all that stuff really doesn’t matter in the long run. I’ve known Dave for 11 years, and our friendship is stronger than anything like that. The band as a unit is a strong unit. Things are different now from the time when all that happened.

I believe him. All part of growing up, after all. In closing, may I quote you a few lines from those ‘Sensitive’ lyrics we talked about?
“Now my life I’ll spend inside this jealousy,
It seemed so easy – I could have your beauty for free,
When time decides to take this pain away,
We’ll find our freedom again,
We’re still gentlemen…”
Hallucinating lucidity
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Postby sisterlondon on Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:38 pm

Thanks dear for this one too. Man, this is a total change of wording the same things!
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Postby krausy on Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:34 pm

Yeah, good read too. What I love about Mick is when someone says he is a great bass player, or asks his opinion of himself, he is sooo modest about his abilities. I happen to think he is freaking awesome on bass, but I just love his modesty.
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Postby Steerpike on Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:02 pm

Great interview Heart of David. Glad to see you looked after your Japan collection better than I did :lol:

Talking of which, do you have that Record Mirror interview with Mick in their Day In A Life series? I think it was in 1981, when RM was still a newspaper format. It was definately before this interview as I'm sure he was still helping out at the Penguin Cafe.
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Postby heartofdavid on Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:22 pm

Steerpike wrote:Talking of which, do you have that Record Mirror interview with Mick in their Day In A Life series? I think it was in 1981, when RM was still a newspaper format.

No, I don't have that. The only intact 1981 UK press newspaper I have with a Mick Karn feature article is Sounds, I think from February; the article is titled Karnal Knowledge, mostly about his sculptures. I have a lot of clippings from various papers, but nothing that sounds like that.

I'd love to read the article if anyone has it.
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