things buried – barbieriphotographyblog

JB – K just out of shot. (photo by Debi Zornes)

Two and a half years ago, when I first started writing this blog, the former members of the band once known as JAPAN, were barely visible to their remaining fan-base. Steve intermittently uploaded photos and answered the odd question or two, on his ‘sleepyard’ page; David seemed to come and go on his FB page, with just occasional posts, here and there; Richard had a FB page and website, both of which seemed inactive, and Rob had a personal account on FB. There were, of course, official websites for both Steve & David, where news of releases and forthcoming projects would be announced, but it was all done rather formally and there was, seemingly, little chance for interaction with them, as individuals.

Absolutely NO IDEA what is happening here.

My, how times have changed!

Like the proverbial London buses, it felt as if Steve, Richard and Robert were just waiting for one of the others to make a move, before they all eventually decided to turn up at once. Firstly, Steve started posting far more frequently on ‘sleepyard’, and he suddenly seemed inundated with hundred of questions – some of them frankly quite bizarre – which he duly answered with good humour. He then appeared officially on Facebook, at exactly the same time as Richard re-jigged his own account, and they both started interacting more with their fans. Rob and Richard then joined a couple of the fan-run Facebook sites – namely Paul Rymer’s ‘NIGHTPORTER’, ‘TMK’  – and the ‘JAPAN’ page, run by the northern, comedy double-act of Hamlin & Carter.

“We learned to expect the unexpected when Mick opened his door. In this case – a shower cap, cuddly toy and shopping bags. Somewhere on tour in Japan I think.”  RB

Now, it feels like hardly a day goes by, without a new nugget of information, an amusing anecdote, or a never-before-seen photo being released to the waiting world, by one of them. And, it is quite frankly, wonderful.  However,  those people who choose to avoid the murky world of Zuckerbergland,  are definitely  missing out on a whole slew of goodies.

Richard, in particular, has been instrumental in releasing some incredible photographs, from his own collection – informal shots of his friends, just hanging around together; on tour, backstage, in Ryokans, outtakes from photoshoots – you name it, he has shared it. So, in response to a request from Seymen, and with Richard’s permission, I thought it would be good to share some of these fantastic photos with you here.

Now, I know that the minute a photograph gets published on the ‘net, it is shared and shared, to within an inch of its life, on tumblr, instagram, FB – all I ask is, if you do share any of these photos, please credit them to Richard Barbieri, as they are all from his own private collection. Thank you.

“Steve wasn’t as friendly with the fans as I was” 1983  RB
“Soundcheck at the Paradiso. Maybe a hair check would’ve been better.”  RB

Steve Jansen: “I bumped into Mr Barbieri the other day (while he was having a day off from his usual circle of friends) and he showed me a collection of transparencies by Fin Costello and one of them was of my drum kit taken from the front, I think. Maybe ask him if he would kindly scan and post it online as part of his amusing library of snaps? To be honest, he does keep boasting that he’s taken some good photos of me but I never see them.” sleepyard 03/02/2017

Richard Barbieri: “Until Steve J admits that I have at least taken one good photo of him – namely the snooker room photo in Hiroshima that Victoria now has – I shall be withholding the drum photograph.” jansenphotographyblog 19/03/2017.


Well, I can indeed confirm that the photo of Steve with the snooker cue is fantastic – and those of you who have a copy of “JAPAN – A Foreign Place” will be familiar with the image, as it is published there. However, there are other photos, of Mr Jansen, taken by Richard, which are equally as good.

Like this one……. 😉

“Will ye have a cup o’tea, Father?”
Steve in Hiroshima 1983
Up the Trossachs! Sons of Pioneers tour – Dec 1982

JAPAN were a much photographed band. We are so used to seeing their polished and perfect poise, in the formal photoshoots which appeared in so many magazines, and on record covers, that it warms the cockles of my heart, to see these lovely, informal images, of friends – just hanging out with each other.  Whilst it is great to see the un-posed photos of them in restaurants and mucking about backstage, I am constantly fascinated by glimpses of them in recording studios. Steve has released quite a few from the ‘tin drum’ recording sessions, as well as JBK at Foel Studios – and thankfully, Richard seemed to take a fair number of photos during the Rain Tree Crow project.

These are only a handful of the images that Richard has shared with us, on the FB pages, over the last few months. There are many more, which I don’t have room for – and judging from his reputation as a mass-hoarder, I can only assume that there are many, many more to yet surface. So, my advice to those of you, who are not on Facebook is this – come and join us. You won’t regret it.

Many, many thank to Richard Barbieri for sharing these images and for permission to publish them here.

Shamens Tour – 1988.  Looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?

Links to the various FB pages are below.

Paul Rymer’s Nightporter (Japan collectors) page:

Richard’s FB page:

Steve’s FB page:

David’s FB page:

Mick Karn FB fanpage:

JAPAN FB page:

JBK fan page:

Rob doesn’t have a ‘public’ FB page but he does contribute to discussions on the Nightporter, TMK and JAPAN FB pages.

Steve’s sleepyard blog:

Ryokan ping-pong tournament. 1983



7 thoughts on “things buried – barbieriphotographyblog

  1. Having followed our effeminate futurists since 1980/81 ish, and being used to a staple diet of record company promo photos, glossy magazines and beautiful album covers, i`d often wondered if seeing all these amazing behind the scenes pictures of `our` band enjoying themselves … ya know … like normal people, would spoil the illusion ? The opposite has thankfully turned out to be true. Knowing that they all managed to punch their way through the confines of their upbringings , to produce such an amazing body of work ( and continue to do so) , and to retain such an infectious sense of humour throughout , has been a joy to beholden these past couple of years. I admire them even more, now 🙂
    Thanks Vic and Richard for this blog. Great pics, even funnier captions 🙂
    C x

    Liked by 2 people

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