Steve Harris (Japanese translator) 2021 interview


Today we are releasing two interviews — one with Axl Rose and one with the man who interviewed him, Steve Harris. 

Steve grew up in San Francisco but went to Japan as a college exchange student and loved it there. He felt like it was the place for him. After graduating in 1980, he started to work as a freelance translator in Tokyo. Through one of his college buddies, he got connected to a music magazine that needed an interpreter. This led to Harris conducting interviews himself. Over the next 17 years, Steve would interview the biggest of names in the music world. Recently, we asked if we could publish some of those interviews here on the Tapes Archive and he agreed. Over the next couple of months, we will be publishing some of his most notable interviews. 

Marc Allan, our usual interviewer, called Steve to talk about his life as an ex-pat working for a Japanese music magazine. 

They talked about:

  • The magazine Steve worked for and its unique place in the market
  • His worst interview and some of his best
  • His personal musical hero he was able to interview
  • His thoughts on interviews with Axl Rose, David Lee Roth, Pete Townshend, and more.
  • Why he kept these recordings and why he is allowing us to publish them
  • How some questions would get lost in translation and would lead to awkward moments.
  • His frustrations when he interviewed “slacker genius” Beck
  • What led him to leave the music scene in 1997
  • A very funny conversation with Brian Eno about Russian women
  • He clears up the question of whether Cheap Trick is big in Japan
  • Marc tells the story of when he was called “old man” at a Rage Against the Machine concert and how he got his job at the Indianapolis Star

 


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