New York Comic Con 2008. Nine press members got a chance to interview TM Revolution, solo J-pop star and singer for Abingdon Boys School. The fandom world knows him best for his song work on various Gundam series, including Gundam SEED. To me he was an exceedingly nice guy with long, thoughtful responses and elaborately painted fingernails.
Below is the interview transcript. Note that since everything was done via translator we can't guarantee the 100% accuracy of these responses.
Thank you very much for joining me...I'm with theOtaku.com and the questions that I'm going to ask are a mix of questions from both myself and from members.
Starting off...since you're performing at New York Comic Con, are there any American comic books or TV shows that you enjoy?
I come to New York every once in a while and when I do I don't have much time to watch TV--I'll usually see a show and go to bed early--but this time I arrived yesterday, I ate early, and when I got back they had Adult Swim on in the hotel and there were so many weird programs that were fascinating...one with characters who looked like food from McDonald's (Aqua Teen Hunger Force), another reality TV show with cartoon characters (Drawn Together).
In terms of things that I watch in Japan. I know it's here in America, Heroes, and in terms of comic books, like Fantastic Four and Spiderman, rather than reading the comic books, I'll watch the American movie adaptations in Japan.
Heroes Season 1 was much better than Season 2...
In Japan Season 2 isn't out as a box set yet and I really liked Season 1 and that's disappointing because I was really looking forward to Season 2.
Your first concert in North America was in 2003, five years ago, do you do anything differently to prepare now vs. back then?
In terms of personal preparation there's not much difference. I keep in mind the theme of the event and the venue. Five years ago it was Otakon, this year is in New York, so I had to think hard about what songs to include in the set list, given the potential atmosphere of the event. For example because of the inclusion of American comics in this weekend's event one of the songs I'm going to play is from the Japanese Spiderman movie.
What went into the naming of Abingdon Boys School, seeing as it's a reference to the school where the band Radiohead was formed?
It's not like Radiohead's not completely involved but there's a long backstory. I love motor sports and anything related to cars. For example my management company's name is diesel. What I also like to do for naming is to take a word and twist it around a little bit. One of my nicknames growing up was 'Tavo' (sp?) and so I came up with 'turbo' as the name of my fan club, like turbo engine.
The idea I had for the band was to use the term "anti lock brake system (ABS)." Other than myself the three members of the band were all born in the same year, and I'm only a year apart from them, so I was thinking of this whole generational thing, we're all in the same school age kind of thing, and it turned out that Abingdon was a district of Oxford and when we looked it up we realized that Radiohead members had gone to that school and they had all been in the same grade as well. Since we were all men (or boys) it was Abingdon Boys School and still uses ABS for anti lock brake system but it's a play on the words, we thought it was really ironic and funny. It was also because of the generation we all were it's a tribute to the great music of the time.
How much did the 80s American MTV influence the Japanese music scene?
Certainly in terms of Abingdons Boys School it's going back to my roots in music and as I said earlier we felt like we were all part of the same generation born around 1970 and the 80's was a heavy influence on us in terms of the music we grew up with.
One thing I noticed with us in terms of Jrock, Jpop, most groups are focused on vocals and there's not as much solo guitar play anymore within people's songs and I really wanted to bring that back because in ABS we have two great guitarists who have great personalities that really come through as you listen to the songs. When I think about it, great 80'sgroups like Toto that's the image we have in mind when we write the music. The fourth person is more of a programmer who does a lot of synthesizing work and scratching and stuff so we have an industrial/techno side of the music and the guitar side of the music
Since I run a manga/anime website a lot of our members are familiar with your work singing theme songs and as a voice actor...How different is voice acting compared to performing songs?
Well of course in terms of the roles I played there was Kenshin and Gundam SEED. Gundam as a series I watched growing up so I didn't have to prepare that much especially because the character I played; the director was MY fan so the character was based on me and the director's request was that Ibe myself, so I didn't have to really prepare at all. Not that I really know if the character resembles me that much but he was written with me in mind.
Given your stage name T.M. Revolution, is there any form of revolution that you are currently engaged or plan on initiating or participating, like a music revolution or a revolution for world peace?
Absolutely! I mean just the fact that I'm here speaking to you and that I'm going to be performing at this event--that is the Revolution, where I'm meeting people across the world and Japanese artists are performing here in the US and New York and I'm hoping that part of what I envision as a revolution is bringing my music--representative of Japanese music--to people who don't know anything about music in Japan.
On our site we have so many young artists, not necessarily musicians, but artists of all types, as someone who's built a career as a musical artist, what advice would you have for them?
I think what's a message I'd like to get out to folks is that even though it's important to be able to have the imagination and creativity on one's own it's much more important to encounter as many people as you can and in that interaction even more opportunities and creativity can be born. For example there are times when I want to shut myself in my room and write stuff, but it's actually when I'm out driving or eating out with friends, just relaxing or chatting, that's when ideas come. Or feeding ideas off of each other. In order to get closer to one's dream it's important not to lock yourself away but to interact with as many people as possible.
In fact often in these interviews I get asked which other musicians am I inspired by but it's more rare that I'm inspired by fellow professionals than I am by regular people. I'm definitely influenced by my staff, by my fans, the feedback, the interactions much moreso in every day situations than other top stars or anything like that.
This is my last question, short and fun...I heard that you've an avid video gamer, what console do you think will 'win' this generation?
Translator: You do know his label is Sony, right?
It's kind of hard to say but with the advent of Blu Ray and the fact that Blu Ray will soon be the worldwide standard it's cost effective for the PS3 because you can play games and watch Blu Ray and here in the US people are buying the PS3 so they don't have to buy separate BR machines.
But in terms of pure game consoles I do like the Wii. It's kind of low calibre in terms of the technicals and the visuals but the games that have been created are quite unique. The controls are very different, the games are designed for the technology rather than vice-versa. And I think partly the success of the Wii is due to the fact that with the PS3 and the Xbox, it's not clear how much Sony and Microsoft control the type of game that's produced, whereas since the early days of Famicon, Nintendo has always demanded of third parties that they develop games with a certain amount of fun.
I think you could be a video game journalist if you wanted to.
No, no I'm a singer...I was excited because last year the ABS recorded a song for the PS3 game Folklore. I think there's going to be a lot more collaboration between music and video games in the future, Guitar Hero of course being a major example of that, so I'm hoping there'll be more opportunities for myself and the band to work with video games.
On behalf of theOtaku.com thank you for your time and thoughtful responses to our questions.