My Friends

[January 2000 Tomohiko Kira]


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Q: First of all, the routine questions - when were you born, what is your Zodiac sign, and what is your blood type?

Tomohiko Kira (hereafter TK): December 6, 1959, Sagittarius, type-B blood. My age? I'm juu--st a bit over the hill.

Q: For this latest album, "Chrono Cross", you played an extremely vital role in the opening theme (bouzouki and guitar) and the ending theme (guitar) , but even before that, you participated in the recording of a few tracks off of "CREID", the arranged version CD to the game, "Xenogears". I believe that this recording was the first time that you ever worked with Mitsuda, but what were your first impressions of him back then?

TK: Well, this is just my impression, but he seemed like a very nice little boy who grew up in a nice little neighborhood.

Q: Having the opportunity to work with Mitsuda again in this latest album, did you get a different impression from his music than from his songs in "CREID"? Also, did your impressions of Mitsuda change in any way?

TK: His music hasn't changed, but I think this time, Mr. Mitsuda had to take on everything by himself which made him look somewhat bold and courageous.

Q: I've heard that you've been playing the game, "Chrono Cross" recently, but have you gotten to the ending yet?

TK: Not yet. I just changed back from Yamaneko to "Chom". Oh yeah, that's my main character's name -> Chom.

Q: Having played the game, what are your thoughts on it so far?

TK: It's complicating; VERY complicating. I don't see how they're going to bring this story to a conclusion after letting it get so BIG.

Q: What do you think about the music in "Chrono Cross"? Please feel free to comment on anything! (a strict grading is welcomed!)

TK: I still haven't finished playing, but so far there have been a lot of memorable melodies throughout the story. After hearing these songs, I got a feeling that Mr. Mitsuda must have worked really hard on this one. Especially the opening theme song! Listening to it together with the movie just sends chills down my spine. And there were also a couple of points in the game where the music kept playing even after the battle began (do you understand which part I'm talking about?), and those songs were very good too.

Q: If you were asked to write the songs for "Chrono Cross", what kind of music do you think you would have written?

TK: I think it would be impossible for me. I was just completely overwhelmed by the unbelievable amount (and variety) of the music in these soundtracks. If I were ever asked to put together this much motif into a single album, I would probably be dried out like a little raisin and be forced into immediate retirement. I truly respect Mr. Mitsuda for his endurance and his ability to take on such projects (literally, his physical endurance and also his musical power).

Q: Have you ever played "Chrono Trigger"? If yes, what kind of impressions do you have of the game?

TK: I've played it, but sorry; I don't remember a single thing.

Q: Do you have any game music (on SNES, PSX, DC, N64...anything) that you could recommend to others?

TK: It's kind of old, but I've had some good memories with the SNES games like "Zelda" and "Momotaro-Densetsu". I think it was easier back then to put yourself into the character's shoes when their faces weren't so realistic-looking.

Q: You've offered your music to several different sectors within the music business such as movie, theatrical, and CM music, but do you have any plans on working in the field of game music? Also, what are your personal feelings about this genre called, "game music"?

TK: Looking back upon the RPG's from a few years ago, it was common to hear the music being played during the entire length of the game. This may have been OK when the structure of the game was simple, and you only had to go through 5 or 6 towns and level up a couple times before beating the final boss. But now-a-days, the stories are getting more and more complicated, and you have all these things like "parallel worlds" and "your other YOU" that the amount of music necessary for this kind of stuff gets to be unbelievable. Today, there are enough motifs in a single game to fill the entire life-works of a single composer. I was really beginning to wonder how Mitsuda-san was coping with these problems. But then I tried playing "Chrono Cross" and noticed that there were some scenes where there weren't any BGM's playing. I never really thought about anything like that before, and thought to myself, "Ahh, now THAT's a new idea!" Then, I began to wonder if there were any more places where the music could be taken out. For example; trodding through a vast wasteland with no BGM; or making your way slowly through a field only to the sounds of the howling winds and cracking thunder; or going into a town where the only sound was the noisy chattering of the surrounding townsfolk, where during the nighttime all that you heard were the howls of the wolves; or having a battle scene only with the heavy breathing sounds and the clashing of the swords. I wonder if there really is such a game? Doesn't it sound like a good idea? It would make everything feel so real... and just at the right moment, you could throw in your masterpiece to grab the players' hearts. Sorry I'm getting kinda' carried away here, but I just wish there was such a game. I'd love to try working on something like that.

Q: You've worked in many different fields within the music industry, but even within that, your true "life work" would have to be the music that you've created with your musical unit, ZABADAK. I think that most of the people who come to this homepage have already heard the music of ZABADAK, but for those who have never heard ZABADAK's music, could you please give a simple explanation of what kind of music it is?

TK: It's a very mysterious band that's been playing for 15 years now. We started out with three people; then it became a unit of two musicians; and now, it's down to a one-man unit. I think of ZABADAK as something like an amoeba, with me at the nucleus, and the other support members splitting off from me. In other words, once you take part in our band, you're already part of our "cell". Scary thought, huh?

Q: Would you say that the presence of Mrs. Yoko Ueno (long-time vocalist for the unit) was a big part of ZABADAK's music? Or have you developed a personal style of music within these 6 years as a one-man unit, that you no longer have any interests in ZABADAK's old musical styles? What are your present feelings about the music of ZABADAK back then?

TK: The fact that I shared the same musical goals with another person for 8 years, meant much more to me than just her mere presence. I think that's why after she quit, it took a long while for me to fully accept the fact and to fill the big hole that was left in my heart. When you think abour it, knowing someone for 8 years is like being together from the beginning of elementary school all the way up to junior high.

Q: Out of all the albums that you've made so far, which ZABADAK album is your favorite one?

TK: Sorry, but that's a secret.

Q: Your much anticipated new album comes out on the shelves pretty soon (on sale 1/20), but from your viewpoint, what are some of the highlights of this album? (I've heard that this album leans heavily towards progressive rock)

TK: In the newly formed ZABADAK, we tried out many new things, and also played types of songs that previously would have been unimaginable for us. I even tried going into a jam session with ALL the musicians that I met. It was really fun, and I had a great time, but the problem was I sort of lost track of what ZABADAK's music was really supposed to be. So I decided to take things back to the roots; back to the original concept. This meant taking on songs from the melodies first. It may sound like a pretty simple thing, but for me personally, ZABADAK's music was based upon the melody lines, so I decided to take my time and begin from there. And for the first time in the history of ZABADAK's music, over half of the songs on the album turned out to be instrumentals. Since I took everything back to the drawing board and started from scratch, my feelings about this album are about the same as the feelings that I had back when I first made my debut. When I think about how this album's going to be judged from here on out, I start to get worried like a poor little sparrow making its first journey away from its nest. Umm.. What am I talking about here?

Q: Could you tell us when you started working on this album, and the process that you went through in deciding to make this album (were you inspired by anything? like a book or something)? And also this time, you called upon Miss Noriko Mitose (with whom you performed together on the ending theme of "Chrono Cross") to sing the chorus for one of the tracks, but could you tell us the story behind that?

TK: The motifs come from all over the place - some from only a few years back, and others from long long ago. But the thing that really provided the meaning, gave the directions, and guided it all into a single piece of work, was the short story, "Raku-en (Paradise)" written by Mr. Koji Suzuki.

Now about Miss Mitose, I met her about five years ago at one of the Kirche lives, but my impressions of her music back then weren't too amazingly good, so I never really had much interest in her until my session with her in "Chrono Cross". I was really surprised when I heard the demo tape of the song and thought to myself, "Wow, people really do change". And so, after that, I knew that I definitely wanted her to perform in my album too. If it wasn't for that performance with her on "Chrono Cross", she never would have had the chance to participate in ZABADAK's album, so I really have to thank you.

Q: I'm assuming that your wife (Mrs. Kimiko Komine) also took part in this album (as always), but I've also heard that this time, your little boy (Sotaro) took part in one of the songs. Which track is that? (also, what part does little Sotaro-kun play? does he sing? talk? or shout...?)

TK: Komine makes a number of appearances, as usual. Her singing is more ecstatic than ever. Sotaro's SUPPOSED to be singing. But I think the only two people in the entire world that can actually recognize that as "singing" are his two parents, who have apparently lost all reasoning skills what-so-ever.

Q: So how is little Sotaro-kun doing? Has there been any interesting episodes lately?

TK: He's doing great. He talks endlessly, and to tell you the truth, lately I think he's starting to get a bit noisy. He likes to sing his own versions of "Totoro" songs out loud inside the trains. But he seems to be really enjoying himself.

Q: And how about Mrs. Komine? Any interesting stories to tell about your household?

TK: She's doing great too. Hmm.. I don't think I have any interesting stories that I could tell you about our daily life... But one of our routines that we go through everyday is - whenever we drop off Sotaro at the kindergarten, we always feel so relieved and liberated that we go out for lunch and start drinking beer in the middle of the day.

Q: Please tell us what CD's you listen to most during your private time and if you have any favorite CD's that you would like to recommend. (Let me guess. Progressive rock?... laughs)

TK: Hmm, I don't listen to music too much recently. Come to think about it, I don't think I'm really inspired by listening to music anymore. Uh oh... this can't be a good sign.

Q: OK, so let's get ready to wrap this up here (laughs). If you were to work with Mitsuda again in the near future, what kind of music would you like to take on?

TK: I want to be more than just a helper and try to take on a more active role in his works. I'd also like to take part in his lives too, if I could.

Q: Could you please leave a word or two for Mitsuda!?

TK: Please continue to strive for that ONE AND ONLY Mitsuda World.

Q: Q: And finally, could you leave a message to all the readers? (I'm sure that there are tons of ZABADAK fans reading this too, so...)

TK: Mitsuda-san's music and ZABADAK's music - sometimes a lot closer than it seems, and yet at other times, a lot farther apart than it really seems. I hope that you too will listen for yourselves so that you can discover the subtle difference in the two styles of music. It shares a page in "the ethics of Japanese music"... I think.

Q: Thank you very much!

TK: No, no. Thank YOU.


[December 24, 1999 Tomohiko Kira]

Q: For those of you who still haven't heard ZABADAK's latest album, "iKON", hurry! Run to your nearest CD store and grab yourself a copy... It's a MUST BUY. Most people who are already fans of his work know and understand, but it's a distinct type of progressive rock that could only come from ZABADAK. I also strongly recommend this album to all the people who have never heard their music before too. I don't think there's a single band in the entire Japanese music scene that's doing anything even close to what they're doing right now. Especially for those of you who love Mitsuda's music, I think you'll be able to sense the similar spirit and soul coming from Mr. Kira's album.

And remember, if you like this album, you be sure to tell at least 5 of your friends around you about this; so that those 5 people can tell another 5 people and so on... (this is a direct order from Mr. Kira himself. Kinda' frightening. laughs)... so thank you again, Mr. Kira. I hope that you and Mitsuda will remain to be very good music companions. And to close, a word now from Mitsuda to Mr. Kira.

It was only through a very strange relationship (let's keep this a secret for now) that I was able to work with you in "CREID", but even now, I still remember the strong impression that I received from listening to your guitar play.@When I first heard your playing-style, I thought to myself, "I don't think I've ever heard ANYONE play the guitar with such distinct style!" And after getting a taste of your music in the recording of "CREID", I had already begun to lay out plans to have you perform in "Chrono Cross" as well. But because you were such a busy man (it was the time right before all your live performances), I had to get you to give up a day off with your family just to get you into the recording studio (my apologees to Mrs. Komine). I would really like to thank you for that time. In the future, I would also like for you to take on a deeper part in my music. Why don't we just go ahead and make an album together, this year!? I mean, it's the year 2000 and all so...(no real deep meanings). Thank you again, and I hope that we will remain to be very close friends for many years to come.