Dennis A. Amith interviews T.M. Revolution (August 2003)

Photos courtesy of Sony Music Japan

        Get ready America. The revolution is on!

        Sony/Epic Japan & Tofu Records artist, T.M. Revolution performed in front of a packed crowd at Baltimore, Maryland in August 2003 for the anime convention, Otakon. The performance is the first time a well known contemporary Japanese pop music artist has performed at a North American anime convention.

         T.M. Revolution, which stands for "Takanori Makes Revolution", is the monicker that Takanori Nishikawa has used within the last decade as one of the top Japanese pop stars in the last decade. At Otakon, he was there to entertain anime fans and show thousands of attendees a performance never seen at an anime convention. In attendance were some who have just discovered his music from the anime "Gundam Seed" to the hardcore Japanese entertainment fans who have watched him for many years on the various Japanese music shows and were dedicated listeners.

        As the waters for bringing contemporary Japanese artists to perform in the United States are currently being tested at North American anime conventions, the performance and packed autograph sessions were so successful that even Nishikawa and staff were in awe by how well his debut American performance was received.

        In Japan, where most music fans at autograph sessions tend to receive a one second hand-shake and a thank you, the scene was different in the US as fans could not wait to talk, take pictures and hug the artist.

        T.M. Revolution's presence at Otakon was a sight to be seen as hundreds of fans were waiting to meet the music artist. Fans in line were trembling with excitement to meet the stylish artist and there were fans who could not contain their tears once they got close to Nishikawa.

        But the T.M. Revolution excitement doesn't end with Otakon, to further promote his music in the United States, Tofu Records will be releasing a T.M. Revolution album titled "Coordinate" which will feature hit songs such as "Invoke", "Meteor" and "Heart of Sword".

        For some of you who are not too familiar with T.M. Revolution, Takanori Nishikawa is one of the most humorous and stylish Japanese entertainers around. His certain bishounen-esque fashion style for the JPOP scene sets him apart from other Japanese pop music performers. His music revolves around pop to rock and his CD singles have appeared within the top 5 single and album chart rankings numerous times.

       T.M. Revolution debuted back in May 1996 with the CD single "Dokusai -Monopolize-". His third CD single "HEART OF SWORD - Yoake Mae -" which was used as the ending theme song to the anime "Rurouni Kenshin" was the song which many Japanese music fans started to take notice of the performer. The artist then came out with hit after hit with songs such as "LEVEL 4", "HIGH PRESSURE", "WHITE BREATH" and albums such as "MAKES REVOLUTION", "restoration LEVEL->3", "triple joker" that would grace the top single and album ratings of music charts that would clearly indicate that T.M. Revolution's popularity was skyrocketing.

       In 2000, T.M. Revolution would try his hand in acting. Although he has done voice acting for anime like "Rurouni Kenshin" and later for "Gundam Seed", T.M. Revolution appeared in the very highly rated TBS drama, "Beautiful Life" with Takuya Kimura and Takako Tokiwa. His role was not the typical one episode, one minute role. T.M. Revolution's would have a significant role in the drama series. So, unlike most Americans who would know T.M. Revolution through his music work in Japanese animation, with the many Japanese pop culture fans in Asia that are into Japanese dramas, it is no surprise that his music fan following in Asian countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia are credited to that drama role.

       The charismatic singer would then later be married to Puffy AmiYumi's Yumi Yoshimura but a year later the two were divorced. Although a few CD singles were released in 2001 and 2002, mainly DVD releases were available for T.M. Revolution and it would appear that Nishikawa would be away from the spotlight or from the media frenzy temporarily.

       The artist talked about that time period in a recent interview with Newtype USA (July 2003, Issue 7, page 27). Nishikawa said,"It's been two and a half years since my last album release, and to tell you the truth, during that time I thought a lot about myself and the future of T.M. Revolution. I didn't work on anything during that period - to be honest, I couldn't work on anything."

       Nishikawa has gone on to say that "Gundam Seed" director Fukuda was helpful in his return to music. The song "Invoke" was used as the opening theme for "Gundam Seed" and the popularity of the show and the support by Fukuda and the show's staff helped jumpstart T.M. Revolution again. Currently his latest CD single "Meteor" is the latest opening theme for the popular anime.

       T.M. Revolution is now back and it is indeed a pleasure to see Takanori Nishikawa return to his musical roots.

       I recently had the chance to interview Takanori during his brief stay in the United States. Whereas the majority of his American interviews will focus on his performance at Otakon, his music or involvement with anime, for our J-ENT viewers worldwide, I decided to focus my questions on the Japanese entertainment side.

DENNIS: You performed in front of many Americans at Otakon. How were you feeling before your performance?
T.M. REVOLUTION: I was nervous and excited. More than words could say!

DENNIS: There are Americans and many people outside of Japan familiar with your music from watching you on the different music shows. Were you ever aware that you had a fan following outside of Japan?
T.M. REVOLUTION: I had absolutely no idea. That is a great surprise!

DENNIS: Well you know there are Americans who are familiar with you because of your music used for anime such as "Rurouni Kenshin" and “Gundam Seed” but did you know that many people outside of Japan are very familiar with you because of the hit Japanese drama “Beautiful Life"? How did you get involved with that drama?
T.M. REVOLUTION: Wow! You know that drama? I agreed to do “Beautiful Life” because I was offered the role by the screenwriter. She was a fan of mine and came to all my concerts. She offered me to be in the drama right after we met.

DENNIS: So, does that mean we will see you in more dramas? Do you enjoy acting?

T.M. REVOLUTION: Though acting is not my priority, I would consider doing it again if I get an opportunity in the future.

DENNIS: I recall about two or three years ago, you came to America with Fukuyama Masaharu to cover an Ichiro baseball game in Seattle, are you a big baseball fan?
T.M. REVOLUTION: Actually, we went there to watch Kaz Sasaki (note: Sasaki is a relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners) because we are friends. But in Japan right now, everybody is excited because the Hanshin Tigers have a good chance of winning the championship this season for the first time in 18 years.

DENNIS: You know, I remember a few times when you were on “Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ” and several times the hosts of the show, Downtown would hit you in the head. By the look of your facial expression, sometimes it looked like you were hit hard and it seemed like it hurt. Truthfully though, did Matsumoto or Hamada really hit you that hard?
T.M. REVOLUTION: (Laughing) It’s hard to explain. That’s called “Tsukkomi” (* note: See definition below page) but I don’t know how to translate that to English. It may look bad but I guess it is their way of communicating with the guests. Anyway, I hit them back when we go backstage! (Laughing)

DENNIS: You are a very stylish musical artist and each time I see you on television or on a magazine, you always have a different hair style. I was wondering how long does it take you to do your hair.
T.M. REVOLUTION: I have to ask my stylist. (Asks stylist to answer the question)
STYLIST: It takes about 20 minutes.

DENNIS: So, Nishikawa-san. Why are you always stylish?
T.M. REVOLUTION: That’s because I naturally look good! (Laughing)
STYLIST: It’s because of my magic.

DENNIS: So, during your stay here in the US, what kind of American food do you like to eat or are you the type of person who tries to find a Japanese restaurant when you come to the US?

T.M. REVOLUTION: When I go to Italy, I eat Italian food. In America, I eat American food or whatever people recommend.

DENNIS: What kind of music or which artists are you currently listening to right now?

T.M. REVOLUTION: I am listening to Evanescence, TRUSTcompany…what else?? I have so many CD’s! (Asks staff member to bring him his CD case) Oh! I also listen to Mad At Gravity and TAPROOT.

DENNIS: Let’s do a little word play, I’ll give you five words and you give me the T.M. Revolution definition for these words.
T.M. REVOLUTION:

LOVE – Something that is lost one day. No, that was a joke. In truth, that is what I want most.
SUCCESS – Something that is very obscure.
MP3 - Shapeless
Britney Spears – A bombshell!
SEX – I don’t know.

DENNIS: If there is one word to describe yourself, what would that word be and why?
T.M. REVOLUTION: Prince. I like using the sentence, “Why don’t you let me be your only prince?”
DENNIS: Eh? Why?
T.M. REVOLUTION: Why? Because I want a Green Card. (Laughing) Just kidding. Well, because I want to be loved by everybody else.

DENNIS: What final words would you like to leave with your fans?

T.M. REVOLUTION: Let me be your only prince. Thanks so much!

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* Tsukkomi: "Tsukkomi" is one of the roles in a traditional manzai duo. The other is "boke". Usually what happens is the boke says a lot of non sequiturs, goofy observations or just plain nonsense. The tsukkomi's job is to rein them in. Usually this is by statements like "that's not right" or "cut it out" but sometimes it's physical. Looking at the words themselves, "boke" means senile or ditzy and "tsukkomi" literally means "thrust", as the person is interjecting into the conversation [Explanation of "Tsukkomi" by Rick Frankum].

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Tofu Records or Sony/Epic.


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Dennis A. Amith is the former Editor-in-Chief of Asian Pacific Review and a freelance entertainment writer and celebrity interviewer. Dennis A. Amith is known for his knowledge of pop culture especially Asia pop culture. He continues to stick with his formula of promoting artists and professionals who are well-known to the up-and-coming, his goal of helping to smash the barriers that exist for Asians in the entertainment industry and to ask questions that will definitely grab your attention.

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