When I go to Japan and do shows I play for 1,000 to 1,500 people. I like a lot about Japan. Their popular culture and mass commercialization appeals to me.
Girlfriend and 100 Percent Fun were my two peeks, around '92 and '96. The reality is that the times I had the most media success, sold lots of records and played bigger shows, I had the least control of my own life.
There are things that I value now that I didn't when I first went over there, like Zen Buddhism, which has become part of my life over the last couple years.
I have more perspective now, and am happier now. It's not that I don't want success, but I now know I can have success at a lower level and make much more money doing it by myself. I make or bucks a record vs. nothing off those other records.
I wanted Kimi to be a Japanese record with a Japanese title. I wanted it to be for them. They appreciate things on a different level, and take their art very seriously - that's special if you're an artist.
It wasn't so much that I had to leave to make it in the music business as I was curious to be out on my own and sort of explore. I never felt that where I was ever influenced my songwriting.
First off, I don't want anyone to think I'm this huge thing in Japan. Every group from here that's made any records over any length of time - even indie bands - have a Cheap Trick effect in Japan.
I went to a rare live Van Dyke show and met him there. And then he came to a show of mine and we spoke back stage. The third time was at Brian Wilson's birthday party.
It became a question of do I want to be on a label where it could take three years to put out a record instead of putting out three records over the same period of time on my own.
When I did the record, I was coming off a time when my contract had been sold and the music industry had changed a lot. I didn't understand how to make records for big labels. I was waiting for a new kind of record label to emerge.
You know that they're not just into it for the moment, they really care about it and value it over time.
He wanted to play accordion on something of mine and I said you can play accordion, but I want you to play piano and organ on some stuff. He came over a couple times a week for two weeks and gave me therapy as to whether I should do The Thorns or not.
My family lives there, so I come back sometimes between shows for a couple days. I get back a couple times a year. When I was 30 to 34 I was weirded out when I came back - you know, how your past gets away from you. It's grown so much.
Back then, we could drive a mile from home and there was nothing. Now it's grown in every direction and is populated and modernized. I guess I have mixed feelings about it, but I'm not someone that thinks everything should stop growing.
So it helped me to just let go of all my tensions and feelings about that world and say 'OK, this is for my fans in Japan. They'll be nice and get into it and have fun.' And it was the first record I made at my home studio.