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.
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.
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.
The openness of rural Nebraska certainly influenced me. That openness, in a way, fosters the imagination. But growing up, Lincoln wasn't a small town. It was a college town. It had record stores and was a liberal place.
Creativity is much better when it's free. Someone can take it and sell it if that's what it needs, and from that standpoint, you have to have a label. If you could make your music and just give it away and somehow make a living - that would be the best scenario.
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 $6 or $7 bucks a record vs. nothing off those other records.
He helped make Living Things even more crazy than I wanted it to be. He added old-fashioned piano and classical folk music - that weird otherworldly vibe - all these elements got onto the record.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had no allusions of radio success. I just loved being in studios. I was having fun and in that sense I now feel a lot like I did when I did that record.
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 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 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.
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.
More labels should be like that. Instead of putting these records out myself, I should have just signed with them, but they probably don't like my music (laughs).
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.
They said, 'If we put you in first class with Brian, will you do it?' So I flew after not having flown in eight years. If there's one person who doesn't like flying as much as me, it's Brian.
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.