Photo by Jason Foy
I've said it before (because it's true), 'the best songs are sad songs' - the ones that pluck and strum the minor chords of your life. The band, Tomihira, led by Dean Tomihira (vocals and guitar) and ably bolstered by the talented pair of Markkus Rovito (drums and percussion) and Chris Zaballos (bass), deliver these songs. Songs with the melancholy thrum and ache of guitar matched by the Pacific Ocean blue of Dean Tomihira's vocals.
Put simply... Tomihira is West Coast electric melancholia, beautifully controlled and arranged.
I dashed off a little group of questions, hoping someone would reply... and Dean did.
How long has the band been together and who is in the band?
The band started playing live in late November 2004. Before that I had just been recording songs in the studio and at home from about 1992 so there's been a ton of material. most of which lies unfinished. I'm trying to go back through and see how it some of it works now but I'm sure most of it won't work in a live band set up. It'll all come out though...eventually. The live band currently consists of me on voice, guitar, Markkus Rovito on drums and percussion, and Chris Zaballos on bass.
Does one member do most of the writing or is it more of a combined effort?
I have all the songwriting chores though I'd like that to change at some point. Markkus and Chris have very, very unique and powerful styles and I'd like to have more of them in the writing process as things progress, but because of what's already been done recording wise and the amount of time we have (or, rather, don't have) together it's just me for now.
When it comes to influences, are they in your mind pretty obvious, but no one gets them anyway?
They're pretty obvious and people seem to get where the tunes and sounds are rooted. I grew up with a lot of Cure and New Order/ Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen and also got really into Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Hopefully, what comes out in our music is the sense of quality and depth of emotion that these bands have been able to put across in their songs.
How about the bands sound? Do you feel your live sound is more representative of the band, or are you happier with what you sound like on your recordings?
I have to say that in general I've been able to get a lot of tunes to go over well live than i'd ever imagined. I didn't start a live group for many years because a lot of my recordings didn't seem condusive to a live environment. I think part of it is that i've been really lucky to have found such excellent musicians to work with. I had no idea what an amazing impact great players make; the contributions in how they interpret a song. It's also a lot more fun than I ever thought it would be. It's loads of work, but when it all comes together, there's nothing like it.
On the flip side, a recording is a collection of moments that are captured forever which is what ultimately made me have to do music, so my ambitions are always for the best possible recording. I was a fan of recorded music way before I was a fan of concerts, but playing live with Markkus and Chris has really made me realize the magnitude of what is possible in a live performance.
What does this summer hold for you guys? Any live shows, recording, road trips? Are you shopping for a label?
We're trying to play once a month in the city (san francisco) with some shows in and around the bay area. We'd like to go up and down the west coast a bit soon as well. The set of songs recorded is now available for free at our shows and can be sent to anyone for free if they get in touch (see email contact below). At shows we also have as much free merch as we can. We are now starting to submit to record companies for a record deal.
*Dean ended the interview by asking for feedback: "Please give it a quick listen and let us know what you think."
email the band: tomihira @ tomihira.com
email the band: tomihira @ tomihira.com