Sonic has been through a lot when it comes to games, Sonic Adventure 2 being an example of which is generally perceived as one of the best Sonic games of all time. Sadly, our blue friend hasn’t starred in only good games, Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island for example. However, in most games, there was one thing that didn’t let us down: the soundtrack. For nearly 20 years, Jun Senoue has been arranging and composing the music for the majority of the Sonic games. Together with Johnny Gioeli, he formed Crush 40 and wrote countless memorable songs including Live And Learn, Sonic Heroes, What I’m Made Of, and the list goes on. Crush 40, formerly known as Sons of Angels, did not only write music for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise though; In fact, there’s a Sons of Angels album called Thrill Of The Feel which contains songs for EA NASCAR Arcade (Rubbin’ Racing in Japan), and they’ve written several songs unrelated to video games such as Is It You, One Of Those Days and Rise Again. We (Andrew, Benji, Martin and Kjeld) represented JunSenoue.com and got the amazing opportunity to interview Jun at The Summer of Sonic 2012.
JS.com: Firstly, how did you met Toru Kawamura?
Jun: Toru? It was very… ehh, the first time I met Toru was for Seaside Hill, for Sonic Heroes. All of my list of drummers were not available, and Takeshi Taneda took Toru for my session, but since I was in San Francisco at the time I could not see Toru for three or four years. He did a lot of drums for my songs, but no chance to see him for three or four years.
So, to answer your question, Takeshi took Toru to my session.
JS.com: Right, okay, so, who influenced you as a child? Musically.
Jun: I think you know, Duran Duran was one of my favorite bands, and also Hammertown Runs last decade, so that’s it.
JS.com: A long time ago, maybe six, seven years ago, when you finished the Crush 40 original CD, you talked about having a lot of demos, maybe twenty-
Jun: Actually, the Crush 40 CD, was a kind of Sons of Angels CD. And then we worked on Sons Of Angels songs, that means it was 1999-
Johnny: Jesus, we’re old!
Jun: And then, after working on “Open Your Heart” we wrote together seven songs for Sons Of Angels. And uhh… oh I remember, originally I made an idea with JVC. JVC is a record company, Victor Entertainment, and then I asked them to release it, not for the game soundtrack, just ehh… I wanted to have a new project, just with Johnny and the two guys from Loudness. So I asked them to release Sons of Angels as a new band, new project.
JS.com: You said you had twenty songs around that time that weren’t released. Did any of those get turned into actual songs available now, or did you’ve have anything recorded from those ideas?
Jun: I sent lots of ideas to you, to him (Johnny) several times, but he…
JS.com: …ignored you?
Johnny: (laughs) It was basically, pick and choose based on feelings, so Jun would start the feeling, saying “Hey what do you think of this idea”, idea A, B, C, D, E. I would go like “I like A, I like C”.
Jun: But the songs you mentioned, those never happened with his vocals on them.
JS.com: So you never looked back and thought “maybe I’ll use those for a new song”, they’re just gone?
Jun: Mhm. Yeah, so we just skipped them for much more fresh ideas.
Johnny: I didn’t like them…
JS.com: (laughs) So within your work with Sonic The Hedgehog, what music that you worked on are you most proud of?
Jun: I’d say “What I’m Made Of”, what about you?
Johnny: “I Am”, “What I’m Made Of”
JS.com: and outwith?
Jun: Oh, I’d say “Watch Me Fly”, since it was a very first song for us to do together.
JS.com: Was it the first song you recorded for Sons of Angels?
Jun: Uhh, “Revvin’ Up”. But “Watch Me Fly” was a very first song we wrote together. That means I provided the music, the temporarily idea, and then mailed that, and then he (Johnny) took care of the lyrics. So it was a very first step to do that. We did it the same way for only two songs, “Watch Me Fly” and “Fuel Me”. And “Fuel Me“, that was the first time Johnny wrote the lyrics for my music.
JS.com: Do you actively search for new musicians to collaborate with, or are they recommendations? Such as ‘Cash Cash,’ how did you find these bands?
Jun: I usually purchase CD’s, like a dozen CD’s a month. Lots of like, from heavy metal, or much more pop band, and them sometimes the techno stuff, Skrillex. So I do like any kind of music, and then usually looking for the new, hmm, not only new, but the guys to cooperate with. As for Cash Cash, it was kind of Tomoya’s request. I worked with Tomoya for several years. The first time was for “His World”, his request to us was to have singers, one of them rap singer, and one of them to sing the choruses, *sings “his world”*, that kind of stuff. And for me, I know several bands featuring two singers, a rap singer, and a, ehh, regular? Regular singer?
Johnny: Regular, yeah. Or smooth, whatever. Smooth jazz singer. *jazzily sings “his world”*
Jun: (laughs) And when I heard the original demo of “His World”, my own idea was to make an arrangement. So I asked Johnny to write the lyrics for the chorus section. So it made sense to us to do a kind of our version of “His World”.
Johnny: He was very smart about it!
Jun: And we will not do “Endless Possibilities”! (laughs)
JS.com: Haha, that’s a question we just don’t have, that’s fine. So, why did you choose “Fire Woman” and where there any other ideas for covers?
Jun: Ah, for “The Best of”-compilation, I sent a list of my favorite songs I wanted to cover to Johnny, and then Johnny picked “Fire Woman”.
Johnny: Actually, that’s completely incorrect. He’s a pyromaniac, and he set his wife on fire, and so I thought it’d be appropriate we’d play ”Fire Woman”.
JS.com + Jun: (laughs)
JS.com: Okay, ehh…
Johnny: And his house, he set his house on fire also.
JS.com: How did you start using ESP guitars?
Jun: Ah, ESP is a Japanese guitar company, and one of their biggest stores is located in Shibuya. Shibuya is a name of a town in Tokyo, and my highschool was located in Shibuya too, so it was very easy to go there to spend time. So at that time I purchased several ESP guitars when I was in highschool. My person in charge at ESP Guitars was a kind of an executive staff for ESP. So when I started working in SEGA they felt that it would be a great idea to have me as a ESP roster to team up with like, between SEGA and ESP and those kind of stuff. And also since I can use ESP stuff in front of the audiences like in this event and also have the ESP logo on every staff-roll (credits) and it made sense for them and it made sense for me to get the guitars.
JS.com: Well it worked because I’ve bought a few ESP’s because you’ve used them!
Jun: (laughs) I try to make new customers here! (laughs)
JS.com: How did you end up on Metalfolk Jamboree? How did that come about?
Jun: Ahhhhhh (laughs). That was kind of a fun project, you know. That was done in 1997 or so… that was the time that I enjoyed that kind of outside projects. It all started from Metalcchi. I will send you details later, but Metalcchi was a second project from Sony as an Animetal franchise. Do you know the work called Animetal? It was a kind of collaboration between Japanese cartoon songs playing with hard rock style and uh.. they had an agreement with Sony and Sony in Japan had a second or third wave for those kinds of stuff. Second wave was not with anime songs, but with Japanese pop-songs from 70’s or 60’s. Sony had a singer but no arrangements or musicians for that project. I know several guys for a team and they (Sony) asked me to do that job… to make an arrangement for that kind of stuff and also to hire the musicians. Then I teamed up with Naoto Shibata who took the bass job for Sons of Angels too, and then also Katsuji (Crush 40) was a drummer for that project. We did an EP and then after that we did a similar one for another company and the third one was Metalfolk Jamboree.
JS.com: I’ve got Shane’s question, he’ll kill me (if I don’t ask), I’ll email it to you, it’s about Blotto Rockers, he did ask you but you never got back to him. Maybe you didn’t want to tell us…
Jun: (laughs) No, it really was a fun project for me, since it was a sort of, yeah, it was very fun for the first two or three months. We wrote about twelve songs within those two months. It was a really fun time I could spent with them, but after going out for the road, we had a lot of shows in Tokyo, Osaka, so that we had also a lot of travel with them, and that made lots of travelling (hesitent laughing)–
JS.com: So you didn’t like the travelling… Okay, well, we’ll leave it at that. Thanks for your time!
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