Eason Chan is back in business after a year-long break. But the hiatus neither softens nor rejuvenates him.

While the pop singer seems energetic and effervescent in promoting his latest Japanese-made movie All About My Dog, to which he lends his vocal talents (dubbing into Cantonese and singing), he can't fool anybody with those tired, bloodshot eyes.

Chan makes a confession midway through the interview. "It's very tiresome to talk for such a long time. I prefer singing. But I know it [the interview] is unavoidable. I could have left and gone off in a taxi. I could have asked my agent to arrange another session,'' he says, only half-jokingly.

It is this kind of forthright honesty that puts him in an unflattering light. His propensity to bare his feelings when caught in bad times by the local press often sees him painted as emotionally unstable and out of control.

But now, he radiates positive vibes, talking about the movie and frolicking with a cute Yorkshire terrier at his side. All About My Dog (originally titled Inu No Eiga, which means "dog movie') is a Japanese ensemble piece by six directors about human-canine relationships, more or less witnessed by a puppy of the Shiba Inu breed.

The dog is also a loyal friend of a lonely boy who as an adult (played by Shidou Nakamura and voiced by Chan) suffers work frustrations and goes on a journey with his canine companion in search of happier times. .

Chan, a dog-lover and owner of three Bichon Frises, admits he is not a fan of man-dog movies because they reek of Americanism. But he explains why he volunteered his services for this film.

"I saw the advanced screening and felt their sincerity. It's a great movie - after watching it I felt like treating my dogs even better,'' he says.

The film crosses several genres from musical comedy to drama without dialogue. The camp but meticulously choreographed opening sequence features a pair of feuding dog owners singing, dancing and showing off their pets in the park, with words comically sung by Chan.

Most touching for Chan is the story of a girl and her dog which is told from both perspectives. "It's quite sad and it's the part where I can't hold back my tears. That it has no dialogue gives it more impact,'' he says. He empathizes more with dogs as a result of the movie. ``I understand their inner world more. Maybe it's just our assumption but it's very likely true [the world portrayed by the movie]. I'd like to see people treat animals with more respect - they have lives too, they're not just objects that you can leave behind when you tire of them or they become too much trouble,'' he says.

So has he spent any of those unforgettable moments with dogs? ``Not really,'' he says. ``Mine just get crazy and scratch my legs because they haven't seen me for a day when I am working.''

Chan will also perform and work as producer for the upcoming musical Love Music Tour 05 - Wrestling with GOD, to be staged at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on August 18 and 19. Featuring Taiwanese pop singer Mavis Fan, comedian Jim Chim, pop duo 17 and twin brother musicians Soler, it is set in the apocalyptic year 4010. The story concerns guardian angels, whose job is to protect men. Except there's only one left alive, so unemployment is on the cards for them.

``It's a conceptual concert that uses body language, music and vocals to tell a story. This concept is common in Western music but not so popular here. If I call it a musical, people would expect a show like Snow, Wolf, Lake (a 1997 musical starring Jacky Cheung), but it's not so I don't want to use the term `musical.'''

Does being a producer for the first time suggest he would like to be more in control?

``There are many things I'd still like to do, decisions I want to make, ideas that I'd like to correct. I am only human, but I am not a control freak.

``I am not even really ambitious. I just do my own music, sing the songs I enjoy and do the live shows I like. I have always been content.''

But the unexpected birth of his daughter Constance last year made him kick the old habits of not having plans. ``It's a miracle to have one more life in your life. It's magical. I used not to care about planning. But now I'll plan first, then make changes according to the situation. You've got to think of your family first.''

Credit: Sing tao magazine