With their creative insanity, Japanese Babymetal shows how the boundaries of metal can still be expanded in all directions.
Three extremely luminous teenage girls as singers and four dizzyingly high level backing musicians making music combining everything from extreme- and melodic metal to electro, prog and pop. Only in Japan? Yeah, only in Japan. During the last year Babymetal has propagated like a shock wave over the whole world and the band, who might at first seem like a one hit wonder to the eyes and ears of many, has through their music videos and their debut album been shown to be something else entirely.
The whole core of baby metal may seem like a joke at first but it’s soon easy to see that they’re far from that. Around the beguiling core idea, they have assembled rousing songs, which have the melodies, choruses and catchiness to make it on their own, even without the cute icing. If you give Babymetal a chance you can quickly find yourself totally bewitched by this charming audiovisual bombardment.
The Big Bang
Babymetal got their start only a few years ago through a Japanese talent group Sakura Gakuin but already the extremely cheerful trio Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal have made it to Europe. Before their performance in Cologne they had the opportunity to tell how metal has swept them away even though the rock scene wasn’t familiar to the girls before joining the band.
Su-Metal: – Before Babymetal, we knew next to nothing about Western metal but now we have been touring the world and receiving records from people as gifts and naturally discovering new music is great! Almost everybody has been praising Metallica to us and have been wondering if it’s even possible that we haven’t heard their biggest hits in Japan. Now everyone’s been making sure we listen to Metallica and other top groups.
As many people who have picked up an instrument or a mic know, just a small taste of being in a band is enough to excite anybody. Only a few years in Babymetal has been enough to lead members to new hobbies.
Yuimetal: – Before Babymetal I hadn’t thought much about playing an instrument because I was so focused on singing and dancing but now I’ve just had to start learning guitar and I hope that someday I’ll be good enough to even play on a record.
Babymetal’s young stars are currently touring the world. In this year they have been playing in Europe, America and festivals like Sonisphere, which has been a a bit of a culture shock to the young ladies just like first time in Japan is to us Westerners.
Moametal: – Europe has been an amazing experience because earlier we had only visited other Asian countries besides Japan but never Europe or America. If any of you have ever visited Japan, you must know how different just the European streets, buildings and people are compared to Asian cities. Not to mention all the bread and cheeses, which we in Japan have hardly at all, even though they must seem totally ordinary to you.
Practice since childhood
Babymetal’s incredibly catchy songs might go far on their own but they are further enhanced by dazzling choreographies in music videos and onstage. This competence however was not achieved overnight. The members of Babymetal have been involved in the world of music for years before starting the band.
Su-Metal: – I took up dancing when I was 9 years old and since the beginning I knew I wouldn’t only be interested in traditional dances. I wanted to do something more, something more energetic and distinct! Even now just the shows are not enough for me. I practice all the time, before shows, between shows, because I love dancing more than anything. The more fun we’ve had with Babymetal, the more we discover even finer ideas for the future.
The singers of Babymetal may be young but onstage they exude perfect professionalism. The performances are, despite of their energetic nature, almost flawless. The band however do not take this for granted and all three admit to still being nervous of live shows and music video shoots.
Yuimetal: No matter how much you practice for the performances, it’s still a tense mood before every show. Those couple of last minutes before stepping onstage feel totally insane but when we start the show and see the crowd cheering in front of us, the nervousness dissipates instantly. Sometimes it feels like I don’t remember anything of the show after that point, almost like I was controlled by some outside force for the whole time!
Performing isn’t always painless and the girls burst into laughter, when I ask them how they handled the first gigs, while not being necessarily fully accustomed to the metal mannerisms.
Su-metal: My favorite memory from our shows is the most painful one! When we started doing shows with Babymetal, I wasn’t quite accustomed to all the thrashing. After the first shows my neck was totally stiff for three days, because my headbanging technique was all wrong, which might have put me at risk of hurting myself seriously. However we managed to turn even this incident to our advantage, as you might be able to see on our Head Bangya music video!
Always room for dreaming
In little over a year Babymetal’s music videos have been watched on YouTube tens of millions of times, the band is the youngest act to sell out the Budokan arena, they have played on same stages with the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica and their music has captivated fans regardless of their age, gender or music tastes.
At the moment Babymetal is living their dream. Very few Japanese bands can boast about touring the USA, as a warmup for an artist like Lady Gaga and not even many western acts can say the same. The girls don’t even try to hide their excitement when I ask them, how they found themselves booked on a tour with Lady Gaga.
Su-metal: – Maybe our music or our videos were distinct enough, because Lady Gaga contacted us herself and she wanted us on tour with her so badly, she didn’t really even give us any choice in the matter. Not that we have anything against this tour. I mean she is one of the biggest artists in the world and it’s just an unbelievable honour to perform in her shows!
A world tour and opening for Lady Gaga might be the peak of their career for many bands but it seems like Babymetal’s career is just beginning. Already sold out concerts and audiences world wide are screaming for more and the band themselves aren’t satisfied yet as they are aiming for an even greater phenomenon.
Moametal: – It would be great if our music could function as a first step into metal for as many people as possible, because I feel that could very well happen with our songs. It would be nice if we didn’t remain as the only such band and we started an entire phenomenon where bolder and bolder bands would appear to spread cuter metal everywhere!
Note from the translator:
As I was translating, I noticed that there might be a small error in the article. There was a quote from Yuimetal talking about learning guitar but as I can’t remember any other mention of this in any interview, I have read, I thought it more likely to be actually said by Moametal and mistakenly attributed in the original text. I didn’t dare to change it though, as I’m not 100% sure. I was wondering if you remember coming across anything like this in other interviews.
Original article written by Aki Nuopponen for Sue
Translation by Kalle Koivisto
Source: Sue no.20