Tag Archives: Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson interview with Hedoban magazine (vol. 5)

The man who runs column on a major paper The Guardian, who is one of main writers of one of the top metal magazines Metal Hammer and who recognized Babymetal earliest and highest in the UK, finally came to Hedoban which pushes Babymetal as hard as can in Japan!

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

He was interviewed with Japanese metal magazine Hedoban before the second UK live at O2 Academy and its translation as follows:

Q : First, please tell us your metal experience as a listener and metal fan.

D : I spend almost of my life with listening to metal! Metal has taken my heart since I knew Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Twisted Sisters at ten years old. I devoted to thrash metal in my teenage years, and have listened to all sub genres of extreme metal from death metal to grind core to black metal, and underground music. I also like commercial and modern ones, but my true passion wants traditional metal and its descendants. I have listened to music of countless genres since then, my passion for metal is beyond ones for other genres. And I feel myself belong to it. Now I got a job to write about metal and drown in music with best circumstances. It’s so great!

Q : I went to see performance at Sonisphire and solo show at The Forum, I was surprised by an amount of metalheads there even more than those in Japan. Especially audiences in a solo show at The Forum was unexpectedly hyped, and it was one of the best hype of all. What in Babymetal do you think moved metalheads in UK?

D : Really? The impression might not be 100% precise. To be honest I was surprised to the fact that Babymetal got a big applause at Sonisphire. UK metal fans are so varied so we don’t tell what goes big and what not. But it was true that their appearance in Sonisphire this time gained tons of recognition all of a sudden. Fans who saw their stage got to know that Kami Band was real metallers and have superb talent. Also passionate performance of the trio of Babymetal had enough power of conviction. A power of making audiences enjoy flourished from the stage and it affected on the audiences. Yes, some somber and difficult audiences must have disliked a concept of Babymetal. But they react like that to anything.

Q : Have you ever had a interest in any Japanese metal band before Babymetal came to you?

D : I’m a big fan of Sigh and Church of Misery. And I like Boredoms, Ruins, Melt-Banana, Zeni Geva and more. Japanese bands give me an impression that they add new and a little crazy interpretation into established ideas on music. It makes music more fun and exotic for eastern listeners including me.

Q : In Japan die-hard Iron Maiden fans are recognized to be a high ranked metal fan and called as Gachi Metarā (true metalheads). And it is true that many in these Gachi Metarā never admit so-called perverted metal. What do you think of that, as one of die-hard Iron Maiden fans?

D : Yes, there are a lot of traditional metal fans in the UK, and they don’t accept anything but conservative and authentic metal sound. Fans of Maiden might support these narrow mindedness in a sense. But most of metal fans in the UK have an open mind about music. It would be because the UK is a major market and we have opportunities to listen to all bands, all kinds of music in the world. So there would be a lot of Maiden fans who also love Babymetal because it’s new, different a little and enjoying music, isn’t it? Not everyone listen to the music all the time along with a rule of what metal should be.

Q : Changing the subject, when and how was your first encounter with Babymetal?

D : Same as the many people I suppose, at first I knew Babymetal from a link which someone posted on Twitter. I clicked the link and watched a video, then I became a fan in a moment.

Q : Which song was it that you listened first?

D : I’m not 100% sure, but I think Megitsune was my first experience. I liked it in a moment. It’s enough heavy to me as a metalhead, its Pop aspect was also good. Good quality Pop music does no harm at all.

Q : So, which is your favorite Babymetal song?

D : I have two, Iine! and Ijime, Dame, Zettai. Iine! is crazy about mixture of different styles of music and has fine composition. Ijime, Dame, Zettai is a gorgeous epic metal song with killer melody!

Q : Hedoban thinks that Babymetal the first album is something that will become one of the best metal albums. What do you think of this album?

D : I think it’s a great album, too. All songs in it are powerful, also performance and production are first class. On top of that, it’s completely different from any other existing songs around us. I feel so refreshed by listening to it. I listen to it many times and my 11 years old daughter says she loves the album.

Q : Was Sonisphire your first time to see them live? I think it sounded different from sound sources or videos…?

D : I have seen Babymetal only at Sonisphire. I think the performance was minimum version of their full lives that they always do in Japan, even so it was the performance that exceeded my expectation enough. It was unexpectedly fun from the beginning to end!

Q : Then, which is your favorite member of Babymetal?

BABYMETAL uk flag

D : It’s a question I can’t answer to be honest. Haha! (wild)

Q : (laugh) So, what’s interesting about Babymetal for you? What’s the major difference from other metal and loud bands?

D : One of the best joys in life is to listen to something new. It should be not just a copy of existing music but fresh ones that surprise everyone. So Babymetal is exciting. The difference between them and other bands in metal scene is that everything they do is a series of joy and surprise. I watch them and think they are great.

Q : In Japan Babymetal is so popular enough to sell out arenas with over 10,000 audiences, but there’s a lot of controversial discussions about it’s metal or not metal. Do you think they are metal? If so, what do you think makes them metal?

D : Babymetal is not authentic metal. I think Babymetal is a hybrid of metal and Japanese Pop music. But they are heavy and enough metal, that makes metal fans enjoy it, including me. Personally it doesn’t matter to me whether Babymetal is metal or not. I can listen to Maiden or King Diamond or Carcass whenever I want some pure heavy metal. But sometimes you want to enjoy another things with more experimental and roguish taste, don’t you?

Q : I see. How about discussions in the UK about Babymetal is metal or not? And did it change after Babymetal’s appearance at Sonisphire and their solo show at the Forum?

D : As I said, there are many metalheads in the UK who don’t want to listen to Babymetal. But it’s not a problem at all! I think it’s not right to want acceptance from everyone because Babymetal is far from standard metal. But there must be a lot of people who find themselves enjoy Babymetal unexpectedly. I think it is just a proof of how good a concept of Babymetal was built.

Q : Then by seeing flat, what results did the Europa tour bring to Babymetal?

D : it’s a great success, I think. Because it had a lot of people change their previous impression on Babymetal. Their London live was sold out and everyone who I talked with said that they had an amazing night. Is it a most important thing, isn’t it?

Q : In Japan rock and metal media are rather negative to Babymetal and situation is like Hedoban fights alone. Hedoban thought “We can see the future of metal in Babymetal,” then issued special articles even insanely. What reactions are there from rock and metal media in the UK?

D : I think Metal Hammer is only medium in the UK that really supports Babymetal though some other magazines covered them and wrote positive articles. I think the more underground and extreme these media is, the less they mention about them. But we knew it in advance!

Q : The UK is a mother of metal and people have keen eyes and ears on metal, I believe. How do you think about metalheads in the UK?

D : UK people have an open mind to accept new things in general, and want to make a decision by watching and listening by themselves. So it never happens that everyone has the same opinion. And it’s boring if it happened. But UK metal community is powerful and passionate.

Q : Babymetal is going to come to London in next November. What live do you expect at Brixton Academy?

D : Needless to say I want eye-opening gorgeousness and unbelievable joy!

Q : How much popularity in the UK do you think Babymetal get on future? Do they go farther to O2 Arena?

D : The possibility is high, I think. To become as big enough to be a headliner at O2 Arena, Babymetal needs to bring in both mainstream Pop audiences and metalheads. But it must be possible.

Q : At last, Babymetal is going to play a solo live at an arena for over 20,000 audiences in next January. We want you to be there if you can! Metalheads in Japan who love Babymetal will welcome you!

D : I want to go to Japan because I want to see Babymetal. But I need someone who gives me my expense to Japan! (laugh)

Above is his review of BABYMETAL, the debut album.

Dom Lawson interview with Hedoban magazine (vol. 5)

The man who runs column on a major paper The Guardian, who is one of main writers of one of the top metal magazines Metal Hammer and who recognized Babymetal earliest and highest in the UK, finally came to Hedoban which pushes Babymetal as hard as can in Japan!

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

He was interviewed with Japanese metal magazine Hedoban before the second UK live at O2 Academy and its translation as follows:

Q : First, please tell us your metal experience as a listener and metal fan.

D : I spend almost of my life with listening to metal! Metal has taken my heart since I knew Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Twisted Sisters at ten years old. I devoted to thrash metal in my teenage years, and have listened to all sub genres of extreme metal from death metal to grind core to black metal, and underground music. I also like commercial and modern ones, but my true passion wants traditional metal and its descendants. I have listened to music of countless genres since then, my passion for metal is beyond ones for other genres. And I feel myself belong to it. Now I got a job to write about metal and drown in music with best circumstances. It’s so great!

Q : I went to see performance at Sonisphire and solo show at The Forum, I was surprised by an amount of metalheads there even more than those in Japan. Especially audiences in a solo show at The Forum was unexpectedly hyped, and it was one of the best hype of all. What in Babymetal do you think moved metalheads in UK?

D : Really? The impression might not be 100% precise. To be honest I was surprised to the fact that Babymetal got a big applause at Sonisphire. UK metal fans are so varied so we don’t tell what goes big and what not. But it was true that their appearance in Sonisphire this time gained tons of recognition all of a sudden. Fans who saw their stage got to know that Kami Band was real metallers and have superb talent. Also passionate performance of the trio of Babymetal had enough power of conviction. A power of making audiences enjoy flourished from the stage and it affected on the audiences. Yes, some somber and difficult audiences must have disliked a concept of Babymetal. But they react like that to anything.

Q : Have you ever had a interest in any Japanese metal band before Babymetal came to you?

D : I’m a big fan of Sigh and Church of Misery. And I like Boredoms, Ruins, Melt-Banana, Zeni Geva and more. Japanese bands give me an impression that they add new and a little crazy interpretation into established ideas on music. It makes music more fun and exotic for eastern listeners including me.

Q : In Japan die-hard Iron Maiden fans are recognized to be a high ranked metal fan and called as Gachi Metarā (true metalheads). And it is true that many in these Gachi Metarā never admit so-called perverted metal. What do you think of that, as one of die-hard Iron Maiden fans?

D : Yes, there are a lot of traditional metal fans in the UK, and they don’t accept anything but conservative and authentic metal sound. Fans of Maiden might support these narrow mindedness in a sense. But most of metal fans in the UK have an open mind about music. It would be because the UK is a major market and we have opportunities to listen to all bands, all kinds of music in the world. So there would be a lot of Maiden fans who also love Babymetal because it’s new, different a little and enjoying music, isn’t it? Not everyone listen to the music all the time along with a rule of what metal should be.

Q : Changing the subject, when and how was your first encounter with Babymetal?

D : Same as the many people I suppose, at first I knew Babymetal from a link which someone posted on Twitter. I clicked the link and watched a video, then I became a fan in a moment.

Q : Which song was it that you listened first?

D : I’m not 100% sure, but I think Megitsune was my first experience. I liked it in a moment. It’s enough heavy to me as a metalhead, its Pop aspect was also good. Good quality Pop music does no harm at all.

Q : So, which is your favorite Babymetal song?

D : I have two, Iine! and Ijime, Dame, Zettai. Iine! is crazy about mixture of different styles of music and has fine composition. Ijime, Dame, Zettai is a gorgeous epic metal song with killer melody!

Q : Hedoban thinks that Babymetal the first album is something that will become one of the best metal albums. What do you think of this album?

D : I think it’s a great album, too. All songs in it are powerful, also performance and production are first class. On top of that, it’s completely different from any other existing songs around us. I feel so refreshed by listening to it. I listen to it many times and my 11 years old daughter says she loves the album.

Q : Was Sonisphire your first time to see them live? I think it sounded different from sound sources or videos…?

D : I have seen Babymetal only at Sonisphire. I think the performance was minimum version of their full lives that they always do in Japan, even so it was the performance that exceeded my expectation enough. It was unexpectedly fun from the beginning to end!

Q : Then, which is your favorite member of Babymetal?

BABYMETAL uk flag

D : It’s a question I can’t answer to be honest. Haha! (wild)

Q : (laugh) So, what’s interesting about Babymetal for you? What’s the major difference from other metal and loud bands?

D : One of the best joys in life is to listen to something new. It should be not just a copy of existing music but fresh ones that surprise everyone. So Babymetal is exciting. The difference between them and other bands in metal scene is that everything they do is a series of joy and surprise. I watch them and think they are great.

Q : In Japan Babymetal is so popular enough to sell out arenas with over 10,000 audiences, but there’s a lot of controversial discussions about it’s metal or not metal. Do you think they are metal? If so, what do you think makes them metal?

D : Babymetal is not authentic metal. I think Babymetal is a hybrid of metal and Japanese Pop music. But they are heavy and enough metal, that makes metal fans enjoy it, including me. Personally it doesn’t matter to me whether Babymetal is metal or not. I can listen to Maiden or King Diamond or Carcass whenever I want some pure heavy metal. But sometimes you want to enjoy another things with more experimental and roguish taste, don’t you?

Q : I see. How about discussions in the UK about Babymetal is metal or not? And did it change after Babymetal’s appearance at Sonisphire and their solo show at the Forum?

D : As I said, there are many metalheads in the UK who don’t want to listen to Babymetal. But it’s not a problem at all! I think it’s not right to want acceptance from everyone because Babymetal is far from standard metal. But there must be a lot of people who find themselves enjoy Babymetal unexpectedly. I think it is just a proof of how good a concept of Babymetal was built.

Q : Then by seeing flat, what results did the Europa tour bring to Babymetal?

D : it’s a great success, I think. Because it had a lot of people change their previous impression on Babymetal. Their London live was sold out and everyone who I talked with said that they had an amazing night. Is it a most important thing, isn’t it?

Q : In Japan rock and metal media are rather negative to Babymetal and situation is like Hedoban fights alone. Hedoban thought “We can see the future of metal in Babymetal,” then issued special articles even insanely. What reactions are there from rock and metal media in the UK?

D : I think Metal Hammer is only medium in the UK that really supports Babymetal though some other magazines covered them and wrote positive articles. I think the more underground and extreme these media is, the less they mention about them. But we knew it in advance!

Q : The UK is a mother of metal and people have keen eyes and ears on metal, I believe. How do you think about metalheads in the UK?

D : UK people have an open mind to accept new things in general, and want to make a decision by watching and listening by themselves. So it never happens that everyone has the same opinion. And it’s boring if it happened. But UK metal community is powerful and passionate.

Q : Babymetal is going to come to London in next November. What live do you expect at Brixton Academy?

D : Needless to say I want eye-opening gorgeousness and unbelievable joy!

Q : How much popularity in the UK do you think Babymetal get on future? Do they go farther to O2 Arena?

D : The possibility is high, I think. To become as big enough to be a headliner at O2 Arena, Babymetal needs to bring in both mainstream Pop audiences and metalheads. But it must be possible.

Q : At last, Babymetal is going to play a solo live at an arena for over 20,000 audiences in next January. We want you to be there if you can! Metalheads in Japan who love Babymetal will welcome you!

D : I want to go to Japan because I want to see Babymetal. But I need someone who gives me my expense to Japan! (laugh)

Above is his review of BABYMETAL, the debut album.

BABYMETAL in Metal Hammer magazine Sept. 2014 issue

The september 2014 issue of Metal Hammer magazine is featuring a Dom Lawson interview with BABYMETAL and an in dept intewview with the mind behind the band KOBAMETAL.

Scan: 4BABYMETAL

Transcription: jabberwokk Babymetal reddit

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If we hadn’t witnessed it with our own eyes, we would never have believed it. It’s July 5, 2014 and thousands of metal fans are gathered on the hallowed grounds of Knebworth, Hertfordshire, for the first UK Sonisphere festival since 2011. And there they are, on the festival’s main stage… three teenage Japanese girls, dancing and singing their way through the catchiest of pop melodies, with big grins plastered across their faces and fingers bent into what we soon discover is “the sign of the fox”. Behind them are a band of virtuoso metal musicians, clad in white and faces painted similarly, letting rip with a pinpoint precise and laudably modern barrage of scything riffs and pummeling rhythms. The crowd – sizeable as the girls hit the stage, fucking enormous by the time they leave it – is going righteously and thrillingly bonkers. Is it metal? Is it pop? It’s both and neither. It’s Babymetal, and within 30 minutes they have not only won over a supposedly hardcore crowd of Maiden and Metallica fans, but, even more enjoyably, briskly shut the mewing gobs of a great number of tiresome cynics and online try-hards. Joyful, triumphant, and utterly bizarre, Babymetal have arrived and the UK is plainly digging it.

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Although they have been building up a head of steam in their native Japan for the last couple of years, Babymetal only began to make inroads on these shores earlier this year, when YouTube links and bewildered blog posts started popping up across social networks and rock and metal media outlets. Understandably, not everyone was immediately impressed by the band’s unashamed blending of J-Pop (Japanese pop music, obviously) and thunderous metal. In stark contrast to Japan, where manufactured pop is widely accepted as a legitimate part of a wider pop culture that seems largely bereft of embittered whining, the UK’s rock and metal scenes are innately suspicious of anything that seems to have been conjured from the hellish mind of a record label mogul, rather than built from the ground up in a more earnest and “real” fashion. We hate Simon Cowell and we love Motörhead. The divide is clear. But part of Babymetal’s irresistible charm is that, whether for cultural reasons or not, they don’t seem to acknowledge that divide at all. Musically, they are as heavy and sharp as any modern metal band. Vocally? Well, yes, the squeaky and undeniably pop-orientated voices of Su-Metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal remain wholly untouched by, say, Slayer’s back catalogue, but the final product itself is so deliciously alien and peculiar, not to mention delivered with with joyous enthusiasm, that griping about Babymetal not being “proper metal” just comes across as pointless posturing.

OK, we admit it – we’re intrigued. And so Metal Hammer caught up with Babymetal at The Forum in London a few days later to have a chat with Key “Kobametal” Kobayashi, and to ask whether people’s cynicism about the self- evidently manufactured nature of the band is anywhere near accurate or just a knee-jerk reaction to something beyond our usual frame of reference. Softly spoken and unfailingly polite, Key certainly looks like a metalhead and, via the interpretive skills of tour manager Nora, is quite happy to explain how Babymetal came to be.
“I have been a huge metal fan for 30 years,” he states. “But of course metal is only getting older and older and the scene isn’t getting bigger anymore. I started thinking that I wanted to come up with something new, something that no one has ever done before, and that’s where Babymetal came from. The idea really just fell from the heavens.”

At some point, Key may grow weary of being asked whether his band are a cynical exercise in pop exploitation, but for now he seems perfectly happy to address the issue.
“I understand that people outside of Japan don’t really understand the pop scene in Japan and they perceive it differently from how the Japanese would,” he nods, thoughtfully. “As a longtime metal fan, I always used to say ‘That’s not real metal so I’m not listening to it!’ I’m a metal purist too, to be honest. But I realized that the scene isn’t really getting any bigger. All the old-school metal bands are still around and there’s still a fanbase, but it’s all getting smaller. So to bring Japanese metal around the world, it has to be something different and original. It’s like sushi! Sushi came from Japan and people had never eaten it before, and now everyone eats sushi all over the world. If I just started another metal band like any other, like Iron Maiden or Metallica or whoever, then no one is going to listen to it or be excited by it. Right now, Japan is known for the Idol scene and the J-pop, and I just thought that this amalgam of J-Pop and metal would be a good way to represent Japanese metal and Japanese music. And people seem to be enjoying what we do. It’s the power of the Fox!”

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Ah yes, the Fox. If you were at Sonisphere, you may have seen Babymetal’s into video, which recounted the daft but endearing fictional tale of how the band came together in answer to a request from the metal-loving Fox God to start something called the ‘Metal Resistance’. As preposterous as it sounds, there is something very clever and lovable about Babymetal’s back-story and the mystique that surrounds those who put the music together. While the metal media speculate about whether the band’s eponymous debut album was put together by members of much-loved noughties’ crossover crew Mad Capsule Markets or just some terrible Machiavellian producer with a hotline to the best session musicians, the reality is that in Babymetal’s world it really doesn’t matter a shiny shit. In fact, the whole thing works so brilliantly because it has side-stepped all the usual considerations in favour of the wholesale creation of a unique and fully formed world of its own.
“I was always interested in metal bands that had some mystery to them,” says Key. “I wanted to create something that was different from normal everyday life and people will be guessing about what’s going on in the band. It’s like Disneyland… it’s not reality and you’re transported to a different place. That’s what I wanted to create. The three girls were chosen because they’re suitable and they represent the band really well. They’re great singers and great performers. that’s why I created the story about the Fox and the Metal Resistance. The girls are like prophets, speaking for the Fox God. It just makes it different from everything else… and it’s fun!

What really comes across when speaking to Key is that he never expected Babymetal to be received so well overseas. The band have already exceeded expectations at home, becoming a huge deal very quickly and selling out two nights in the legendary Budokan in Tokyo – that’s 20,000 people per night – back in March. But conquering the rest of the world wasn’t supposed to be easy, not least due to the aforementioned cultural differences that make places like the UK so susceptible to a sneering, cynical outlook on anything that makes up its own rules as it goes along. As a result, Babymetal’s Sonisphere experience – not to mention the small matter of a show at The Forum that sold out in a matter of hours, after it had already been up-scaled from a much smaller venue – amounts to an unexpected but very welcome triumph for Key and the band and a very good omen for their collective future.

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“When this began I was just experimenting and it was a challenge,” says Key. “I didn’t know what was going to happen and I never expected it to become so big, so fast. We’d never played a big festival like Sonisphere before and we really didn’t know what to expect at a big festival full of real metal fans. In the end, it’s just trial and error. We’re always moving forward but we never really never know what to expect. Right now we’re getting a lot of offers from all over the world. We’re opening for Lady Gaga in the US and we’re doing a festival in Canada and more headline shows, so we want to travel more next year and just see where it takes us.

Key smiles the broad smile of a man who simply can’t believe his luck. He may yet end up making tons of money from Babymetal but it’s obvious that the music and the experience are what have driven this project from the start. And then, of course, there are the girls themselves. Metal Hammer is invited up for a quick chat with Su-Metal and her diminutive comrades before they take to the stage at The Forum and they greet us with excited grins but plenty of the extreme, disarming politeness for which the Japanese are famed.
“Sonisphere was an amazing experience, because it was the first time we’d played in front of such a huge audience!” beams Su-Metal, every bit the professional but very much a wide-eyed teenager too. “When I walked out I thought ‘Oh no, what am I going to do?’ but it was such a great experience. With Japanese fans, because we understand each other, they join in with the chanting and the call and response. What’s amazing with the UK fans is that even though they don’t understand the language, they still sing along with everything! And they also did the Fox sign which was wonderful to see!”

The Babymetal girls have all had a degree of experience within Japan’s pop and Idol industry through singing and modelling, but the metal scene is a very different world and one that they are clearly enjoying immensely. Su- Metal excitedly recalls meeting Kirk Hammett backstage at Sonisphere and not knowing who he was – “He just seemed like an ordinary guy and a very kind gentleman!” she says – and points out, with some bemusement, that the European crowds that have come to see Babymetal have been predominantly made up of diehard metal fans, as opposed to the Japanese crowds that are often as passionate about pop as they are about heavier music. Most of all, it’s obvious that their European adventure has gone way better than any of the three girls could ever have dreamed and that being a part of Babymetal is just about as much fun as any human being could realistically withstand. So yes, you can be cynical about Babymetal if you want. meanwhile, the band, their manager and an increasing number of metalheads are enjoying every second of this unprecedented and wonderfully demented phenomenon.

“We’ve received so many comments online from the UK and lots of people have been mimicking our dance routines and putting them on YouTube, so we’re getting such a great response and we never expected it.” Su-Metal concludes, eyes twinkling. “The response we’re getting makes us think we’re being accepted. It feels like a dream!”

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