BABYMETAL was interviewed on The Record of North Jersey newspaper, the interview released on May 2 to promote their show at Playstationg Theater (Show report). The girls explain their concept, their feelings about playing outside Japan, singing THE ONE in English, their worries during International festivals. Read the full interview below.
The Record: "BABYMETAL fuses j-pop with heavy metal"
The trio of Japanese teenagers known as Babymetal had no interest in heavy metal when they were approached in 2010 about a seemingly incongruous venture featuring their cheery Japanese pop and dance backed by chaotic, thrashing guitars and pummeling drums.
"When Babymetal formed we didn’t know anything about metal music," Moa Kikuchi (stage name Moametal), 16, said through a translator. "But throughout our activities and encounters with metal bands and metal music, we learned and experienced how wonderful metal is. We would like to continue to spread metal to everyone."
Babymetal, which also includes Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal), 18, and Yui Mizuno (Yuimetal), 16, has been garnering attention worldwide for their unique pop-metal mashup.
The Tokyo-based trio has a sold out show on Wednesday in Manhattan, despite performing almost entirely in Japanese. Babymetal released their second album, "Metal Resistance," in April.
"We were worried at first that our music and message wouldn’t get across because we were singing in Japanese," Mizuno said during the same interview. "But as we continued doing world tours, we realized and felt that music surpasses such things as language barriers, countries and race."
"We are aiming to create a new genre with a new style in terms of visuals and sound," she said. "A mixture of dance and metal which strays away from the traditional or conventional metal band."
Babymetal’s bright vocal style is known as J-pop, a term that refers to pop rooted in traditional Japanese music and also heavily influenced by 1960s pop and rock. Babymetal has also been dubbed as kawaii (cute) metal. The group is backed by the Kami Band, a Japanese ensemble that performs aggressive metal reminiscent of the American band Slipknot.
When the girls first appeared on the music scene, some saw their irresistible yet perplexing songs, with titles like "Gimme Chocolate!!", as pure gimmick. But Babymetal’s growing popularity and musical maturation since its self-titled 2014 debut album is evidence to the contrary.
On "Metal Resistance" tracks like "Road of Resistance," the trio’s vocals feel more connected to the music. While still pop, they soar with the guitars instead of creating a complete contrast to them. The group’s lyrics now convey their hopes and dreams as opposed to craving candy.
Babymetal also took a big step on "Metal Resistance" by performing their first track, "The One," in English. "I’ve often been asked, "aren’t you going to sing in English?’ Nakamoto said. "So I’m very glad to have a song in English. I cherish our songs in both Japanese and English."
"Metal Resistance" was released in March and landed at No. 39 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, a huge leap from their first disc, which peaked at No. 187. Entering the Billboard charts at all is a rare feat for Japanese musicians.
Babymetal has already played major concerts. At England’s Sonisphere festival, their songs sparked large mosh pits. Japanese concert audiences tend to be tame, even at metal shows, so Kikuchi said that she and her bandmates weren’t ready for the rowdy reaction.
"We get worried that people will get hurt in Europe and the U.S.," she said. "Especially because people have a larger physique there [than in Japan]."
Kikuchi, Nakamoto and Mizuno began their professional careers as part of Sakura Gakuin, a talent troupe of young and upcoming singers, dancers and actors. The Babymetal concept was broached by a talent agency, and the band officially formed in 2010.
Babymetal is the youngest band to have performed at Japan’s prestigious Summer Sonic festival and Tokyo’s famed Budokan arena. The teenagers made their U.S. debut in 2014 in Hollywood and have shared stages with American metal favorites like Megadeth and Avenged Sevenfold. Metallica is their favorite metal band.
"Metallica’s show was very cool and I learned a lot from watching how they reached out to their fans," Nakamoto said. "That was when I realized metal is not something that you only listen to with your ears but it is something you feel with your heart. We also wish to connect with people around the world with our songs and live performance."
Said Kikuchi: "We believe that many people who already like metal and those who like other genres will be accepting to this new type of metal."
Interview by: The Record of North Jersey Newspaper.