Andrew Epstein of A Journey Of Musical Things conducted an interview with BABYMETAL on August 9 at the Heavy Montreal festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below.
Established in 2010, BABYMETAL is the offshoot of the Japanese pop idol group SAKURA GAKUIN that performs a distinctly Japanese mix of schoolgirl J-pop and heavy metal.
The band played its first-ever U.S. show on July 27 at the sold-out Fonda Theatre (capacity: 1,200) in Los Angeles, California and supported pop superstar Lady Gaga on five American concerts.
BABYMETAL's members — Suzuka Nakamoto (a.k.a. Su-Metal, who handles vocals and dancing), Yui Mizuno (a.k.a. Yuimetal) and Moa Kikuchi (a.k.a. Moametal), the latter of whom both scream and dance — admit that they had never listened to metal before joining the group. The girls wear gothy schoolgirl costumes, do choreographed dance routines and bang their heads violently.
"I didn't even know what metal was all about before this," says Nakamoto, who, at 16, is the oldest member of the group.
"When they told me I'd be doing BABYMETAL, I listened to this music and its heavy drums. I thought it was interesting and I imagined the choreography I would do."
BABYMETAL's debut album, which came out in February, received 4.5 stars out of 5 from the Japanese edition of Rolling Stone.
Many heavy metal fans have been reluctant to embrace BABYMETAL — which also includes producer Kobametal and a backing band of corpse-painted virtuosos — with some Internet forums calling them "the definition of a gimmick", "awful" and "metal for hipsters."
BABYMETAL's first world tour consists of nine concerts in six different countries. Their show in London, England on July 7 was also broadcast live to the band's Japanese fans.
"The reaction was so different than in Japan," Nakamoto told MTV about BABYMETAL's first European concerts. "At first I was nervous, because I wasn't sure whether anyone would turn up. And yet, some fans came in cosplay or knew all the dance moves. Some of our lyrics use quite difficult Japanese words, but I think the crowd in England sang along even more than our fans at home.
"I think our strongest suit is our live show," she adds. "I hope people can come along to see us perform and be like, 'What the hell is this?'
"I think the reason people like us is because we make 'kawaii metal,' and no one else does that," she continues. "The three of us started out with no personal interest in metal; we all just thought the music seemed like fun. And that means that even people who aren't usually interested in metal might be interested in our music in a similar way.
"A lot of people also get into us from copying the choreography from our videos on YouTube. Seeing so many comments on our YouTube channel from people all over the world, even if they don't understand Japanese, made me realize that music has worldwide appeal."