Japanese idol-metal sensation talk to us about Metallica and the Fox God
Andrew Trendell

14:57 6th November 2014

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No metal band has made quite the same impression as Babymetal in living memory. Forming as teenage schoolgirls, the Japanese trio were introduced to the world of hard rock, mixing it with Japanese idol culture to add a menacing, unsettling edge to an otherwise sickly sweet and manufactured world. 

Famed for their striking image and synapse-melting live shows, Babymetal have found fans in lovers of heavy metal, J-pop and anime, with everyone from Metallica and Slayer to Lady Gaga pledging their allegiance. 

As London prepares for the whirlwind of their return this weekend, we spoke to Su-Metal about their fans, the experience of seeing them on stage, meeting Metallica, what the future may hold and how they're 'governed by the Fox God'.  

You've received an incredible response from new fans around the world. What do you think it is about what you do that has attracted people from so many different cultures?

One thing that Babymetal really pride themselves on is the fact that we strive to be the only one doing this. We are a combination of pop idol meets heavy metal, and you don't see a lot of people doing that. It's usually one or the other. That's what putting us apart and that's what people connect to.

Do you feel as if you've found fans in lovers of Japanese culture as well as metal?

After playing in so many countries, we've had the experience of watching the crowd and seeing how different and diverse they are. Sometimes you see a lot of metal heads, people dressed up in fancy clothes, goth clothes and cosplay. There's a lot of different cultures, from anime fans to Japanese culture fans to music lovers and metal heads. It's definitely a very, very diverse fanbase they we have.

Since learning you were going to be a metal band, what are your favourite heavy metal and hard rock bands that you've discovered?

One of the bands is obviously Metallica. The first real metal band we saw live was Metallica. The first time we met them, they were just really nice old folks, they we went to watch them and they were totally different to the guys we saw on stage. Their aura and stage presence had such a real impact on me. I was like 'this is real metal'.

What has it been like meeting metal icons like Metallica and Slayer?

We were not fans of metal until Babymetal happened. We would be walking around the festival site, watching people and not knowing who they were. It's still a learning process to get to know the metal scene, but everyone has been super nice and super supportive. It's been great experience for us in the scene right now.

Are you aware of British rock bands such as Muse, Arctic Monkeys and Biffy Clyro?

...I am familiar with Iron Maiden and Dragonforce!

You have a very cult and dedicated following. What qualities do you see in Babymetal fans that other following's might not have?

Our fanbase is so diverse, we have the pop idol fans and the metal fans, so what we notice when we look into the crowd is at the same time you have a moshpit going on, and you have people doing this wall of death. Then the pop idol fans who are among this group of people so it's such a chaotic looking crowd of people enjoying the show in their own way. That's probably the biggest difference between our crowd and a regular crowd - you get all of these people in one pot.

Since your album was released in February, have you been writing new material?

Basically Babymetal is governed by the Fox God who dictates what we do and when, so you'll have to ask the Fox God.

Will do. Can we expect to see you playing UK festivals next year?

We definitely want to, and hope to be able to come back to the UK again for festivals, but once again it's up to the Fox God.

If there is one message that Babymetal hope to represent to their fans, what would it be?

The only thing we really want people to know is that we are striving to be something that is different, something that no one has experienced before, we are the only one. We hope that who ever is interested will continue to support us, as we want to try a lot of new things in the future and experiment with whathever will set us apart from everyone else.

- Babymetal play London's Brixton Academy on Saturday 8 November. For tickets and more information, visit here

Below: 7 awesome facts about Babymetal that you need to know

  • The band's creator Kobametal said that the name Babymetal came from a "divine message" from the Fox God, or Kitsune-sama as he is also known. It means that they have created a new genre of music that combines Japanese idol pop with metal, hence the term baby in the name. This is why instead of devil horns the band use the symbol of the fox (two fingers), in order to symbolise the band's divine inspiration.

  • The average age of the group is 15. Moa Kikuchi and Yui Mizuno are both 15 with Suzuka Nakamoto being the oldest at 16. On stage, Suzuka who is also the tallest stands in the middle with Moa and Yui on either side.

  • 'Headbanger' is about Su-Metal's 15th birthday: "This special night of my fifteen/I'll never forget/All the crybabies, get out of here!/With the legendary black long hair disordered around and gorgeously/blooming crazy/this flower will soon disappear fruitlessly/I'll never come back again and it's so short period/I etch in my heart this special night of my fifteen/I jump lightly and dance in the air/Headbanger!"

  • The release of 'Headbanger' came with a corset to help ease the necks of listeners into the habit of headbanging. How considerate.

  • In an interview with the Huffington Post, the trio admitted that they had no prior knowledge of metal: "When I first started, my stamina could not keep up. I did not know what metal was, so I never head banged before I used to have muscle pain that lasted 3 days, but now I am used to it and I have more stamina now," said Yui is now a fan of Cannibal Corpse, Moa likes Iron Maiden and Behemoth while Su is partial to a bit of Metallica.

  • The translation of 'Gimme' Chocolate' tells a story of worrying about your weight, a subject particularly relevant to the Japanese idol industry: "Check-it-out chocolate. Can I have a bit of chocolate?/But my weight worries me a bit these days./However, chocolate/Can I have a bit of chocolate?/But wait a while! Wait a while! Wait! Wait! Wait!

  • The producer of 'Gimme Chocolate' is Takeshi Ueda, who is the bassist from The Mad Capsule Markets. Who many will know from the song 'Pulse' which is taken from the Tony Hawks 3 soundtrack, and was really awesome.

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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Photo: Press