My second interview from the 2014 Heavy Montreal festival is with the Japanese sensation Babymetal following their Canadian debut set on the Heavy Stage. There’s been much written about this act over the past year, so let’s stick to the essentials.
Babymetal combine Japanese pop idol music with heavy metal. Three adorable teenage girls front an intense bunch of metal musicians and sing songs about ending bullying, loving chocolate, and of course headbanging. They’ve taken the world by storm through a combination of their viral music videos and general cross-genre appeal. Call it kawaii-metal. Half of the metal community seems reviled by what they perceive as a pre-fabricated corporate injection into their subculture, while the other seems ridiculously delighted to hear and see a gutsy pop-laden take on their favourite subject.
The band members hold tightly to their group mythology (they follow a fox-god who basically tells them to spread freedom with the power of metal), but they’ve also been quite open about how before the band they were completely unfamiliar with metal music. It’s hard to call something contrived or pre-fabricated when they’re showing you what’s behind the curtain, and when any requested suspension-of-disbelief is done so with a wink and a smile. They want you to know that they know that you know.
Parental Units are present during the interview and my general topics have been pre-discussed. But that’s not just because there’s an image to protect. It’s because when it comes down to it I’m interviewing teenagers, and that requires an extra level of respect. Although her bandmates listen attentively, lead vocalist Su-Metal does all the talking and gingerly navigates her way between the serious and the silly. On the one hand she reminisces about first hearing the Babymetal demos, while on the other hand she gives a delightfully evasive response when it comes to my final question about the future of the group. I also got to talk about the time I met and talked metal with their former tourmate Lady Gaga, and have them explain one of their most famous dance moves.
Babymetal have announced that they will return to North America and the UK this fall.