Photos by Eva Blue
Lying awake before the second day of Heavy Montreal I ruminated over my forthcoming interview with Nashville Pussy. Like many a young person in the 90s I was first exposed to the band as they raised a mildly arousing eyebrow travelling across North America with Marilyn Manson and Monster Magnet. For many mainstream critics their Southern rock grooves, trucker hats, and partial nudity didn’t jive with the more polished riffs and looks of the day. Flash forward over 15 years since their underground smash debut Let Them Eat Pussy, and both their sound and look seem like the norm in rock and roll. It suddenly occurs to me that Nashville Pussy were ridiculously ahead of their time.
After their set on the Apocalypse Stage early in the afternoon, I sat down with husband and wife guitar duo Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys along with new bassist Bonnie Buitrago to talk about their unacknowledged influence, their new energetic album Up The Dosage, and how they may have inadvertently influenced one of Madonna’s most successful fashion choices.
Nashville Pussy will be on tour in Europe and the UK throughout October and November.
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.
Photo by Eva Blue
In my first of five interviews from the 2014 edition of the Heavy Montreal festival I sat down pre-set with guitarist Tim Millar of Whitby’s Protest The Hero. The band is still riding the success of their critically-lauded crowd-funded album Volition. I spoke to Tim about the diverse appeal of the album and how it was created, as well as whether taking a chance and succeeding will create more pressure or freedom for the band in the future.
I met up with Body Count guitarist Juan of the Dead and drummer Ill Will backstage at the Toronto stop of the Rockstar Mayhemfest to talk about their new album “Manslaughter”, working with Ice-T, and how this might be their strongest line-up yet.
Shot and Edited by Chris Tung