April 2, 2016: A young band by the name of BABYMETAL heads to London to become the first Japanese act to headline the prestigious SSE Arena, Wembley, UK. What happens? They perform a sold-out show; break the record for highest-ever merch sales in the venue’s 80-plus-year history; give 12,000-plus concertgoers a reason to smile, mosh, and fall in love.
But that’s just the start for this groundbreaking group.
BABYMETAL—vocalists Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal—and the Kami Band—bassist Boh, guitarists Takayoshi Ohmura, Mikio Fujioka and ISAO, and drummers Yuya Maeta and Hideki Aoyama (Kami Band members occasionally differ)—make up a one-of-a-kind metal act that’s quickly taking the world by storm. Said to be founded by the “Fox God,” BABYMETAL features three teenage girls who not only create innovative albums in the studio, but put on one hell of a live show as well; a live show filled with singing, dancing, pyrotechnics, crucifixions, and more.
The band released their self-titled debut album in 2014, and last month, put out METAL RESISTANCE, which peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200—the highest charting for a Japanese act in more than 50 years. With songs like “Road Of Resistance,” “Karate” and “The One,” BABYMETAL explored many genres and pushed the envelope on their sophomore effort, going as far as singing in English on a version of “The One.”
Just three days after their historic show in London last month, the band crossed over into American culture when they performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert introduced the group to his live audience by saying, “I’m not sure what I’m about to see … but I’m pretty excited about it!” They proceeded to perform their smash hit “Gimme Chocolate”—a song that’s been played on YouTube more than 50 million times (no big deal)—and as they explain below, enjoyed making their debut on U.S. televisions.
We recently caught up with Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal to talk about METAL RESISTANCE, how they linked up with Herman Li and Sam Totman from metal heavyweights DragonForce, the upcoming World Tour and more (their answers have been translated into English). Catch BABYMETAL at the PlayStation Theater in New York City on May 4 and the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on May 7.
How are you girls doing today? Gearing up for the World Tour?
MOAMETAL: After our show at The SSE Arena, Wembley, and finishing our PR campaign of the new album METAL RESISTANCE, we are now training and rehearsing for our World Tour.
What’s it been like touring and seeing the world at such young ages? Any shows in particular that come to mind?
SU-METAL: Having given the opportunities of visiting various countries during our World Tour, we are glad to actually see the world, which used to be something that we were only able to watch on TV, and being able to directly connect with our fans from all over the world.
The most impressing show was the show at The SSE Arena, Wembley, UK. It was really amazing when our fans from various countries had put out their national flags while we performed “The One – English ver.”
The 2016 U.S. tour starts in New York City on May 4. What will it be like to come back to the States?
YUIMETAL: We are happy to be able to come back to the States and have our show. The American fans give us direct and real reactions. We’re looking forward to see how they would react to our new songs from our new album.
Is there one city or venue you’re looking forward to hitting the most?
MOAMETAL: Whichever city or venue we go, the audiences have their unique reactions and atmospheres, so it’s hard to choose. We’ll just be ourselves and show what BABYMETAL is at each city.
There are places that we’ll be going to for the first time, so we hope to enjoy the traditional food and the view of the town.
Tickets for many shows on this tour sold out in just a few days or so. How does it feel to be selling out venues across the world?
YUIMETAL: We are really glad, because it means that there are many people who are accepting BABYMETAL and waiting for us to come. We hope to deliver what BABYMETAL is at our shows.
What was the recording process like for METAL RESISTANCE? Did this process differ from your debut album?
SU-METAL: The first album was like our business card, but in this new album, we made challenges towards various genres. During recording sessions, we didn’t know how the songs were going to turn out to be like, but after listening to the final work, we realized that it’s become BABYMETAL-like metal.
Also, it was our first challenge to sing in English. At our shows outside of Japan, the audiences often sing along with us, so we hope it will bring us even more people to sing together and unite us.
The new album has been well received thus far from critics and fans. What’s your take on it? How do you think it compares to the first one?
SU-METAL: As said before, in this new album, we made a lot of challenges, so it’s an honor to have many people accepting our music. We are aiming to establish a new genre called BABYMETAL, so we’ll take all opinions positively.
Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce are featured on the album as well. How did this come about? Is DragonForce a band that you girls look up to?
MOAMETAL: The two guitarists participated because of the Fox God’s prophecy.
When collaborating on stage with them, they were very kind and we were grateful because they are one of the metal bands that we respect.
The album debuted at number 39 on the U.S. Billboard 200, the highest rank for a Japanese artist in more than 50 years. What does that feel like?
YUIMETAL: We are happy to have our names lining up with artists that we respect. This unbelievable record was achieved not only by us but also by all of the people who have supported us. We really like to thank them all and hope to deliver our thanks to our fans over our tour in the U.S. We’ll keep making new challenges that could only be done by us.
What was it like performing last month on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert? Have you played on any other TV shows, in Japan or America?
SU-METAL: We have performed in Japanese TV programs as well, but we heard that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is a very famous program, so we were very nervous. But after performing, the audience called out for “one more song!” so that was amazing.
Is there one song the band likes performing live more than others, either due to the vocals, fan reaction, or onstage routine?
YUIMETAL: It’s difficult to choose one song but in this tour we think “The One” will become the theme song. It includes a message singing to become one overcoming borders and language barriers. We hope to perform “The One” as a song that could only be completed with our moment with the audience at our show.
With so many musicians performing on one stage—up to three guitarists, three singers, two drummers and a bassist—do you sometimes find it difficult to all be on the same page for the duration of each and every show?
MOAMETAL: It’s not easy for us to all be on the same page, but in our experience of touring the world with the Kami Band, we’ve been supported by them in different environments and been taught how music is interesting, and have made a strong bond with them. We hope to keep creating and delivering shows that BABYMETAL could only perform with them.
What are your plans for after this World Tour is over?
SU-METAL: Only the Fox God knows!
BABYMETAL will be performing at the PlayStation Theater in New York City on May 4 and the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on May 7. Their new album, METAL RESISTANCE, is available now. For more information, go to babymetal.com.