They’ve played with the likes of Lady Gaga and their Youtube hits are in the millions. What did you do before finishing high school?
It shouldn’t work. Heavy metal music is supposed to be macho and fierce, not cute. It’s certainly no place for innocent-looking teenage idols singing songs about chocolate and bullying. At least it never used to be… then Babymetal turned up.
Su-metal, Yuimetal, Moametal, and their backing group Kami Band might not be to everyone’s taste, but they have become impossible to ignore. Over the past few months they’ve played at some of the of the world’s most prestigious rock festivals alongside mega acts like Metallica, Slipknot and Iron Maiden. Their eponymous first album entered the American, British and German iTunes metal charts at number one with the most popular track from that record—“Gimme Chocolate”—garnering, at the time of writing, more than 33 million views on YouTube.
Despite being viewed as a gimmick that won’t last by many metal purists, Babymetal’s popularity continues to grow.
“We’re not performing common metal music, so we know there will be criticism,” lead singer Su-metal tells Weekender. “We think they are valuable opinions, but there are also many who describe our style as ‘new’ and ‘interesting’ so we’ll continue to bring our music to those people and be ourselves.”
“We make our own original sound,” continues Yuimetal. “Along with the band’s music, Su-Metal sings while Moametal and I dance and scream. We’re having lots of fun and hope our fans are too.”
The three girls tell me they had no idea what metal music was when they first got together in 2010, but it’s never really mattered. Kami Band provide the heavy stuff while the teen idols bring the pop element. The contrast appears to be working well. On YouTube songs like “Doki Doki Morning,” “Megitsune,” “Ijime, Dame, Zettai,” and “Gimme Chocolate” have gotten views well into the millions. Lady Gaga was so impressed she invited them to open for her during the “ArtRave” tour in 2014.
(Babymetal make their US TV debut on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert”)
“We couldn’t believe it,” says youngest member Moametal. “It was an incredible opportunity and so exciting to have people from a completely different genre watch us perform. Lady Gaga came to see our show twice. When we met her she told us she liked our music and advised us to continue doing what we were doing.”
Lady Gaga isn’t the only famous musician to have jumped on the Babymetal bandwagon. Jeff Walker—lead singer of extreme metal group Carcass—described them as “a very cool band,” and told reporters at Sonisphere that his highlight of that festival was getting his picture taken with them. The girls have also been photographed with members of Judas Priest, Deftones, Slayer and their personal favorite—the band that Moametal describes as their “metal masters”—Metallica.
“We’ve met Metallica more than once,” Yuimetal informs me. “The second time was at a festival in Canada. They actually remembered who we were so we were delighted about that. They are the band we’d most like to play with.”
Closer to home, a collaboration with one of the country’s most successful ever bands, X Japan, could be on the cards in the near future. When asked about it in an interview with “Metal Hammer” magazine co-founder of the group Yoshiki said he could see the two groups performing together. The girls also sound like they’d be keen.
“It was an honor to have him come to our show in London,” Moametal tells us. “We raise our spirits by listening to X Japan songs at shootings. They opened the door to new music. It’s humbling to hear that he’d be interested in playing with us.”
Finding the time for a collaboration might be difficult. The girls always seem to be working. Following an arduous world tour they are currently playing a number of live shows throughout Japan and will return to England next year to perform at the iconic Wembley Arena in London. It’s set to be the biggest gig of the group’s short career.
“We’re already preparing and working hard for the Wembley show,” says Moametal. “It’s great to be able to play at so many memorable venues around the world. We want to go beyond countries, age and gender. Our goal is to put music out there for everyone.”