Black lace and frenzied, impassioned vocals are focal points at Babymetal shows, as lead singer Su-metal (Nakamoto Suzuka) and Moametal (Kikuchi Moa) belt along to the dynamic metal melodies served up by their accompanying Kami Band.
The duo, joined by one of a team of rotational dancers known as The Avengers to fill the void left by former third member Yuimetal (Mizuno Yui), launched their Metal Galaxy Tour last month on Sept. 4 in Orlando, and have been touring the United States ever since. Today (Oct. 11), they released their accompanying Metal Galaxy album, and will be celebrating its release with fans at their first Stateside Arena-sized tour at Los Angeles’ The Forum.
Self-proclaimed harbingers of the genre, Babymetal’s name refers to the birth of a new form of metal that blends both classical J-pop tonalities and performance aspects with the trappings more closely associated with heavy metal and hard rock. The brainchild of Japanese producer Kobayashi Kei, aka Kobametal, Babymetal have been bringing their reinventive, mythology driven -- the members say were picked by the “Fox God” to bring his message to the world -- approach towards metal to the world since 2010, and their newest album, their first since 2016's Metal Resistance and third overall, expands on this.
Metal Galaxy features a variety of collaborations and new styles of music alongside the group’s more traditional metal styling, as they continue to push the limitations of what it means to be a metal-pop hybrid act in the 21st century. The album’s first track “Future Metal” almost feels like some Perfume-meets-Babymetal hybrid with its flickering electronica elements, while “Shanti Shanti Shanti” incorporates traditional Indian instrumentals and vocal styling into the group’s performance, and “Night Night Burn!” is infused with Latin-inspired strings. Tak Matsumoto of B'z, Joakim Brodén of Sabaton, Tim Henson and Scott LePage of Polyphia, Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy, and Thai rapper F. Hero all feature on the album.
While in New York City for their concert at Terminal 5 on Sept. 15 (Riho Sayashi served as the Avenger of the night for that show), Su-metal, Moametal, and Kobametal sat down with Billboard to discuss their latest tour and album. Check out the Q&A below.
How are you doing today, fresh off your show last night?
Moametal: I had so much fun.
Su-metal: Three years ago, we had a concert in New York --
Moametal: -- At Playstation Theater.
Su-metal. Yes. And yesterday's show, it was really amazing...so many people crowdsurfed. It was amazing.
How do you feel that Babymetal has changed in that time since you last met the New York audience?
Moametal: It's been three years since we last visited New York. At yesterday's performance, we could tell that the fans had been waiting for them all this time. I felt very, very happy to see that happen. And also, you know, I was thinking that it's amazing to just come back to New York all in all. I’m looking forward to the rest of the US tour.
How do you feel about being able to sustain this really intense international popularity for so many years? Not many Japanese acts get to do that.
Su-metal: Honestly, I'm just very happy to be one of the select few to kind of make it. This tour, we’re touring around the U.S. for a month and a half, this is the longest yet and not many Japanese artists like us tour that long and so just to have this opportunity is a very amazing feeling. I’m very grateful to be able to experience this through Babymetal.
This is a really long tour -- how do you keep your energy up when you're going throughout the country or you're travelling throughout the world? What do you do to relax in your downtime and make sure nothing goes wrong?
Moametal: Meeting new people and seeing new fans and just enjoying their enthusiasm gives us a lot of energy. And also, just simply eating food, local food, American food, just allows me to really keep going.
What's your favorite American snack?
Moametal: French fries.
Su-metal: Chocolate cake. I have a sweet tooth, yeah. [Laughs]
What does the Metal Galaxy Tour and album mean to you?
Moametal: We are riding a spaceship, travelling through the different metal stars. So please join us. [All laugh.]
Su-metal: Metal Galaxy, it's a lot of things. In general, just the way people receive music is different according to that person, and with Babymetal, it's kind of a combination between kawaii [“cute” in Japanese] and metal. Kawaii and metal are kind of polar opposites, and one big theme of this album is sun and moon -- so it's a complete duality. We've incorporated different sounds from different countries and genres, and we've explored widening the range of our music.
Kobametal: Also, when you look at one thing and when the sunlight's upon it, there's that type of, you know, that object is lit through the sunlight...versus if it's lit through the moon, it's the same thing that's lit, but then it kind of looks different based upon the light. We wanted to kind of show that through our music.
You mentioned how you explored a lot of different genres, and you worked with a variety pf artists from around the world. How did it feel to broaden the range of Babymetal's music in this way?
Su-metal: Babymetal's music is kind of -- no one else creates this kind of music. When Babymetal first started, we wanted to give the impression of like, “What the heck?!” There's never really been a group like us before. That kind of goes for every song and every album that we put out. And especially with this album, we explored different genres, we have different artists collaborating, and I feel that especially with this album, we were able to show a variety of Babymetal.
How does it feel to be the first sort of group that's doing this?
Moametal: I still can't believe it. I feel that Babymetal, it's one of my duties to pass down to future generations just how amazing metal music is, and hopefully they can put their own spin on what metal music is to them. I would like to have more of the younger generation feel that metal is interesting.
You released “Elevator Girl” in English. What was it like for you to get up on stage and sing that in New York last night, and how do you feel about releasing songs in English?
Su-metal: We previously released “The One” in English; it's the second song that we’ve put out in English. I’m grateful that the fans usually try to learn the Japanese, because the majority is in Japanese, and I appreciate each fan's motivation to have to go and learn. So hopefully my singing in English, and to have “Elevator Girl” released in English, hopefully it creates more [incentive for fans to] learn the song, and it makes it easier for them to sing together and enjoy the song. Hopefully yesterday, I was able to connect with the fans and they had a good time listening to it.
Do you have any favorite lines on the album or any favorite songs?
Moametal: “Pa Pa Ya!!” I see a lot of fans waving their towels in the air and I hope to see more and more fans doing that for every performance.
Su-metal: “Oh! Majinai” because I can't get the melody out of my head ever since I first heard the song. I can't wait for everyone to hear the song -- I know for a fact that everyone's just going to be into this one. We don't know when we will be performing it but when we do, I’m just looking forward to enjoying it with the fans.
This is your first tour in the country since Yuimetal left the group. You're now presenting yourselves as a two member group, along with your Avengers dancers. How do you feel that Babymetal's dynamic has changed around all of this movement?
Moametal: Yes, we have our new support dancers, the Avengers, and for every performance they rotate around. Every performance is always new, because it just depends on who is summoned by the Fox God. I hope that we're creating something that fans will look forward to for every new performance.
Do you think that the Fox God might pick a permanent member? Or is this something you're going to keep on doing, randomly finding a new member each time from the Fox God?
Babymetal: Only the Fox God knows!
What are you looking forward to the most on the rest of the tour while you're here in the U.S.?
Su-metal: This tour is still in its beginning stages, and I look forward to seeing how every performance will be different. I want to enjoy each and every moment. We'll be playing our first U.S. arena show at the LA Forum on Oct. 11, the same date as the album comes out, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the fans there.