I first discovered Babymetal the usual way that I discover new bands – that is, by hearing people talking
I like all sorts of music, so I’m not opposed to listening to anything different and when I heard Babymetal, I actually thought it was an interesting combination.
To be honest, though, it didn’t really surprise me that someone thought of putting metal and the Japanese ‘Pop Idol’ music together along with the sort of music you find in a Resident Evil or Final Fantasy game. It’s very descriptive of Japanese culture, actually. I’ve toured Japan many times and Babymetal remind me of the sort of bands you hear blasting out of the speakers when you’re walking on the streets of Shibuya, Tokyo.
I know young kids who already listen to grindcore. There are people who turn up to our shows with kids that are eight or nine years old, and Babymetal is obviously way more accessible than what we do. I don’t think that’s a bad thing – I’ve got a baby girl who is eight months old, and if she starts bopping around to Babymetal or their equivalent, I’d be cool with that.
If you look at Slipknot, they took the heavy guitar to a massive audience. You can look at a Slipknot fan and a Napalm Death fan and sometimes there’s a crossover and sometimes there’s not at all, but either way, those people are getting used to the heavy guitar and drums and it makes it easier for them to explore other bands later on. In the same way, Babymetal will more than likely crossover to young kids and get them used to that heavy sound.
Some people are also offended simply by Babymetal being labelled as metal. Why? Why would you get offended? It’s a big genre, metal. There’s all kinds of bands crossing over. Bands like Evanescence or the whole folk metal thing. Some people could find it ridiculous, but I wouldn’t be that negative. I might not like it, but I find it interesting that heavy guitars are used in different ways. For me, Babymetal is an extension of that.
Sometimes I wonder where we’re at with metal because there are so many bands crossing over. I think to myself, “What’s it going to be like in 10 years?” It will be insane. So Babymetal is quite encouraging to me. And after all, it was the bands crossing over 20 years ago that paved the way for all these bands around today to say, “OK, let’s combine this and this!” And why not? What’s wrong with that? Do you have to be like Manowar all the time? I mean, I’m all for a bit of Manowar, but I’m also all for exploring new music!
You can say it’s not metal – and that’s bullshit. I’ve heard stuff that is supposedly ‘true metal’ that is worse than Babymetal. And I’ve also been to festivals and thought, “Hmm, that’s kind of generic,” whereas at least Babymetal is unusual.
It reminds me of the time when Napalm Death were on the Arena heavy metal special in 1987 and you had all these Guns N’ Roses fans who were pissed off because we had more airtime than good old Axl. But we were coming along and doing something new and interesting – and whether you like it or not is beside the point.
Napalm death are currently in the middle of a world tour, which ends in December in Japan