“The three of us have solo careers here in Japan,” says Ladybaby frontman Ladybeard. “The girls are Japanese idols and I was in Japan with my solo career as a singer, doing metal covers of J-pop songs, and I’m also a pro-wrestler. We were approached by a company called Clearstone to advertise their products, which are Halloween costumes. The head of the company saw me on the front of a magazine, where I was wearing my bikini and flexing, and called me in for a meeting saying, ‘I’m going to put you in a pop group with two Japanese teenagers…’”
Oh, fair enough… hang on?! What?! We’ve seen some things here at Hammer, but, even after the headfuck success of Babymetal, Ladybaby are something else entirely: ostensibly a similar proposition to Babymetal, but only if you replaced Su-Metal with a giant, hulking, Australian wrestler roaring his nuts off while wearing a pretty dress and with his hair in pigtails. Even for us, this is a notch or two too far up the totem pole of wackiness. But, whatever the reason, Ladybaby have captured the internet’s imagination and are becoming one of the biggest talking points across all genres.
“I’m not sure anyone expected it to go this far,” laughs Ladybeard. “We thought that we’d be able to gain a bit of notoriety in the US from Clearstone’s PR, but we never thought we’d become this global phenomenon.”
But, despite his band’s burgeoning success, surely Ladybeard looks at himself in the mirror sometimes and thinks, ‘What the hell am I doing?’
“Ha ha! All the time, brother!” he laughs. “When I go onstage and I’m all dolled up, I do often go, ‘Hmm… this is a pretty unique path I’m walking down, isn’t it?’ Of course, but isn’t it nice to have the freedom for this kind of uniqueness in our scene?”
Maybe, but featuring Ladybaby – essentially an exercise in dressing up and product placement concocted by a massive global conglomerate – in the pages of the world’s biggest heavy metal magazine is sure to ruffle feathers. Suffice to say, not everyone is going to be happy with this. But you imagine that the band are fully prepared for the backlash.
“Oh, absolutely!” Ladybeard laughs. “We know we are going to piss those purists off, and in a lot of ways I’m on their side! I’ve been waiting years to talk to a magazine as reputable as you guys, and those purists are the guys that keep metal alive. Their passion is a huge part of what makes this genre, so I respect them totally. But… isn’t metal about going: ‘Fuck you! I’m going to do what I want?’ Isn’t it about challenging the perception of what we can and can’t do in music? I think so, and we’re a great example of that. So, do I think we should be in Metal Hammer? Hell yes!”
Ladybaby’s debut single Nippon Manju is below. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…