Today the line between sincerity and artifice blur -- Babymetal may be a band in their own right, but above that they are a concept.
Formed in 2010, the Japanese Kawaii metal outfit quickly turned heads with their innovative lineup and sound. Fronted by three female singers -- Suzuka Nakamoto (aka Su-metal), Yui Mizuno (aka Yuimetal) and Moa Kikuchi (aka Moametal) -- and backed by the Kami Band, who typically don ghostly garb, Babymetal play a hybrid of heavy metal and J-pop.
Some critics call it a gimmick, but the band members see themselves as pioneers of a new genre.
Watch the spectacle on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert below.
I corresponded with Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal over email yesterday, and they described the concept of the band as a combination of Kawaii (meaning “cute” in Japanese) culture and metal.
“Babymetal includes complex elements which is [sic] not easy to express into words. I think if we were to try and express Babymetal into one word, then I guess it would be ‘challenge,’” wrote Moametal.
As if it weren’t already complex enough, the band claims to be influenced by a deity they call the Fox God. And they all seem to be in agreement about one thing: The Fox God is behind everything Babymetal.
According to Su-metal, “We take our acts by following the prophecies of the Fox God so I guess that would mean he is like a true parent to us! However, we haven’t seen him in person so it’s very mysterious.”
“We always receive the Fox God’s prophecy. The Fox God decides our future,” wrote Yuimetal.
Moametal echoed both mysterious sentiments while elaborating to an unsettling -- yet still vague -- degree: “The Fox God is a very important being to us since he guides us to the future of Babymetal. At times, he gives us sudden revelations and it’s impossible to fully take in what he tells us to do because it’s just so sudden hahaha. We have accomplished our way [sic] by following the Fox God’s prophecy. I want to know what’s next for Babymetal and so in order to receive the next revelation, I do my best in everything, hoping that he sees that I’m putting in all my effort to hear what’s in store for us hahaha. I’m looking forward to receiving more and more prophecies so that we are able to meet new people!”
Whether the Fox God has a literal counterpart (band manager, label executive, cult leader, etc.) or not, the band’s commitment to the concept is evident, as is their idolization of Metallica. But they make it clear that there is only one Babymetal.
“... I hope we are able to create a music genre called ‘Babymetal’ by continuing to do what’s only possible by Babymetal and eventually someday we no longer become a novelty [sic],” wrote Moametal.
When I asked them what the future holds for Babymetal, all three came back with the same response, “Only the Fox God knows.”
With just hours before Babymetal play with Korn at Mattress Firm Amphitheatre, now's your chance to snag tickets.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.