In the past week, KOBAMETAL has held a few events and interviews to celebrate the release of his personal book, as well as “10 BABYMETAL BUDOKAN“, and the upcoming end of the 10th BABYMETAL Anniversary.
First, a new interview was released by AERA-Dot, after which he appeared at a few events in Tokyo and Osaka. The first one on September 30th in Tokyo for the release of his book, then on October 2nd he held 2 Q&A’s in Osaka for the “10 BABYMETAL LEGENDS” book & exhibition (same as last month in Tokyo), and finally 2 more events on October 3rd in Osaka for his book .
It was also announced that the November 2021 issue of Young Guitar (releasing next week) features an exclusive long interview with him, where he talks about “10 BABYMETAL BUDOKAN”, his book, and the recent metal scene.
Below I share some of the highlights from things he has said in relation to BABYMETAL, and then I share the full information that has been made available by the media or fans.
Note: all translations are donde via Deep-L
The most interesting comment is that KOBAMETAL supposedly stated that “BABYMETAL has already left the earth, and we have to wait for their return, which could be in one year, five years, or ten years”. At least a couple of attendees interpreted this as BABYMETAL going into a proper hiatus. Though I do think it’s important to reiterate what he said last month, hoping to be able to be able to use the proceeds of this book for BABYMETAL’s next activities.
Koba also reiterated that the “seal off” from live activities was planned even before the pandemic, mentioning the fact that at “LEGEND – METAL GALAXY” it was announced that EPISODE X would be the last one of the METAL RESISTANCE. He says it just happened to align with the way the world is at the moment, adding that the future is not set in stone, and that “Only The FOX GOD Knows”.
Talking about the past, Koba says that the BABYMETAL project could not have happened without the members, staff, and fans all working together. He thanks fans for that and for helping the 10th anniversary shows and events be able to happen, even under current circumstances.
Author: Hirofumi Sakuta
In KOBAMETAL’s book, “I Like Steel (Metal)-like”, he links metal to a variety of things, pointing out the similarities and affinities between them. Doraemon, Kohaku Uta Gassen, cooking, professional wrestling, Mito Komon, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, SDGs, etc. …… At first glance, it may look like a joke, but the content is quite serious. He writes earnestly about how heavy metal, which is often perceived as “scary” or “noisy,” has actually been spreading all over the world in a variety of forms, and how a “metal” way of life can enrich one’s life. It is a book filled with KOBAMETAL’s “love for metal,” but as he is the producer of BABYMETAL, he has not talked much about his personal life until now.
Q: “You wrote that your first exposure to metal was listening to Saint Hunger II when you were in junior high school. How did you grow up to be a “metal boy” after that?“
KOBAMETAL: “I was so shocked when I saw Seihaku Ma II for the first time that I immediately ran to a nearby record store and bought a cassette tape of the second major teaching textbook, “The End of the Century. I listened to it until the tape was stretched out, so the eight songs of the Second Great Sermon are still imprinted in my brain. However, from a metal fan’s point of view, I think that Sei Hungama II is a “heretical” existence. I listened to everything from the classic albums of the 1960s and 70s to the newer digital metal.”
“I was in a metal band, but I liked other music as well, so I was exposed to a variety of music. But even among all the different kinds of music I listened to, my consistent favorite was heavy metal, and that hasn’t changed even now that I’m an adult.”
Q: “From there, you went on to lead a huge project called Babymetal, but did you always have a desire to be involved in metal as a career?“
KOBAMETAL: “When I thought about how I could stay motivated in my limited 24 hours a day, I knew I wanted to be involved in music that I could be most confident in. In that sense, metal was certainly an option for me.”
Q: “BABYMETAL was formed in 2011. Did you have an idea of what “BABYMETAL”, a fusion of metal and dance, would look like from that time?” [BM News note: they were formed in 2010, this must have been an error]
KOBAMETAL: “At the time, large female groups were thriving and we were in what could be called a “bubble”. No matter how much you jumped on the bandwagon, if you didn’t step out of it, you would soon disappear. There was no “metal x dance” style that I had envisioned, so I thought I had a chance. I was convinced that we could do it when the name “Babymetal” came down to me. From that point on, the members and staff were highly motivated and worked as one as a team, which I think led to the breakthrough.”
Q: “The book also devotes a lot of space to the idea of living with a “metal-like” mindset. You mention a wide range of people who have something in common with metal, from Doraemon to former professional baseball players.“
KOBAMETAL: “As is the case with the origins of BABYMETAL, there is no development or evolution unless you step out of the existing framework and common sense. The heavy metal music genre is also a field where there are many people called “metal elites” who cherish the good old traditions. I call it the “Metal SDGs,” but there is a system where unique metal is born in each region of the world without being carried away by the trends of the times, and both musicians and fans circulate metal in their communities. That is why it has had the advantage of remaining a certain market all over the world.”
“On the other hand, however, a stagnant market will slowly decline. Heavy metal is no exception, and the more legendary an artist is, the more they know what they should change and what they should not change. As it has developed by flexibly changing its form in various countries around the world, metal appears to be hard, but it is actually soft. I thought that this idea has a “universality” that can be used as wisdom for daily work and life. The purpose of this book is to suggest that now is the time to reevaluate the “metal way of thinking,” which inherits tradition while flexibly changing its form.”
Q: “In that sense, I think Babymetal has embodied KOBAMETAL’s thinking and developed a new market. What has been the “core” that you have stuck to during this time?”
KOBAMETAL: To put it simply, it’s “an unshakeable spirit” and “the power to believe in ourselves. We have always been obsessed with how we can continue to be the only one, how we can be unique with confidence in our originality.”
“Originally, we didn’t start Babymetal because we wanted to be a general metal band. We didn’t pursue how fast we could play the songs or how hard we could hit. Our goal was to create a new form of music based on the concept of “metal x dance,” and that is something we must never lose sight of.”
“With the evolution of technology, the performance of musicians is also changing day by day. The evolution of instruments and equipment has led to the emergence of new styles of stage performance, such as streaming, in addition to the traditional live performance style. I feel that the metal genre in particular is well suited to digital technology. I think it is necessary for both metal and Babymetal to change with such evolution.”
“As we made our major debut and became more famous, some metal fans argued whether Babymetal is metal or not. I think it was a debate that occurred mainly among the metal elite, but I think we can say that Babymetal is metal in the sense that it embodies “metal” thinking without being bound by whether the sound is metal or not.”
“Whether BABYMETAL is metal or not depends on the audience. Of course, there are metal lovers, but there are also people who like idols, anime, dance, and fashion who have become fans. There are also people who like the concept and worldview of the band, not the members or the music itself. In other words, the part of Babymetal that “sticks” in people’s minds really varies. There are various kinds of music, from authentic metal songs with a sense of stylistic beauty to dance music with a touch of hip-hop. So, I don’t feel it’s meaningful to cut out a part of the music and discuss whether it’s metal or not.”
Q: “Is there any significance in the timing of the 10th anniversary of BABYMETAL’s announcement that they will “seal off” their live activities?“
KOBAMETAL: “When we performed “LEGEND – METAL GALAXY” at Makuhari Messe in January 2020 as a culmination of our 3rd album, we announced at the ending that the next show would be “METAL RESISTANCE Final Chapter”. Hence, it wasn’t a sudden decision, nor was it because of the Corona disaster. The number “10” is also a good number, like “season 1” or “season 2” in foreign dramas, and BABYMETAL often gets caught up in numbers (laughs). I’m sure there are many ways to take it, but this time, considering the situation in the world, we dared to announce that we have no plans for live performances in the future. The future is not set in stone, and it’s truly “only the Fox God knows.”
Q: “BABYMETAL has always sold out arena class venues in Japan and even participated in NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen. BABYMETAL is one of the few artists who can properly attract foreign audiences on their overseas tours, and they have become one of the top artists in Japan. As a producer, how do you feel about the success you have achieved?“
KOBAMETAL: “From the beginning of Babymetal, I had a kind of vision map where I wrote down what I wanted to achieve. BABYMETAL is a project that the members, staff, and fans have created together. BABYMETAL is a project that was created by all the members, staff, and fans. If any one thing had been missing, it might have turned out differently. Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of working with many different artists in many different countries. I think this is also the result of the team Babymetal’s unshakable and confident activities. That is the “metal road” that I have been pursuing. I would like to keep that spirit alive in the future.”
September 29th – Book Event (Interview & Q&A)
The event was held to celebrate the publication of the book, with KOBAMETAL answering questions submitted in advance in a Q & A style to prevent infection. As a “metal essayist,” KOBAMETAL himself took the stage in a Japanese kimono style, looking like a great writer. He said, “I got a little carried away.” He smiled shyly at the interaction with the press, which took on a serious tone from start to finish.
In the interview held prior to the event, KOBAMETAL shared her thoughts on the book as follows.
Q: What are the appealing points of the book?
KOBAMETAL: “The title of the book is “I like steel (metal)-like things,” but the content is not 100% metal. I myself have a strong metal heart and a flexible head, and I believe that everything should be done in a well-balanced way. …… I hope I was able to write about this in a fun way.” As for the part of the book he wants people to read the most, he said, “I want you to read the postscript. All the messages are contained in the postcards.””
Q: About the subtitle, “90% of life is solved with metal. Are there any events or episodes that you yourself were able to overcome because you had a metal heart?
KOBAMETAL: “It’s not a specific event, but nowadays the times are moving fast and there is a lot of information out there. In such a situation, what should I value the most? I’m really glad that I have the heart of metal as my “axis” in order not to be carried away by trends and fads. I know I’ve said a lot of formal things, but this is not a serious book, so I hope you’ll read it with a light heart and not be too formal (laughs).”
Q: “When asked what he thought the reaction would be when he introduced “Babymetal” to the world”
KOBAMETAL: “I thought it would be better if metal fans got angry. I thought it would be better if metal fans got angry. Metal is a genre that places a lot of importance on tradition, so it’s easy to get beaten up. But there is a vein in the metal world where heretics come out, get over it, and become the next standard. Those people have a history of surviving longer than others, so I thought the more people say about it, the better,” he recalled.
Q: “What do you think has been the most important metal activity in the past 10 years?”
KOBAMETAL: “The name ‘Babymetal’ came down to me. I’m forgetful, so I don’t remember when the name “Babymetal” came to me. I think it was when I was walking outside. I’m sorry. I’m not a professional talker,” he said with a self-mocking smile.
Q: “On October 10, the grand finale of the 10th anniversary year of BABYMETAL’s formation, the 10 years of “LEGEND = Live” that have continued since 2010 will be sealed. With the timing approaching, what are your thoughts at the moment?”
KOBAMETAL: “We’re proceeding solemnly as planned. Ten years have flown by so fast. Even in the midst of all these difficulties, I’m happy that we were able to complete the 10 BABYMETAL BUDOKAN and 10th anniversary year on schedule and with your cooperation. A video work full of those things was released yesterday, and it’s full of the culmination of BABYMETAL. I hope you’ll check it out.”
The questions from the visitors and KOBAMETAL’s answers to them are as follows.
Q: “To what extent do you check information on industry trends, new technologies, etc. in order to realize new and innovative things?“
KOBAMETAL: “In my case, when it comes to live performance, I start with a story or image first. Once the vision is solidified, I work with the excellent staff of THE FOX GOD CREW to figure out how to realize it, and then move on to the next step: …”
Q: “The other day, the idol group that I have been supporting for 10 years broke up, and in October, Babymetal will be sealed off from live performances, so I lost two of the pleasures of my life at the same time. I’ve heard that human life expectancy tends to be longer for people with hobbies …, so I’d like to find a new hobby, do you have any suggestions?“
KOBAMETAL: “People often don’t realize the value and importance of something until after they have lost it. For example, an artist’s reputation often rises after he or she passes away, or you feel unhappy about your ex-girlfriend after the fact, or you are disappointed when your favorite restaurant closes. Time in the world is not moving forward based on you, and I don’t think it’s forever. So I think it’s good to be grateful for what we have and not take it for granted. So I think it would be good if you change your mind and start seeking out new encounters on your own, such as looking for new artists that you would like to support. It may take some time, but if you keep looking, I’m sure you’ll find it.”
Q: “Do you know how many kinds of Babymetal T-shirts have been released so far? I’ve been collecting and saving official Babymetal T-shirts, and my collection currently consists of 308 kinds. I have 308 t-shirts in my collection, and one more t-shirt is all I need to complete my collection. I’ll be rooting for you for a long time to come!“
KOBAMETAL: “That’s amazing! I didn’t know there were that many out there. This is not an answer to the earlier question, but it is fun to find something you like and become obsessed with collecting and preserving it. Nowadays, sharing and subscribing are popular, and there are more and more people who have a style of not having or not caring about things, such as decluttering and minimalists, but I think it’s important to have the feeling of “wanting to keep the items you like” like this person. I think it’s important to keep the items that you like and want to keep them with you.”
Q: “When I’m having a fight with my adolescent daughter, she’s fine, but sometimes when she’s honest and talks to me, I’m too embarrassed to look her in the eye. Am I a bad father?“
KOBAMETAL: “It takes a lot of skill to understand the intent of this question, but I wonder if you are so conscious of your masculinity and fatherhood that you feel like you have to “dress up” for your daughter. I think it would be better if you could just take it in stride and not get too worked up. I think so. There’s a term called “pants on your mind,” but why don’t you take off one filter and try to be more open with them?”
Q: “I’m not very good at bending my feelings, and I’ll go ahead and be honest with myself even if I know it’s a thorny issue. I know that if I think a little more flexibly, my world will expand, but what do you think, KOBAMETAL?“
KOBAMETAL: “It’s not uncommon to find yourself in such a situation. But I think it’s at times like that that you should trust your intuition and beliefs. As I mention in this book, it is very important to have a metal heart, a heart that will not waver no matter what happens. In a sense, it can be a measure of who you are, or a set of values that you can’t shake, no matter what the situation. If you have such an unshakeable mind and a “soft head” at the same time, your vision will expand. I believe that everything is a balance, neither too hard nor too soft, but there is a “just right balance”. So, why don’t you ride the waves of life while imagining that sense of balance?”
In this way, they gave metal-like answers to various questions.
In addition, as a memento of the event, KOBAMETAL gave away postcards with the rare “KOBAMETAL seal” stamped by themselves.
The event ended on a high note with the following greetings from KOBAMETAL.
KOBAMETAL: “Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come and see us today. I would be very happy if you could recommend this book to your friends who are hardcore metal fans. I myself come from a hardcore metal background, but by taking a break from that and looking at the world more broadly, I have made many interesting discoveries. And because of that experience, I was able to recognize the beauty of metal anew. It may sound like an exaggeration to say that …… is for the further development of metal, but I hope that all metal lovers will pick up this book and read it. I hope you will take a look at it.”
October 2nd – “10 BABYMETAL LEGENDS” Publication Commemorative Event (Interview & Q&A)
The only new information I was able to find from this event are these tweets from fans, in which KOBAMETAL supposedly stated that:
According to KOBA, Babymetal has already left the earth and we have to wait for their return, which could be in one year, five years, or ten years.@digimiya
Other comments from people who went to the events also seem to back this up, feeling that it quite possibly may be a proper hiatus:
Attended both parts of the KOBAMETAL HMV talk event. I was told not to write details, so just impressions.
I thought it would be something new after METAL RESISTANCE, but I guess BABYMETAL=METAL RESISTANCE?@a_book_a
I’m not sure if it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I’m not sure what to make of this. On the other hand, I’m hoping for activities under the names of Suzuka Nakamoto and Moa Kikuchi, but I wonder if they want to do that? Anyway, thanks to Babymetal, I’ve had a lot of unintentional fun these past few years.
October 3rd – “KOBAMETAL Book Event (Interview & Q&A)
I could not find any new info from this event.
KOBAMETAL spray-paints his “logo” onto the Tower Records wall: