Interview with Kobametal, Hedoban Vol. 10 (Part 1) 2016 April

Hedoban Vol. 10

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Hedoban interview with Kobametal 2016 March

Kobametal appears!

‘Metal Resistance’

An interview analyzing all 12 songs

I felt that this album would be based around the two songs of ‘Road of Resistance’ and ‘The One’.

Q:

You have once again created a Metal album of incredible high quality. It is amazing that you have advanced this far! This is on the same level as the first album.

Kobametal:

Do you really think so?

Q:

Yes, really this has gone to an exceptional level. To start off, around what time did you consider making and then actually begin working to create the 2nd album?

Kobametal:

Rather than say we tried to make a new album, in the case of Babymetal it is more that they perform new songs at live shows and then go on to make changes to them here and there. Before we are aware of it consciously new songs have been created.

Q:

That said, it seems the pace of these songs building up has gotten faster than before.

Kobametal:

That is true. With this new album there were many songs contained in it that we had laid out the framework for from before. From a subjective perspective I would say there were many songs where it was like, ‘Wow, we finally have given birth to this song’. There are some songs where we think, ‘My, how many years have we been carrying this over for?’. (Laughs)

Q:

It is kind of surprising to hear that there is such a stock of songs on hand. (Laughs) Did you have a concept album in mind?

Kobametal:

We did not have such a clear cut concept in mind. However, ‘Road of Resistance’ was there from the earliest point and then there was ‘The One’ that was performed at last year’s Yokohama Arena. I felt that this album would be based around the two songs of ‘Road of Resistance’ and ‘The One’.

Q: These songs are placed as the head and then the last song on the album, right?

Kobametal:

I was somewhat intent on staring the album with ‘Road of Resistance’.

Q:

Also, wouldn’t you say that the Metal-ness of the songs has gone up in scale?

Kobametal:

Do you think so?!

I think that is just a happenstance. There are other songs as well that didn’t make it into this album. And some of those songs are more Pop in nature. Well, I guess you could say that when we were considering many factors it was these 12 songs that formed themselves into the album. For example, it is fair to question if a song like ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ can be considered a Metal song or not (Laughs). In terms of the balance of things it may be true that it lies more on the Metal side of things but I feel there are various types of songs on the ablum.

Q: From my own personal image I think it has a X Japan ‘Blue Blood’ feel to it. That refers to the way the songs are laid out as well as the positioning of the Ballards. There is no doubt about it being Metal and yet it is incredibly rich in variety.

Kobametal:

I hope that is how it is (Laughs). The theme at all times is that of ‘taking trip through the sub-genres of Metal’. It is like asking ‘Where have we not explored yet?’. In other words, there are many different components involved.

Road of Resistance

Q:

I would like to now ask you about each of the 12 songs on ‘METAL RESISTANCE’ one by one.

In our mail interview in Vol. 6 you explained ‘Road of Resistance’. When we interviewed the 3 girls of Babymetal recently they said that emphatically that it has become a song that represents Babymetal as it is now. Is that how you, Kobametal, feel about it as well?

Kobametal:

‘Road of Resistance’ is a song that was created as we traveled around for the World Tour after the 1st album as released and because of that I feel it is packed heavily with the feelings Babymetal had in the situations they were placed in at that time and concerning where they were headed. I am sure the members feel a strong sense of emotional connection with this song as well.

Q:

When this song was coming into completion did you already have a feeling that it would go on to become a song that symbolizes Babymetal?

Kobametal:

We created it as an ensemble type of song in mind and worked on it as that kind of song including the lyrical parts as well.

Q:

The three members have all said that they really like the lyrics.

Kobametal:

I place myself in the vicinity of the members and try to get a grasp on what kind of situation they find themselves in and want to come up with lyrics that reflect a vision of the destination that they should be proceeded towards and so it could be that they feel that this song is one that they feel is kind of their own song.

Q:

The first time Babymetal performed this song was at London’s Brixton Academy, correct? I myself was also present at that show and what stays with me as a strong impression is that the fans really sang along with the song in spite of it being performed for the first time. From your perspective as Kobametal was this not an ideal happening thinking about just how enthusiastically the fans responded to this unveiling?

Kobametal:

Yes, it was indeed! It is not exactly a gambling move but until you actually do it you don’t know how things will unfold. But even saying that, I mean, suddenly presenting a song that no one knows, well….(laughs). But I did have the feeling and expectation that the English fans would come through and so decided to unveil it there. I feel that the end result was very good. In fact, we suddenly change the arrangement of the song during the rehearsal session (laughs). The Brixton venue is a kind of old style opera house and so the sound reverberation is quite something. When the instruments come in there is actually too much reverberation. So, during rehearsal we realized that the melody would be drown out. The girls understood that even if they asked the fans to, ‘Sing it!’ that they would not be able to understand that ‘Wow wow’ nor the melody of the song. And so we decided on the spot to cut the instruments in the middle of the song and go with an A cappella approach.

Q:

Wow, so that is what lies behind the reason for that big chorus part!

Kobametal:

There were a lot of factors at play. In the end that incredible scene came into being so I am certain that the girls came away very happy and with a strong sense of having pulled off a truly successful song.

Karate

Q:

Next I would like to move on to ‘Karate’. What was it that propelled you to release this song as the pre-release track ahead of the album?

P. 48

Kobametal:

The overall balance of the song, I would say. For promoting the album I felt that ‘Karate’ had the best balance to it. That includes Su-metal’s vocals as well as the ‘Ai-no-Te’ of Yuimetal and Moametal. The song has a Heavy feel to it and yet is catchy and yet has sections that strike your emotions as well. So it was that aspect of having a good overall balance and because it is a type of song that has not been in Babymetal’s repertoire before I felt it might be interesting to take a new approach.

Q:

This song has a feel to that I feel is similar to the Groove Metal bands spanning from Pantera to acts like Lamb of God in the first decade of the 21st century.

Kobametal:

Yes, that sounds right. The first time I heard the demo tape I had the feeling that the introductory refrain had a nice catchy and cool sound to it. I had assigned the creators with the task of ‘coming up with a song was not in Babymetal’s repertoire’. It has a refrain that can be sung in a Metal manner, don’t you think? Kind of in line with Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ or Pantera’s ‘Mouth for War’.

Q:

Yes, yes, I see!

Kobametal:

Those kinds of songs are ones that if you are a guitarist of the Metal bent when you go to a musical instrument shop and are trying out a guitar you will certainly start out playing one of those refrains, right?

Q:

They are simple and ones you don’t easily make mistakes with (laughs).

Kobametal:

(laughs) Right, and that is why there are so many people who play Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’. I was looking for that kind of refrain that was simple and catchy at the same time. Those were in fact the refrains I was requesting of the songwriters. In other words, a guitar refrain that is easy to sing along with. Those good refrains that are also catchy also have a Western music feel to them.

Q:

It is true that they are refrains that one would hear being played by the mainstream overseas Metal bands.

Kobametal:

You can imagine a macho Metalhead grinding away with these songs (laughs).

Q:

Yes, one can easily imagine Hatebreed or All that remains playing them.

Kobametal:

It does have that kind of feel to it. There are in fact a large number of people in the overseas media saying that the refrain of ‘Karate’ has a heavy and cool feel to it.

I thought that it would be a good idea to have a Babymetal song where we could sing along with the guitar phrase.

Q:

Do you like songs like Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ that have a refrain that you can sing along with and is easy to understand?

Kobametal:

All said and done, what I garnered from our appearances at the overseas Festivals was that there are an abundance of fans that like to sing along with the guitar phrases. You could say that they like to sing the refrains rather than the song’s melody (laughs). So, I came to think that it would be a good idea to have a song like that in the Babymetal lineup. We make the Babymetal songs by repeated testing out in sessions and with ‘Karate’ we had the refrain from the outset and at the beginning there was only one chorus section. We were at a loss considering should we make the song emphasizing the refrain or should we go with a bit different approach. The refrain is really cool but we decided to add a different aspect in the later half of the song. It was here that we added an emotional part that would make it possible for every to sing along together with the girls. I wanted the latter half, the end part to be dramatic. In the studio we referred to it as ‘Maria’ (Laughs).

Q:

Maria?!

Kobametal:

The final fake part I asked Su-metal to sing with an image in mind that was in a manner that was in line with a Maria Carey or a Celine Dion.

Q:

Ah, the Maria comes from Maria Carey (laughs)?

Kobametal:

That’s right (laughs). So, we tried out several patterns and finally ended up making the ending as it is now. It starts out with a catchy but heavy refrain in the beginning, but changes as it moves into the latter half and takes on more of what you could say is a Babymetal-ish feel. We are always making songs with a kind of Mash-up feel to them so in that sense as well this song has a real Babymetal feel to it. The refrain only comes up two times. It is a bit ‘Mottainai <a bit of a waste> because it is such a good refrain (laughs).

Q:

When Su-metal sings the bridge or chorus part the song instantly takes on even more of a Babymetal feel.

Kobametal:

As she goes along stocking up experiences she naturally develops more and more a style that is all her own. In order to take her style up one more notch and build up a Babymetal feel we put in the ‘Maria’ effect in the latter half of the song (laughs). That part is sung with a high key and recently the songs are including more high keys than in the past and so Su-metal is taking it upon herself to be able to sing these higher keys.

P. 49

Q:

The topic of Babymetal’s appearance at overseas Festivals came up a bit ago. As Babymetal performs at more and more overseas Festivals do these experiences have an inspirational influence on the songs and other aspects of the band?

Kobametal:

It would not be true to say that they don’t. The power of these Festivals to bring together so many people in such large numbers from so many different countries to hear so many various artists and songs is a truly amazing. It takes quite an astonishing power to unify tens of thousands of people together as these Festivals do.

Q:

When you see Metallica performing on a scale of tens of thousands of people at these overseas Festivals it changes the way you think, in a good way.

Kobametal:

That is definitely true (Laughs). You often hear the wording that something is ‘a something or other of the people’ and I feel that there is a this kind of ‘thing of the people’ in the Metal world as well. This is something that we can’t readily imagine happening in Japan however. In places like America or Europe there are these events where tens of thousands of people come to watch and enjoy Metal bands. And Metallica is a band that is kind of representative of that phenomena.

Awadama Fever

Q:

Next, lets look at ‘Awadama Fever’. The song was composed by AA=’s Takeshi-san, and it seems that his style of composition comes through with even more explosiveness than was the case with ‘Gimme Choco!!’.

Kobametal:

Yes, that is so. I had requested Takeshi-san before he composed the song that I wanted him to do such and such with this part of the song and to make this part into a sing-along section and so on. We had several exchanges about these kinds of things in the making of this song.

Q:

I very well could be that this is the most popish of all the Babymetal songs.

Kobametal:

Yes, it runs right along the borderline spilling into popular music.

Q:

For Kobametal-san, at what point does a song cross over this pop music borderline?

Kobametal:

I draw that line with the songs, ‘Gimme Choco!!” and ‘Doki Doki Morning’. Takeshi is a composer who can create really wild and aggressive songs while at the same time he has a good sense in making very popish pop music as well. I personally interpret what he does with us as kind of him trying out things with Babymetal that he can’t readily do with AA=. Because of this we are getting ever more catchy songs coming from him.

Q:

Did you have in mind the idea of making a more ‘popish and catchy’ song?

Kobametal:

More than saying I was aiming at making a popish and catchy song it is more accurate to say that when girls sing in a major chord it usually turns into a song that sounds like it does when a girls band performs. The important thing how to create a Babymetal-ish sound that does not take us into that realm. That can be things like changing the phrasing or introducing a reggae rhythm into the first verse or something similar, or adding in an homage to the songs that Takeshi has created for us up to this point. I tried to convey to him that, ‘I want a like this or that song’.

Yava!

Q:

Now, let us talk about ‘Yava!’. This song has some Ska in it, doesn’t it?

Kobametal:

Babymetal includes a bit wider range of genre than Metal with Loud Rock like in ‘iine!’. This wider framework itself is an aspect of Babymetal. In fact this song was in our repertoire from quite a while back. We even performed it at live shows.

Q:

As you continually perform songs at live shows does the image of the song go through a process of change?

Kobametal:

This song changed, I can tell you. There are many fine nuances and details that underwent change including everything from the dance moves to the song arrangement and the drum phrasings. The song recorded on the CD is the final product of that and has a different arrangement from how it was we it was performed at the Yokohama Arena (laughs).

Q:

(laughs) Is that because you get a succession of desires to change the arrangement as you continue to present it at the live shows?

Kobametal:

When I am observing the shows there are times when I will feel that the balance is not right at this point, or the dance movements are not quite there, or we don’t need that sound at this point in the song. Those kinds of things come up. For instance, there was a time when we had a death voice in the song while the chorus part was sung and we decided to shave that off as they overlaid each other making it so neither had good effect. Those kinds of realizations and judgements come up as I watch over the live shows. Like at the beginning the ska part was performed with the guitar sound deliberately distorted but as I wanted to get an even more pronounced ska sounding rhythm I had them make use of a clean tone cutting technique (??).

P. 50

Amore

Q:

Next up is ‘Amore’. This is an extreme Melodic Speed Metal song that I was not expecting.

Kobametal:

(laughs) This song as well was already around from about 3 or 4 years ago. Originally it was an 8-beat feel song and was not a Melodic Speed Metal type.

Q:

It was in existence from that far back?!

Kobametal:

All that remains from its early format is the chorus however (laughs). We took a song that had already been around and broke it apart until all that remained was the chorus with the added verse and bridge sections. The original intent was to make a song that would be a counterpart to ‘Akatsuki’.

Q:

While ‘Road of Resistance’ is certainly a high speed Melodic Speed Metal song, don’t you think this song is even faster?

Kobametal:

It really is fast, isn’t it? (laughs) This is probably going to be really difficult to perform.

Q:

I would say that is definitely understating it (laughs). I am saying this is a good sense of the words, but it seems in listening to it that ‘Amore’ – (Aoboshi) has a sense of excessiveness about it. One is left speechless wondering to oneself, ‘How far are they going to push this?!’.

Kobametal:

Is that really how it feels? (laughs)

Q:

Oh, no mistake in that (laughs). Also, what I thought when listening to ‘Amore’ – (Aoboshi) was I wondered if you envisioned in your head the Kami band performing this as you were making it?

Kobametal:

I think of the song and the live performance of that song as separate things. I am often asked by people living overseas, ‘Does the Kami band also perform in the recordings when you are making CDs?’. To which I answer that the Kami band members are gods who only descend into their respective roles when we are playing live shows and so they are not part of the recording of the songs. <Translator note: I am not sure if he means they are NOT part of the recordings, or that they are not part of the recordings AS kami gods> The songs are the songs on their own and so we do our utmost to pursue every aspect as thoroughly as possible when recording them. It is not until we have put the song in the can that I can start thinking about the live performances (laughs).

Q:

(laughs) The guitar part seemed really tough to perform.

Kobametal:

I am sure it does (laughs)

Q:

I know that you, Kobametal-san also play the quitar. I wonder if you also attempt to play songs like this.

Kobametal:

Eh?! No way. These songs are……! (laughs).

Q:

At what point did this song change from an 8-beat feel to a Melodic Speed Metal song?

Kobametal:

I had a good feel for it from about a year or more ago. So for us on the production side we felt, ‘OK, at last we have reached this point!’. I think from Su-metal’s point of view as well she felt that it time for this old song to get its due.

Q:

Do you personally listen often to Melodic Speed Metal songs?

Kobametal:

There are trends in the music I listen to. There are times when I will listen to it full out and times when I don’t listen to it at all. That said, I do not dislike it. The up tempo songs blow around with a rhythm that I like.

Meta! Meta Tarou

Q:

Now we move on to ‘Meta! Meta Tarou’. This song is one of the highlights of this album. It feels like we have come to the point where Viking Metal has been added to the repertoire (laughs).

Kobametal:

(laughs)

Q:

So, I have already let my thoughts out of the bag. But, I would like to verify my thoughts. (laughs)

This is Viking Metal, right?

Kobametal:

If you break it down as a type of Metal then it would be called Viking Metal. When I unraveled my world map of Metal and looked for genres therein that I had not yet visited I came across Viking Metal and Forest Metal. I thought to myself that it would be wonderful if someday we could take these on. There are a lot of factors involved in ‘Meta! Meta Tarou’, aren’t there? Some of it sounds very Japanese like and some has a kind of song used for cheering on sports’ teams. I feel like ‘Meta! Meta Tarou’ is kind of a conglomeration of all types of elements (laughs).

Q:

Are the ideas of Kobametal-san also reflected in the lyrics of the song?

Kobametal:

My ideas are included but remember we work with some really excellent music creators. This was made by the team that came up with ‘Onedari Daisakusen’. We worked together on it and banged around ideas over and over like, ‘Let’s make this part take on a ‘Mito Koumon’ feel’, or, ‘Let’s put in a real Viking sound in the chorus’, and “’M! E! T! A!’ would be good here” and things like that. This is peppered with sub-sets like the rhythm of ‘Meta! Tarou!, Meta! Tarou!’ being sung in a rhythm that lines up with the rhythm of ‘Mito Koumon’.

4 thoughts on “Interview with Kobametal, Hedoban Vol. 10 (Part 1) 2016 April

  1. This is just unbelieveable. Thomas, thank you for that translation!! Kobametal is the master genius. The original interviewer is good and the infos on the songs are just incredible.

  2. This insight is so interesting. I enjoy hearing that Su is developing her own style as a singer and that it isn’t by direction. That business about the Maria parts I’d going to ti k in my head. Hahahah

  3. Thank you as always. Very interesting to see the process of making this great album. Can’t wait for the rest.

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