LOVEBITES is a fairly young all-female metal band who have taken the world by storm with their works. While their origin lies in Japan and all five ladies are Japanese, they achieved worldwide fame when they won the “Metal Hammer Golden Gods Award” for the “Best New Band” category, and of course through their performance at Wacken Open Air in Germany.
At the moment of publishing the interview the ladies have started their very first European and UK tour, but this interview was actually done before the tour started. For this interview I spoke with the bassist and leader of the group, miho.
Also, did you know that vocalist asami actually has a background in R&B and gospel, but currently sings in a metal style because of the theme of the band?
Let’s not stall any longer, and…
I’m pretty sure that most readers will already be somewhat familiar with LOVEBITES because of your recent success overseas and the Metal Hammer award, but could you introduce LOVEBITES to the ones that don’t know you yet?
miho: LOVEBITES is a power metal band consisting of five Japanese women. I play metal with full power while retaining the feminine aspect I have as a woman. We’ve only formed two years ago so we’re still a relatively young band, but I’m striving to be able to play an active part in the metal field every single day. Regardless of that being in Japan or somewhere abroad.
The name “LOVEBITES” is a rather interesting choice for a name. I’m curious to the story behind it, though… Where does the name come from?
miho: The band’s name comes from a song by Halestorm: “LOVE BITES (So do I)”. We played a cover of this song when we got together in the studio for the very first time, and asami’s voice matched so well that I still remember it like it was yesterday. When we had to decide on what name the band would get I decided to make a name out of this song and the others agreed with my suggestion immediately.
We thought it would be easier for people to remember if our name was like the title of a song. Def Leppard and Judas Priest also have well-known songs with a similar name, so we thought it would be an impressive name for us.
The metal genre is still heavily dominated by men despite the existence of a lot of female-fronted bands. The genre isn’t that accessible for all-female bands, yet you decided to try your luck in the metal genre, but wouldn’t a pop or rock genre been an easier choice?
miho: Originally I loved listening to heavy metal and I have always thought that I wanted to play it myself as well. I’ve never even thought about playing pop or idol music. The more I listened to metal, the more I learned that there were only a few bands that consisted of just women, regardless of they were from Japan or somewhere else in the world.
So I decided I wanted to create a band like that, because there are so many bands which consist of only male members. I think there can be more bands with just women in this genre, and I’m very pleased that I am an active part in the field of metal now. Regardless of all the male and female bands I was aiming for.
Despite choosing a powerful genre like metal you still keep a very feminine visual performance, and of course by having a female vocalist to complete the concept. Usually women in this genre make use of leather in their outfits, but that’s not the case for any of you. Do you feel like being different like this had a positive effect on your position in this genre?
miho: Men can’t be like us, and we don’t want to become a male band either. We value femininity very much, and you can see that in our costumes as well. We choose outfits that we thought would make us as attractive as possible in the eyes of our audience. We thought it would be impressive for both the ones who think it’s good and the ones who don’t think it is.
It’s very important to remain in people’s impressions, and I think it will really help our activities.
Creating connections all around the world
Pretty much all of your songs have English lyrics despite your own statement that you’re far from fluent with the language. What made you decide to use English anyway? Did you intend to reach and appeal to a larger audience?
miho: From the very start I wanted the lyrics to be in English, because I indeed wanted to reach and appeal to a wider audience. Not just an audience in Japan, but anywhere in the world. We also believe that English is a beautiful language for music, especially in the metal genre. Together we have decided to pursue the very best in heavy metal, and English lyrics allow us to do just that.
Like mentioned earlier, you’ve gained a lot of fame here in Europe when you won the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Award for “Best New Band”. Were you surprised when you heard you were nominated, and eventually even got announced as the winner? Did you ever expect that the concept of your band would be such a hit in Europe?
miho: It was truly surprising to us that we were able to receive such a honorable prize, even though we were all born in Japan and that’s of course really far away from Europe. We are greatly influenced by European music, and it makes me very happy to know that it was accepted at home as well.
After word came out that LOVEBITES had won the Metal Hammer award a lot of good things came your way too. Like a performance at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany as the very first all-female metal band from Japan, followed by a performance at the Bloodstock Open Air festival a few days later. And shortly before that you were a part of the Japanese leg of the Warped Tour festival. How did all of this make you feel? Because all of that makes for a quite impressive list on your resume!
miho: Playing at Wacken Open Air was one of our goals from the very beginning, so getting confirmation that the performance was scheduled and really going to happen made me really happy! I would like to play at more big metal festivals in the future as well. I feel like this summer has been a very big step forwards for us as LOVEBITES.
A lot of your work is influenced by British New Wave Heavy Metal, giving the band a sound very familiar for an overseas audience, but what about the fans in Japan? What did they think of this concept?
miho: In Japan “NWOBHM” is a very popular genre among the metalheads, but there haven’t been any bands who have used this formula recently. I think there is a market for this formula, and that’s where our music matched.
When we first formed our band we wanted to be active not just with the success of each other, but also gain success both at home and abroad. A lot of metalheads in Japan have a preference for the overseas bands, but success abroad also leads to success at home. So from the very beginning I was aiming for both.
Personal influences, but not only metal
All members of the band have been playing music for quite some years, but what was your first encounter with music personally? What made you want to play music for yourself instead of just listening to it?
miho: The very first encounter with music for me personally was the theme song of an anime I liked. I liked the classical elements in the song, and at that time I was also learning how to play the piano. When I first heard heavy metal the impact of those songs were exactly the same as the impact that anime song had many years prior. The music at that time was Nightwish, Evanescence and Metallica.
I think I am the type of person who wants to do whatever I like, so I also started playing heavy metal music with that mindset.
Unlike the rest of you, vocalist asami has a completely different background in music. Starting in R&B, soul and gospel and currently the frontwoman of a metal band, but how does this work in the process of composing?
miho: In the early days of the band it was a bit of a problem, because we had to figure out how she would sing a song in the trash metal style. But I do think that the singing voice of asami, with her different background compared to the rest of us, is one of the secret weapons of LOVEBITES.
I try to balance each song so it becomes a strong form of metal while taking advantage of her character and personality at the same time. asami seems to be having a lot of fun when singing the trash metal songs of LOVEBITES like “The Hammer of Wrath” for example.
miyako is strongly influenced by NWOBHM and midori by modern metal. I think all these different influence create a very good chemical reaction to the music.
I heard that you used to travel all around Japan to see your favorite artists play live, and I’m sure it’s quite different to be on the stage rather than in the audience now. Do you miss your time as a member of the audience, watching a band play on stage? Or would you still go to a live show despite you’re so well known now?
miho: To be able to go abroad to see the performances of my favorite artists would be something that comes after the tour of LOVEBITES, at the very least. I have never been overseas to see a live before, but I have seen a lot of them in Japan. To see a band play live abroad is a great opportunity to study and improve yourself.
From now on I would love to visit shows abroad as well, not just the shows that are part of the tour from LOVEBITES!
At the moment of writing you’re about to embark on your very first European and UK tour, which spans countries like Germany, France and of course The Netherlands as well. Are you looking forward to something here in Europe?
miho: I would like to drink the local delicious alcohols of each country we’re visiting during this tour. I think that being able to drink the alcohol in the country of origin will be the most delicious way to consume it.
The start of a new era with “CLOCKWORK IMMORTALITY”
Your second album “CLOCKWORK IMMORTALITY” will be released on December 5 in Japan, and the limited edition includes a DVD or Blu-Ray with video footage of your very first concert “Battle in the East”. What made you decide to include this footage instead of footage from Wacken Open Air or Warped Tour?
miho: It unfortunately wasn’t possible for us to shoot any footage at Warped Tour because it wasn’t allowed. And it was very difficult to arrange something for Wacken Open Air because of the tight schedule we had that day. So that’s why we decided to include footage of our performance in Japan from last June instead.
What more can you tell me about the new album “CLOCKWORK IMMORTALITY”? What can we look forward to in terms of influence, and what is the story you want to tell with this album?
miho: “CLOCKWORK IMMORTALITY” was created by combining the strongest elements from our second EP “BATTLE AGAINST DAMNATION” and the first album “AWAKENING FROM ABYSS”, and it turned out to be sublime in terms of melody.
We’ve created the evolution of LOVEBITES without changing our path, and it would make me very happy if you can feel the power that overflows from each song. Melodious songs sound more melodic and stronger sounds are faster. Compared to our past works the technical play has also improved.
Even though we have been influenced by various different kinds of music, you should listen to it and try to image it for yourself!
And that means we’ve reached the last song for this interview… To close it off, is there a message you’d like to share with everyone reading?
miho: LOVEBITES was born in Japan, where our culture is very different compared with the cultures in Europe. We’ve however been heavily influenced by European metal, and I’m happy to be in the middle of everything while producing music. It’s a great honor to tour in the main place of metal, which of course is Europe. And I’m very much looking forward to be able to deliver all these songs to everyone.
Like mentioned in the interview, LOVEBITES will be releasing their second album titled “CLOCKWORK IMMORTALITY” in Japan on December 5, and it will be distributed here in Europe shortly after by Nuclear Blast, which of course is a large metal label here in Europe.
We also took photos of their performance at Patronaat (Haarlem, The Netherlands). You can find these photos on our photography portfolio, Arlequin Photography, by clicking the image below!