“If you want to torture us, put us in front of a TV and make us watch what a terrible Kafkaesque nightmare the worldwide media landscape with its dozens of talent shows has become,” singer Annie for metal unit Pandora growls from her native Belgium.
Pandora arrives this week for a fast-and-dirty tour of Tokyo’s live house dives in the company of Italian mayhem-makers Betty Poison, whose song “Paris Hilton Up Your Ass” leaves no doubt where they stand on the issue of contemporary pop culture.
“These formats and the way people are treating each other contaminate young people’s values and perceptions of themselves—and the diversity of musical tastes,” Pandora’s Annie elaborates. “It makes them believe that one day they are the biggest unimportant losers, and the next day they can be the eighth world wonder.”
Italian metal trio Betty’s Poison’s frontwoman Lucia Rehab says her anti-Paris Hilton anthem came from getting tired seeing, “all these Paris Hilton wannabes with nothing else in their cranium but a pack of fashionable, tasteless, superficial shit.
“I had already started writing and playing this song, but it was not 100% complete. The last straw came when I met this top model at a party in Milan and she started talking nonsense about Paris Hilton as her biggest lifestyle icon and I thought, ‘Fuck, bimbo, Paris Hilton up your ass!’”Pandora and Betty Poison formed in the mid-2000s and became part of an underground European metal scene that includes bands like Moshbox and Luminal. Eschewing the prog-y, pretentious tendencies of major label Euro metal, they’re closer in spirit to the grungy, post-hardcore sound of bands like Courtney Love’s Hole (who Betty Poison opened for on Hole’s 2010 Italian tour).
Music scenes are no longer defined by geography or nationality. Based in a German-speaking part of Belgium, Pandora say they are viewed as “German” by Belgians and “Belgian” in Germany. Both bands seem to define themselves by their opposition to the mainstream more than any sort of pan-European identity.
In the case of Betty Poison, opposition to the mainstream also takes the form of raising the proverbial middle finger to Italy’s male-dominated, macho culture. “Despite this lovely pair of tits (not that huge anymore since I lost seven kilos, anyway) and my slightly nice features,” laughs Lucia, “I am macho myself and people can perceive it very well everywhere—even in my ‘beefy’ country.”
With hundreds of gigs in Europe to their credit and initial forays to North America in the bag, Pandora and Betty Poison began to set their sights on more exotic destinations.
“While recording in the States we were thinking about touring in general and thought that it´d be great to see what the Japanese music scene is like,” explains Pandora’s Annie. “So together with our siblings Betty Poison, Turbine Productions, Bellaphon Records and a couple of local promoters we were able to set this project up.”
“We were talking about our upcoming tour with Pandora, whose members are blood brothers to us, and somebody came up with Japan,” Betty Poison’s Lucia adds. “So we started planning it together. Neither band can live without jumping in the saddle all the time. Everything is possible, if you’re ready to fight for it.”