PAN M 360: Have you wanted to release an album in Spanish for a long time?
Oscar Souto: I couldn’t tell you how long we’ve been working on it, but it’s been a long process. The idea came from our manager Carlos Ponte, who realized while doing research that Latin America is a whole world to discover. We’ve already been to Mexico to open for Blind Guardian. Since we sing in Spanish and speak Spanish, we feel that we have certain qualities required to try and “conquer” the South American market, and even Spain. At the same time, I have to admit that I didn’t like the idea of taking a song already recorded in French or English and translating it. I thought it was weird because it reminded me of what Julio Iglesias and some Quebec pop groups used to do at a certain time! I didn’t like it, but sometimes you have to tell yourself that you’re not the only one with good ideas. You have to listen to others and make room for their ideas, and that’s what I did.
PAN M 360: Would you have preferred to start from scratch and write new songs in Spanish?
OS: Of course I would have preferred that option, but like I said, it’s a work we started a long time ago. Maybe two years ago, we were in a bit more of a rush than we are now, with shows and everything else. Writing a song from A to Z is longer than translating one. That’s why we chose to translate them, to see how it turns out.
PAN M 360: The translated songs are “Bajo Presiόn” (“Sous pression”, from Stress, 1997), “Bicho Loco” (“Vermine”, from Sacrifices, 2019), “Violencia Versus Violence” (“La violence engendre la violence”, from Sacrifices, 2019) and “La Bestia” (“Je suis la bête”, from État brute, 2010). Why did you choose those ones?
OS: At the beginning of the adventure, we prepared a game plan. We want to conquer South America and the countries where Spanish is spoken. We said we wouldn’t go in with a weak hand. That’s why we chose the songs that were the strongest, that best represented Anonymus. We also wanted songs that spanned the years of our existence. We present ourselves as a Canadian band that sings mainly in French, but is able to sing in Spanish.
PAN M 360: Who is the target audience for La Bestia?
OS: The diehard Anonymus fan might want to listen to the songs in Spanish, but basically, we made this album for Latin America and even the U.S., because they speak a lot of Spanish.
PAN M 360: While doing my research, I saw that the videos of the songs “Sobrevivir” and “Terromoto” have been shared on foreign sites, including MetalInsider, TheInvisibleOrange and Atanatos, a Mexican site dedicated to metal music. How’s the record’s promotion going?
OS: We’ve had feedback from Latin American fanzines, websites, a guy who’s doing promotion in South America, and so far it’s all good opinions. For us, it’s a new adventure. We don’t know where it’s going to take us, but we’re excited about it. Like I said at the beginning, I wasn’t too sure, but now I’m starting to get on board.
PAN M 360: Was it harder for you, because you are the singer and bass player of the band?
OS: Yes! At first I told the guys, you play the music and it doesn’t change anything for you. But for me, it changes everything! The phrasing is not the same, it’s like a new song for me. I have to split my brain in two and ask myself, “Are we doing the Spanish version or the French version?” Lately, we’ve only been doing the Spanish versions, so if you ask me to sing “Sous pression” in French, I’m going to mix them up a bit. It puts a lot more pressure on me than it does on the other, but if I have to do it, I’ll sacrifice myself (laughs).
PAN M 360: Did you re-record the music for each song?
OS: We re-recorded “Bajo Presiόn” and “Máquinas” because we didn’t have the tracks from 1997. As for “Tierra”, we kept it as it was because Marco [Calliari, former Anonymus singer] is no longer in the band and because it was produced by Colin Richardson [Anathema, Slipknot, Napalm Death], which can get us interviews, you understand the concept. For the same reason, we kept “Terremoto” because it was recorded by Jean-François Dagenais from Kataklysm.
I must admit that re-recording “Bajo Presiόn” and “Máquinas” after almost 21 years was quite weird. We wondered if we were playing them as fast as we did back then. We recorded “Sous pression” in our early twenties and we won a big award! When I listen to the songs from back then, I think they’re all too fast (laughs), but that’s okay. “Bajo Presiόn” is a bit slower than the original. In fact, it’s like we do it live now, and I think it’s for the best. I don’t think we’re gonna get tomatoes thrown at us for it.
PAN M 360: Do you plan to do an online concert like other bands have since the beginning of the pandemic?
OS: Nothing’s for sure, but if the trend continues and we can’t perform live, maybe we’ll go that route. There is talk of reopening the venues, but to what extent? Another possibility would be to have access to a venue like Club Soda or Café Campus and film a live concert, to make it professional. A bit like Mononc’ Serge does with Le point de vente. He sells tickets and people watch the show from home.
PAN M 360: You keep rehearsing – if not for a concert, then why?
OS: Because you get bored and you need to play. After a month without seeing each other and rehearsing, we thought we had to find a solution before we went crazy. Finally, we found a solution with the rehearsal space at the Boîte à Musique. We went into different rooms and played with headphones. It wasn’t ideal for old-timers like us, who were used to jamming in the same room at full volume. We started rehearsing again at Cité 2000 as soon as it reopened. After the first rehearsal, I felt good and it reminded me why I make music. It takes a lot of pressure off. It’s not just the musical aspect, it’s also the liberating aspect that it brings and I think I speak for everyone in the group. We were bored with our little routine.