Montreal thrashers Anonymus have been thrashing it up since 1989 to the tune of twelve albums with their most recent, La Bestia being released this past June. Known for their status as Quebecois legends and once one of the most popular regional bands when their albums Instinct and Stress made them household names in La Belle Province’s late ‘90s metal scene, the band was also notorious for singing in a variety of languages including French, English, Italian and Spanish. For La Bestia, not only did the quartet of drummer Carlos Araya, guitarists Jef Fortin and Daniel Souto and bassist/vocalist Oscar Souto enlisted Colin Richardson and Kataklysm’s J-F Dagenais to aid Fortin with production duties and dove head first into the Spanish language.
The occasion we’re saluting this morning is the release of the video for the album’s fourth single “Bicho loco,” which follows videos for “Sobrevivir,” “Terremoto” and “Máquinas.” According to Google Translate, the song’s title means “crazy bug” in English which makes sense as the video follows the rapid descent of its main character as he apparently experiences the polite, Canadian version of a Falling Down moment. Following the video is a Q&A with Oscar Souto about the new album, the video and how the residents of a nursing home outside Montreal have seen more live metal than any of us have this year.
Why a full blown Spanish language album? Are there connections that you have with metal scenes in Spanish speaking parts of the world that pushed you towards this decision as well?
Oscar Souto: The idea came from our manager. We are pretty well known in the province of Quebec, so we wanted to break new boundaries. So, instead of doing the usual by singing in English, we did like we always do, take another avenue. In the band, there are three out of four guys that speak Spanish. We already did a couple of songs on our albums over the years in Spanish and we knew that Spanish and metal can mix very well. So, this album is kind of a compilation of songs that we have done over the years that are very representative of the band. Some of the songs we had to translate from French to Spanish, which was not an easy job, and some of them we’d already recorded in Spanish, so we kept them like that. And we did a new song, which is “Sobrevivir,” for La Bestia. It’s the only original song from that album.
Back in the day, I recall hearing about how Anonymus would be hometown headliners, selling out 1000 capacity venues in Montreal and the area. What is the response to Anonymus like these days at home and how has Montreal, often referred to as the epicenter of North American metal, changed over the years?
Well, we had our good old days, but we are lucky enough to still have a following. Even after more than 30 years since the inception of the band there are still people showing up at our concerts and encouraging the band and there’s a generation of new fans coming to see us for the first time also. We put a lot of effort into the band and we are having fun doing it, so why stop? There are always ups and downs in a band’s career, but I guess that we are now veterans for the scene (as they call us) and we are very proud of that. As for Montreal, I think it’s still a metal city. I mean, you have a lot of international bands playing in Montreal and Quebec and it’s still one of their favorite places to play. And I’m talking about well-known bands. So yes, Montreal is still the capital of metal for North America.
On a similar note, how has the band changed over the years? Not just musically, but in terms of its place in your lives as you grow older and have presumably started doing more adult things?
Are we mature yet!?!?! Getting closer to maturity! [Laughs] We have changed over the years, like everyone else. Our music has changed and became a little more aggressive, but we still like to keep it simple. The vocals have changed as we tried to incorporate more death and black metal kind of singing without losing our melodic approach and more blast beats have been incorporated into our songwriting. On a personal level, for sure the band is very important to us, but when you have a family or a business to run, that’s the main thing for us without causing any damage to the band. Maybe priorities have changed along the way, but we still put a lot of time and a lot of energy into the band to make things happen and to make it roll!
What can you tell us about the song and video we’re premiering today?
“Bicho loco” talks about a disease that comes and goes, but when it appears it’s always in the worst moment. It can be anything, but the lyrics don’t say what it is, so it’s up to your imagination. We wanted something that is not the typical kind of metal video, more of a movie kind of thing. So, we had Mathieu Charest, who we’ve worked with in the past, to direct the video. He always wants to surpass himself and that’s what he did. He came up with a scenario that really sticks to the lyrics. We had to find the perfect actor and Martin Dubreuil popped into my mind. We went to high school together and he is a good actor – actually Martin is a well-known actor in our French-speaking province; he’s won prizes and is a regular in movies and TV series – and we thought maybe we could have him in our video because he was the perfect fit to our character. For the location, we got help from our fans to find an abandoned hotel which suited the clip perfectly. It ended up being beside a residence for old people, so they got an hour of us doing this heavy song for them at least six times. They actually enjoyed seeing us play and were pretty good spectators, which is a bonus because we haven’t played in front of a crowd since Covid appeared. Not our usual crowd, but a crowd anyhow! In the end, everything went pretty well! The final product is way better than what we expected and we have lots of footage to do other versions of the video. So maybe in a few months, we will have another version of “Bicho loco”!!
Obviously, live shows and tours have been ground to a halt. How has the Trump Virus impacted you guys both band-wise and personally? What have you been doing to occupy yourselves in the meantime?
We were scheduled to put out our twelfth album, La Bestia on vinyl and CD right when this Covid-19 started. So, we had to put a hold on everything. But after thinking about it, we decided to release the album in digital format. I mean, we had interviews already scheduled and our marketing plan was done, so we kept everything as it was. Now, it’s all for the best. There have been a lot of interviews and promotion going on and also a lot of good comments on our new album, so it’s very satisfying for us. I think we made a great decision on keeping things how they were planned. But as for the financial aspect of having shows cancelled, we have to keep everything on a tight budget for now.
We also just word that the band will be doing a live stream/virtual show from the awesome L’Anti Bar in Quebec City on September 5th. Details here.