When A Sound of Thunder recorded a cover of Catalonia’s national anthem they didn’t expect to become a cultural touchstone in a major political event. The Washington DC area power metal outfit has quietly been recording critically acclaimed and fan-funded albums through their own Mad Neptune label for some years (seriously, go listen to Time’s Arrow), but their song “Els Segadors” (The Reapers in English) has given them an unprecedented spotlight, especially in Catalonia, the eastern state of contemporary Spain which is currently struggling to become a separate nation.
More people than ever are engaging with A Sound of Thunder because of the song. The Youtube stream of “Els Segadors” has accumulated over a million views, many of them ostensibly from Catalan citizens finding succor in the song’s triumphant portrayal of their national heritage. The band’s Kickstater campaign to fund their next record (which ends today) has accrued over thirty thousand dollars. For reference the Kickstarter for 2014’s the Lesser Key of Solomon netted around ten thousand dollars.
The song resonates with Catalans looking for a rallying cry in their time of political turmoil. Earlier this year the region held a referendum on independence which the Spanish national government refuses to recognize, and has suppressed with sometimes violent police action. In the midst of this international turmoil, A Sound of Thunder announced their first string of Catalonian tour dates recently.
Nina Osegueda, the band’s singer, is of Catalan descent. She initiated the cover of “Els Segadors” , but never suspected that the song would dramatically raise A Sound of Thunder’s profile. She took the time to answer a few questions about this eventful period in the band’s history while preparing for the group’s upcoming European tour.
You’ve said your mother’s family emphasized to you that your heritage is Catalan, not Spanish. Decibel readers may not have a fine-tuned idea of the difference between those cultures. In your experience, what is distinct, unique and defining about Catalonian culture?
So there are a few subtle differences here and there. As an American, when I think Spain I think of the obvious stereotypes; flamenco, bullfighting, paella. Well, let’s start with bullfighting. Bullfighting isn’t really a Catalan thing, but it was encouraged as a national cultural event by Franco. In 2010, Catalonia banned bullfighting because of its promotion of cruelty to animals. Then, in 2016, Spain’s constitutional court overturned Catalonia’s ban on bullfighting. They claimed that “preservation of common cultural heritage” was the responsibility of the state and the Catalan parliament had exceeded its authority in banning what the court described as “one more expression of a cultural nature that forms part of the common cultural heritage”. Yet bullfighting is not really part of Catalunya’s modern culture.
Things that are uniquely Catalan, I’d say, are things like their distinct love of the experimental arts. Gaudi is an example of this, you can go to Barcelona and see any of the houses that he designed, or La Sagrada Familia. You’re not going to find art or architecture like that anywhere else in the world because he was willing to go above and beyond what was considered “normal” and the Catalan people embraced that. I think that’s also why they have such a vibrant performing arts scene.
How did you come to be a metal fan, and how did you come to join A Sound of Thunder?
I’ve been a metal fan without realizing it since I was very young, listening to the Wayne’s World soundtrack. I loved Dio without knowing about Dio. My husband introduced me to modern-day metal when he took me to a Dragonforce show in 2006. That was also the year I graduated college, so I used my sudden freedom to get into metal. I joined A Sound of Thunder in 2009, the same year I got married. I found Josh, our guitarist, on Craigslist.
How would you characterize your fan base up until now? Global or local to the states? Or both?
I would say it’s been mostly American with a good chunk of global support, mostly in Germany. We’ve sent orders – since we do everything ourselves – all over the world, so we have had fans just about everywhere. It was only recently that we’ve had a big influx of new Catalan fans, so I’m really happy about that.
Since the release of “Els Segadors”, have you noticed any increased sales or social media activity on your pages? One million views for an independent band seems like a game-changing sort of recording.
Absolutely, it was a great boost to the KickStarter we are running as well. Before this happened, we had maybe a handful of pledges from Spain and Catalunya. Since the release of Els Segadors, a big chunk of our pledges are from Catalunya.
Since NPR in Washington DC picked up the story, has A Sound of Thunder experienced any increased interest in the United States?
Locally yes, we’ve always had a great local fanbase here in the DC area, but since this recent news we’ve had an easier time booking shows. I think we’ll be a lot busier in the new year.
Do you have any thoughts on the central Spanish government’s crackdown on voters in Catalonia?
I think it’s absolutely wrong to try and stop people from expressing themselves, especially a peaceful form of expression like voting. Meeting their votes with violence is the exact opposite of what the Spanish government was trying to accomplish. If you want people to work with you, you can not bully them. You have to find a common ground and by not being willing to do that, they have given the Catalan people even more of a reason to secede.
You’re touring Catalonia this December. Have you toured there before? What kind of response are you expecting from your fans in that region considering that you now have a politically charged song in the zeitgeist there?
I’ve never played in Catalunya before, so I’m really excited. I’ve been there many times with my family though, and from my experience, Catalan people consider themselves to be pacifists. I don’t think our new fans are an exception so I’m not worried about any sort of bad response, I’m just looking forward to meeting a lot of new faces.
“Els Segadors” was recorded as a promotion for an upcoming A Sound of Thunder record, It Was Metal. What do Decibel readers need to know about that album before listening to it?
This is our sixth original studio album, and it’s sort of the culmination of the kind of themes and energy we’ve had these past few years together. It’s going to be very exciting and full of energy, something that really represents us as a band.
You got Mark Tornillo of Accept to guest on the record, how did you come to collaborate with him, and what was your experience working with him?
Mark and I met through his awesome wife, Cheri. I’ve been a huge fan of him and Accept since Blood of the Nations, so when Cheri and I started talking it blew my mind that she actually liked our music enough to share it with him. Eventually we all met, went to some parties together, and organized a recording session. Every time we hang out it’s a memorable experience, Mark is a great guy and I’m so proud to have his voice on this record.
You’ve already hit your 30,000 dollar Kickstarter goal to record It Was Metal, and the amount you’ve raised keeps climbing. This article will be released on the last day of that crowdfunding campaign. After this campaign, what are A Sound of Thunder’s goals?
More shows, more albums, more everything! We want to do everything we can with what we’ve been lucky to have, and that’s a ton of great fans, old and new. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.
A Sound of Thunder’s 2017 European Tour Dates
Dec. 2 – Terrassa, CAT
Dec. 3 – Tarragona, CAT
Dec. 5 – Lleida, CAT
Dec. 6 – Barcelona, CAT
Dec. 7 – Girona, CAT
Dec. 8 – Ulsen, DE
Dec. 9 – Marburg, DE