WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tiny basement in a house in suburban Washington, D.C. reverberates with music from the Spanish region of Catalonia.
A heavy metal rendition of the Catalonian national anthem “Els Segadors,” or “The Reapers” has turned a virtually unknown Virginia-based band, A Sound of Thunder, into celebrities in the politically sensitive region in northeastern Spain.
Within days of its release, the song racked up more than a million hits on YouTube, making it the band’s most popular single since they started in 2008.
Thousands of Catalonians voted for independence from Spain during a banned referendum in October that ended in violence and spurred a constitutional crisis in the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy.
Back in Manassas, Virginia, Nina Osegueda, the band’s lead singer, made a quick decision to release a video of the band’s version of “Els Segadors” on Youtube.
Osegueda, whose mother is Catalan, has strong ties to the region and originally recorded the anthem as a tribute to her mother. The song was never intended to be released as a single, but instead was part of the band’s new full-length album, “It Was Metal,” to be released in March 2018.
The violence that surrounded the referendum vote changed all that.
“We have a couple other singles that we were planning on releasing in advance to show people what the new album is going to sound like,” she said. “But then the vote happened and 800 people were injured by the police trying to vote. So I said we should try and just put the song out to show our support against police brutality.”
“Suddenly it was spreading all over the place... And then I noticed that someone shared us on Twitter and it wound up actually being a Catalan politician,” Osegueda said.
Music stations in Catalonia picked up the song and Osegueda was interviewed on several radio shows. The attention she has received has spread to her relatives as her Catalonian uncle was interviewed on local radio.
On the band’s YouTube page, fans have left messages saying they prefer the metal version to the original and many have said the song has struck an emotional chord.
Osegueda recorded some parts of the song in Catalan. She doesn’t speak the language and singing with proper pronunciation was intimidating, but she says the enthusiasm and support from her new found fans has been humbling.
“I think the biggest emotional response we’ve gotten has been, ‘it brought me to tears which is not normal for a heavy metal song’. So for us that was like a big deal,” Osegueda said. “You know, we’re not on a label. We do everything ourselves. So when we see this many people responding it’s like it’s overwhelming.”
The band, whose albums have been crowdfunded through various Kickstarter campaigns, will tour Catalonia for the first time in December, just days before regional elections on Dec. 21. They have shows planned in Barcelona, Tarragona and other Catalonian cities.
For Osegueda, who has traveled to Catalonia a number of times, the upcoming visit feels different.
“I’ve always enjoyed going there on vacation. But now it’s a lot deeper because there’s so many people out there who saw our song as inspiration. So I feel like I definitely have a deeper connection now,” she said.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Diane Craft