The Spanish band OffTopic released Backstage, their first international release. Time to learn more about the Spanish!
Metal fans outside the Spanish-speaking world don't know you, so please tell us how everything started! And why you choose the name OffTopic, a name which won't bring you up at search engines easily...
ROSA: Yes, you’re right! We discovered that OffTopic would be a difficult name to be found on search engines when we started to receive reviews for our albums... but it was late to change it and, honestly, we liked the name and believed in what it means. But let's start from the beginning: the band was formed in the spring of 2006. But there were just 3 of us in the band, Cris, Toni and myself. Tired of looking for a bass player we decided to record the 10 songs we had, and released the Sin Miedo demo. Toni recorded the bass lines, but we couldn't go on stage, so Cris convinced his best friend, José Luis (guitar player in another band), to change the guitar for the bass and play with us a couple of gigs. We played together for the first time in December 2006... until now.
And the name was suggested by a friend of the band we meet in a rock forum. After hearing our music we said that it was impossible to label us, that we were 'OffTopic'. And we all liked it!
With Backstage you make the first move at the international market. Why did you started with Spanish lyrics? And not using English from the start?
CRIS: We are a Spanish band and our audience is mainly Spanish, so we wanted them to understand our lyrics. We talk about our life, our feelings; they are a musical diary. And Rosa is a great poet; her lyrics are full of rhythm and alliterations. We both wanted to work in Spanish, while Toni and Jose made pressure for writing in English. We finally won: Rosa in the only English speaker in the band and even she is almost bilingual she preferred to express herself in her native language. As any of us wanted to take her role as lyrics writer, we accepted her decision.
For Backstage you choose 6 songs from your last album A Fuego. Was it difficult to find the right songs?
JOSE LUIS: Yes, it was difficult, but we acted very democratically, hahahaaaa: we voted. We all wrote in the whiteboard we have in the studio his favorite 4 songs, and found 5 coincidences. That's why we finally translated 5 songs. The sixth track was a present from a very much appreciated keyboardist, it was a beautiful version of Because Of You, and we included it as a reprise.
At Because Of You one can hear a saxophone in the background which is quite 80's like - but I love it. Will you use more 80's references in future?
TONI: I would say that the rock from the 80's is our main influence. We all were born in the 80's. But we didn't think about the eighties when we included the saxo in the arrangements. My youngest brother is a great musician; he plays piano and saxophone. We asked him, if he would like to participate in the recording of the album and as he’' game for anything, he joined us and worked in a couple of songs.
Aren't there any songs from your debut Sin Miedo you would like to present a bigger audience? Or are there plans to release the other songs with English lyrics in future? Perhaps as bonus tracks?
ROSA: Before thinking about Backstage I adapted three songs from Sin Miedo to English, but we never released them. While working on Backstage we talked about adding these 3 songs to the EP, but we decided not to do it because. Sin Miedo and A Fuego were recorded with different equipment and the production was also different; the songs from each album would sound different and we want to evolve, we love creating, so we didn't want to release in 2010 music recorded in 2007.
I think that you are already been compared with one or the other band, what do you think about these comparisons?
It is always a great compliment being compared with the biggest rock bands, but we are very proud of our feeling of uniqueness as although some songs have been compared with other famous songs, OffTopic, as a band, has never been compared.
As these songs are 'old' ones, what about a new album? Are you already working on new songs?
Yes, we are almost finishing our new album. There's only one song left to be finished. A brand new work; 13 new songs that will reaffirm our willingness not to stop; we have just started and we don't plan to stop working in the studio and releasing new compositions.
Any idea when you'll hit the studio? The album will be in stores?
Music distribution is a complete different business! We don't have any kind of economic support and having our album in music stores will cost us fees that we would prefer to invest in recording new songs, and will make the album more expensive. We sell our records because we need to get some money back from what we invested to keep on releasing albums; but our main goal is to be known by the largest number of people and the only way of doing that is allowing the free download or selling the records as cheap as possible.
Do you write songs as a band? Or is there a main songwriter?
CRIS: We always work as a band, but we have to take advantage of each one's strengths: Toni and José Luis provide the main ideas for the music, although we build the songs together during the rehearsals. And Rosa is the lyrics writer. but we all try to send her ideas, or sentences to help her.
Which bands would you name as influences? What bands / artists made you start playing?
There isn't enough room to write the names of all the bands that have influenced us: starting with the classics: Purple, Zeppelin, Elvis, Beatles, Hendrix; the great bands from the 80s: Whitesnake, Metallica, Maiden, Extreme, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC...; and modern bands like Gotthard, Freak Kitchen, Alter Bridge, Jørn Lande, Nickelback...
What about live shows? Can you play frequently live in Spain? Or is it difficult to get gigs?
It is not easy to be very often on stage. The problem combines time and money. Venues are sometimes very expensive to rent and the cultural offer in Madrid is so big that it is very difficult for a young band to call a big audience. The venues also need to be booked on advance due to the big amount of bands, and sometimes our jobs or families make difficult to agree the appropriate date. We love the stage and think that is there were we can demonstrate our value as a band… but it is not always easy.
What are your plans for 2011?
We plan to release our new album. And we want to support it with a big premier in Madrid and a six months schedule with gigs all around Spain. We have some clips on mind, new merchandising, new dossier for the media... let's see if we find the time, money and energy to make all we have in mind a reality!
I'm curious to hear some new songs from OffTopic and so I hope it won't take too much time...