Renaud Baril

Thrash La Reine

The local scene here in Montreal has been blooming exponentially in the last decade or so. We have bands from every genre making their names outside of La Belle Province ever since the early 1980's. Homegrown talent is everywhere you see , each small venue has some local talent bursting at the seems to show you the fire inside their belly. It's a sight to see and so many new bands are out there ready to get noticed and ready to make their mark in the world of Metal. Metal Temple writer Jean Francois Poulin  had the privilege of interviewing Renaud Baril from local Thrash upstarts, THRASH LA REINE. They released an EP about a year ago that blew all expectations, Thrash Metal with the touch of Quebec roots.
By Jean Francois-Poulin
July 12, 2020
Renaud Baril (Thrash La Reine) interview
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You were in TRAINWRECK ARCHITECT beforehand, what happened with that band that made you follow your own path?

I have been in this band from its creation, in 2009 to 2014. We released one album: ''Traits of the sicks'', did a really cool Breaking Bad parody music video for our song ''Dream Pariah''. I learned a lot when playing with this band a had some great moment… but at the end, I felt this band was a real trainwreck…! I was not given that much space for the music creation in this band, which was sometimes frustrating for a guy who is passionate by music composition and songwriting. When I started Thrash la Reine, it was important for me to be able to write my own songs and lyrics, and to find bandmates with whom I get along very well with. But no hard feeling to anyone in Trainwreck Architect, we had good years together !

The EP is in French, why did you want to showcase your native language instead of conforming to the norms of most band out there in the Province?

Doing music in English would have been a handicap for us. I can write and sing in English, but it would not be as much natural as my native language which is french. Also, lot of bands already sing in English. We never really understood what is the point of conforming and doing the same as everybody else, when you have the chance to do something natural that is more original! We have an interesting culture here in the province of Quebec, we have our own language, our own way to speak, to think, some good music, stories, TV shows and movies. Let's be proud of it and share it with the rest of the world!

You develop on a number of lyrical subjects like addiction to video games, the fear of what will happen next in your life and even vigilantes roaming the streets to beat up and slime and filth off the streets, what brought to you to these themes in question?

We live in an era where it is difficult for artists to live from their arts. Everyone in the band, and in many other bands need to have 9 to 5 jobs to survive and live their passions. On my side, I have been working in an office for more than 10 years, with all the mental stress that goes with this work. Taking the subway everyday in rush hours with lot of people. This stress that an office job can make you live turned out to be an inspiration for me, and I have written a lot of music and lyrics about it, painting a crazy urban world with stress, fear and pollution.

Our song ''La Peur du Lendemain'' is about staying on the couch all night being terrorized by the idea of going to work tomorrow. I found the chorus of our song ''Garde la foi'' while running outside in the morning, listening to metal music, and absolutely not wanting to go to work. This is when I thought of ''Garde la foi, le metal veillera sur toi''. (Keep the faith, heavy metal will always be there for you!) But don't worry, I now feel better with my day job!

You did some online vocal classes with the legendary RALF SCHEEPERS from PRIMAL FEAR, how was learning from the master?

I have been a huge fan of this singer from his years in Gamma Ray and in Primal Fear. I heard for the first time singing live in 2009 and I thought to myself: wow! That is the best singer I ever heard in a live show! When I started Thrash la Reine, I was confident with my guitar skills, but not that much with my vocal skills. I needed to get a coach. When I saw that Ralf was offering online lessons, that was a really inspiring opportunity.

I had tried vocal lessons before with other teachers, but I was not convinced that doing the exercises they were suggesting could really help me. When taking lessons with Ralf, I was however really motivated to practice any exercise! In the end, yes, these exercises really made me progress!

You opened for some awesome bands like BLAZE BAYLEY, PRIMAL FEAR and WEST OF HELL, how was it opening for those great underrated and yet underappreciated bands?

Opening for all these bands was like a dream coming true and unforgettable. Blaze Bayley has been also a great inspiration for me vocally, proving it is possible to sing amazing heavy metal, when having a lower voice register. The songwriting on his lasts albums is more amazing than any Iron Maiden's last albums! Opening for West of Hell was cool, because it was more an intimate show on a Sunday night! The singer is also really impressive! I could speak to him after the show and he could give me some valuable vocal advices. Opening for Primal Fear, was just playing before one of my favorite band, on a full crowded venue on a Friday night!

Is there a riff out there you would have loved to have created, any band, any era?

Any Iced Earth riffs ! I enjoy how Jon Schaffer has diversity in his playing and can make catchy songs. He can make fast riffs (Pure evil), heavy riffs (Burning times), clean chords progressions with lot of emotions (Melancholy), all with a powerful tone! Definitely, the sound of his picking has inspired me.

What 5 albums would you bring if you were stuck on a deserted island?

Judas Priest – Painkiller: This album is my definition of heavy metal ! I would need this album to kill the pain of the solitude.
Blind Guardian – Nightfall in middle earth: this album would give me the courage to explore the mysteries of the deserted island at night.
Manowar – Louder than hell: to give me the courage to survive on the island and to fight any enemy on the island.
Exterio – Le délire du savant fou : this would remind me my home, I need to hear some music in my native language.
Some summer party music compilation: to live a bit the trip of being on a desert island !

How has the state of the World affected your music and your song writing process?

The recent Covid crisis had some effect on our creative process. Just before the lockdown, there was this apocalyptic vibe in town, and we knew it would take some months for us to play music together again. We went to our studio and recorded all the drum tracks to make demo for the new material. Then, during the lockdown, we could record guitar, bass and vocals from home. We would send each other these tracks and feedback about the song and we could continue to progress this way. This way of working allowed us to listen more carefully to what other band members were creating. We also had more time to discuss about the creative approach of the new songs. Now that music studios have reopened, we can play tighter than before.  In a certain way, this crisis made the band better!

I was wondering who thought of the name of the band?

I came back from a trip in London, UK in 2017. I spent some time there in the places where rock and punk music were brought to life. When I came back from this trip, I wrote the song ''Thrash la reine'' as I had this funny picture in my head of seeing the Queen in a moshpit!  As we were a trio, our band name was called Triforce at that time. But it was not a good band name as people thought we were a Zelda tribute band, and other bands in the world were already using this name. After spending some time to think about the band's name, we thought that ''Thrash la reine'' would be a cool band name for a french Canadian band!

Do you have a favorite city or town or venue you have been to in your musical career?

We really love to play in Quebec City. Because of the history of this city, and its colonial architecture, there is always a lot of ambiance when we play there. Our song ''Du sang sur les plaines'' talks about the battle of the plains of Abraham, that occurred in the 18th century in Quebec City, so playing this song there is always something more special !

What in your mind is the one thing that truly unleashes an artist's true potential?

Introspection and humility. Being an artist is to be able to take an honest look at what you are doing, analyse your strength and weakness and constantly improve. You can be a solid performer, but your song writing may have flaws. Or you can be an original artist, but the band is directed in a way that does not bring result. You need to be able to see it, or take the criticism constructively and constantly adjust these weakness while keeping what makes you an original artist.

In your eyes, what makes a good foundation for the dynamic of a band?

Being a band is like being in a business. It may be obvious, but good communication is the key, and it might be the hardest part of being in a band! Playing music and doing shows is the fun part. But as a band, you need to have some difficult discussion sometimes. It can be about the future of the band, about the implication of everyone, about how often and where we book shows. I have been in bands who avoided to have these discussions or had them to late and it led to tensions in the band. Having constant good communication is the key to make a band that will last for more than one album! Of course, when you need some courage to have these difficult discussions, having one beer or two with the band mates makes it lot easier!

Other than that, the band needs to be fun and you need to be driven by the music you create. Believing in your music and having fun playing in with your band mates is also the key to go through any difficulties.

So what's in store for you guys in the near future and is there any bands you guys would love to tour with?

We are currently working on new material, the initial plan was to do a second EP, but we got really creative and we might have enough material to do a full length! We will officially go in studio in October 2020, we aim to release the new material in the first half of 2021. Once the album is released, of course, we will want to start doing shows and touring again, if the health situation allows! If there is a band from our province, we would like to tour with, it would probably be Voivod, as we really admire the ambiance of their live show, and their creativity in general!

Thank you so much Renaud for the interview and I wish you continued success!
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