Photo Credit: Heitor Shewchenko

May Puertas from Torture Squad: “This is going to be the most challenging work of the band’s career”

Author Maria Goe - 17.1.2023

One of the most traditional bands in the Brazilian scene, Torture Squad is death/thrash metal band from São Paulo, and they’re since the 90’s spreading the metal essence worldwide. Since 2015, the band has the great Mayara “Undead” Puertas as its vocalist. She is an instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, composer, and also a vocal teacher.

Torture Squad released a powerful and brand new single, “The Fallen Ones”, and we had the pleasure to talk with May about her career, tne band’s history, the upcoming album and more!

torture squad

-For a band with more than 30 years on the road and always with a full schedule, I believe that the pandemic period must not have been easy. How was it for the band to go through the pandemic? Did it mess up your plans a lot?
It was certainly a dark period for everyone, living with isolation, the lack of perspective for the return of concerts, and concerns about infection.. I had many relatives and friends who were hospitalized, and we lost loved ones to COVID19. It was certainly the worst part, seeing the ones we love leave. We had to stop recording our album and rethink the entire release strategy as well.

-You just released the album ‘Tortura en La Iglesia En Vivo’! How did the idea of recording a live album come about and what was the choice of the setlist?
We had decided that during the 2022 shows we would revisit TS’ entire career, hence the “The First Killing Tracks Tour”, where we played the first tracks from our entire discography. La Iglesia is a venue in the São Paulo, with a very cool structure, and one of the owners is Jão, from the band Ratos de Porão. They had the resources to capture the live show and we decided not to miss the chance to make this record, that not only brings our sound, but also the lifestyle of the headbangers of the São Paulo scene in the clips that we released from this launch.

-In 2019 you played at Rock In Rio and shared the stage with Chuck Billy and Claustrofobia, I was particularly thrilled to see that feat happening. How was the experience for you?
I am glad that you shared this emotion, because it was certainly an event that marked our lives forever. About the feat, I was prepared for “everything” that day, we rehearsed the set for a year. There were a lot of things that felt natural, I sang in a clean voice on some backing vocals that weren’t exactly rehearsed…but I felt I had to sing that way and it ended up being really cool. Chuck was a very nice person the whole time, the hug at the end was very special…

-You’ve also just released a new single, “The Fallen Ones”, and it surprised the public a lot because of the use of “new” influences, but also by your alternation of vocal techniques, which gave a very special touch to the song. How was the production of this song, clip, tell the story behind the single.
When we closed the release of “Tortura en La Iglesia en Vivo” with Voice Music, Silvio suggested that we add an unreleased song. We rushed to make this single, we recreated the arrangements of a song brought by Rene (guitarist), and this time I was able to produce and record my vocals myself in our manager’s home studio. I spent a couple of days there testing vocal lines, and seeing what sounded good…I was quite satisfied with the result, I’m always looking to establish my vocal identity more and more and I don’t limit myself to extreme vocals. The voice is an instrument of composition and must be used in its entirety in my point of view.

-You have plans for a new album for next year, right? How is the whole process going on? When did all the composing start?
The composition of this album started in 2019 and we expected to release it in 2020, but as I mentioned above, plans changed due to the pandemic. The album is completely ready, even the promotional photos have already been taken. The release now depends exclusively on agreements with record labels, some singles should be released in the first half of the year.

-As with the new single, can we expect new influences/techniques on the new album?
Nowadays I get lost when saying what is new and what is not (laughs), every now and then we appear with guitars, keyboards, different voices… so I can say that in fact these elements were always present in TS, what changes it’s the way we present those elements in the songs. This album has a lot of traditional Trash/Death but also a lot of Prog elements. This is going to be, without any doubt, the most challenging work of the band’s career.

-The band carries a very heavy baggage of history, but I would like to know for you, what is the most special moment with the band so far?
Hard question! There are many remarkable and special moments we’ve been through, but I can say that Rock in Rio and the Central America tour were very remarkable. In these years, I had the opportunity to sing with Angra and record a song with Sepultura, they are very special moments too.

-What is the essence of Torture Squad? What’s cool would you like to leave?
We are a band that in its essence carries the love for metal, this is our lifestyle and how we express ourselves. We hope that through this, other people can be inspired and see that music can provide you a unique career and experiences.

-When you started in extreme music, years ago, you were practically one of the only women in front of a band, especially in Brazil. And today, the number of women in music has greatly increased, not only in bands, but also as public and as producers. How was it in the beginning for you? How did you feel in such a masculine environment?
It’s a pleasure for me to see so many women gaining notoriety, 80% of my vocal students are women, and many of the bands I’ve worked with have at least one female member in their lineup. In our team we always had women working with us, either as a sound tech, merch and management, and without doubt we are experiencing one of the best times for women in our scene. I went through 3 bands being the only woman, there are countless unpleasant situations that come to mind when I look back because, while I had a lot of support, I was also underestimated, but all of this became very small compared to what I was achieving. Sexism is not over, there are people who insist on reviving retrograde thoughts, but in general I see a great advance in consciousness, it is our duty to fight any sexist, racist and homophobic manifestation.

-And what are the band’s plans for 2023?
We have a lot of work ahead of us! We started the year with an agenda that grows every day, we already have concerts confirmed in 4 states. We have a schedule of releases in the first half of the year and tours being negotiated for the second half of the year. We will also have the TS 30th anniversary celebrations that we will announced soon.

-We are finishing the interview, would you like to send a message to the fans?
The work of zines and underground media survive by spreading our style and must be supported! Thank you for the opportunity, Chaozine, and I wish you success.