Moonspell interview (01/2004)

With: Fernando Ribeiro (vocals)
Conducted by: Dark Angel
Published: 06.01.2004

Band profile:


- How would you describe your last album 'The Antidote'? Was the composition process clear for you or did you have to struggle to shape this album?

Not really. I think is was quite intentional, the album. I think we understand something about this album, there's something really magic about it because it was an album that was quite shaping inside us for a long time. It took us a while to get there, but, I think 'The Antidote' is definitely a very good entellus compactness of what Moonspell was in the past and what we are now. And it's an album that excited us very much because there's a lot of places for a future style as well. So basically, it was a question of finding out the right energies and we had time to do so even though we toured a lot for 'Darkness And Hope'. We also had the spiritual conditions for doing so, so basically, I would say it was an album that was quite painless to take out of all season because whenever a new song or new lyrics came up into existence, we were already very familiar with it. So definitely it's right to say that it was an album that was growing inside us and waiting for the right conditions to blossom out. So, I think, that's the way we define 'The Antidote'.

Fernando Ribeiro [Moonspell]

- Through all these years with Moonspell, you have developed several aspects of your music. Could you explain to me what you were trying to underline this time while composing these new songs?

Well basically, we always have guidelines for an album, we can never work from zero really and a lot of other bands just go into rehearsal places and start jamming, but, with Moonspell normally we always have a talk between all of the members, and on that talk we arrive to conclusions. Let's put it this way, the way we are feeling about the band, the things that we are reading and the things we are listening to, that's very important as well. So we can focus our energy to - uhm - pockets, let's call it this way, what where the words that came up into our mind or the objectives for our music was that we wanted to do something that was more powerful and spiritual. It was exactly what we were trying to do when we were trying to compose 'The Antidote'. So basically, they were the points we worked the most in 'The Antidote'. Create first a layer that was very physical, and I think in that aspect we were trying to underline the drum work of this album, which is very tribal, very gothic, in a way. But then again, coming from the south or most countries in Europe having all these legends and all this melancholy inside us we wanted to create something that was very spiritual as well. So basically, it's not that different from all of the other Moonspell albums, the guidelines but, this album we wanted to make something that was a little bit easier to get into and a little bit easier to understand. Obviously we didn't know if our fans and the people that listen to Moonspell would understand that but, we wanted to keep it very simple at first instance and then add more and more passion into that. So power and spirit are definitely good words to define 'The Antidote'.

- I know that Jose Luis Peixoto has helped Moonspell for the storyline. Can I ask you to resume the main idea behind the album?

Well, Jose Peixoto is a writer. He's a Portuguese writer and he has the particularity that he's from our generation, he's our age and also that he has a very open relationship with music, especially Metal and Rock music. So basically, what happened is that there was no storyline developed by him or by me, as the lyric writer, it was more putting together a book called 'The Antidote Novel'. It was like something of a story taking out all of 'The Antidote' energies. People are still a bit confused about this project but, when you deeply know Moonspell, Moonspell has always had a great fascination towards literature and literature had been playing a very important roll since the early beginning of Moonspell. So this time we made it more real in a way, we do not only have 'The Antidote' album, which has certain characteristics and features but we have 'The Antidote Novel', which starting off by the same root has a deferent life into itself. So, what we tried to do with this other project was to have a central part of Cross Road, which is the sounds and words that Moonspell produce and a very talented writer, such as Jeluise Ian took one of the possible roads and made a book, a very interesting love and death story and did parting from our music. And for Moonspell, I thought people would say it was weird but, actually people are very passionate about it. In Portugal it was a big success. We edited words of it into English and put it in every Moonspell CD so people could read it and learn to from it and they are very puzzled by the freshness of the project and by the fact that a Metal band can actually inspire a writer to write a book and that's very good. It's something that belongs to Metal since ages, I don't know, Iron Maiden worked with 'The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner', Aaron Wells worked 'The Monowar' and so on and so what and we wanted to keep that tradition. 'Cause when Metal music connects with literature, I think it can create something memorable.

- The single from the album has been chosen. It will be 'Everything Invaded' and there is also a video clip. What was the main argument behind selecting that specific song?

It's always a very painful process because I think that Moonspell is a band that tries to create songs, definitely, and by that fact it's always very hard for us to pick out which one is going to be the single. For instance, in the United States there wasn't a single released, it was something that we did just for Europe. So it was quite hard to come up with the song that could represent the album that in our opinion is much worth while as an album then as separate songs. We picked out 'Everything Invaded' because I think, even though it's a longer song on the album, on the single edited, it was a song that could stand by itself, in a way and that curiously gathered a lot of the intentions in 'The Antidote'. The strong vocals and melodic parts. So we've been together with our label, Century Media, to pick out a song because we needed a video clip. So, 'Everything Invaded' came up as a choice and when I started listening to it here and there on the radio and all of that, I think we did the right choice for at least a first single. Especially because of the video, we worked again with a Portuguese director called Teage and he already worked with us on the 'Nocturnal' video for 'Darkness and Hope' and we love his highest efforts and his collaboration. So he came up with - uhm- a story like 'Everything Invaded' would be a title of a horror motion picture and then our video is like the trailer of the best moments of a nonexistent film. So, as we are very much into horror movies we try to recreate the atmosphere. Basically, the story of the video is a group of teens that go out into the country and they just start touching the wrong things and reading the wrong books and reciting the wrong words and they unleash evil, which is Moonspell and we were buried under the ground. So, it's a great video, I think it's our best so far and it's on every Antidote CD so people can see it on their computers. It's now going on air play on Fuse TV and hopefully on Head Bangers Ball as well, and people are reacting very well to the video because it's very different from what they've seen so far from Moonspell.

- Your long time bass player Sergio Crestana left the band recently. How did that happen?

It was nothing too dramatic, you know, Moonspell is a band that likes to keep its inside relationships very private. So basically people are very surprised always because we did not announce it when it first happened but, it was not really dramatic. I think that Sergio had different musical goals than Moonspell and for 'The Antidote' we needed a harmony within the band and a certain complicity within the band that Sergio could not bring. When these things happen I think it's only good when you just come forth and talk about it. So we had to part ways with Sergio because of musical differences first and foremost but, obviously there is always the personal part involved as well. Which was like I said, nothing really dramatic but I think we were not a part of Sergio's plans for the future and the other way around, so basically, we had to go in front. Sergio had a very different background from all the other Moonspell musicians, that we all came from Metal background or Dark Wave background Sergio was coming from something complete different, and I think that - uhm -, in time we will definitely have to face this problem. So Sergio had to part ways with us, I think it was in January 2002 or something it was quite a long time ago, and we got ourselves a friend to record the album, Nicolas from the Finnish band Amorphis. Nowadays we have a new guy who's like a section member for the live show who's name is Ish and uh, he's just sleeping over there.

- Well, I guess that leads to the next question. During the recording sessions of your upcoming album, Nicolas Etelavuori handled the bass. Is he now part of Moonspell or was he considered as a guest?

He was great. Like I said he is the bass player from Amorphis so he has his own project. He lives in Hellsing which is very, very far away from Lisbon. He's a great guy and we wouldn't mind to have him in the band but then again we are big friends with Amorphis and will never do that to them and of course he's very happy with Amorphis. So basically, we needed someone that could understand our music and that we could trust and we knew Nicolas from actually touring the states and together with Amorphis from traveling in 2000, I think, and um we knew about his musicianship and his commitment to the scene and he was he was very, very much up to record such an intense album. Amorphis was doing something that could be considered a bit more progressive in a way, whereas Moonspell is very dark and bleak and dense in a way, so he was very happy and the calibration was great. We recorded all of his parts in one day. We need someone fast, as well we couldn't afford much studio time and so um, he's not a part of the band, he's a great friend and he left his mark definitely on 'The Antidote'. In Portugal we had auditions for a new bass player and we found out a person who is a very good musician and that has a common background and fits very well with Moonspell. It's the guy I was telling you about, Ish.

- I love 'Darkness and Hope', however, one of my all time favorite albums is still 1996's 'Irreligious'. If you had to pick one of your albums, which one would it be? Why?

That's always a very tricky question because um obviously a person who listens to Moonspell has a different stand then a person who goes to bed with Moonspell and wakes up being a Moonspell member, so I think of all our album but, I think that's a very common answer from a musician but all of them fulfill us in a way. 'Cause Moonspell is a band that writes, you know, whatever we want to, whatever we will is necessary to take risks to tell our own stories we will do it and we always let people know that we are not afraid risking out all of our fans and all of our reputation just to achieve an artistic goal. So I think, definitely 'Irreligious' is a very important record because it's was a record that we started doing songs and we started defining pretty much what is our style and nowadays which is probably a blending of an elegant aggression, you know, with a lot of melancholy. 'Irreligious' is definitely a very important album for Moonspell and for our fans, as well. Then again so is 'Wolfheart' our first album, then again so is 'Sin'. So I think, 'Irreligious' could be one of my peeks as well because it contains songs like 'Mephisto', 'Ruin And Misery' or 'Opium' and it became quite against our expectations even classics from the underground scene but, I think 'The Antidote' is an album that I still listen to even tough we are touring and promoting it on the road. I think it has great songs and some of the best songs we ever give and when I talk about best songs I mean songs that are combing in a very strong way words and sound and, I think that if there is one of my very favorite songs ever from Moonspell is 'Mephisto' from 'Irreligious' then again we have 'Lowering Skies' in the new album, which is important as well. So everybody seems to have there own favorite and that's great that the band can have discussion about within in the fans who seem to like more 'Wolfheart' and 'The Butterfly Effect'. So we have fans for really everything.

- The song 'Os Senhores da Guerra' ( The War Lords) on Darkness And Hope is sung in your native language and I must say that it rules. You also used it once in a while on different Moonspell albums. Have you ever thought about recording an entire album sung in Portuguese? If so, do you envision to do it one day?

Um, I don't think so, Portuguese is a great language differently but, I think it works in Moonspell because it's used in very special moments like in 'Opium' or 'Altamater' or 'From All Madness' and together with English, which is the main expression because I do not write my lyrics in Portuguese and then translate them into English, no. I write them directly into English. I think it works because of the contrast because a lot of people listen to the Portuguese kind of like as an incantation or something like that. So it definitely works when used here and there because Portuguese I say is a great poetic language but um, for the kind of voice I do and also for the kind of subjects I want to express, Portuguese is not the right language to use. It would sound weird so, I think we would prefer to use it and we are open to use it as we have been doing up to now, special moments to create special moments but, I will never envision to do a full Portuguese album. I think that it would be a bit weird definitely for us and it would create a lot of communication problems with our fans. So I think that um, English is a language that step by step we have learned to master in a way and the lyrics in English are always better and better and it's an expression that we want to keep up with our music and Portuguese will be there as a kind of a specialty factor.

- I know you surely have to answer that question a lot but... What's your opinion about the nowadays Portugese Metal scene? Is there a band from your country that you would point out as your favorite?

There's a lot of bands from my country that I like and that they have a lot of talents. Unfortunately it's a very overlooked scene because it's very hard, they have not a great tradition when it comes to Rock and Metal so, it's still very strange to people to find out about bands from Portugal but, Moonspell is not the only band from Portugal and we are not the first metal band and we won't be the last hopefully. I would advise people to check out bands like Heavenworlth they were a band that was assigned to Massacre Records they had a King Diamond in Europe for instance and there was a band that was doing really great in Germany but, unfortunately because of some personal problems they gave up, but now they are back again. There is a band I like very much, it is called The Temple they are a bit more modern Metal with American influences, they are very, very good and they've been doing it for a many number of years. There's another band called Rigidium, which has a feeling from the times of 'Wolfheart' or 'Under the Moonspell'. Actually there's tones of bands in Portugal. I wish bands would believe more of themselves like Moonspell did in the past and not let the fact of being from a country that has no reputation at all when it come to Rock and Metal not to let it effect personalities as band and there career possibilities as well. So, I don't know, if you just put Portuguese Metal in Goggle and just start finding out the bands, I think that you will very surprised about the quality of the talent there.

- What are the bands that you respect a lot today? And what are the ones you find boring?

Um, the ones I find boring I don't waist my time talking about it. I find mostly bands that are repeating washed out formulas like especially this new trend we have this so called Power Metal, the bands influence is cloning everything, I find that very boring. I like very much the classical bands like Manowar, Ale to England Time, Celtic Frost or Battery just are the bands mostly attract me, but when it comes to more up to date bands, I'm very much into Katatonia from Sweden. I think they are definitely a genius band and I like mostly bands that try to have their own voice inside Metal and bands that take risks, My Dying Bride or Type O Negative. I like them very much. That's about it. I listen to a lot of music, especially Rock and Metal. I like the new one from Iggy Pop, he's one of my favorite all time artists and David Bowie as well. So, I listen to a lot of music 'cause, music it's exactly revolution, you know, and bring to step further from your own limitations not only as a human but especially as a musician. So I'm not very excited when a band just plays by the book or by the rules. So I like bands that are in a way making big or small revolution. The first time that I listened to Tool, I was amazed, first time I listened to Tonight Decision from Katatonia I was amazed and that's exactly what it means for me, elements that you can recognize within a certain style but elements that only existed because they've added their own personality into it. That's what I have tried to do with Moonspell and that's what I like to listen to as well.

- What do you think about the so called Finnish Gothic Metal (Him, To Die For)?

Him is a very cool band, I think, it's not something that I would listen to every day. It's not something that is deep enough probably for me to listen to them everyday but, they have great songs and they're great fun to watch and it's a Rock and Roll band and is more about entertainment as well. Um, about Finland, I'm very much into Sentenced for instance, I think they're a great band that has been around for ages. Uh, To Die For I know one of the albums, I think their a cool band but, then again they lack originality in a way and I saw them supporting Katatonia and it was already completely different and they even add a little bit of the modern Power Metal, which is an influence it was a bit strange to listen To Die For like that, but I very much in to Gothic music, definitely I mean, Finland is just a scene it's quite big. The 69 Eyes are a great band as well but, there's many other bands from other countries and unfortunately what I reckon in the states is that the Gothic scene is still not as strong as what it is in Europe and people need to come more to the shows and come more out. I'm always very happy when I find like Gothic looking people in shows because it is something we are so used to in Europe and here it's still a little bit a shy scene. So, I hope it grows then we'll have definitely more fans as well.

- I consider that among the best singers in the wide metal scene, you are one of the most underrated. What are the facts that drives you crazy in the context of "music marketing"?

I have no idea, I mean, I never think of my singing abilities of over or underrated. I just sings because I write lyrics and I love to write them and I feel as I'm them and they are so personal that I am definitely the person to express them and to interpret them and as I'm very much into story telling in a way with music and that's exactly what I want to do and for that fact I exercise my voice into trying to picture everything that's along the lyric beat. Aggression with a screaming voice or be it more soothing with a deeper voice. I think that I've been growing a lot a singer since the early days, I've always tried to stay focused in the path but I was never to concerned with if people think I'm a great vocalist or an underrated vocalist. Because like I say it's only important that I give voice to my words and that people can understand the story towards that meaning, you know, because voice is always very important because a vocalist is a person who is always telling you something at the end of the day. So basically, I was never very interested and I never thought of being evaluated technically or not. I hope that what I do in the studio I can do live, I work for that but, I'm not in a competition to see if I'm a great singer or a lousy singer because I think I don't want to consider myself just a singer but mostly someone that is there talking to someone. I see myself more like that.

- One of your first musical projects was called Archangel. You said yourself that you believe it would be a tremendous mane for a band. Have you ever thought about doing something outside of Moonspell, like a side-project or something?

I did once a project called Demon Arch, which was like a very occult death metal in a way with this kind of concept and it was great. It was an album that definitely helped to release a lot of stuff and the result was great and the people enjoyed it very much but, Moonspell is so complete nowadays and Moonspell is such a time and energy consuming type of band that I wouldn't find the time to devote myself to solid projects and also I'm in the music for a reason and part of that reason is for the people that I work with in Moonspell. The way we deal with each other, the way we like each other, the way that we compose with each other, you know, that's very complete. So I never considered a self project, I mean, I write not only lyrics but other stuff and I do it solo but, when it comes to bands and to composing I devote all of my energy to Moonspell nowadays definitely and sometimes that's not enough.

- What are your best memories from the existence of your first project Morbid God?

Well, I think the enthusiasm we put into such small things such as rehearsal that was probably my best memories but they were mostly difficult time because we couldn't, difficult times because we had no instruments, difficulties times because we would just look at each other not knowing what to do but, we had to start somewhere. So basically I think the main moment because Morbid God's existence was for a very short period was that when we read our first review because we did a song for a double album and because we felt no expectations and I mean the expectations that we had was that everybody will hate us and we started to get letters form all around the world and started having very positive reviews and identification with or previous music at the time aloud us to fulfill the goal we still have with Moonspell. Which is to provoke into others what certain bands provoked into us and that Morbid God was just a beginning for that, so that's my best memory.

- Fell free to say anything to your fans!

That's always the most difficult. Um, I don't know, I think that especially for our new American fans a lot of people are discovering us for the first time and it's good that it's like this because it's that they don't have a lot of expectations towards Moonspell and they go to the shows and see us opening the show for Type O Negative and Cradle of Filth and they think that um, a support band equals a band that sucks but um, with Moonspell it's quite the opposite because even tough we are making supports it's our sixth album and we are very experienced live and people are very surprised about us. So what I will say is that for them there's much more were that comes from. We're just playing half an hour, there are many more albums than 'The Antidote' or 'Irreligious' and I hope they can find time to listen to them all and to follow up with us in this crazy journey which is Moonspell.

conducted by Dark Angel in Portland, OR
questions written by Dream_Taster


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