DATE OF INTERVIEW:
23rd February 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: To this day, people still associate Moonspell with the ‘gothic metal’ tag, although do you think the significance of that label has been more and more watered down over the years, and its meaning has become tarnished and detached from what it once meant to be a gothic metal band? Obviously, Paradise Lost coined the term originally and, like yourselves, they were combining metal with gothic music but, now, gothic metal seems to apply to an image, almost.
You know, I think when you said it, I even have something to add - gothic metal got a little bit too sugared. Sometimes, it’s too much smiles or too much entertaining, and not the adult pain you search from bands like Sisters of Mercy, or Type O Negative, or Fields. I think that’s quite sad because gothic metal is, sometimes, like a joke. I hope ‘Extinct’ brings an alternative way of watching it because, obviously, there are many fans who actually like what gothic metal has become, but it’s always important to find more about it and also to, why not, find an album that’s true to the original spirit of it. I have no problem saying, for me, it was more interesting to listen to Paradise Lost, even albums they got scolded for like ‘One Second’, ‘Host’… great albums. I never understood why people just didn’t want them to do that because it was great and picking up what Sisters of Mercy did. It was a metal band, a rock band… in my opinion, they’ve always been a rock or metal band and still they could write songs that were appealing, and you didn’t have to go through layers and layers of brutality, and double-bass kicks.
(Fernando Ribeiro on the twentieth anniversary of 'Wolfheart')
"Moonspell is a terrible band when it comes to celebrating because we should’ve released ‘Extinct’ next year and do a twenty year anniversary tour!"
Moonspell - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2014 Edgar Keats - www.edgarkeats.com
Interview by Mark Holmes
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Thanks to Andy Turner and Mona Miluski for arranging the interview.
The Butterfly Effect (1999)
Darkness and Hope (2001)
The Antidote (2003)
Under Satanæ (2007)
Night Eternal (2008)
Lusitanian Metal (2008)
Alpha Noir/Omega White (2012)
MD: Yeah, if you look at ‘Host’, it’s great and one of the most underrated Paradise Lost albums, although it’s the one most hated by the fans.
FERNANDO: I agree, but what the fans forget about is that for a style to work and for us all to expand, and I think a lot of people are not listening to power metal but are listening to bands that are a little bit more avant-garde. They have to understand that in the nineties - when Paradise Lost released ‘Gothic’, Tiamat released ‘Wildhoney’, we released ‘Irreligious’ - we got away with it and these albums were big because all of the crowd was enthusiastic about being avant-garde and leaving their comfort zone. And I think that crowd is getting back together again because I think some people just had enough of going to a festival and everything being a little bit predictable - not only the music but the behaviour of people. Sometimes, I see something on the internet and while all these bands played, they all did the same. They all went to the wall of death… it’s much more important that Fields get on stage with all their smoke and power than a guy making a wall of death. I think that’s a cheap trick, honestly, most of the time.
MD: I agree, completely. It’s the twentieth anniversary this year of ‘Wolfheart’ which, scarily, doesn’t seem that long ago, to me, since it was released...
MD: Does it feel like two whole decades have passed to you?
FERNANDO: Well, when we look behind… today, I was practicing the new songs of ‘Extinct’ for the tour, and I had a lot of stuff in my boot. Not ‘Wolfheart’ but there was this backstage pass or whatever for a show we did in Portugal in 2001 for ‘Darkness and Hope’ and I said, “wow, that’s fourteen years ago!” When I think about ‘Wolfheart’, yeah, it’s like a time lapse because I remember very well and what happened with writing it, and recording it in Germany… and, for us, it’s worth so much more than just the music, you know. Goth people tell us that, sometimes, this album has also been a blueprint for many Gothic Metal bands, and also folk metal bands, and bands from many styles.
Moonspell is a terrible band when it comes to celebrating because we should’ve released ‘Extinct’ next year… [Laughs] … and do a twenty year anniversary tour! We would love to do some capitals in Europe and overseas. But we learnt ‘Wolfheart’ in its entirety and the plan is also to mix it with the newer songs and to revisit that time, to travel a little bit in time - not to play ‘Vampiria’ or ‘Alma Mater’ because those will always be in our set, but also to throw in ‘An Erotic Alchemy’ and ‘Love Crimes’. So, yeah, it was an album where time really flew in-between, but it was an album where I felt successful – not because of what the album became but more because of when we ended up in Germany, and I feel that way with ‘Extinct’; that’s my measure of success, in a way, to do that with the new album. At the time, I had a Walkman with a tape with ‘Wolfheart’, and I really liked what we did; we sounded like a band. That’s my most vivid and best memory of ‘Wolfheart’, that we’ll celebrate with the fans on the road occasionally, as well, when we go on the next tour.
MD: I think it’s more than stood the test of time as it still sounds magnificent today.
FERNANDO: Well, I’m always impressed with ‘Wolfheart’, especially the newer generation picking it up. It’s something I never thought would happen because, when we released the album, it was not like… we had a kind of a buzz on the underground scene for ‘Under the Moonspell’, the previous EP, but it was not like everybody was running; it was an album people actually discovered through the tours we did, and they never let the album die. I think that’s something we feel really proud of, especially coming from Portugal.
MD: You have just one show coming up in the UK, in London, during your forthcoming European tour, so was the offer not there for Moonspell to play some more regional dates over here?
FERNANDO: I think we should. Actually, the original plan fell through because we had some dates for Manchester, Liverpool and going to Dublin as well that we have never played. But, sometimes, it’s complicated and we definitely wanted to go to the UK but, then, Septicflesh had other engagements. The promoters just started getting crazy and we had to pull everything down except the London date. And, guess what, we’re ending the tour in Germany! But I wasn’t happy with the situation, to be honest, but I think that even though it won’t be Amon Amarth kind of crowds, some people would want to listen to us outside of London as well. We love to play London. The first time I’d ever been on a plane to play outside Portugal, back in early ’95, was actually in London… London, 2 shows, and then one in Bradford Rios. But, if time is on our side, because after this European tour with the London date, we go overseas almost straight away, to Mexico, Canada and US. Then it’s time for the summer festivals. But, if time permits, definitely it would be fair to do five or six dates on a UK tour.
MD: Yeah, and play ‘Wolfheart’ in its entirety!
FERNANDO: We can do it, why not. I mean, one of my crazy, latest ideas, if I can get the other guys to do it, is to do a show playing ‘Extinct’ in its entirety because it’s a great album for people to enjoy, and then just play ‘Wolfheart’. Because, I think, why not! It’d be a great show. I mean, I’m not the kind of guy that likes to hang a small backdrop and play a headliner set for fifty or sixty minutes. We like to play at least ninety minutes… two hours… it doesn’t matter. ‘Wolfheart’ is fifty minutes and so is ‘Extinct’, so that could definitely be a great idea. And we’ll definitely have to come back to play additional dates; that’s definitely something we want to do.
MD: My final question then - obviously Moonspell will become extinct one day…
MD: …although how would you like the band to be remembered in the annals of metal history?
FERNANDO: Well, first as a Portuguese band that was not content whilst people were telling us in Portugal, “you will not go anywhere because the world belongs to German, UK, American and Scandinavian bands.” So, even though we’re not as big as those bands, we can still make a career doing exactly what we like, with all the mood changes we have. Also, with our albums, I like to see us as someone that didn’t discover the wheel but always tried to reinvent the style we searched for and which we are comfortable representing, which is dark metal, in a way.
Some people actually ask: “Is this going to be the last Moonspell album? Are you going to get extinct?” I say, well, I lost that motto for marketing genius! [Laughs] I also understand that extinction, like I said earlier, is not something just to go away. I think Moonspell can adapt and when the rock ‘n’ roll vibe is gone, and we’re too tired and too old to tour and still play the clubs, I think we can definitely evolve to other forms of music. Something, probably, more orchestral; something more dark… and we all like books as well and literature, so that’s something I see myself doing in the future. So there is a future. It might be dark but it’s all that we’ve got, and I think Moonspell will definitely still put some more elements into our life as a band. We’re not done yet! Someday, we will but now is a time to enjoy playing live a record we’re really proud of.
MD: So, very much alive and kicking, and many years to come, hopefully!
FERNANDO: Alright! Thanks for your wishes!
MD: Well, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a real pleasure speaking with you.
FERNANDO: Thank you so very much.
FERNANDO: I couldn’t agree more. Obviously, when gothic metal got some… especially through the album ‘Gothic’ of Paradise Lost and, also, through the album ‘Zoon’ from Nefilim, at the time it was a very heavy album but also really, really goth. I think the style lost its bravado; you know, its imagination. It was content singing about a little saga, putting a girl singing and a guy growling, some heavy guitars, some Pro Tools orchestration. And obviously I’m joking, but most of the people that think about gothic metal, probably they won’t think about Paradise Lost or Moonspell. They will probably think about other bands that are normally female-fronted bands. For me, it’s not like a war, but to have an alternative of having a band, especially this album, that’s actually singing a little more than just treasure chests, and pirates, and fairy tales.