Published on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 18:30
Interview with: Fernando Ribeiro
Conducted by: T.V.
Moonspell, the Portuguese dark metal wolf horde, one of those big names who are responsible for the evolution of gothic, dark and black metal as well, don't really need any introduction. The band is since the release of their latest masterpiece, Extinct, released in March 2015 through Napalm Records, on their lagerst headlining tour so far, Road To Extinction. They stopped on 3rd October for a show in our vicinity, in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, and of course I didn't hesitate to take a chance to witness it and meet once again with them and witness another great show performed by this great band. In my opinion Moonspell are one of the best live bands inside the genre, their shows are always full of dark enpowerful energy, filled with emotion, explosive performance and it's nothing strange that this band, with a charismatic frontman such as Fernando Ribeiro, enchants the audience with their spell. On this, already the fifth leg of the tour, supported by might Italian gothic/doom band The Foreshadowing, Swedish symphonic metallers Eleine and Croatian goth rockers Phantasmagoria, the band served us mostly with tracks from their latest album, Extinct and Irreligious, plus some other hits from their marvelous career, I was very surprised to hear tracks like "Luna" for example. In 2016 the band celebrates 20th anniversary of maybe their most influential ans successful albums, Irreligious and next yeat Moonspell will be celebrating their 25th anniversary since the band was formed. So, pretty exciting times in front of them, not to mention that the band is working on a new EP and will soon start composing their full-lenght successor to Extinct. Before their show I talked with always friendly and talkative frontman Fernando Ribeiro who explained many things regarding the tour, future plans, we talked about albums like Irreligious and Sin/Pecado, about Extinct, about Alma Mater Records, about his influences, personal life and yet much more. But before reading this interview I invite you to check out the extensive in depth interview I did with Fernando and the drummer Mike Gaspar over HERE, almost exactly one year ago when they stopped in Graz, Austria. Enjoy in what Fernando Ribeiro had to say this time.
T.V.: Hi Fernando! It's great to see you again after one year since we last talked in Austria, it obviously seems that this Road To Extinction tour will never end...
T.V.: Is Alma Mater meant to release also new albums of Moonspell in the future?Fernando
Fernando: Yeah, that's my feeling as well, but you know, this is good for Moonspell, with this new album of ours, Extinct, and everything that happened this year, it's been 20th anniversary of Irreligious, everything has been keeping us so active and constantly present on the scene. We can actually be thankful to do already the fifth leg of this tour. Well, we are also keeping ourselves busy with other stuff, especially my family things and others family things, this is the true never ending road to extinction, so it was a cool name to baptize this tour with such a name. We thought it was going to be big, but not as much as it turned out in the end, we are actually already booked up until the end of the year, so after this part of tour ends we will make some special shows in Portugal, but also in Spain, France and the last thing this year will be the Metal Meeting in Eindhoven, together with Tiamat, Mayhem,... definitely a great bill, there we will play a special Irreligious set and Mayhem is playing De Mysteriies Dom Sathanas, Tiamat... I don't know what they are going to play but I believe it'll be something celebrative.
T.V.: So it'll be pretty 90s tinged event, something for older fans...
Fernando: Yes, that's it, even though that's not what we wanted to do with our career, obviously we have the Extinct album out. Basically we've been on touring a lot and people search for our shows. Next year we'll try to stop for a while and make a new album or something else. But, so far we selected to go to South America, maybe Asia, Japan, Australia,... we'll see, but still we don't plan that much ahead.
T.V.: Are so many shows that you are having after your last album a result of such a demand for Moonspell or you just have such a good booking company behind you?
Fernando: (Laughs) There's a deman obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be here. It's also because we prefer to do tours by blocks. So, instead of being six months on tour, we concentrate on each leg of the tour to be in a certain region, for instance on this part of the tour we concetrated on southern/east European countries, so we are visiting Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Israel, it's kind of a geographical decision, we try to include also some countries that we never been before. There's a demand, people want to see our show, not only the Extinct songs, but also they want to celebrate with us 20 years of Irreligious and last year the anniversary of Wolfheart. Nevertheless, this is the last European tour for Extinct, but as I told you before we won't stop just now, we'll tour with something different. So far it has been great, we are on the road, every night we play our music and this way we can improve our show. As well we can change a bit the setlist for each show if we want to, and do a lot of stuff nowadays. Even though you have your price to pay, while being on the road your band is always stronger in a way.
T.V.: So I can sense that 2017 it'll be another tough year for you. But still I expect to see you playing in Europe on selected festivals?
Fernando: Yes, in Europe we'll probably be present only on festivals. Ah, btw... we'll have a new DVD prepared for next year... Also there will be a new EP in Portuguese language, which has already been recorded. So, it's going to be again one intense year for Moonspell. As we speak, we are already setting up a big tour in South america, it'll last for about one and a half month. Over there is a lot of demand for us. We've been in Brazil last year, we played on Rock In Rio festival and then we played a couple of our own shows there and it was really great, we sold a lot of CD's and we got a lot of requests to play more over there. There's always some risk involved, but in the end of the day it somehow pays off and this strategies are possible only if people love what you do. Even though Pedro and I manage the band in a way that the highlight is in our creativity and in the stuff we produce, it can be new songs, a re-release, can be a DVD, our job is to mantain things interesting for people and not just throw them stuff. There's a lot of stuff happening, we'll re-release the vinyl edition of Irreligious, because the last time I saw a copy of it it was from 1996 and it was sold for about 600€, an unsigned one. There will be a lot from Moonspell next year, we will be also celebrating 25th anniversary as a band and if it happens a tour, we'll probably do a special Irreligious/Wolfheart set.
T.V.: As you mentioned the re-release of Irreligious, recently you started with your own label, Alma Mater records, and will Irreligious be released through it? Also the EP Opium will be re-issued...
Fernando: Yes, we founded this label, but Irreligious is now re-released by Century Media, still, we got a band licence for it and we released a special band edition on orange vinyl. In November, by the end of the year, we'll release Opium EP on the vinyl for the first time ever, it's the same as the CD which was released back then, but we try to be up to date and make a good quality release of it. It helps that we have a great relationship with all the labels that we've been signed to so far, and since we have now our own label we can edit, re-release stuff on vinyl,... Alma Mater is meant to be a fan friendly label.
: No, not yet. We are now on Napalm Records and we are totally happy with them, but we wouldn't mind for instance to license our albums for Portugal market, because I'm sure that we can do a better job than any other label in Portugal. It's a little bit early to talk about, but we already had a lot of success already with pre-orders for Irreligious
, which is a big record, and "Opium", which is a great song. We want to do something very special for our fans, for instance we have a zombie film in Portugal for which we did a cover version of "I'll See You in My Dreams," originally written by Isham Jones, and we want to put it on a single. That kind of stuff, interesting stuff, that is not only limited to music, it can be also books, but it's still too early. Right now it's a lot of work with this two releases, but we'll see what future brings. Maybe we will release also some Portuguese metal bands from the past as well, bands of which people should know about. Yeah, we have a lot of plans but no time. All in all, Alma Mater Records is an interesting project for me and my business partner who does the merchandise for Moonspell
.T.V.: Are there also plans to re-release for example Sin/Pecado album as well?Fernando
: We'll see, because now we are entering some kind of a loop that can be dangerous or it can be done with style. In 2018 will be 20 years of Sin/Pecado
, so...T.V.: If I'm not mistaken Sin/Pecado was back then best selling Moonspell album...Fernando
: Back then yes, but nowadays you can't really tell, because Wolfheart
always sell good, even now it seels good, you won't believe but we sold out 5000 copies of Irreligious
vinyl before its official re-release. But you are right, Sin/Pecado
was our highest charted album and one of the best selling, but you must also consider that those years, from 1996 to 1999, were golden years for everybody to sell records. I would love to make a re-release of Sin/Pecado
on vinyl, because today there is only one release from Greek label Floga Records available now. It's an ok release, but I would do it much better with Alma Mater Records. Imagine how entertaining it would be to release this album in the format of the Bible. We want to explore different stuff, Antidote
as well, which is totally sold out, we want to re-release it together with the book of the writer, and yeah, we can do that, because we have a partnership with Century Media Records.T.V.: It's always good to hear from a band that has no problems with his past labels...Fernando
: You know, the contracts are not the problem, people are the problem, as long as people talk and you understand each others parts, believe me that everything can work out just fine, the human factor is always a problem, and a solution as well.T.V.: I completely agree with you! If I go back back to the Sin/Pecado album... Last year that we did an interview, Mike, your drummer, said that you are working on to include a couple of tracks from that album in the setlist...Fernando
: Not on this tour, because the setlist on this tour is a mix between Extinct
and a lot from Irreligious
album, because it's also what people want to hear now. We played "Magdalene" on a couple of UK shows, but unfortunately Sin/Pecado
will have to wait a bit, maybe next year we'll play more from that album. You know, it's a challenge to put Sin/Pecado
songs even with Extinct
songs. That period of Moonspell
is a very special one, because Sin/Pecado
, The Butterfly Effect
and also Darkness And Hope
are our strangest albums or at least the most experimental to say so. So, sometimes we fill the list with some songs from there, I like to play songs like "The Hanged Man", "Let The Children Cum To Me...", we quite often play "Abysmo", those are great songs from that album, but it's not just the question of playing, it's a question of playing it right. I see many bands playing their old songs without being prepared and that's bad for everyone, for fans it can shatter their dreams. So, we always rehearse first and I'm sure we'll play those songs next year. We did a show, actually another project we would like to bring on the road, it's an acoustic show with cellos that we played in Wacken and that one has a lot of Sin/Pecado
songs on the list, "handmadeGod", "2econd Skin", "Mute". Maybe it's a way to make something special for Sin/Pecado
to play this versions, those are moody songs and work really well also on the non metal environment. This way we can play the whole Sin/Pecado
set. For now it's just an idea that should be developed further. Songs like it's "2econd Skin" can definitely support a different perspective and vision.T.V.: I would most certainly love to see and hear such a Moonspell show, not only because it would be something different from Moonspell, but also because Sin/Pecado is one of my favorite albums of yours. Now, you already mentioned before that a new EP is on the way. Are songs already finished and recorded? Fernando
: Yes they are. What we did for the new EP sounds fantastic in our opinion, and we are very excited about it, it's all sung in Portuguese, lyrics are about the Lisbon earthquake that happened in 1755. It turned out a little bit better that we were expecting. We showed it around to some people and they loved it. But actually we have a doubt, either to do the EP, which is already recorded and ready for the mix or we write some more new songs in Portuguese and add it to the EP and make it a full album. And then for the next album, a follow up to Extinct, I think it'll be in 1018. We are really keen in working on this Portuguese stuff, and I think it will be really great for the fans, even if they don't speak Portuguese language. Then when the time is right and when we'll be in the right mood, then you know, will be a challenge to make a new normal album, but it ain't going to happen before 2018.T.V.: Was this idea to make an EP or a full album with songs in Portuguese born long ago or it just came instantly now?Fernando
: We always had songs in Portuguese, like the old songs, then a lot of songs had just parts in it. Then from the new material, there is the song, "Em Nome do Medo", on Alpha Noir
album, that I really like and I thought to make more songs in this vein, so the idea of writing to do a concept about the Lisbon earthquake was born, because "Em Nome do Medo" was already a little bit inspired by that earthquake. Then we started it to make an orchestral version of "Em Nome do Medo" and also did songs for this EP. Innitial plan was to release a DVD and have as a bonus an EP, but it's too good to be just a bonus. That would be easy to do for us and the label, but I think we need to know how to release this stuff and how to play the cards. Our decision is absolutely musical, we really want to make more songs and try everything in Portuguese for the first time, and then to release it as a separate on its own release. It's an idea we always had, but everything in life must come at the right moment and I think that this is the right moment. I think that now it's much better to make it happen than if we did it in the past, I'm pretty sure about it.T.V.: I'm really curious about this new EP or perhaps album of yours, big expectations from my side, like for every Moonspell release so far! This year you played on Vagos Festival in your country where also another great band from Portugal, Heavenwood, performed...Fernando
: Oh yeah, Heavenwood
, I know them since 1994 or even from before when they were called Disgorged
, the old death metal band, then their bass player died, he was very young,... I know them well. It was great to see them this year, they are great band, they have a great album out now, and I'm sorry for them that they couldn't keep it up in the 90s when they had some problems. Vagos Festival is the biggest metal festival in our country, and it was incredible this year, it's an old school Portugal thing, really great crowd, but Moonspell
never before played there, because the promoter didn't want us there. Now they changed the promoters and we were instantly booked. We played right after Helloween
, who made also an amazing show, it was extensive, people stayed there until the end and supported Portuguese bands as well.T.V.: Almost on every tour you have as a support one band with a female vocalist, on this part the Swedish band Eleine. Is this because you need to have a female singer to perform those duets with you?Fernando
: Can't beat them join them (laughs). The thing is that this genre, female fronted symphonic/gothic metal isn't very popular right now and not all bands are good, some of them are actualy terrible, so I try to pick up bands that try to bring a little bit of a difference and we picked up Jaded Star
from Greece last year, and I think Eleine
is a good thing to show up before The Foreshadowing
. It wasn't like an suggestion or any kind of business. I think that both bands have something which is still not fully explored, especially in the case of Eleine
, who combine a lot of stuff and are not just another typical symphonic metal band. You know, we are not taking them under our wing but it's important for bands to tour, and this is their first tour and I'm sure that they are going to have a great response, their singer is amazing, she dances and she's singing well, I think that they can be one of the next big names in the symphonic metal. But it can't be always like that, sometimes you choose bands randomly and it's not necessary that they have a lot in common with your music. You must choose something that is also interesting for the audience and I think that this package with Moonspell
, The Foreshadowing
, has a little bit of everything. I don't like to tour with really extreme bands though, I have nothing against them, but there are other ways of making music.T.V.: Yeah, but last year you toured with Dagoba who are a bit more extreme and way different from Moonspell. This time, at least The Foreshadowing goes so well along with your music...Fernando
: I think so, yes. But it's always time to improve, sometimes bands are unavailable or they can't invest into touring. Even though it's important to be on internet, press, social sites and things like that, still the most important and effective thing to promote the music is through live shows and I think that's what every band should do as much as they can.
T.V.: Moonspell have already ten albums released, and I wonder which one of them means the most to you? Which one was also the most fun making it?Fernando
: Oh, hmm, they are all different, but I think that Irreligious
is the album that's my personal favorite. For many reasons, musical reasons, for songs like "Mephisto", "Full Moon Madness", "A Poisoned Gift", "Opium", "Awake", but also because it was an album that represented our independence as a band, we finally could get out of our parents places, to be musicians, to be free men, and I can say that it helped to write a little bit of a gothic metal history. By the way, albums that I find the most gothic metal ever are absolutely Zoon
by Fields Of The Nephilim
and our Irreligious
, also some others as well, but in the first place this two. Then, I think that our most meaningful album is Extinct
, because it's more meaningful right now and the music on it is not just a memory, it's a presence, so Extinct
is the most meaningful album of Moonspell
for me. The most fun... probably The Butterfly Effect
, we were totally experimenting on that one, no strings attached, industrial, noises, drum machines, it was quite a nice process, even though the results were polemic the studio time was amazing.T.V.: Were you ever in your history told or obliged by any of labels that you were signed to to do it this or that way?Fernando
: They never had a chance, never. I won't lie to you that they haven't tried, but you know, it's not the label, most of the times it's just one person there and the label doesn't want to do that, but sometimes, especially the Portuguese labels had one guy for whom they thought he knows best and better than anyone else what should a band do. So, he tries to achieve from bands to do this or that, but we never really gave a shit about that. Our music can't be touched, because if we do that then we become puppets which we don't like and all the virtues of our music and mainly the reason why we formed this band is gone. I haven't formed a band to have a journalist saying to me that we should put more double bass in there for example. We formed to band to express ourselves, our expression must be independent and free. So, when labels sign us they know that is useless to try changing things and giving us directions, not only for the music but for anything else. When we do an album, we record it, we mix it, we have a cover and artwork done, everything, and then we give it to label. Napalm Records never did that, they are a great label, they have a good spirit. Moonspell
's way of working is: here you go, everything is there, this is the final product, no changes should be done. Ok, some technical changes must be done, because you have to put stuff on iTunes and stuff like that.T.V.: Why I'm asking you this in the first place is because when you were releasing albums like Sin/Pecado, The Butterfly Effect and Darkness And Hope, many jurnalist were saying that bands are pushed into this or that direction by their labels, managements, not only Moonspell, but also others like Paradise Lost, Tiamat, Rotting Christ, Theatre Of Tragedy,...Fernando
: I know, but believe me that those journalists were completely wrong, because what really labels wanted from us was Irreligious
part two, they wanted from Tiamat
to do Wildhoney
part two but they did Skeleton Skeletron
, they wanted from Paradise Lost Draconian Times
part two and look what they did instead. So believe me, and I respect everyone, but those journalists who are not really in the music business, they have their second guess and they don't know how those things are processed, they never signed a record deal, they just start to get lights on red, they were never pushed to do anything. For example Century Media, they never wanted an album like it is Sin/Pecado
, but in the end they supported it. At that time was all a part of the moment, it was us, Tiamat
, Paradise Lost
, some people thought that we all sold out, but I think that then was some great music been done, good sound, great atmosphere, but people wanted to go back to meat and potatoes, and they lost great albums. And nowadays, 20 years after, there are many who tell me "oh, Sin/Pecado
was such a great album, it was incredible..."T.V.: Exactly like that! You haven't done a lot of covers in your career, if I'm not mistaken the last one was for "Sacred" by Depeche Mode...Fernando
: We don't do a lot of covers, beside "Sacred" we did also Ozzy Osbourne
's "Mr. Crowley". Now, for the new EP we did a cover version of one Brazilian band. That band is rather unknown worldwide, especially to metal fans, it's not a metal band, but they are huge in Brazil and it's a beautiful song.T.V.: Brazilian music is not that popular in Europe, except for some metal bands like of course Sepultura, Ratos De Porao, also Sarcofago, maybe in Portugal it's different because you are connected by language.Fernando
: Yes, in Portugal it is, a lot of Brazilian music. It's very popular and a lot of it sells out. Brazilian music, except for metal, which is also great, amazing old bands there, they have some really great music.T.V.: In one of the posts you published on your Facebook profile you said that you are big patriots. You really shown a lot of support to your football team on Euro 2016...Fernando
: We are not patriots just for the football, but in general...T.V.: Also congratulations for the overall presence on and winning Euro 2016!Fernando
: Thank you! I don't know about the presence (laughs), but the result was great. It was great, I've been watching all of the matches. We really do like football in Portugal, there's no shame in liking it. We also like to read poetry, both things are compatible. The thing is that since 1984 we watch Portugal playing good, playing bad, playing awesome, they are not always winning, but have more and more victories. This time I was quite sure that step by step our team will achive the victory and in the end they did it. It was a big explosion in Portugal, it has passed already, but it'll be in the history for our kids and I'm lucky to be alive in this moment to see that.T.V.: So, do you want for your son to be a football player or a musician?Fernando
: No, I want him to be a plastic surgeon (laughs), so he can fix me up. No, no, just kidding, honestly I want for him to be fulfilled in life with whatever he wants to do. If he'll be more artistical, into sports or science, or anything... I don't know, he'll have to choose his own path, I'll support him in anything, except if he'll want to form a band, no, I'm kidding of course.T.V.: Who gave him the name, Fausto, your wife Sonia or you?Fernando
: It was me. My wife had nothing against it, no problem, she was totally up for it, it's a beautiful, meaningful name. It's not very usual for children in Portugal, but you know, I'm not an usual person as well.T.V.: Your singing style and voice colour are one of my favorites and I wonder who influenced your singing style in the early stages?Fernando
: Thank you! Nothing really, I just started to discover singers, art of singing and the pleasure and all around it. Just like any other metal kid I just wanted to grow in the band and try to do something, I started writing lyrics and tried to record some vocals by imitating Quorthon from Bathory
, like the black metal vocals. I failed! But then I tried to use my vocals a little bit differently, so I was a bit frustrated about the vocals, but the thing with vocals is something that you have to grow with. When I started to be more interested in singing I still liked Quorthon from Bathory
of course, I love Peter Steele who's maybe my main influence, for shouting it's definitely Quorthon, but for singing parts it's Peter Steele, Peter Murphy, Nick Cave, there are many.T.V.: As you mentioned him, how do you like Nick Cave's new album?Fernando
: It's a fucked up album, a great album! It's hard to listen to it, especially if you are having a kid, but art is like this. Like I said Skeleton Tree
is a great album, I love Nick Cave and I love his music. I think he did this new album for therapy instead of doing something stupid. It's a big tragedy what happened to him.T.V.: Yes absolutely. I'm his big fan as well. Btw... how eagerly are you expecting the new Fields Of The Nephilim album?Fernando
: Yes, I'm, I was listening a lot to their lates one, Mourning Sun
, oh fuck, how long ago it was released, I think it was 2005 or something, but I'm always looking up for McCoy and fields to make new albums, believe me that they are in better position of writing great album than many new bands, so I expect another big thing from them if it'll ever happen of course.T.V.: Thank you Fernando for your time and giving me so interesting answers. It's always a real pleasure talking with you. Now, the last words are all yours!Fernando
: Thank you very much for this interview. Pay attention to Moonspell
, go to our social networks, because soon we are going to start announcing new stuff over there. 2015 was a great year for Moonspell
, 2016 as well, and 2017 will be even greater. I would like to thank all our fans for keeping it true and to put it up with our crazy rides, musically and touring wise, I think that's awesome!
Moonspell links: Facebook
Alma Mater Records: Official website, Facebook
Live photos taken on 3rd October 2016 in Mostovna Club, Nova Gorica, Slovenia, by: Franci Palčič