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Moonspell - Interview

Interview with: Mike Gaspar, Fernando Ribeiro
Conducted by: T.V.

Portuguese pioneers of dark/gothic metal, Moonspell, who are considered as one of the most respected and most influential bands of the genre for more than 20 years don't really need any introduction, because the band which released such albums as is already their debut Wolfheart, the seminal Irreligios, or even the controversial ones like Sin/Pecado or The Butterfly Effect, then the mighty The Antidote, Night Eternal, actually every single thing this band ever released reached kind of a cult status among the fans of drama, beauty and darkness inside metal music. In March last year Moonspell released their 11th studio album titled Extinct through Napalm Records, maybe one of their best works to date, and it's sure that songs like it's the opener "Breathe (Until We Are No More)", or the gothic metal hymns like "Domina" and "The Future Is Dark", are already considered as timeless creations of this mighty band. With Extinct Moonspell reached the top of many 2015's charts, and as well in Terra Relicta the album was placed on the top of the chart Terra Relicta Top 20 of 2015 and it was selected as Album Of The Month - March 2015! If you want to know why, then please read the review, with almost the perfect rating, about it over HERE. Indeed the 11th studio album Extinct erects another monument to sundowns and those dark hours and lets Fernando Ribeiro`s sombre vocals collide with modern riffing, blackened melodies and operatic grandeur. Always one step ahead of the rest, always resisting all genre boundaries! I talked with very friendly drummer Mike Gaspar and frontman Fernando Ribeiro before their show in Graz on 25th October last year (I know it's quite some time ago, but because of a lack of time, technical problems, complexity of the interview, I couldn't manage to edit it before, but you'll see that it's not outdated in any way). Anyway, I think that this very in-depth interview is a must for every and each fan of the band, but not only, also for everybody who fancies dark music in general, as it explains many things behind the creation and vision of Extinct, as well Mike and Fernando talked about the touring experiences, studio experiences, influences, philosophy behind the lyrics and many other things. Please take some time now and read this very interesting and insightful interview with Portuguese gods of dark metal!

With: Mike Gaspar

T.V.: Hi Mike! You guys recently started this tour and tell me how it's going so far?
Mike: It's going great, this is our third show, we started it here in Austria, in Insbruck, last night we were in Budapest and it was really nice, fans were amazing and we can't believe how much dedicated fans we have for so many years now. It's really nice to have this appreciation. We played here in Graz a couple of times before, the people here are super nice and the crowd was always great. Everything is going maybe too easy, it's not been that dificult so far, but we still have almost 30 shows in front of us. We are touring a lot, last week we were in Columbia, before that we were in Brazil, we did a whole bunch of summer festivals, we were on American tour, so by the end of the year we'll have more than 100 shows behind us. So it's been a full pack Moonspell year.
T.V.: Yeah, pretty impressive! So, why the decision to make a second leg of Road To Extinction Tour across Europe?
Mike: Because the first part was mainly in central and south of Europe, Spain, Portugal, Italy, we also went to England,... this second part of tour is mostly in eastern part of Europe and also in Scandinavia. We didn't have time on the first part of tour to go in Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark,... and we will repeat few shows in Germany, France, Italy, and also coming back to Vienna and do two other shows here in Austria, because we haven't been in Austria for last three or four years. So, it's been important for the second leg of the tour to do shows in all those countries which weren't included in the first part, and we have very dedicated fans in these places, like for example in Hungary,... most of our tours always include Budapest...
T.V.: The first time I saw you playing live was on the tour for Sin/Pecado album, you were playing together with Therion, actually Moonspell were headliners. How much do you remember those past shows and tours from years ago?
Mike: Yeah, that was in 1998 if I'm not mistaken. I remember, not every single show of course, but I remember pretty well the bands we played with, personalities, the things that happened. That tour that you mention was pretty fantastic, it was one of the first tours that Moonspell have been headlining. There were so many people attending the shows and we were really surprised about that. Of course many also came to see Therion who became very popular after that. I remember doing barbecues in the days off when we were in Spain, and we used to get extremely drunk on that tour (laughs). But that was when I was younger and I was used to drink a lot.
T.V.: From that early period of yours, I remember reading one interview with Liv Kristine who was singing in Theatre Of Tragedy at that time, and they were touring together with you at some point, if I'm not mistaken it was on a tour for Irreligious album. Liv said that she doesn't want to tour ever again with Moonspell...
Mike: (laughs)... I don't know why she said that, she recently toured with us with her band in North America, it was two years ago, and we were even on the same bus. I think that she liked it more this time (laughs).
T.V.: That was said almost twenty years ago...
Mike: Yeah, she's very delicate and so are the other members. It's a different reality, she's from Norway, now she lives in Germany and people there are different from us from the south, we have different ways, different temperament, we are more layed back, we are not so obsessed with everything, like the laws and all the rules... You know, we are a rock band and if we want to be in an office and have that kind of a job we would do that, and some bands do exactly that... we rather try to enjoy and also be with the fans, have some parties and spend some cool time with people on the bus, that's all a part of our life style. Sometimes it might be hard if we have shows every day, but we have fans who are so very happy to spend some time with us, and with some people we became like family or really good friends, we know such people all around the world. That's extra special for us. For us those backstages can became boring, we are doing it for more than twenty years, but for some meeting us in the backstage is a childhood's dream.

T.V.: But still, many things must have changed for you in all those years, you grew older, most of your fans are older now...
Mike: In the past we had enough energy to do everything, for example, we went to visit every single city we were in, we had time to go out and we had energy to party all the time... The thing that changed the most is that we try to reserve ourselves before doing the show. Of course we still find the time to talk with people and do the 'meet and greets'. It's not like it was in the past when we talked with everybody, but you must understand that back then everything was new for us. Now for example we don't really want to go out in the cities where we already played 20 or more times. Now it's that the little things are more special, like when we meet people who we became friends with in all these years, or when fans bring us presents and all kinds of stuff. It makes you feel older, of course, but at the same you must look back and see that what you did left a mark on a lot of people. So it's a different experience of which I often forget, because for me playing and be in the band is just something normal.
T.V.: Do you ever get bored of each other?
Mike: Not really, especially when we are on a tour there are so much things happening. Every day is a different city, a new adventure, different situations, different stages, different people, so it's never really that boring. And yes, we feel just like a family inside the band. I'm also a godfather of Fernando's kid and when he got married we all roll up on the weeding,... we do everything together.
T.V.: That's really cool, I must envy you. I was checking a bit your setlists of recent shows you've played and I noticed that you ignore songs from the albums like it's Sin/Pecado, The Butterfly Effect, also Antidote, Darkness And Hope and Omega White were quite ignored...
Mike: Yes I know. It's really difficult because there are so many albums and we do the constant touring. We'll try to include some ignored songs for the next tour and we thought to prepare "Magdalene" and "Mute" for the next one. We have to sound check them, but we are still in the making, but you know, now we are concetrated on the new Extinct album, and we will always have the classics in the set. Last night in the Budapest people said that it was a perfect set, and like I said it was amazing. It worked out just great and we will always go back to those songs from Irreligious which always put some kind of a spell on peole. It's hard to substitute those with songs that we don't play that often. Those are the things that we have to decide, especially when you have a new album out, we try to stick with rotating the songs, but it depends on the show and we try to change the setlist a bit from date to date.
T.V.: I understand, and Extinct is a great album, one of the best released in 2015 and in my opinion one of the best Moonspell ever did, so it must be promoted as much as possible. This album is also since the day it was released on the first place of the chart Top 20 of 2015 on our website Terra Relicta. I'm interested how much different it was composing this album in comparison with your previous one?
Mike: The biggest difference was the time that we had, because we decided to spend some time without any touring, and instead of that we took some time and gradually get into the songs. We set the time immediately to record the album, without even having the songs yet. So we were on a time schedule, that was very tight, and Jens Bogren (producer of the album) came to us and spent almost two weeks working with us. We already were working on some ideas with Ricardo and Fernando had some vocal ideas, but at that point it wasn't that much of an album, and we together with Jens were really fully concetrated in those two weeks. We weren't thinking too much if a certain thing is right or wrong, it had to breath, be smooth, it must have make sense musically. It was a bit more technical and scientific while we were making the songs. We didn't had too much time, so we were practicing a part, and then Jens was always making some experiments on his computer, then showed it back to us, just like when you do demos. So, basically we recorded the demo, then we had to play it back, put it through computers,... everything went on very quick. We actually had the time not only to play, but also to listen how the song would sound at the certain part, with certain differencies, different chords,... It was like a blueprint, technologically of course, but with many albums and experiences behind us we are used to do this stuff pretty quick. I think that it helped when we had a part with good structure and then going with it into the studio where the real magic happened. In the studio then the experience is different, the sound is different, Jens is more comfortable there. In the past we rehearsed the songs a lot and just recorded them. Now we had to change the things inside the studio, so it was a concept building process. We wanted something different and we hired Jens because we thought that he's a perfect guy for the album.
T.V.: Also the structure of the album is different if compared to Alpha Noir / Omega White, where you had actually two albums with different polarities. Now you went back to the ussual structure and incorporated all the elements on one...
Mike: Yes, we wanted to reunite both styles again and not having it so distinctively apart. On the previous album we had only two songs where we were not concerned about their orientation and had that natural flow. Like said, now we put everything back together, and that's good, because we threated each song with its indentity and individuality. In the past we were always making an intro and outro, and those two had to match, that is cool, but we banned that also. Now it was important to write the best songs as possible and for that we had to concetrate on song by song. In the end we figured it out how to be smooth. It was a long process involving a lot of people with lot of opinions.

T.V.: Jens Bogren is also known to be kind of a producer who pushes the band in the certain assigned direction.
Mike: Yes he is, but we are used to that and it doesn't make a huge difference. Also in the past with other producers we were pushed really hard, but Jens is a real gentleman, he's very kind and yes, he wants to make it his way, but he talks about it peacefully, if you know what I mean. So, even if he asks for more is like he wants to give you more, it's not just like some people who are screaming in your face, "oh come on, you can do it better". Maybe that works fine when you are young, but when you are older you need to be more laid back.
T.V.: So, from where does this magic that this guys does with the albums came from? Almost every band wants to record with him, so where's the catch?
Mike: It's true. He's really good. I don't know, it was similar with Waldemar Sorychta who produced our first albums, but also Tiamat, Samael, The Gathering, Lacuna Coil, Therion and so on. He had a momentum and now I think it's the time for Jens who is completely comfortable with this generation. Jens is a fan of old school, he's trained in the old days and he remembers those days, but at the same time he's a new generation in the way that he sees music, the way that he works with music it's a different level that we couldn't really grasp. He combines very well the existence of technology with his soul and he knows where his heart is, that's what we used to feel while working with him, a touch from the past in the world where everything is digital. I think that's the main reason for which he gets along also with older bands. He is almost my generation, and first he's a fan, then he's very talented techically and also musically. He's kind of a person that doesn't want to take the instrument away from you and show you how to do it. He just explains things and gives certain ideas, because music must come from you and he wants to get the best out of the band.
T.V.: I can imagine that. Now, I know that Fernando writes all the lyrics, but I was wondering how it is with music, when it comes to compositions and song structures?
Mike: Oh well, in Moonspell there is not one main person. When it comes to lyrics there's definitely Fernando who writes them, but when it comes to music we are working on the songs together. Many times Ricardo has a good idea and writes around it some music, also Pedro writes some music, then I play drums on it to see how it feels, and we build the song from there. Then Fernando tries some vocals on it, but in the end we decide everything together. We discuss all the details within the band and of course, each person has to give exactly that what he's most talented for. So I can't suggest something for guitar and I'm not going to play it, but I can show everything around the drums, and vice versa. We are very interactive. Each song is a result of a huge process.
T.V.: But who's the guy who says in the end, "ok, this is it!"?
Mike: Most of the times it's a mutual, but on this last album we wanted the producer Jens to have a complete authority. Even though we always discussed things, but he often suggested some extra parts, he asked if it's cool for us, and of course we gave our opinion. If there was something that was too extreme, like in the past, it was good to have somebody in who we have confidence and says that it's better if go another way. We needed somebody like Jens because we are together for more than twenty years and many things became predictable. He never had a band who went into the recording room together, usually the drumer comes in first to record, then the guitar player and so on. But we stayed together for whole two months, ok three months if we count also the pre-production. It was less boring for the producer this way, because usually there is just the producer, the engineer and the guy who's recording, but in our case it was different.
T.V.: How do you decide where to use harsh vocals and when those clean, deep gothic ones? Is this just Fernando's decision or is he open for suggestions?
Mike: Like I said, we make some experiments, we suggest here and there, it depends of the kind of music. Some parts might sound better with the gothic style, some with extreme vocals. We like to make that contrast. On our last album we worked very specifically on that to get the best result for each part. We are always experimenting a lot on this matter. There's this duality that we do and it's something that characterizes us.   
T.V.: What about your influences? Is the band who's around for so much time like Moonspell are and became a big influence to many new bands still influenced by other music?
Mike: I think that each member of Moonspell is different. We are all similar in the way that we search for something new, inside metal or outside metal music, we are always searching for new kinds of music. But as a band I can say that we always look back at those bands that inspired us in the beginning. I can of course mention Type O Negative, Morbid Angel, The Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim, we were huge Motley Crue fans, also of course Bathory, Celtic Frost and a lot of others, there a wide jungle of rock and metal music that we listen to. I think it's the same for everybody. That music will always be special for us. Of course when we hear new things that are good it inspires us. For example we were around before Dimmu Borgir and Children Of Bodom who took everything on the another level and of course were inspiring us and made us work harder. That's the truth and that's how it's in the music industry, there are just few bands who can live on their past, but sometimes that can get a bit dull. We have to mantain who we are but also evolve.

T.V.: As you mentioned Type O Negative, in one interview I remember that I've read that the death of Peter Steele influenced in some way the new album of yours...
Mike: Yeah, that's right, but all our friends that have passed away did. You know, when you get older you are set to lose people who were part of your life. Also the existence of how the things were in the past, how your neighborhood was in the past, how it changes, how you see the world changing. Now it's a fast developing world, in an instant you get in contact with somebody from another part in the world thanks to the internet. Sometimes we remember those days when we were kids and we thought that those days will never be over. We had time to do things, we had time to play, to visit people, to eat,... now everything is so quick, you eat fast food, and there are all this connections, all the informations that people can have these days. Sometimes you just can't take all of that, it can be too much.
T.V.: So, it's all around some kind of a reflection on Extinct?
Mike: The phrase extinction in this album has a lot to do with that, it's about all this stuff that disappears. We had a chance to do a documentary and talk with the scientists about the group of the wolves who have a protection in Portugal. They are very dedicated and it's impressive how many animals have actually gone extinct over the years. For most of them we didn't even know about, and most of the people even don't care. It's something that is definitely going on and it's frightening to see how much extinction is happenening especially in this last one hundred or two hundred years. We are just bringing everything up. So there's consciousness behind the album, and we want to see people change their mentality, to see what's more important in life, it's not money or other material things, it's water, nature, growth and a lot of harmony. But where we are going is pretty difficult to achive that.
T.V.: I can see that even if Fernando is the one who writes the lyrics, also you and the other band members can relate with the message.
Mike: Yes of course. He writes for him and for us, for Moonspell, not just for himself. There are a lot of things from our lives, about the things that we think of and about the things that we've gone through. Even the book that he wrote is about those years and has to do with our experiences. It's also about the Portuguese past and culture we have, so everything around that is involved in his lyrics.
T.V.: If we go back to the songs and music of your last album, I wonder which is your favorite song on it?
Mike: Actually many, but "Extinct" and "Breathe" are my main favorites. Especially "Breathe" really surprised me, it's a song that's still Moonspell, but as well it's very modern for us, it has kind of a different touch and some Scandinavian influence, like is the melody and main guitar riff that Ricardo already had from before. Then the way we approached this with Turkish violins and orchestra, it is very creative and original. It's melodic and very catchy. We haven't had a song like that in our career so far. Even if we have so many albums it's nice to know that we can still make something new and that's one of the things that makes us want to continue.
T.V.: This oriental vibe which is present in "Medusalem" and "Breathe" is something quite special...
Mike: It's connected with our past, because on Under The Moonspell we had those kind of influences. We never intended to do it again, actually we didn't know how to do it and now this oportunity showed up when Jens said that he worked in the past with this Turkish orchestra and that they are really good. And because of the melodies we have written they fit perfectly there.
T.V.: You even worked together with Fahri from Orphaned Land...
Mike: Yes, he did this solo with a traditional guitar, and it was through him that we got in contact with the Turkish orchestra. He doesn't speak English, so it was a bit confusing, but in the end everything was really good for sure.
T.V.: On the Night Eternal album your female vocalist guest was Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). How did you get in touch and how it was working with her?
Mike: Oh, Anneke is our friend for years, we toured with them back in 1996. We shared the tour bus, it was their and ours first tour bus ever. So, when you are starting so very young and make friends those kind of friendships stay forever. Anneke for us is like a sister. We invited her and she was really honoured. I believe that she had a great time working with us, we even did some videos, she went to Serbia with us. It was so nice working with her, she's an amazing vocalist, also she's an amazing person to be with and everybody wants to work with her, which you can see. When we did that everybody was so jealous, telling us, "oh you guys are so lucky, you got Anneke...". She's so talented, she deserves all the respect and I just wish all the best to her. Unfortunately we can't have her all the time. We did some special shows together in Holland, we took her to Portugal for some special shows, it was really magical and we were feeling like some super rockstars when we were on stage together with Anneke.   
T.V.: I can only imagine how special those shows were. Recently you also played on Rock In Rio festival in Brazil, and you did two cover songs of Sepultura. On stage you were also joined by their singer Derrick Green and I wonder how it came to this?
Mike: It's true! It's the sunset stage and usually there they like to have participations with other members and bands playing their songs. In the beginning we didn't thought we'll have to do it and we hopped that Derrick will just learn some Moonspell songs, because we didn't have much time. But then the organization really pushed us to do it. It's not that we didn't want to do it, because we are huge Sepultura fans, I remember seeing them playing live with their Arise album when I was a kid in Portugal. Like said, it wasn't that we didn't want to do it, but we didn't have much time to practise, we were touring a lot, so we just listened to the songs and had just two days to rehearse in Rio and we played those for the first time together with Derrick there. We managed to finish the songs without any mistakes, we even surprised ourselves and I didn't think it will happen that well. We asked Derrick how it was for him and he said that it was fine. That show happened in front of many thousands of peple and it was broadcasted directly on their national television, thus seen by millions of people, it was a huge thing. The very next day everybody knew us in Brazil and was very weird. So, it was amazing to play Sepultura's songs in Brazil.

T.V.: And how did the crowd reacted?
Mike: Very good! The crowd was amazing, you can see it on YouTube (check it out at this location, e.d.). I have watched it maybe one hundred of times and Ricardo, our guitar player, for the first couple of days was watching it every single day.
T.V.: You said before that you are a huge fan of Sepultura and I wonder how do you feel the difference of Sepultura with Max and Igor Cavalera, and the new line-up?
Mike: Well, it's a different Sepultura of course. I was a huge fan of Sepultura in the past, when there were still Max and Igor. On the other hand it's good to hear that Sepultura went on and did something new with other members like are Derrick and their new drummer Eloy Casagrande. I've seen them playing live and they are amazing. Have you seen them?
T.V.: No, because I don't like that much their new sound...
Mike: It's different, yeah, but they have a new crowd also. They are constantly touring, so they've gathered a new fan base. The fans who came to see Sepultura these days are not the same fans as those from our generation. But they are doing really well and Derrick is an amazing guy, he's so kind and very talented, it's very hard to say anything bad about him. It's like they were getting a divorce back then and the question is if you'll continue or just hate each other for the rest of your life. New things happen, new relations, maybe new kids came into your life, so, that's the thing that happened to Sepultura and I don't really think that the original line-up will ever came back together.
T.V.: You are absolutely right. Now, I was wondering how did it came that you've choose Dagoba and Jaded Star as your support bands on this tour? You can't deny that both bands are really different from Moonspell.
Mike: Well. I think that Dagoba were suggested to us and they really want to do the tour with us. That's important for Moonspell, so we don't have to look out for a band, and we also can set our own conditions this way. This kind of contrast in music can be positive. It's not that easy for us these days to have bands that fit with us like it was in the past. They are dissapearing. Back then we played with Amorphis, Tiamat, but they are not playing live that much anymore, Paradise Lost, who are also on tour right now,... a lot of bands that we want to play with are on their own tour also. Back in the day there were those amazing packages with all this bands.
T.V.: It would amazing to see a package with Moonspell, Paradise Lost, Amorphis,...
Mike: Yeah, we thought about that for years, but it doesn't work like that anymore, because each band wants to have its own conditions, fans are getting more picky, they just want to see that certain band and so on. We were one of the first bands to do this kind of packages almost twenty years ago, for example there was Out Of The Dark tour in Germany, then the tour we talked before with Theatre Of Tragedy, and all that worked really well, there was a lot of people, but you know, the conditions were different, now it's more selective. But we do everything, we supported Epica now in USA, we are always open for different tours, it doesn't depend everything on us, it's mostly about promoters, managers,... it's pretty complicated. For us is cool to have Jaded Star, they are from Greece, we know Maxi, she has worked with us before on certain songs and on some festivals, she's very nice to get along with, and with those friends around is very similar like to be at home in Portugal, so it's like a southern European tour package. That makes us happy.
T.V.: So, do you prefer to tour and play with bands that have similar or different musical style to yours?
Mike: Back in the day I prefered bands that were similar. I loved to tour with Type O Negative, Samael or Rotting Christ, those are all bands that we really love, but like I said before, in these days you don't really have much of an option, it has also to do with audience and what they want to see. There are many new bands that people want to see playing live, it doesn't have to do with if they are good or bad, it's important to please the audience. To see certain bands who have that touch from the past, that spirit, even though they are new, it's more important than anything. On tour you learn a lot more, the music develops when you check other bands playing live. I remember touring with bands that I didn't like from before, for example in my case it was with Insomnium, but after the tour I was listening to their albums every day.
T.V.: And how often do you watch your support bands while playing live?
Mike: In the beginning of the tour not so much, because I'm still getting organized, but then it's impossible not to see them, they are right there. You get to see the bands every day, I have no problem with that.
T.V.: Do you ever get inside the crowd and enjoy the show?
Mike: Yes, I used to, but not so much these days, because I have to warm up before the show. But in the past I went everywhere and have checked everything. You know, in places like it's this one you even don't need, the stage is right there.
T.V.: You toured and played almost all around the world and I wonder where do you like it the most?
Mike: I like to play everywhere. In South America is completely different, there's a different reality. There are so many people, there's so much energy, everything is different, maybe because they weren't used to have metal shown in 80s or 90s. For them this is something very recent, while here we take it for granted. Some people in central Europe have shows almost every day. I remember how it was in Portugal twenty or more years ago, we weren't use to have so many shows, there was one once in a while and that one was massive, the audience was crazy, but now, we have much more shows and people are not so crazy anymore. I think it's the same everywhere else. You have to be extra energetic to make people excited these days, but when you go to exotic places like China, Syberia, Russia in general, South America or Mexico, there's always mind blowing, not only because of the amount of people, but how nice they are and how much they love you, they really love you, it's incredible.

T.V.: Are you interested in going to North Korea, like Laibach did as the first rock band playing there...
Mike: Ah, we have a friend who went there, he was writting about that country and he said that when you pass the border it's like going in the past completely. I know about Laibach being there, we are big fans of them and they are a big influence for Moonspell. We used to listen a lot to Laibach.
T.V.: Do you prefer to play in smaller clubs like in this one today or on big festivals?
Mike: I adept to everything. I can't really like anything more than other, I have to play (laughs). Ok, small clubs are always nice, it's like if you are playing for your friends. On festivals, when you play in front of thousands of people, it's always much more nervous, there are cameras, more people who'll watch this at home,... but somehow you have to forget that and play the show.
T.V.: This year you played also on MetalDays festival in Slovenia, the country from where I come, and I wonder what kind of memories you have from there?
Mike: It was a really good show, instead to all those changes with the stage. We had to move from the big stage into the smaller one, because Dream Theater had some problems, but in the end it worked out well, there were so many people who saw us there, it was full. I think that for us that stage change was even better because then we played at night, and if it was like planned on the main stage we would be playing during the day. I remember that it was so hot there, I was fainting almost, so much sweat...
T.V.: You did two music videos for the tracks out of the new album, for "Domina" and the album title track. How much do you enjoy the process of shooting videos?
Mike: It's a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. It's just like being on a set for a movie, everything is super expensive, you have to be there very early in the morning just to start putting on the make-up, make everything done and to get the best daylight and sun. You also have to do it as fresh as possible. It involves a lot of people. That's the fun part of it, it's kind of making your own little Hollywood and that's kind of fascinating for a small Portuguese band like us. We started as a small, very small band and now seeing all this stuff, huge production and trucks, cameras everywhere. When we started as a band I could never imagine something like that. It's a part of magic you are fortunate to do, it's kind of a real film and not some kind of a stupid commercial video, each video that we do is kind of art. If you watch all the videos we did throughout the years, you'll notice that they are like albums almost, it shows how much we are dedicated to the film and performance, to everything a little bit. We are a bit overproduced in everything that we do, but we like everything so much.
T.V.: You often mix in your videos some erotica and kind of horror...
Mike: Yes, exactly, that's Moonspell, that's who we are.
T.V.: Before you said that you are also discovering new music. I'm interested who are your current favorite bands or albums?
Mike: Hm, I listen to a lot of different stuff, also thanks to Spotify where you can listen to almost everything, but lately, I like the new Ghost album Meliora, new Slayer album, then I like a lot the new Amorphis album, which was as well done by Jens Bogren.
T.V.: And what about the new Paradise Lost album?
Mike: I listened to it one or two times, for some reason it's not really my thing, I don't know, I often go back to their older albums. I know it's hard for them as it is for us, because a lot of fans often wants you to play like on your first or second album and create something new that will appeal to them is difficult, but I hope that we managed to do that, at least I think so.
T.V.: Ok Mike, thank you very much for your in-depth answers, it was an honour talking with you and are there any last famous words for your fans and our readers?
Mike: Thank you for the support throughout all this years. If you ever have time please come to see us playing live, because that's a really cool experience. Soon we will go on 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, on a tour across North america, then Eastern Europe and yet much more. See you soon.

With: Fernando Ribeiro

T.V.: Hi Fernando! Tell me how it's the first impression of this tour that just started? How are you feeling on these first dates?
: It's going really well, it just started, so I don't have any special impressions for now, but those two shows we did so far were quite good and really successful. Right now it's a bit hard time for touring because everybody in our genre is on tour right now, from Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and many others, so we are rather competing with each other because all people can't come to all the shows. So far this tour is up to my expectations and of course there will be territories like eastern Europe and Scandinavia, where we haven't been for quite a while, just on some festivals, where it will gonna be good. It's always great to play this show that we have now, kind of a mixture between playing songs from Extinct and going back into the past, also some other albums. I think we are throwing quality shows and people are often very impressed. That's a great feeling, you know, especially when you are doing so much work on the road to get that reward also from people. The crowd reacts emotionally and response to the show has been great everywhere.
T.V.: I want to talk with you about a couple of things concerning the new album of yours, everything else was already explained by Mike. I'm interested mostly in your explanation of lyrics and the message behind the new album, about the albums concept and such things. I read somewhere that it has two polarities, one is about the personal issues and another one is about what's going on in the world right now...
Fernando: Exactly! The first is the personal dimension of it, obviously. There's some kind of a shame involved, you know. Writing mostly about "you" it's probably not so much important subject and people around the world don't want only read about what's going on with your life. Things must be more poetic, a bit bigger, so when I put the pieces together, like the story of extinction of the species or the biotic extinction, it has some poetry, some darkness over it and inside it as well. Those are the things I learned mostly when I did some research for the album, and I've spoken with some scientists and people who help to preserve certain species. There was an emotional side in all that, not just numbers and statistics, there were people fighting against it, and all that brought the right balance to the concept. It's not only about the things going away, but also about how do you fight dissapearing from the life, the world, from the family, the band,... and also about reaching the great black wall of extinction, being curious or even brave enough to keep on the other side in order to do something about it. I think that the album has this kind of polarities. We know that we are dissapearing, but some of us are still puting up a fight against it. This album and its words are about keeping up a fight as well, so in the end it's also about surviving. It talks a lot about dualities, everything is very dark, but there's a possibility of a new beginning, new tomorrow. From my perspective is very absurd to speak about total misanthropy because nobody is really like this. There are people who write this kinds of things that we have meet them on the road, and most of them are very friendly, they are joking and don't take themselves very seriously. So I think it's much more rightful in a way to write about ups and downs, the lunar and the solar. I always thought that is more complete this way and my writing always involves more comprehensive understanding point of view on those things. You know, everything is fucked up, but what makes us go thing, which is something that could be very poetic, maybe it could be very simple for some people, but it also involves a bit of mystery. The human race is trying to endure in a way, in what keeps us going. With all the news that we get, why someone dies and why someone blossoms, and I like this duality, it's a subject of all Moonspell lyrics, really.
T.V.: But are the lyrics of the songs somehow connected into one big story?
Fernando: Not really. There are different stories. There are many ways of making a conceptual album. Obviously there's a subject that you write chapters of it, or many songs about that subject. It could be also like you said a storyline with all the action, but I always feel like working much more conceptually where it doesn't have to be about a pure thing. For example it doesn't have to be about extinction of this or that, but it has more of a poetic flow. Extinct it's not kind of a very hard concept, it's more conceptual than a concept album by itself, if you know what I mean. It has to do with more of a feeling than a literally structure. Our concepts are more kind of a mood of things and that's how I see concepts. The same goes for every art, like if you do the painting and you just get a mood of a thing, that's what I tried to do on Extinct, also with the album title, just to get the listener into the right mood as well.

T.V.: In one interview that I read a couple of years ago you were talking that you like to read things of Anton LaVey, Friedrich Nietzsche and similar things. I'm interested how much is philosophy or even occultism included inside your lyrics?
Fernando: Well, I think it depends from one song to another. I was very much into dark writings when I was younger. I think that was the thing of the youth, but then you start to discover the true sources of all this. From where does it come from? Who really are the people who wrote that and on what is their philosophy based upon. I always end up in philosophy, I was also studying it in university. So, when I compare great thinkers to people who wrote occult books, for me the choice is quite easy. Of course there's also philosophy that deals with the occult, but I'm more attracted with the intelectual work. So, many philosophers inspired me, not only Nietzsche, who is the most popular and doesn't often get a good use, because people only scratch the surface of his philosophy, they only see the word and the title Antichrist, but there are books that are much better to understand the Nietzschean thing. But on the other hand there are many other great philosophers, like for example is Feuerbach who influenced me a lot, for instance on Sin/Pecado, his idea and critique of a religious dogma, about man's doing, man's working, man's words and man's texts on the bible, man's rules, like are the commandments. I always kept close the philosophy even when I stoped studying it. I think that's the main reason of my understanding of things.
T.V.: So, when you are on tour you must be also reading something in your free time...
Fernando: I'm always reading, ok, I'm not reading Nietzsche right now, I'm reading the American author Philip Roth, he's very dark and tough, I like to read things like that when I'm on tour. I was always reading a lot of books, not only philosophy, but as well essays, novels, actually everything, I like to discover new authors, that's the passion that I have and it's a big source of inspiration for me.
T.V.: If you'll have to point out at only one album of Moonspell, which is the one that it's the most personal and talks to you on kind of an introspective level lyrical wise, which one would that be?
Fernando: Wow, hmmm, I think that Extinct might be the most personal stuff I have ever written. Especially the song "The Future Is Dark" is a very personal song, one of the most personal songs I have ever written.
T.V.: I was pretty much amazed by the duality of the song "Domina", somehow it's not that clear from where does the concept of domina comes into the whole picture...
Fernando: It's supposed to be a bit confusing, yeah. Well, if you see domina,... it's as love under will, but not under your own will. That's the way that I naturally relate to women. They can always bring you down, you can always fight with them, but at the end of the day, when you love her there's always kind of submission and there's no other way around it. There's love in principle, there's already submitting to everyone, that's a big part of yourself. Even though it's a sick romantic thing, it's something that happens and I think that's where the dominant part enters. It's like an invisible leash that you have, it's there, always reminding you that you're a man, and it's a very different way of seeing things in a world. I think that it's not that the women who depends on a man, I see it other way around. Most of the man are fool to not see it this way, I see this and explain my thoughts through songs like it's "Domina".
T.V.: The artwork of Extinct is one of the most gruesome ones you ever put on the cover, but on the other side the music on this album is most of the time very catchy, atmospheric,... There's kind of a strange contrast involved.
Fernando: I like this kind of contrasts. Not only between artwork and music, as well there's a contrast between lyrics and music. Lyrics are very dark, while music on Extinct is on the other hand very redemptive, full of life, it has very high atmospheres, things that take you further. So, I decided for myself that artists who can capture kind of a weird beauty of music, but also the ugliness of the things that we were talking about before. We were talking about breaking down, about the things that are going on in the world. It's a very brutal image when you take an animal or a species away from the earth, it's in a way kind of an amputation, and some people are not really aware that they mess with the balance of nature. If you take away a small bird or a little insect, it could mean on the other side or lead into a very big natural catastrophy. So I think that the cover artwork was quite appropriate, it's very striking, it was very polemic in a way. But it's only polemic because most of the bands play it too safe, for example they put the singer on the cover, especially if she's a beautiful girl, or they put a logo, and similar stuff. With Moonspell is another story we want to tell. Covers are important and so it's the whole artwork. On Extinct the artwork is mysterious dark, ugly, but is also redemptive like the music.
T.V.: It's already the third time in line that you worked on artwork with Seth Siro Anton. In a way also Moonspell stick to some kind of an approved formula?
Fernando: I love Seth Siro, we are also good friends, but anyway, I have a lot of friends among artists. When people say that we are repeating ourselves, I think it's the same with Witkin, H.R. Giger, they also did repeat themselves, they created a style, I think that's exactly what Seth Siro is doing and he's one of my favorite artists we ever worked with. He makes something that might be beautiful and horror at the same time. He has the right formula for that.
T.V.: We should finnish now as it's obvious that you have to prepare for the show, otherwise I could ask you houndred more questions. Thank you very much for your answers, it was a joy and honour talking with you Fernando. Before we end, do you have any last words for our readers?
Fernando: Thank you for the interview! It was interesting and that's cool. Basically I just want all of you, if you haven't yet, to check out our last album Extinct. It's an album where Moonspell put a lot of heart into it. We are still here and we want to thank all the people that are still following us for all this years. It's important for us to have a good feeling and I think that Extinct is the right album to get people closer to Moonspell again.

Moonspell links: Facebook

Live photos taken on 25th October 2015 in PPC Club, Graz, Austria, by: Sigrid Reinisch, Dietmar Trinkhaus and T.V.

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