WORDS BY STEPHANIE FOTHERGILL
25 years on and still making music that leaves fans begging for more, Moonspell recently released 1755 and OVERDRIVE had the opportunity to chat to frontman Fernando Ribeiro to discuss the new album and the Moonspell journey.
Asking what the highlights have been of this 25 year journey, Ribeiro replies, “That’s a nice and optimistic feeling, and I thank you for that, but our reality is much harder. Every time we release an album our fans and our critics hold their breath not all the time for the right reasons. So the highlight is being able to make it here, doing exactly what we like, whenever we liked as far as our music is concerned.
“Being meaningful and by consequence finding the scene meaningful,” is a difficulty faced by all artists. “Nowadays it’s very divided between who wants to make music and explore and those who want to bake or show off online and entertain. To find our place, that’s been the hard bit for us so far,” Fernando spotlighted the most difficult part of Moonspell’s musical journey.
Being meaningful can often be the hardest part of art. The new album was inspired by the 1755 Libson earthquake, which is tragic history for Ribeiro’s country, but also the unfolding of a new era. “The 1st of November of 1755 was the very day that the destruction of Lisbon allowed Portugal to catch up with Europe, in terms of a more fair society and a less oppressing religion. This day was like if Portugal was grabbed violently by the quake, fires and tsunamis and thrown out of the Middle Ages and placed finally on the late 18th century. Rough but fascinating. We all learn this history of death and rebirth on the classrooms of the country and for me it always struck me as a great concept.” This was where the interest in this historic event was brought about, but Ribeiro confessed he, “waited for a few years but it seems that now, especially in a Portugal that was punished by violent fires and bad political decisions, everything around us brought this album together. The earthquake is ultra symbolic but the true story is nothing but Lisbon falling down and rising from the ashes through hope, effort, true faith that was once wasted in fearing God.
“Moonspell likes to write new stuff and throughout the years we have developed a creative process to involve all the band, “1755” was not different. It all started on pen and paper, ideas, loose vocals tracks and riffs and bit by bit we went and introduced the elements needed to tell this story. We worked on it for one and a half years and had two recording sessions with Tue Madsen and a very long pre-production with our orchestrator Jon Phipps (http://www.orchestralmetal.com/) who had a major role on the final outcome I have to mention.
“Honestly I am not a fan of what people label as symphonic metal. First I would lose my job as most of the bands are either female-fronted or double team singing. I don’t like to share that much. On the other hand when I listen to it, it feels that I can easily guess all the song structure, what is about , most of the times lyrics are terrible, and it’s just too over the top for me.” So never call Moonspell Symphonic! “Having said that what we tried to do was maybe the opposite: orchestrations that tie flavour to rock and roll and Metal music, nothing too much nothing too little, and combine our experience with Jon’s (Phipps) verve and talent. I believe most of the orchestral parts and effects are made to mirror the 18th century telling and music, to rapport on the earthquake and we were much more inspired by Turkish composers like Mercan Dede, soundtracks like Christopher Young and of course heavy duty classical like Mussorgsky, Prokofiev who had always been an inspiration to the band.“ Labels are constricting and often have different connotations to different people, but now we know to recognise Moonspell’s new work as Orchestral rather than Symphonic.
Moonspell “have a rockumentary DVD ready to be out next year that was recorded in our hometown of Lisbon. More than a show it also chronicles the day to day, the anguish of a big day approaching, our regular lives, more that kind of film,” so we can look forward to that next release, as well as, “touring very heavily in 2018 all around the world, but,” Ribeiro adds, “there will be time to write a new album that we want to record and release and 2019. Other than that, I started off a book and record label called Alma Mater (https://www.facebook.com/almamaterrecords/) and we are re-releasing Moonspell vintage or some other Portuguese bands that were quite overlooked by the underground scene and now have a new chance so we all hope.”
‘Todos os Santos’ or ‘All Saints’ is Ribeiro’s favourite track for the album. “I find it very complete in its textures and I really dig the lyrics in there which being about the 18th century are still actual in a self destructive world that suffers way more with our actions than those of nature.”
Other interests and activities include writing, translating “and publishing books, for example I translated I am Legend by Richard Matheson to Portuguese”, but his “label takes [him] a lot of time.” Ribeiro tells us he also has, “a beautiful wife and a five-year old kid so my hands are full and so is my heart.”
Finally, when asked if there is there anything he’d like to say about the new album or upcoming tours or to fans in general, Ribeiro shared, “We will start touring the world with Cradle of Filth and then resume on our own, Europe, US and Latin America are booked and mostly announced and so is Russia and other territories. As far as Asia and Australia goes, we are looking into something, like we do with every album, but my expectations are not high. If you ask me why we never came there, I don’t know as most bands like us have been there but maybe there’s not a promoter or fans enough to make for a nice gig, so let us wait and see. It would be great to visit you finally, let’s pray for that thanks for the interview!” So if you want to see Moonspell make their way to Australia show your support by buying their new album.
GET YOUR HANDS ON MOONSPELL’S 1755 FROM THEIR BANDCAMP HERE!