Fernando Ribeiro - Moonspell

April 5, 2006

Photo Credit: www.spvusa.com

So you guys are from Lisbon, Portugal.

Yeah, Lisbon and around Lisbon. I live near downtown and the other guys live up more in the suburbs and Mike lives more to the seaside.

Portugal is a very beautiful country. I've seen photographs of it.

I think so. Even though I've had many chances of moving out, I will never do it. Even yesterday I was coming from the southeast of Portugal and instead of highways I took the national roads and it was a tiring but very beautiful trip. I really like Portugal, especially Lisbon the capital.

If you're fortunate enough to live in a place with trees and greenery then you should never want to leave that.

Yeah, that's true. Lisbon is very polluted but it's a very great city. It's a totally European city as you might imagine it with very old buildings. I lived in a special place before because I was born there. It's in the peripheral of Lisbon in the suburbs and it was not probably the best place but finally almost six months ago I had a chance of moving to downtown finally.

I know in Brazil they've started using ethanol primarily as fuel and that's cut down on their pollution a lot. Do you think Portugal might do the same?

I don't see that coming. Portugal is actually a country with lots of inventors and lots of natural resources and possibilities for alternative energies but money talks. Our government is very dependent on oil.

That sounds familiar.

It is familiar. When you put in diesel or gas, most of it I think 70 percent of it is for taxes. When you put in one liter and it costs around more than one dollar, 70 percent of it goes to the state, to the government. I don't see that they're going to change that really.

That sounds very familiar. You guys have been referred to as one of the most important and revolutionary bands in the contemporary gothic metal genre. Why do you feel that people think that way about you guys?

Those are big words. I don't know. I could explain that or I could look into that from our perspective but first and foremost I would say that we're a hard working band. We are a band that could survive a lot of trends and could survive a lot of back and forth with the metal scene and with our own career and albums. Also, when compared to most of the bands probably I think creatively we're very restless. I think that the revolutionary thing comes from there. We always try to reinvent ourselves and try to keep track of the times. Not doing music that always is turned into the past and nothing else really. Basically I think that can be explained by that. Those are big words and I can say big compliments. They feel good but we are a bit more down to earth than that. I think a band can have a lot of talent but when you are not open minded, when you are not a hard worker, those words will mean nothing. Basically that's what Moonspell does. Always trying to do music from the heart regardless if it's popular at the time or not and always try to be honest with our crowd. Always try to take them further and take the band further. I think that's probably what will define Moonspell as a band and what will define I think the majority or all of our albums.

You guys definitely have quite an impressive discography. Why did you guys decide to go in the direction of gothic metal?

I think basically there was something that we were caught in and not something that we have in a way created ourselves. I think even though Irreligious, our album from '96, is regarded as one of the gothic metal classics, if you look to what gothic metal has become now or what people call gothic metal, you will see it's very different from what Moonspell does. Gothic metal nowadays is much more connected with bands that have female singers and all of that while gothic metal for me was quite simply a mixture between the power of metal and the elegance of gothic. I think Moonspell has that and still has that sometimes more elegant than powerful and sometimes more powerful than elegant. It really depends on the album. Sometimes both when things go well so I think that if I recall well, this was in the '80s especially in Europe, gothic people did not mix with metal people. Just for fighting. But they were two separate scenes. After the '90s where everything was more about fusion and it was more about mixing styles because a lot of stuff was created and a lot of ideas were expired in the '80s in the genres of music, especially people in Germany. Gothic people started to go to metal shows and the other way around and it was more of a popular new movement that was something created by the press or by the bands. Ultimately the bands were created and the musicians responded with that and one of the first bands to respond to that was Fields Of The Nephilim. They did a great project called The Nephilim where they had great music that sounded like Slayer but it was still dark. That for me is the ultimate gothic metal album. Then other bands followed and nowadays people have I think a twisted impression which is natural because opinion is running from what is gothic metal which is not necessarily mine but I think with Moonspell we have both influences. I think we are more of a metal band than of a gothic band and I say that because I'm not doing music because of gothic music but because of metal bands. There's something about the gothic genre, some kind of darkness, some kind of elegance that I like and that we sometimes introduce in our music. Especially in our image and lyrics.

Well you guys have released a very awesome album called Memorial. It's a conceptual album but not a conceptual album in the normal sense.

Well, I think you've got it right. I think Moonspell is a conceptual band than a band that does conceptual albums. It's a bit weird maybe but for me it's not a conceptual album like Abigail from King Diamond or Operation Mindcrime from Queensryche or some other albums. I think that there is this bloodline that goes this way between all the songs that when you put them all together you can see that there is something important there and something that probably is not a story with different chapters like King Diamond or not a theme with different variations about that theme. But something of a bigger picture I would say and that is quite essential for Moonspell. I can't work from a void musically or lyrically. I think that there is always something happening. There is always a pre-album bulk of compositions that originates what becomes conceptual. I think musically the concept of this album is to pick up elements from a certain generation of bands that belong to the '90s and add maturity and modernity to it and to show to people, all the new fans, that this period of time was based upon bands having personality and imagination. We wanted to have that with Memorial. When it comes to the lyrics I could speak about idolation, love, death, pain, blood. I don't know, memory, commitment, trust. All of that. Those are all traditional concepts from literature, from poetry, from lives, that I work with and that probably sum up together in the way the album comes out and the way that the songs are called and the way that the songs follow on each other.

You seem to be a very well read person because you were talking in your bio about literary references coming from Portuguese history all the way to Oscar Wilde, Goethe, and Poe.

Iíve read a lot of them, yes. I donít know. Sometimes people especially here in Portugal almost treat me like an intellectual metalhead. Thatís not what I would like to be known as. To start with, what fascinated me in metal was exactly this, exactly how the metal bands contrarily to any other kind of music were trying to have big messages. Not all of them but the ones I love, the ones I respect the most. Trying to have meaningful lyrics and trying to have in a way something that meant something. Something that would transmit something into people like a learning circle or a learning process. I have tried to do this with my band as well. I have learned this from bands like Iron Maiden with ďRime Of The Ancient MarinerĒ. With bands such as Metallica that worked for example H. P. Lovecraftís The Call Of Cthulhu and all of that. Everything influenced by one author, one writer. Celtic Frost with Baudelaire in ďSorrows Of The MoonĒ so I decided and a lot of metal people forget about this but this is something that is there for years and Moonspell is not breaking ground with this. Itís actually keeping up a tradition if you know what I mean. So basically adding to that, I really like to read. I think reading is my deepest hobby and something more than a hobby. Something that fulfills me as a person. It fulfills me very much and makes me for a while living in another world. Those are the good books where you are in the subway but youíre not in the subway, you are in ancient Greece fighting or fucking or having wine and so on. All these have obviously an impact on me and obviously an influence on the Moonspell final result, on the Moonspell lyrics. All these authors are as you imagine people I admire very much. Especially Oscar Wilde which is for me the ultimate gothic author in a way between the others. Basically itís something that we want to keep with Moonspell. Something that is in Memorial as well as something that I will always make available and make interesting to people because I think that music has the capacity of building personality and that capacity is too good and too important to be overlooked by bands that only see lyrics as fillers. Seeing lyrics as something that you have to do otherwise you wouldnít be a singer or be in a band. Thereís something about bikes and women and dragons and all of that. I think for me thatís not metal. Thatís not metal because thatís not intelligent. If itís not intelligent, itís pop.

Thatís definitely a good point. Iím the same way. I love to read and I get into books the way you do. Iím not sitting on my bed reading. Iím in the streets of wherever watching somebody getting murdered or something. A well written book can definitely transport you into wherever the action is taking place. I think itís good that you bring in references and elements of classic writers like that because thereís so much illiteracy in this world where people donít sit down and read. Even when they do sit down and read, they just read words and they donít really understand what they mean. I think in a lot of ways the kind of stuff you do maybe encourages people to read more.

Well, it has encouraged me so I would love to think this happens as well. I know it happens because we get a lot of feedback from this and this in a way helps Moonspell to have more of a unique feeling because I remember when I was in high school, sometimes itís really subjective. Sometimes youíre not into it. Sometimes you havenít slept well. Sometimes the teacher is boring and all of that. With music, all these prejudices are gone because youíre going to listen to a band you love very much and if you love them, you will find interest in learning more about them. Especially and Iím not talking about learning more about them personally, but learning about where they came from artistically and thatís really, really important. Basically we have already written proof and statements from people that they have discovered this or the other authors through us and they have been influenced by me as a lyric writer as well to write their own lyrics. I think that makes a lot of sense and I think thatís the best compliment you can have when you are in a band. Itís not putting you in a five star also drinking champagne but something holding a book that you have in a way worked and advised. Having published two poetry books here in Portugal, Iím writing the third one, still everything is in Portuguese. Probably one of these days I will look into an English translation so itís great and itís a compliment as well. I donít know if you say that in Texas but here in Portugal we say plant a tree, write a book, and have a kid. So far I have written two books, still no kids, still no trees but Iím a third of a man already.

That is very cool. I saw where youíre writing a compilation based on a Lovecraftian myth. Iíve always thought that guy was such an awesome author. Iím always collecting stories that heís written.

Yeah, I love Lovecraft. I have read Lovecraft at a young age. The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward and he never really left me. I love other fiction authors but I think that Lovecraft, I donít know why but he had something special. Something more unique about him and I think that inspires me so quite as a coincidence I got first invited to present a book of poetry of Lovecraft. I donít know if you know his poems but he had some. Itís not as great as his novels or his short stories and then I already did the two works with Lovecraft here in Portugal. One of them was to translate a fiction biography of him that was originally written by Hans Rodionoff. It was out in the States through D.C. Comics. I have translated it into Portuguese. The other was a book called The Best Of Lovecraft which is more focused on the Cthulhu mythos and I have done some kind of, it might sound weird but in the end itís quite simple, there were around eight or nine tales and every tale has an introduction that I have done. An introduction that itís a tale on itself and when you took out all the Lovecraft tales, all these nine introductions I wrote will be one tale as well. Basically I really like Lovecraft and in Portugal Iím very involved in our small Lovecraftian community. Even the other day I went to present this book in the south bank of Lisbon and it was a big success. Now I think the next project which will be out I think at the end of the year is a book called Shadows Over Lisbon and I write a tale there and itís all based in Lovecraft. The plot is the Lovecraftian mythology, creatures, stories, fears in Lisbon. Instead of taking place in New England, now itís taking place in Lisbon.

That is cool. I think one of the things that made him such a unique writer is that he has such a completely different writing style from other people. Itís very descriptive but yet at the same it encourages you to use your imagination on how you want to see his monsters.

Thatís absolutely true. Even all the Lovecraft experts say that whatís not written in Lovecraft is the scariest. What you add there or what you imagine there. Heís a very interesting character I think even though his life was quite flat. In a way I think his mind was in quite turmoil to say the least.

Thatís always what creates the best literature. Edgar Allan Poe was like that too.

Yeah, I love Poe as well. Lovecraft, Poe, Richard Matheson. I donít know if you know him but he wrote I Am Legend and Duel and then other stuff but I think Poe, Lovecraft, and Matheson for horror fiction they are definitely my favorites.

When you guys did Memorial, you guys used a producer named Waldemar Sorychta. Why did you choose him as the producer and what do you feel he brought to the record?

We wanted this record to have certain features that were presented in the work Waldemar did a lot as a producer especially with bands like Tiamat, Samael, Moonspell, and Sentenced. Those features obviously pointed to the best producer of that period. A producer that was also a part of the making of the death sound. So we went to Waldemar. Waldemar did the three first albums of Moonspell which were Wolfheart, Irreligious, and Sin. We came to a creative gap with him because I think that things were not working. The chemistry was lost and he came back to our band in a way when he reproduced The Antidote here in Portugal and we were just amazed at the old spark and the old chemistry was still there. Waldemar understood so well our music so basically we just went for it really and I think he did a great job. Even though we had a great producer working with us on the last two albums, Darkness And Hope and The Antidote, which was Hiili Hiilesmaa from Finland. I think Waldemar got deep into what we wanted and helped us to translate our ideas in a very perfect form. I think nobody could produce this record as well as Waldemar did because he's a very involved person. He's not just a guy that is there turning knobs or putting effects or connecting cables. No. He reads the lyrics, he gives ideas, and he even played bass on the record so yeah, I think that he was very, very smart and precise. It was a winner idea definitely.

You're going to work on a video for the song "Finisterra".

Yeah, we already did. It's not out yet but it's already done. I think they are making now the post-production and this time around we traveled to Belgrade in Serbia and it was great. Finisterra means the end of the earth. It's a Latin expression that means the end of the earth. Basically the concept was to have Moonspell playing in a very desolate place like the earth has ended and we were playing from the last piece of earth left and everything around us was going to be very apocalyptic and with the remains of civilization and all of that. I believe it will be a great epic video just like the song. The song is very epic. It has this feeling of magnitude in a way so yeah, I hope that people will be able to see it because sometimes it's very hard to get into the televisions but today there is the Internet. So people will definitely be able to see it here and there on some portal or hub or website and I hope they do and I hope they like it because it was a very fascinating video to record. I am myself looking forward to the final result because the production of it and the days we spent in Belgrade were incredibly good.

Why did you pick that particular song to do a video for and are you going to do any more videos for the record?

Well, we have to go step by step. Obviously we would like to do more videos especially if we could, we'd do one video per song. Moonspell is a band that's appreciated as a whole and not as creators of singles. It's very hard to pick out a song from our album to make it a single or to make it an advance because we try to do songs that have a life of itself but that belongs into the code of one album. For us it was already very, very hard to pick out one song and to show it to people before the album is done but obviously on the practical side you have to do that. There's no way around that so we thought "Finisterra" is a very powerful song and could in a way by itself show not all but important parts of what Memorial is about so it's going to be the first advance and the first video. Then again, we'll wait and see. If we get another video it will be a great sign that the album is going well. So far we have to be realistic. So far one video is already killer for us and let's see if the future can bring us more videos. The band wouldn't mind and I hope our fans wouldn't mind as well.

You guys participated in a movie called I'll See You In My Dreams.

Yeah, we did a cover version from that movie. Then we recorded another video clip for that one DVD. It's a horror short movie. It's very based on The Evil Dead and Return Of The Living Dead by Romero. Those kind of movies and it was really cool. It's a zombie movie and we were playing to a zombie audience and it was great because we got to kill them all in the end. Then I'm killed but I resurrect. The usual thing for horror flicks so it was an interesting experience. Portugal sometimes is on the outskirts of everything and we need more and more people coming with fresh ideas. With things other countries have already for granted. This movie was a big success here in Portugal commercially and it won a lot of prizes in European film festivals and I think one in Canada as well.

It's always cool to see movies that are made elsewhere because everybody makes such a big deal out of Hollywood. If you go outside of the box of Hollywood, there's just so much fascinating moviemaking going on all over the world.

Yeah, I think that even Hollywood is already changing a little bit of what you see. It's getting more and more alternative and independent. I don't know. I like both kinds of movies. Even there are sometimes very commercial movies that are really great and that I really like marking in a way so I live very close to the cinema museum here in Lisbon. I go to see every kind of movie really. I can go to see Baby Doll or I can go to see probably tonight A History Of Violence by Cronenberg which I love very much his movies so let's see.

He's already got plans for tonight.

Yeah, maybe.

You guys have done a lot of touring with some impressive bands like Kreator, Opeth, Cradle Of Filth, and Type O Negative. What kind of touring plans do you guys currently have going and what kind of future plans do you guys have?

Well, our future plans right now are to promote the record. We're keeping ourselves very busy with that and a lot of requests for interviews. Also, we're going to play some festivals here in Europe. The summer season is really strong in Europe so we already have a handful of confirmed festivals and we'll confirm more as time goes by I hope. After September we'll be ready for touring. We are looking to tour obviously to put Memorial where it belongs. To the road. To the stage. We are not sure if we are going to start in Europe or the United States but we will tour between probably October or November 2006 going through 2007. Basically even though nothing is confirmed I can assure you that we will play the States in one given period at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.

I can't wait to see you guys. Any other thoughts or comments?

I would like to thank you for the interview and see you in Dallas.