Interview with: Fernando Ribeiro
Interview by: Basak G.
The Portuguese legends Moonspell are currently on tour with Rotting Christ and Silver Dust. We wanted to use this amazing chance to interview the front-man Fernando Ribeiro before the band’s first show of the tour in Hamburg a while ago!
It is quite rare that we get to interview bands on the first day of the tour so we wanted to know how that felt like. “During some years in the past, it was chaotic and I actually felt pretty bad about people coming to the first shows” answers Fernando. However, with many years of touring experience, the band now has the expertise and also practices beforehand so the first shows don’t feel like first shows at all. Overall, Fernando is optimistic about the current tour and also adds that the show is getting a good response from many fans.
There has also been a lot going on within the band recently as they are currently getting prepared to re-release “Sin/Pecado” and “2econd Skin“, which were originally released back in 1998. According to Fernando, “Moonspell was a band that recorded some important albums in the 90s and it was also a practical question to start with because a lot of our new/newer fans have a very hard time getting our records, even on CD. We also have a small label and distribute Moonspell in Portugal. We knew about this issue and we wanted to sell CDs; you are constantly reminded that you don’t sell CDs and music business is shit and you should give up… and then [all of a sudden] people wanted to buy them!”. Indeed, he adds that this keeps the old repertoire and the spirit alive, which is a tribute to the old times and the old songs. This is nothing new for Moonspell though as the band has done re-releases with “Wolfheart” (originally released in 1995) and “Irreligious” (originally released in 1996) in the past and will definitely continue this tradition. “We will keep on doing this and also re-releases with Century Media so chronologically Butterfly Effect (released on 1999 originally) will be re-released as well”. The charismatic front-man appreciated the ‘collector spirit’ in some people, where they search for specific items and surely, these re-releases will be a great addition for them! “If you ask me, everything is very surprising because when we did this back in 1998, at least the people in Germany did not like it but now they wanna hear the songs live so it shows that you have to go on with your own ideas. It’s a hit-and-miss!”.
It has been 21 years since “Sin/Pecado” was released and according to Fernando, “It was quite the challenge to write and record the album back in 1997/1998. For Moonspell, it was a bit crazy and hard to come up with new ideas. Especially after the release of “Irreligious”, which was a well-acclaimed album, everyone wanted a part 2 but we were not feeling like that and we didn’t know if “Sin” would divide people… but it happened and I think it’s great that it happened that way!”. An interesting way for him to compare then and now would be the way things were emotional back then and nowadays, it’s more commodity. He remembers back then that fans would listen to the songs with candles and nowadays, it’s people listening to the music on their mobile phones while jogging. “Do I like the candles in the dark room? Yes, but I also don’t wanna be like this old dude always telling young people how their manners are not good because it is their manners”. The way he listens to, performs and writes music is definitely emotional though, and has got to do more with the 90s spirit. “We have such a networking and that’s why we tour so the people can see us in the flesh”.
Another big recent highlight is the book “Wolves Who Were Men” and upon checking out the book and the details, I couldn’t help but wonder how huge the whole project is. According to Fernando, the ideas just flow when you work with the right people and it all started with friendship: “A friend of mine, who started a small book label has now one of the ten biggest publishing bookstores in Portugal. I helped him and worked with him a lot and he got very lucky all of a sudden; he worked with authors like George R.R. Martin, back when he was not so famous as he is now. He kinda then took off and we did a photobiography”. It was, however, later the idea to publish the biography but Fernando didn’t want to write it himself as it wouldn’t be fair. “So I asked a friend of mine, ‘Ricardo S’, who shares the same name as our guitarist, and asked him if he wanted to do it since he is a great journalist. He wrote the book and it’s already on the second print in Portugal”. The band obviously just didn’t wanna tell the story of Moonspell but wanted to deliver much more.
The story took a different turn when Moonspell was approached by “Cult Never Dies”, where the band worked with Dayal (Patterson) together on a special deluxe box set and Fernando had even the idea of preparing a CD with older songs. By the look of things, things are going pretty well as the band is going to do a book signing in London and in 2020, the book will be translated to Russian and Czech language as well.
Back to the recent album “1755”. Do the guys have plans of recording in Portuguese again? Fernando apparently had the idea of composing a record like this for many years and upon releasing “1755”, they thought it would be appreciated in Portugal and Brasil due to the language but the success of the album was mindblowing. “They liked the concept; it’s Moonspell with a different twist and metalheads like history and so this album is about that. So if we find the right subject, we will definitely record another album in Portuguese again. There is a lot in the Portuguese history but you have to choose carefully. On the other hand, the next record will be in English.” Moonspell is not a band that makes albums to tour only. “We try not to fall in this routine of touring” adds Fernando and for him, this tour is quite the surprise since the band is currently in the process of packing and thinking about the new album but they are quite happy and excited as we could see. “It’s been a while since we played club shows in Germany and people know we are not just gonna play songs from 1755 so new and old stuff is definitely gonna be there”.
Speaking of the new album, Fernando also states that there is not much done yet and no concrete ideas but they don’t wanna rush. “This time we want people to find out about it instead of me just sharing updates on my mobile phone like ‘Hey, we have a new album!'”, which made all of us laugh in the room! The band indeed wants people to make up their mind and give them a freedom of choice. “It’s up to us to do our best with the ideas we have.. and then let’s see if people are in the same page. It’s even like that with the bands I love”.
As we come to the end of this interview, Fernando wants people to come to the tour and ‘fall under the spell’!: “Moonspell and Rotting Christ are a great combination, we respect each other and are good friends. I think that’s great and also an important aspect that two Southern European bands are headlining on this tour; it’s kind-of a different feeling, so we are going to have great winter nights. I want people to come to the shows and to fall under the spell!”
The tour is going strong and will continue until the 15th of December so go see the bands to fall under the spell!
Special thanks to: Fernando Ribeiro and M. Miluski at ALL NOIR