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Interview

Fernando Ribeiro Discusses Thoughts on North American Tour And New Material

Moonspell's mercurial mix of goth rock and black metal helped pave the way for the atmospheric mold that shaped many of today's dark-minded artists. This would not have been possible without their venturing into the New World. Moonspell has affixed its name to flyers containing major acts such purveyors of beautiful darkness as Lacuna Coil, Nevermore, Type O Negative and Cradle of Filth.

The group will once again follow the tide to enchant North American audiences. Fellow Euro metal bands, Leaves' Eyes and Atrocity, are in place to keep the crowd hungry for the band's sonic malevolence. The Portuguese pack comes to these shows to further showcase their epic, double-disc recording "Alpha Noir."

I caught up with pack member, Fernando Ribeiro to gauge his thoughts on this upcoming tour. In the following interview conducted via email, Ribeiro discusses the songs they'll be playing. Also, two years have passed since the release of "Alpha Noir," so we figured the band has probably started writing new material. We were correct! Read further for a brief glimpse into the future of Moonspell.

Rex_84: Moonspell embarks on a North American tour a the end of this month with Leaves' Eyes and Atrocity. How does it feel to be on your way back to America?

Fernando Ribeiro: We always feel great because we love to play for the fans but touring America always brings us anxiety as we never really know what to expect crowd-wise and all the adventures we might again go through overseas. In Europe, we have a safety net which is stronger, the US is always more punk-rock but we have never given up getting our music over there. I hope this tour is a next step even if a small one.

Rex_84: Are there any venues/cities that you specifically look forward to visiting again?

Fernando: Touring around America is what we look forward to as we always meet different people and visit really different places to those we normally do. The cities are always bigger shows, with more commotion around, where you get to taste that “we did it” feeling. Always poisonous but charming but the challenge is always the weak days, to put it together for the crowd and that always makes bands better and more incisive live.

Rex_84: Moonspell is no stranger to America. Much preparation is required to get your papers in order before touring, which still foils bands' plans for stepping foot in the U.S. Did you have problems getting everything in order after 9/11? What have you done to preserve your state of mind and arrive at your desired result of getting your visas?

Fernando: It got really more complicated and bureaucratic not only with traveling over there but also with taxes, Social Security etc. Nowadays promoters work less in the shadow so you need to get your paperwork right but that costs a lot of time and money and in the end nobody really benefits with meeting such difficult standards. But it’s not only about America, everywhere else is harder now for musicians to make it work. Everything is against us: flight companies’ policies, international borders, immigration rules and their visas. It’s a lot of invisible, hard and boring work before you enter the stage and do your thing, but I am pretty sure we are getting our Visas, do not worry.

Rex_84: With your last recording, "Alpha Noir," you now have over twenty years of material. Will you try to include something from every album? What will your set list look like?

Fernando: We are still not sure about the set list, so we decided to practice a lot of songs, so we get to choose and maybe vary on those cities where we have played last time or more often. The set list will obviously have a lot of Alpha songs but we want, here and there, to play some stuff from "Darkness and Hope" and "The Antidote" and hopefully some "Omega White."

Rex_84: Now that "Alpha Noir" has been on shelves for a couple of years (released in 2012), how do you feel about how well it's been received? Do you think people twenty years from now fans will recognize it as one of your crowning achievements?

Fernando: I feel it was very well received, got us some new fans as well, and allowed us to have many tours, many festivals, to work intensely on these two years. Even though today is harder than ever to make things happen for a band, I am not on the side of the ones complaining about everything, all the time. If I complain, my answer is always to move forward with new ideas, new shows, new ways of reaching out to people through what Moonspell represents, which is already more than just the new albums we might release, it’s all the background, the tradition, the history. We must capitalize on everything while making our music relevant. We know it’s a big challenge when you have gone, like us, through the Nineties with albums such as "Wolfheart" or "Irreligious" as I am sure those will be always the ones we will be recognized for. But composing and releasing an album is what that keeps going in a way as we still have many stories to put on songs. It’s an endless change but albums like "Memorial," "Night Eternal" and the new one prove us that people can still be into us so we will keep on trying and find the right balance someday between all of our fans’ sensibilities. Nobody told us it would be easy.

Rex_84: A couple of years have passed since the release of "Alpha Noir." Are you working on a new album? If so, will it be another concept album like the double-disc "Alpha Noir?"

Fernando: Yeah. We are not sure of the concept though but I want to go more mystical and fantastic oriented with the lyrics, not just outbreak and broken lives as "Alpha" and "Omega," but something a bit more poetic. I have heard several of the songs the guys made, sounds like Moonspell but there is not a direction yet. It will not be a double album, and we will not split Moonspell in two halves. That’s done...It will be through Napalm again.

Rex_84: Moonspell has always written tales about wolves and lycanthropes. Your name alone conjures images of full moons emerging ominously through a veil of clouds. Have you penned any new tracks of canine majesty?

Fernando: I like that imagery a lot and also to see how far into modern culture has legend penetrated. It can always pop in our lyrics even tough I try my best to make them distinctive and smart and not just a bad, short horror tale squeezed into a song.

Rex_84: In your interview with Metalunderground.com's Xfiruath, you discussed the video for "Lickanthrope." You said, "I think this was one of the greatest videos we have because it’s also a tribute to the cinema of horror like the Hammer movies. The werewolf is not Hollywood like that fucking "Twilight" saga." Besides Hammer films, what other movies/books have influenced your lycanthropic tales?

Fernando: I am very much into wolves’ movies. I really dug "The Wolfman" with Del Toro and Hopkins. Hollywood has great horror/fiction movies as well, just not that teen packed sagas. From "Dog Soldiers" to "Company of Wolves," I have watched them all fine pieces and always keep an eye for new ones. As for books, I really like Portuguese authors that dwell on the subject and mix this imaginary with folk, but there is nothing really translated into English of that style. I’d say also that I like when the character or nature of wolf is borrowed into literature (not necessarily horror fiction), like in "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse.

Rex_84: Here's another interesting quote from the interview, "The scene was different, the crowds were different. For instance, Tiamat announced they would mix the death metal with Pink Floyd, and people were excited about it. Nowadays it’s not the same I would say." Musicians often state their creativity is the main driving force behind writing music, but in this instance, you seem quite conscious of prevailing trends. When writing an album, do you try to find a balance between what you want and what your listeners want?

Fernando: Every musician who says that knows that his music is probably nor the hottest thing now and takes refuge on creativity. That’s the way of keeping it honest and you feel it when you have doubts, but still decide on this or other direction, even if you feel it's not a crowd-pleaser. A musician, by excellence, acts on instinct and something inside you tells you to go this way or blocks you from compromise. With Moonspell it is the same. Focusing on what burns inside us and get it into the album is what keeps us from going crazy and astray with all opinions, wishes, complains and even some praise thrown at us on a daily basis. To find that balance is virtually impossible, you have to take people by storm, and how to do it is the million dollar question for nearly everyone. We perfectly know that what we if something, we only did partially blew people away, especially in the past where people were more eager for this kind of Metal. We have definitely sidelined some fans with our direction while others took more time with us and stayed put. New fans arrived in enough number to keep us going as a band. But for us nothing is granted, we are not Amon Amarth or Dimmu that have peaked and maintained a really cool status in the metal scene. We come from the same era but we are not on the same place. Which does not mean their music is greater, to a lot of people is actually greater, but I see Moonspell struggling to move forward and that is what really matters in the end.

Rex_84: What do you believe your fans want right now? How would you gauge their opinions?

Fernando: I wouldn’t dare. I live and work for Moonspell every day and probably think of the band even more times a day than I think about sex or food and still I have my doubts about what I want with the band musically. A fan might have the privilege of distance but I have grown to learn that only something magical unites bands and fans, something they can’t argue about and that kind of music and statement is what we search for. When people say this or that, it’s a bad sign. Sometimes, no reaction is a good reaction as people are busy listening to our new albums instead of venting about "Wolfheart" online.

Rex_84: What plans do you have for after the tour? Are you scheduled to play festivals this summer?

Fernando: We will start working on the new record and will have some time with the producer, trying out stuff, playing, having quality time but focusing on writing a record that makes us give the next step. Let’s see how it goes, cross our fingers. After the US tour we will be doing that until festival season start. We thought it would be a slower year as we had a very intense festival season last two years (Wacken, Hellfest, Graspop, Summer Breeze, Brutal Assault, Masters of rock, etc.) but things are shaping up and a handful of festivals and one offs are being confirmed in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, etc. We might go on an European tour after the summer, will play again a Halloween show this year and in between try to record and release if not this year, then on early 2015.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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