mercoledì 6 maggio 2015

Moonspell: Interview with Fernando Ribeiro

As I said in our Live Report, before the show I got the pleasure to meet the lead singer of Moonspell Fernando Ribeiro. It was the first time for me. Here our chat .

LFdM: HI Fernando, I’m really happy to meet you, thanks a lot for your time. So, you’re on tour and you’re playing in Italy. Do you like to play here and what attracts you of our country?
FR: Well, I was just talking with our promoter, she really wanted to bring Monspell to play in Italy. In the past we played more times here, but with the crisis a lot of bands almost stopped to come to Italy, you know, and this is a sin because it's a really great country. So, when we were setting up for the tour we decided to visit Italy at least once on this tour. We’re happy, of course. We are happy and we got a great feedback from that.

LFdM: You have a lot of fans here, you know.
FR: I hope so! It’s been hard to play in places like Milan, we’ve just been in Bitonto, on a festival, and we had a good crowd for us, especially from the South… they didn’t see us for ages and we had an incredibly emotional and warm reaction. We want to bring the best Moonspell out our music and I hope our fans will help us in that.

LFdM: So, let’s talk about your album, “Extinct”. I don’t know if you read some reviews or reports when you are on tour or in general. How do you feel about it?
FR: I have to say that my moment of personal success with the album comes way earlier than any review or any public judgment. What I do since we started to do what we do like a band, like back in 1992, I remember the first demo tape, it was recorded in the studios in the south bank of Lisbon so when I was going and back from the studios I listened it on my walkman, well after 23 years I still have the same feeling and rituals. When we finish to record an album, I’m going to listen to it to myself and well, I was really happy of what we did on Extinct.  We think it’s a special and emotional album and we listened to it only the five of us and the producer. It’s always a special moment, that kind of moment you save for when things are bitter and negative, but obviously I’m always very involved in the promo, so even if I don’t want to know about some things, people tell me those things. But you know, the reviews are excellent, most of our fans appreciate it as a masterpiece, but I cannot control these things, not even predict them. I think that the mistake of many musicians these days is to try to predict what the crowd wants and this made our style, dark rock has become less and less challenging and interesting because of that. So, Extinct is also our answer to musicians and songwriters trying something and being afraid of style and melodies and singing. People are getting it if you follow them to be the next big band… I mean, after 23 years in the business, you become a little cynical, so each time is important for Moonspell, just to stay even more behind our music.  We are really satisfied as musicians and songwriters and we’ll take it from there: on the road and in everything we do. And we want the same for our fans: take the force to listen to Moonspell, it's so easy to do.

LFdM: Well, I think that the first to realize that an album is a good one is you, as a band. This is the best album you made since Sin/Pecado in my opinion, even if I prefer Wolfheart over all.
FR: Yeah, Wolfheart is a good album, but we know the old school, how to recognize the musical quality, let’s call it. Sometimes in the past generations have been used more synth, metal, faster, heavier and louder. So, let’s see. It’s a challenge for everyone and I think music is about challenge. Otherwise, it’s a job, even if a better job.

LFdM: It is a different album for Moonspell for sure, there’s a remarkable maturity in this work.
FR: I think it’s the album of the maturity yes. I mean, when we started I was 21, it was all about popping, the young wolf of Portugal trying to mark some territory. It’s also a mystical, beautiful and melodic album as well, but this album is about what we do right now, our life as a band, the things that happens to us, people have died, people were born… I think Extinct sums up a lot of these personal experiences, it’s not a fictional album like the others. We worked very hard to be together as a band, that’s why we were in the studio for 35 days. It’s something nobody does anymore. You can stay at home and record and then send a wetransfer and they can download it… you can do this with technology. But in the past few years I’ve tried to be away as much as I can from the technology domination. I think a lot of people is missing what we’re talking about, the artistic sense of making music and record together. Sometimes people is so used to commodities of technology that they forget there must be a little bit of pain, we have to look at each other, ‘cause the chemistry between the people in the band works much better if we are together. We loved to make this album together and everyone is so happy. It’s also risky, you know, but we’re old enough to pay for our sins.

LFdM: You recorded the album in Sweden with Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia). I also read some reviews by a good journalist not like me, and one of them said that maybe the only downside of the album is the fact that it’s been recorded in Sweden and because of this some of your lusitanian, mediterranean vibe has been lost. I find that much interesting, what can you say about this?
FR: oh, people will never be happy. We’re not a consensual band. We can do whatever we want and unhappy people is the price we pay to be musicians never conformed to any rule. We don’t want to be different or extravagant, but that’s the way we were born, in our generation of musicians: it was not about following up a formula, but more about experimenting. We are you know the same style of Tiamat, Katatonia and Opeth, even if they have changed completely their sound the quality doens't change… we can discuss it. So working with Jens, it’s been for us a quite of a blessing. 

LFdM: You worked with a lot of great producers in the past..
FR: Yes, We worked with many great people, Waldemar Sorychta (Tiamat, Samael, Sentenced), Hiili Hiilesmaa (HIM, The 69 eyes, Amorphis), they recorded great stuff, but at this time of our career we want to try something almost of a contrast. I know, he works with three bands, It’s always a shot in the dark, but when I enrolled him, things really clipped since the beginning. ‘Cause we are so cutting on a time that is a bit, I’d not say bored, but willing to try different bands, not only the metal that he uses to do. Turns out he’s a big Religious and Sin fan, this helped a lot and turns our that inside he’s a good producer and we really got involved with his way to work.
I wanted him to give us a really organic sound, a natural one. This album has no lusitanian roots because it’s not about Portugal. We avoid to write always about the same subject. So we had to incapsulate different music atmospheres, also oriental influences, which are very portuguese in a way, because there’s a lot coming from epic music. We always do that in Moonspell, that’s our lusitanian thought.

LFdM: You have introduced much more orchestral part compared to the last albums..
FR: Yeah. So we actually expanded from there and finally worked with real musicians in Tel Aviv and Istanbul. For me that shows the highlights. We have a lot of fans in Istanbul, they are really proud that we used this turkish influence.
Working with Jens we had everything we wanted and we got more personal than any other producer and we have released a documentary about the Road to Extinction tour included in the special edition of the album on vinyl.
I advice people to see it, because there’s the process there and how the album was made, how we just met the ends. It took many, many years. For a swedish person he’s a very emotional guy. I was recording Future is Dark, which is a very emotional song, it's a special song and he came in the booth and I got scared because normally nobody gets in on the vocal booth. We speak through the earphones. So I was like “Am I singing a shit or what’s going on?” and he said: “I think this is worth! This is the best gothic song I ever heard! It’s so emotional and you’re singing so well that I need a break!”. He was overwhelmed with feelings. This album is even more special with human factor and connection.

LFdM: It's really a special song and my favourite too of this album. So, I guess it’s been very challenging for you, and I can’t wait to see you tonight singing those songs. I love to sing on the albums I like and I know some part are really difficult to recreate. Hope you’re in good shape tonight!
FR: Hopefully I will be. You get used to everything really. I wanted to give a big step as a singer. I was personally thinking that I wasn’t going anywhere, so when we did Alpha Noir / Omega White I also used Omega white to experiment more with my melodic vocals, so I took it from there and I knew that’s what I wanted to do the most for the new album. We just start playing the songs but each night and each show is better and better and I’ve changed everything in my way of singing to get high notes and deep notes ‘cause in Extinct there’s more of my normal vocal range than in any other Moonspell album. I keep myself in shape, I study a lot. I listen to the album a lot. I do my vocal things, you know… I think we’re doing a great job so far. Before new songs we need to be very precise live ‘cause they’re very redemptive and fragile songs like The Future is Dark, but you are coming from Alpha and Omega and we’re getting there with really hard songs. It’s important that all of this tour happens now because past of any emotional songs to the people we have designed the whole new show for Moonspell.

LFdM: Speaking of the lyrics, you talk about the human race, love, pressure, economical crisis, sex… After almost thirty years of career are you afraid to present to young minds your point of view?
FR: Actually, if people take the time to read lyrics, they would have at the first a very negative approach to life and to existence, but I’ve talked with a lot of people about the extinction process: biologists, paleontologists… and I’ve learned something very important to write the lyrics of this album, to define the concept … you know, Moonspell is not a black metal band, we’re not preaching the end of the world or that humanity sucks… 

LFdM: Is there any black metal band like that anymore?
FR: Is there any black metal that isn’t like this? I’m calling that the elastic black metal mark. So Moonspell it’s something completely different. Extinct is an album about disappearing or thing disappearing around you, or inside you or even in nature. It’s also an album about how we fight it. So people tell me “Fernando, such a pessimistic guy you are”, I say “No, I’m not. I’m an optimist living in a dark world”. And: what is an optimist? Some people think “optimist” is a silly guy, smiling to everything. No, I think an optimist is someone who fights the situations, even if it’s a romantic or a pathetic fight. Like fighting against dragons or something like that in literature. And the album is also about this and how we fill the void between us and getting extinct. And I think that’s all there in the lyrics and I hope people find it ,because Extinct is an album much more luminous that people will think. And I really like the music: it’s dark, but it’s not oppressive. It’s redemptive.

LFdM: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel…
FR: there’s light everywhere, in a small cracks on a bad day… I don’t believe in it, of course there are expressions, but I don’t believe we have to cross through the tunnel to find a light. Sometimes you find it. And that’s just an expression I think much more of a day to day. I write on first person perspective and I know that one day I can be totally down and then, the other day, I smell the head of my kid and I resurrect. So, life is made of this, this is Extinct, not a pamphlet against humanity. Of course, humanity is the main subject , because everything you sing about has a human root: love, sex, religion… we all enjoy these. So there’s also this other concept inside Extinct, which is to create awareness toward the destruction of nature. It’s something that concerns us. I read a lot about it and if we can do it in a poetic way, through music maybe, it’s easier to get to people and I understood it, tonight through your voice, you have really understood all of that and the power of nature.

LFdM: You have changed a lot in these years, but you never changed your trademark, it's always been there, compared to other bands like Katatonia, Opeth, Tiamat which changed completely their original sound. Extinct is a catartic album, the way to purify yourself through the music, play live, stay in front of your fans and say "Hey we are Moonsplell we are here?”
FR: I completely agree with it. Obviously we changed a lot, and keeping the own trademark is a dream for all musicians. It's a cathartic process, for me for sure, not to make an album for business or money. It's an hard album, too private and deep at the same way revealing the people the adult pain. We sing like bands like Sister Of Mercy, Type O Negative.

LFdM: With these names I can only kneel. So, we'll see you in an hour?
FR: Yeah, i'm really hungry right now (laugh)

LFdM: ahahah Done! Thanks a lot Fernando.

Interview by Michela
Editing by Alessia