eFestivals speaks to Moonspell's Fernando Ribeiro

at the doom metal festival Doom Over London

By Elena Francis | Published: Fri 15th Apr 2016

Friday 25th to Sunday 27th March 2016
The Dome, Tufnell Park, Camden, Greater London, NW5 1HL, England MAP
Last updated: Fri 8th Apr 2016

On a suitably raining afternoon at London's premier doom metal festival Doom Over London, eFestivals manages to catch some time of the bus of goth metallers Moonspell to talk with chatty vocalist Fernando Ribeiro about the band's forthcoming plan to record an ambitious DVD, his long-standing love for doom metal and exploration of the themes explored on last year's album 'Extinct'.

How has the tour been so far?

Good. It's a small tour. We've been on the road since March last year. We call it 'The Road to Extinction' [laughs]! We'll see what happens at the end. It's a very intense tour for us. Last year, we played at the Underworld and then we went to the States, some festivals so all in all, we played a lot last year, especially in Europe and the US. We resumed touring and then we went on the cruise in America, which was like a holiday with two shows in between. It was great, awesome. It was paradise with great people and great food. I wrote a little piece for a Playboy article because they took an interest after this. Everybody was crazy about it, I put it on my blog and hopefully it'll sell some more tickets. They were very impressed about the way I described it and the way we lived it; it was our third cruise. We did a month off right now writing new stuff, our forthcoming DVD, we're going on the road, yesterday was in France. Outside of Portugal, France is really good for us. I don't know why. I think they invested their money really well on the club scene. You go to a small town like Rouen with a metal scene, it's amazing.

They have a proper metal scene in Rouen?

Yeah, it's amazing. Right here, there are a lot of Moonspell fans as a lot of people come from Paris as well. We'll probably come back on the next tour; we've just played once in Paris and we're still making some French dates probably towards the end of the year because there's demand. Normally we play the bigger cities but now there are a lot of other places and you go there and the clubs are amazing. We'll probably come back on the next tour. For Doom Over London, we were one of the first bands booked and then we saw the bill taking shape and it's unbelievable.

Which bands are you interested in that are playing Doom Over London?

Yesterday,this band that was also supporting us called Ataraxie. They're very good; they're like doom death. Esoteric are playing – great band. Tomorrow there's an interesting new project band coming out from Portugal called Sinistro. It's very hard to define. I think people will like it. It's heavy, doomy and a little psychedelic.

Is it '70s sounding?

I don't know. I don't hear many bands like them but it's a little bit theatrical. The singer is very theatrical, even in the way she performs her vocals. The other guys are just very heavy and slow riffing. Of course, there's In The Woods and I'd love to see them. It has been quite a while since they were active but tomorrow we'll be in Manchester. Maybe we'll take a trip down here quickly. What else? Impaled Nazarene. I haven't seen them for ages. Last time I met Mika [Luttinen, vocals] was in Finland many years ago. They kind of disappeared in a way or I wasn't paying attention.

There's a good mix of different styles.

Yeah, and 40 Watt Sun. They're really good. I listened to this band when I was into the underground - Necroschisma from Holland - really slow. There are a lot of bands doing this funeral doom now. Talking about the UK, there are lots of bands like Cathedral, I loved them when they started. I loved the '70s sound. I used to correspond with people from Lord of Putrefaction, really old stuff. I think that guy actually made another band or label or something. There are lots of bands from the UK, not to mention Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride. I still have my demo tapes of Paradise Lost like 'Drowning Darkness' – yeah, I'm that old [laughs]! I was a tape trader - very intense – coming out of Portugal, nothing happens so we had to look abroad. Of course the UK always put out this very UK sound that totally sounds like a UK band. We had a lot of contacts so it's great many years after that we headline such a cool show and such a great deal is made for music lovers. It's not like very big names, it's more underground, I think it's packed.

A lot of people will know Moonspell and maybe won't be so up-to-date with your latest sound but will probably check you out and maybe get encouraged to rediscover what they missed.

It'll be a mix; in London, you always get dedicated Moonspell fans and a good turnout – I don't mean just from the UK but from everywhere. London is still the place where you meet people from everywhere. It's going to be really good with more up-tempo songs so it's going to be different. It's kind of a risk for the promoter. We have many slow and powerful songs like 'Full Moon Madness' and 'A Dying Breed' from the new album, which we play live but it's more orchestral doom. I think it takes a toll on the band but it's good to be prepared to have a lot of repertoire. After this tour, we are doing a special Graspop show with a 20 year 'Irreligious' [set]. The promoter is a fan of the band and this is the first time he booked us for Graspop in Belgium. We're going to do a big show in Portugal in the north with a five thousand capacity. It's a huge step up for the band but we already do huge stuff in Lisbon and Porto but this is another city. We're going to make an even crazier show; we're going to do 'Irreligious', we're going to do 'Wolfheart' and we're going to play 'Extinct' – a past into the present concept.

So three whole sets?

Three sets, yes. It's near Galicia in Spain so it's going to be full of people from there too. That's like 100-150 miles for them.

You mentioned that you were working on a new album. Do you have any musical themes or ideas you'd like to share?

It's not really a new album. We're saving this for maybe next year. What we're doing is a DVD that we're going to record live. We have a big project and we saved some ideas for a DVD available in 2017so we're going to record an open-air show. We've just confirmed it so let's hope we don't spend all our money in production and have nothing left for afterwards [laughs]. It's also very good because it's in a cool natural ampitheatre except it's huge so it's a nice place to record a DVD and we wanted to create something musical as well so we're going to make something we've never done before, which is an EP about the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. It's in the Moonspell style but all the lyrics will be in Portuguese. We have a song on 'Alpha Noir' called 'Em nom do medo' and we play this song abroad and people really like it, even though they don't understand anything. We liked it and expanded it for this new EP and we're working on that now and everything will be coming out in 2017. It's great - it's different because the Portuguese language is really different but it sounds good on what we're making. For the Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish fans it will be something good but I hope people from abroad pick it up because metal never had the fucking problem, I mean, like Norwegian [laughs].

Metal is one of the few genres of music where you can get relatively popular singing in your native language.

Yeah, it's true. It's really good.

Now that 'Extinct' has been out for a year, what are your feelings about the album now?

We feel very positive about the album. We knew when we were writing it, it felt special for us. We did our best in the studio at the end to make the message clear because that's very important. I think this album sounds very musical - I don't really know what that means but there's more music, more orchestra – so I think the fans really got the message. It got a really strong response. Normally we spilt people but this one I was really amazed that there were not a lot of voices against it. There was not only metal but also some gothic rock songs and people liked it. At the end of the day, Moonspell has only this to offer; it's just a musical project. there's nothing else hyping us – no Vikings, no series about the Portuguese navigators [laughs] – and the culture also helps to sell the band in a way. Portuguese culture is quite unknown. Sometimes it's an individual struggle to get to the people but fortunately we have history etc. so it came out really well. Most of the tour has been packed or sold out and fans keep returning. Honestly, they respond really well to the 'Extinct' songs, which is good to see. I have already discussed the process of making a new album. For me it's easy; you have an itch and you have to create a new album. It's very easy and hard to explain at the same time. It's not like [we're] making it for the touring agenda only. We picked up from these things we had to say and make it into an album and people reacted to it [a lot].

It's a good concept. It's very contemporary.

I think so and it revealed itself. There's a lot of stuff being done that isn't talked about. We worked with a British author Melanie Challenger and she had a book called, I think, 'Countdown to Extinction' or maybe that's Megadeth [laughs]. It's 'On Extinction: How We Became Estranged From Nature' and her take is a poetic one. It kind of helps for us to tie the concept between the emotion of the things that we take for granted growing up: music, places. I think the work of Melanie really tied it together on the biotic level as well as emotionally. I heard from some professors that we interviewed for the commentary that talked about on emotional terms as well that are involved rescuing endangered species like the Iberian Portuguese/Spanish wolf. The name of the album was definitely created to express emotion of things going away or fighting against or standing still because sometimes you do both. It made it, as you say, contemporary as many predict a mass extinction event soon. There are a lot of changes and a lot of stuff happening because there isn't a balance any more.

The world is getting increasingly urbanised too. More than half of the world's population now lives in urban environments, which will affect the ecosystem a lot.

We took their space. There was a lot of discussion, I think it was even on our Facebook - which I try to turn away from [laughs] – about hunting and of course you can understand the guy in Finland goes and hunts because there's a surplus of moose there. Not that I agree but I understand that but it's not exactly the problem that we're discussing. That's a small problem really that took over the space of animals and that's why you see felines in India attacking schools but we are the invaders.

You made a video for 'Domina' recently. Why did you decide to choose this song and film the band candidly?

I wanted to do an old school video like the videos we watched in the '80s. The budget was way lower as it was our second video and we had to talk Napalm into it but we could do it. Actually, my reference was 'Nothing Else Matters' from Metallica [laughs]. Remember this video where they're playing basketball and they're in the studio? I thought I hadn't seen this video in a while. Now Iit's all about – even ourselves – showing off.

Like the post-apocalyptic theme you did with the'Extinct' video?

Yeah, I really liked it. I like 'The Warriors', the film. All the cast came back and they did something together. I really like that stuff and I talked with the director and we were totally on the same page to make this Mad Max kind of…so for the second video, we wanted something totally different and also 'Domina' was being released as a single in Portugal. Even though it's a ballad, we decided the on the 'Nothing Else Matters' direction, relaxed video and putting some footage from the commentary. For us, it was what we wanted people to see as well, more real life and when we get to the shows, we are not just worshipping Satan back stage – we are playing football, like everyone else to be honest and I've met all the Satanists by now and they're all chilled; I've played football with some of them actually. It was quite an honest video to say the least and people really liked it because it was unpretentious. We had fun recording. We didn't have to wear extreme make up or be in the cold or something. It was that easy for us and I kind of like it. It's in black and white. I want to make the DVD in black and white but I'm not sure [laughs]. Let's see.

That's the end of my questions. Do you have any final words for the readers?

We are in the UK. People sometimes say: "Why aren't you coming to the UK?" So we've lived up to our words and it's rotten weather. It's great to be back here. The responses we've got are still solid and it's great to take our show that we've been doing since March 2015 and it's still the same. People are saying: "You're going to the UK so don't take the special lights." Why the hell not?! The crews are so anal about itbut I told them to bring all the stuff. It's out first time in Manchester too and it's our first time in Dublin too. 'Wolfheart' was quite a big album in the underground in Ireland so I think they'll get a lot of 'Wolfheart' songs.

Thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of the festival.

No problem and thank you.

interview by: Elena Francis

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last updated: Fri 8th Apr 2016