Moonspell are one of those
bands that your either get - or you don't. For me it has been a gradual
process. They are the type of band that grows on you with each listen.
Their moody dark form of metal is best listened to when in a pensive
mood and with an open mind. I first heard Moonspell on their CD
"Irreligious." After repeated listens they really started
growing on me. This is different from most of the other metal I listen
to but it's also refreshing because you cannot compare Moonspell to
anybody. They are their own band with their own style firmly rooted in
When I was given the chance to
speak to Moonspell's lead vocalist, Fernando Ribeiro, I was quite
excited. I knew the guy was deep and complex, as reflected in
Moonspell's lyrics, so I knew I was in for an interview which would
probably be unlike most others. I was right.
I just got your new CD "The Butterfly Effect" on Thursday. Even though I've only heard it through a couple of times I think it represents a culmination what what Moonspell have been about over the past few years - would you agree?
Well, I think so...at least it's good when people get to recognize this because we
didn't have a lot of ambitions with this album. We just had the ambition of combining in the best form possible, according to our limitations, the
actuality of Moonspell. That's really important for us to represent our generation of bands, of musicians and individuals and to retain what we thought was the soul, and definitely the sense, of Moonspell. I think Butterfly Effect comes very close to this ambition. Probably people will not see Moonspell changing so much in the future as we did in the past because I think this is it, we definitely have
approached a style that is strong and that represents fully Moonspell, not only past but present and hopefully future.
Did you receive very much flack or negative press because of the experimentation you dabbled with on the the last CD Sin/Pecado?
A lot of, but I think that was not only about the Moonspell record, it was kind of about a couple of records. Moonspell, Paradise Lost, Tiamat and other records that ummm...I dunno people thought we were doing these records to piss them off or whatever, this is a little personal. It's a little bit ridiculous because I understand when someone doesn't like a record, but I don't understand when someone feels offended
by a record which is a vehicle for emotions that are always different, at least with Moonspell, from album to album. I think the negative criticism is not mainly to be taken as a bad thing - of course it's not good when fans that listen to your stuff stop listening to you, of course nobody likes this and nobody does records for this to happen, but on the other hand it helps you out to have a more of a feel and have more of a creative spark that can feed off this. I think that Butterfly Effect is not meant to rectify Sin/Pecado because they are different records, but
it was made to complete what Moonspell is about today. It will be bad to have a uniform reaction. I don't think that Moonspell delivers the emotions in the music that everybody is searching for and at least in
Europe in 1997/1998 people were not into this kind of music - even though the record did really good here. Everything is so unpredictable about the audience so you just have to concentrate on what you want to do and what you want to express musically because at the end of the day you are alone with the rest of your musicians and your ghosts in a garage composing. It's quite difficult to predict what people want anyway.
I actually did like Sin/Pecado but I was pleased with the return to some of the heavier elements of Moonspell like on the track Lustmord. Was it a conscious decision to include these heavier elements like your heavier vocal style?
It was quite a natural feeling that I got, especially after doing my project
Daemonarch. I connected again, in a very crude form, with my vocals. I thought that they were in a shape that could be used for the new Moonspell record, especially on the basis of expression. I think it's cool when you sing intense and deep and melodic but the degree of freedom and the degree of underlying what you want to say with certain lyrics is way bigger when you use screaming vocals. I was definitely
approaching this before even I recorded Daemonarch songs of Moonspell with parts for the screaming vocals because as I told you we tried even to recover some of the essential things and two of those things were brought into Butterfly Effect which was a more heavy general sound with more guitars and using keyboards; not as the spine of the song but as the arrangement of the song, and the screaming vocals which I am really happy with on the new record.
How would you characterize Moonspell's distinctive sound or style? Do you like terms like dark metal, gothic metal or black metal?
I would say dark metal (laughs). It's very difficult, I'm not against labels, I understand the need of taxing things because you have to speak about something at the end of the day. Even
for a journalist it would be impossible to live without labels. It would actually be really chaotic. So I think that our roots are mainly metal, probably not traditional metal because we've always tried to have a bit of a more
advent guard feeling that comes from the metal bands that influenced us like Bathory or especially Celtic Frost on the more experimentalist approach. But I think dark metal is definitely something that I feel close to because the music has a very strong metal basis and it
combines a lot of the underground culture - darkness in general etcetera,
etcetera...so I think it's a label that does not comprise all the stuff that is in Moonspell, it's a representative label anyway.
Perhaps you can tell me what some of the tracks are on the new CD are
about - a good place would be to tell us what exactly is "The Butterfly Effect"?
The Butterfly effect - it's origin is a scientific concept coming out from matriology, that is a little branch of the chaos theory which is like science that admits that science is not that linear, there are small things and small alterations and even unexplainable factors that can create effects that can change the face of science. The Butterfly Effect is like the matriological concepts that says that the small, the insignificant and the random causes like small alterations in the atmosphere can create a big natural disaster like earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc. Of course the Moonspell album is not a concept album about natural disasters but it's definitely fascinating when you put these concepts against your individual human social background, you can definitely use it as a metaphor for your own life because even though I and a lot of people have a tendency for the absolute, I think that we are much more driven by the small, insignificant and the random causes. So it's an album about the importance of the insignificant in our lives and the title track is somethine where we tried to create this soundwise. The song starts with small simple things with a tribal voodoo feeling then it ends up in chaos and madness. It's very representative of the intention behind the album and most of the songs.
Can you tell me what the song "Lustmord" is about?
Lustmord is a serial killer song. I admire this very much, not serial killers, but I
have a fascination for them like a lot of people in the world admire serial killer songs from like Bruce Springsteen or The Police or even
Cannibal Corpse. I've always thought it was an interesting subject. I had this title and lyric ready for a while and was waiting for the perfect musical background that could fit it. Lustmord is a German word that comes from an English word that means crime of passion or lust crime and it was about a German serial killer called Peter
Kurten nicknamed the monster of Dussledorf (ed. note: forgive me if the German spelling is
inaccurate) who had the strange habit of, besides killing women,
killing swans at the Dussledorf garden. I have been in that garden and it's really strange when you are there where all this stuff happened. Lustmord was the headliner in the newspapers. So it's a nice familiar lyric and song.
One thing on the CD which stood out was the last track which is like 12 minutes of sound effects, noises and weird guitar parts. The song is called "K." Was this something that just came out in the studio or was this planned?
Actually it's a little bit confusing because "K" is just a song with more percussion and all that stuff. Then it comes back to another song which is a ghost track or hidden track. "K" is like the decompression chamber for the album because the album is sometimes so violent of an experience and it's so full of strong dynamics that "K" is a kind of chill-out like an oxygen decompression chamber. It's mainly all percussion, etc. and the percussions are real and they were all done in the studio. The other song (the hidden track) is in
Portuguese, it's called "Pormal de Chritstu" (ed. note: again please forgive my errors here. I am spelling it as it sounds, I'm not
Portuguese) which translates to something like "Christ Disease." This was a totally
experimental studio thing that combined all these noises that I did - guitars and machines and myself and (radio) broadcasts from a Christian sect in Portugal where people call in to thank god for their cars and for their whatever...it's a totally materialistic program. On the other hand it's a text from
William Burrows that talks about charity in a very weird form. The Christ Disease is something where everybody wants to be the messiah or Christ. There's a huge
necessity for being good, for being a strong agent of charity. For example, there is a naked vagabond on the streets and everybody want to feed him and dress him and eventually there are hundreds of people trying to dress him and to take care of him that they just start ripping his head off, his arms off, his legs off and eventually kill him. It's quite a strange concept and I'm really into William Burrows and other literature so I just did this as experimentation in the studio and it ended up as a ghost song for Moonspell.
Andy Reilly produced your new CD. Was their any reason you chose to work with him as opposed to using Waldemar (Sorychta) again?
Well we didn't want to use Waldemar again because it was becoming a routine sound and process of creation for Moonspell. With the last album, Sin, the production was quite beyond, and like a little bit
short... lived short to the music in my opinion. We suffered a little bit from that. Sin could of been a more appreciated album with a stronger heavier production. We
wanted to break out. Andy Reilly was not actually our first choice, I have to be honest. We had a list of producers, mainly into death metal or heavy rock...people that could give Moonspell that strong and powerful sound that we wanted on the Butterfly Effect. A lot of these people were quite difficult to reach, or to pay
actually! So we ended up in choosing the city of London in order to have an atmosphere to record this kind of more dark and depressive music that is on the Butterfly Effect. Andy
Reilly traveled to Portugal, he was recommended to us by Trident Studios and we were quite impressed about his work and about his attitude concerning the music. At the end of the day the result is there to listen
to. It's the most strong and powerful album, when it comes to sound, for Moonspell. We were quite happy that we could have with him, with an unknown producer to us, such a good result.
It's been a while coming, but in early November you will begin your first ever US tour with In Flames. Why has it taken so long to get over here?
It's quite tricky...as you know there's not a lot of European bands that actually tour the States on a regular basis. This year the promoters were more open to European bands. there was a lot of them playing at the
Milwaukee Metalfest. Moonspell was just about to play it but there was not an agreement
between our management and the Metalfest organization unfortunately. Then there was The Gathering playing there, In Flames and more of an opening to European kind of metal so we just tried to grab this vibe and book our first tour in the States. In 1995 we had the offer from Morbid Angel but we were busy already touring Europe. Then we had some more offers from The Damned but we never thought we could have a
dignifying show for everyone that is interested in seeing Moonspell live, and for us. It was worth the wait and we are excited about playing the States which is a
dream that we had for many years. It took so long because it was tricky, and to get a decent tour.
Do you expect there to be a large crossover of fans of Moonspell and In Flames?
I don't expect large crowds, but I expect at least dedicated people because this kind of music is not really popular I think in the States. But the
people that like it, like it very much and are very dedicated to this kind of music. So I definitely hope that there will be at least some people coming to the shows because it's a strong package.
Both bands have an appreciation on the underground scene in the States. It's also the first time they are doing a more extensive tour...so my expectation audience-wise is not a very great amount of people but at least experience-wise it will be fantastic for Moonspell.
You must notice a very mixed audience at your gigs where you have so many elements in your music.
Indeed, and each time there's more that were born for this kind of music. I think it's positive and colorful for people, even though our audience is mainly metal, there's a lot of goth people coming to the shows, even people that listen to industrial and new wave, and even people that listen to pop or alternative come to our shows.
Maybe not because the music is complete for all these kinds but people nowadays like a mixture or a hybrid and they like strong bands live. I think that even though our audience is mainly metal, sometimes it's people from other musical perspectives that come to the shows especially in Portugal and France which are the countries in which we are now selling more records in.
So what is it like when you play in your home country of Portugal, are they the most enthusiastic fans?
Well there are a lot of enthusiastic fans around Europe like east Europe and we play South America and Mexico and it's overwhelming when it comes to enthusiasm. I think people in Portugal have a great deal of respect for
Moonspell. There's a lot that come to our shows fortunately, because besides all the musical aspects they feel very identified nationally with us - Moonspell being the only
Portuguese metal band that can have more of an international profile. It's always good to play here in your home country. Recognition is good in any country, but at home it's always a special flavor even though we face a lot of press (sometimes negative) but we have a fantastic audience here in Portugal.
Tell me about Daemonarch - your Black Metal band featuring 3 members of MOONSPELL. Was is a one-off thing or can we expect more?
I don't think I'll do another (Daemonarch) CD in the near future because I am so busy, time and energy wise, with Moonspell and The Butterfly Effect promotion and touring. Daemonarch was a very interesting project, it allowed me to (re)connect with stuff that I was not in contact with for a lot of reasons. It was a very important personal experience first and foremost for me. I don't think musically I can come up with - in the near future - with something for Daemonarch. Daemonarch was more born as a
literary project, a compilation of texts. I'll probably get back to this more primitive aspect of Daemonarch and I may
inaugurate an Internet site that will be like a forum for philosophical
expression - even though some may have no concern or not relate to this. I think sometimes these particular aspects of mankind are badly represented, especially by all the new generation of black metal bands. So I want to create something that could be a hideout, an outlet for people that do not agree with this new kind of media exposure of things I've personally been into for many years and a person that can relate to this might be into it as well.
So do you listen to any of the newer black metal bands at all?
Well, not really. For black metal I really like Emperor and Marduke and then I really like Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost and Possessed and all these bands that were in the limbo between black and death metal. Nowadays it's more about clones and getting people what they want. It's like they have a book and they are doing it according to the book - the
formula, the image, the spikes, everything is studded, everything is planned,
everything is a little bit artificial in my opinion. But I really like those bands that I quoted.
As for new black metal bands, there are so many that I cannot keep track of them anyway.
Since your sound is so distinctive I'd like to ask about your influences. You already mentioned
Celtic Frost and Bathory...who else has made an influence on your style?
Tons of music, sometime unbelievably, and sometimes in a more direct tradition. The band that mostly influenced us as
people was Bathory and Quorthon because actually we formed the band after we met Quorthon in Portugal in '89. So I think they are the biggest influence because they are a big part of the genesis of the band. We are influenced by other stuff, mainly more modern stuff. I think you cannot help but be influenced but such strong bands now like Nine Inch Nails or Tool and a lot of American extreme rock as well. When you look into the songs you can hear influences like Morbid Angel who are one of my favorite bands up to Gaping Friday(?) which is one of my favorite artists or songwriters. It's quite diverse. For Moonspell with the new album we've tried very much to be influenced by what we have already done but there's always bands that come to your mind. On the new album you can find like I said - Tool, Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, Gaping Friday, etc.
In terms of your lyrics, where do you get your ideas?
I think you just have to look around and look inside you know, to get all the input for coming up with lyrics because these lyrics are about
fascinations, obsessions, thinking and feeling in general. Of course there are more outside subjects that I approach,
therefore it's a part of my lyrics as well. Literature has influenced me very much. We have two songs - one is the ghost
track which is a William Burrows text and "Disappear Here" was influenced by an American writer called Brad Easton Allis(sp?). There also a lot of stuff coming from philosophy. It's very diverse, the lyrical content of Moonspell. We can review these lyrics in a word - it's an album about confusion and the inspiration you can get from the smallest thing to the more absolute thing in today's life.
I have a couple of questions about your CD "Irreligious." The reason being - it was the first CD I got by Moonspell and as such it's the one I've listened to the most.
The song "Opium" - I know it caused a lot of controversy and the video was banned because people read something into it that wasn't there. So can you tell me, what was the meaning of the song "Opium"?
The song was born from a poem from a famous Portuguese poet from the end of the century called Fernando Pessoa. He had a poem called "Opiato" which is like the place or a cafe where you smoke Opium and it was a weird delivery and a weird lyric about the impact that drugs and namely Opium had on a lot of literature, psychology and things that are milestones of human knowledge like Freud who was a coco-maniac and an Opium taker. I'm so much involved by this kind of literature and art, that I tried to write a song where I tried to figure out what was in the mind of these people when they appeal to drugs as a kind of extra kick or extra inspiration. Of course this was too complex to be understood by the people that censored it - there was MTV and a Christian moralist teacher
- but at the end of the day, "Opium" was one of the most famous songs from Moonspell and people relate to this
regardless. The message was not meant to be polemic or to create something of a fuss around Moonspell because I try very much for Moonspell to be appreciated by the music and by
everything that music brings within itself rather than by the polemics. So I was more sad, even though I will probably sell a couple more hundred records because of this, I was more sad than rejoicing because we were
(seen as) polemic, and "oh it's so cool to be polemic." The controversy in my opinion was unjustified
because it was totally an artistic approach to an artistic drug to say the least.
Another song on the CD (Irreligious) "Herr Spiegelmann"...who is the "man in the blue jacket" whom you refer to in the lyrics?
The guy in the blue jacket is a character from a book called "The Perfume" (Perfume : The Story of a Murderer) from a
German writer called Patrick Suskind. It's a very interesting book, I read it and I was completely fascinated by it. It's about a person who makes perfume and he's born without olfactory...he
cannot smell anything. So he's trying to come up with something that will be the ultimate scent and for that he becomes a serial killer, he becomes someone that plays women, etc, etc.. In the two last chapters there is the scene of his execution and then the scene of his death and this man in the blue jacket is this guy that is being executed but he is so horrible and at the same time so fascinating that his execution ends up in a very big orgy in a huge plaza where he was about to be hanged, or shot, I don't remember. He is the kind of hybrid man in which people see everything because even though he was horrible, he was
everyone's dream. In the lyrics "nuns saw on him the Messiah in flesh; philosophers the supreme being" etc... It's a quote from a very interesting book that marked me very much in my life.
Some of your lyrics have a religious bend to them, not Christian...I was wondering if you practice any religion? Or is that something you prefer not to discuss?
I have no problems in discussing that. I'm not a religious person. I think that I am just a radical...I definitely think that all the religion and spiritual investments are mere instruments of man and sometimes people do forget about this. My religion is definitely believing in mans possibility of creating and the most difficult possibility of destroying god. That's the true reality behind religion and sometimes people do not really understand that.
Do you use your lyrics as a vehicle to promote your beliefs or is it mainly subjects, books or other literature that interests you?
Well if I do so it's not on purpose because it's not really important for me that Moonspell is a social message but much more an artistic message that people can relate and learn from, not on an attitude basis, but more in an intellectual artistic basis. Nowadays I feel this is more important for art to be a refuge and a teaching rather than an example. Sometimes people cannot relate or interpret this very well in order to convey to their own perspectives and lives. At the end of the day you cannot deny when you write something that you're involved in this and when you write something you are sharing your beliefs and your convictions as well. I try to
be abstract because it's my way or writing and of course it's a vehicle for allot of emotions and emotions are not just about feelings but about convictions and about goals as well.
So what are your touring plans after the November US tour with In Flames?
After the US we will probably play two big shows here in Portugal as release parties for The Butterfly Effect which we have done for Irreligious and Sin. We've always had quite big shows in Lisbon and probably Porto if everything goes OK. We are booking a European headlining tour for January and hopefully we'll get three other bands to support us and they will be Katatonia, Crematory and Kreator...which I am very
ashamed about (laughs)...because I was a fan of Kreator for ages and now probably they will be supporting us in Europe. In March, hopefully with Kreator, we would love to come back to the states and make the tour we are doing now with In Flames not the only one so we always press and try very hard to get more exposure and to get more fans into our kind of music in the US because Moonspell is a band with very strong need for expansion. It's always cool for a band to contact the different perspectives of music, even different cultures. In Europe, sometime it's quite difficult nowadays because there is a huge saturation of bands of this kind of
style and people are getting a little confused with all the marketing and all the trends that magazines
setup...in Germany for instance. So that's why it's quite cool to expand and that's our plan for the next six or seven months.
On the tour will you be featuring songs from all your CD's, even as far back as "Under The Moonspell"?
We don't play Under the Moonspell (laughs) because it's very complex to
play live and you do have to have the time to organize something good to present on the road. So we are playing songs from "Wolfheart" up to "The Butterfly Effect." We
always do so because the audience is a really important part of the show and we enjoy playing songs from Wolfheart, Irreligious and
Sin (and now) The Butterfly Effect. This time we probably won't play and Under The Moonspell songs but I think we are doing a setlist that can definitely please all the different generations of our fans.
Are there any favorite songs that you have that you will always want to play live?
Yeah, there is "Mephisto" - we've always played this live for 3 years now I think. "Almam
Mater" from Wolfheart and then I think of course the new songs from The Butterfly Effect will work very well live and it's the album which we will be promoting mostly. But these two songs are always, always a very important part of the Moonspell set.
Do you play "Vampiria" live anymore?
Well we've played it allot. I don't know if we're bringing this song to the States, anyway
We know how to play it very well (laughs) we've done it so many times so if people demand it too much we will (play it). We do not go there and pretend that we are
playing for ourselves because that is not the case - it's also the case but the audience has to participate in a way in all the Moonspell shows. It's really important for us to have an interactivity with the audience. We also have a limited time to play, like one hour or one hour and something and we want to play the best most intense setlist that we can and we have to leave some songs out but I think people will like our selection hopefully.
Last question, concerning the 2econd Skin EP - disc two was 7 live tracks...will there ever be a plan to actually release a full live album or a home video with live Moonspell stuff?
I think it's a little bit too early because we are still a band under
construction - if you know what I mean. This is good when bands already have a strong solid career like 7 or 10 years. Probably we will do so when we are a little bit more older and when we have more time to choose the best. I think people relate to the live CD, it's always
good to have that but it's not a part of our plan to do so now. A home video is
different. I hope that during the next year or maybe in 2001 we can record and release a home video with clips, with a lot of stuff people don't know. It will be interesting to release a video with footage from our very first gig in '93 up to our very last gig of
Yeah, and you can include the videos you've made for us people who haven't
seen them thanks to the short-sightedness of the censors!
Yeah...you've never seen the Opium video?
No, unfortunately is wasn't shown here in Canada either.
Well it's not the same thing but we will probably have all the videos from Moonspell on our homepage. So when it is ready over the next few weeks, we'll put all the videos there. It's not the same but I think people can relate, they will find out how stupid it was for the video to be banned because it's really nothing offensive - it is just a song that is named "Opium" and people do not take the time to read through the lyrics.
Will there be any videos from The Butterfly Effect?
There is one already for the title song and I think it was banned already
because it has some lesbians (laughs)...some girls with frontal nudity. So
I think we'll have a soft version and the hardcore version. It was the same team that did 2econd Skin. It looks ok, low budget, but I
think it looks OK.
It will be up very soon and from what I've seen it will be a very mature and very professional page and I'm looking forward to
seeing it myself. I was there navigating but it's still not ready so I have to really hurry up with our webmaster.
Is there any other news or event happening with Moonspell?
Fernando Well we are rehearsing very much in order to give a very decent perspective of Moonspell live. We will not bring a very big production, or at least not what we bring in Europe because of obvious financial reasons, but I think we are bringing the most important stuff which is the band a a very, very great desire to impress people in the US, Canada and
Mexico which will be the countries we will be playing. After all, the music is what counts and we're bringing the chance for us and for the people to listen to our songs live that probably will relate to
(live) very much to what is on the records.
Thanks you very much, it's been an honor to speak with you. Good luck with the tour and the new CD!