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Moonspell! Chances are great that this name conjures a cacophony of somber dark images. After all, this Portuguese band blazed a path for all things goth in metal, becoming a symbol for what once was an underground trend. But, don't be fooled, there's nothing trendy or fleeting about this act. With the release of their new album 'The Antidote' and a US tour supporting Cradle Of Filth and Type O Negative, times are good for this group of hard working musicians. The Metal Update recently had the pleasure of chatting with Moonspell's front man, Fernando Ribeiro. Here's what went down. . .

METAL UPDATE: Hey, it's great to talk with you! Can you tell me where you are calling me from?

FERNANDO RIBEIRO: I'm calling from Circus Circus in Las Vegas. We are supporting Type O Negative and Cradle Of Filth. Yesterday we played in Las Vegas.

MU: How do you like Las Vegas?

FR: Its, umm, my first time here, so I'm still digesting it. (laughs) In a way, I think that it looks a bit creepy!

MU: Have you already played a show there?

FR: Yeah.

MU: So, how are you finding the Vegas crowd?

FR: I think they had fun, definitely. I mean, like I say, it's our first time with many people so they don't really know what to expect. But, I think the people are, at least they look from the stage, impressed and happy that we are not just there wasting their time..

MU: Well, I can't imagine a crowd coming to see this tour and not being impressed.

FR: Yeah, we're giving them passion and trying to impress them and that's all the reasons why we flew from Portugal! Definitely, you know, to leave a mark on the people. . .

MU: Right on! Let me ask you about 'The Antidote'. I enjoy this album and am curious. . . some people are calling this a return to your roots, the original Moonspell sound. Is this intentional or is this just a natural progression?

FR: I think that all this talk with the back to the roots thing is very primitive for a band because the band is made out of the convergence between past, present and future. I think that 'The Antidote' is definitely the strongest statement we could do this far. Certainly we are very proud of albums like 'Wolfheart' and/or 'Irreligious', but then again, our hands were forced, new dimensions were added into our songs that were stronger than the same things before. I think that this album definitely is an album that people relate to because we were lucky enough to do an album that was in the shaping for a long time and that people were expecting, as well. I think that this time it was well achieved and that's something that doesn't happen too often in the career of a band. But, I think that 'The Antidote' - it's a good album because it has a life of itself and it has a story by itself. And, while people might find, definitely, elements from our past, we're the same band. They find new elements added and new instruments within the music. We are an older band, a more mature band, a band that knows what they want to do. This album is instrumenting, in a very wild way, especially with 'The Butterfly Effect' album, so this album is intentional but with a life of it's own as well.

MU: Well, 'The Antidote' is a balanced album. I enjoy listening to it because it's so easy to listen to from beginning to end.

FR: Yeah, thanks. Balanced? That's a good word for it.

MU: Now, 'Wolfheart', that's another great Moonspell album. It's one of my favorites!

FR: Yeah, I think that. . . when we did it we were enthusiastic, we had no idea that it would become, let's say a classic. And, we were just doing it like we did 'The Antidote' - represent ourselves and hopefully along the way find people that need the same kind of, ah, soothing throughout the music that we do need, and that's why we do the music. And, 'Wolfheart' was an album that worked wonders for a lot of people. And I think people see 'Wolfheart'. . . um, people saying that they had, you know, their first sexual relationship listening to it with their boyfriend or girlfriend. And, that feels very good because I did that as well with a band that I liked. I think that's the best reward you can have at the end of the day!.

MU: Feel like revealing the band you chose to give it up to?! (mutual laughter)

FR: Ahhhh. . .

MU: Well, what a tribute to your music?

FR: Yeah, (chuckling) that's true!


MU: This is cool because that was kind of where I was going. 'The Antidote' has a lot of sensuality in it, there's seductive drum rhythms and your vocals are both intimate and impassioned. Is this the collective personality of you and your band mates coming through?

FR: It has a bit to do with our cultural background - the fact that Portugal is essentially a, what you call, a romantic country. We do not mind to use that and to come across with that in our music. I believe that it's what, you know. . . it definitely is a balanced, intelligent and - you might call fashion and can give a new feeling to out music. . . hello? hello?

MU: Oh! I'm here! I'm listening intently to every word you're saying!

FR: (laughs) Sorry, there was a waiting call coming in! I apologize!

MU: Well, don't worry. I don't get this opportunity everyday, so I'm still here!

FR: No, problem! Um, and definitely we want to represent that in our music. And what we want to do is something that's powerful but spiritual as well because that's the subject, the energy we are dealing with in the music. I always learned from a tender age that music must be sensual to get you girls (laughing) or something like that.

MU: Ah, I see the motives here!

FR: But, in the true sense of the word, you know, music can definitely make you vibrate with just the sound, that it's physical - the eye, the soul and the ear as well.

MU: So, it's an overall effect that you guys are striving for?

FR: Yeah.

MU: Well, it really comes through on this album.

FR: Well good! (shy laughter)

MU: Okay, since we have already started down this road, I might as well ask. I've read that the band has an interest in sexual art? Is there any truth in this or is it simply a rumor?

FR: Ah. . . well. . . (laughs) A lot of the time, obviously, well. . . we like the representation of the body through plastic form, definitely. I think the band has an interest in art and a lot of art has sex. I think that um, sometimes people just look at sex as something that you do, something that doesn't have a legend or doesn't have a story. But, it does have, you know, and it goes back in time. So, basically, probably it's a little bit inflated and that we only see naked bodies as only sex art, but we really like all forms of art. It doesn't have to be explicit, don't have to paint a colorful painting to know that you are happy or that you are sad, you know, it depends. But definitely, we have a strong attraction and we use it in our music toward strong iconography. And, I think that the human body itself, the way we move, the way we contort, the way it comes out of it's shell in order to be representative of many forms - it's something that definitely inspires us.

MU: So this is just one more thing you draw from for your music?

FR: Yeah, basically our focus, and the focus of our music, has always been that - knowing that the bottom line for and inspiration to us is both body and spirit.

MU: Okay, there's a natural connection between body and spirit, that's both basic and instinctive, and you show this through your music?

FR: Yes, definitely! I mean, especially for people coming from the southernmost countries. We don't hide as much, one thing from the other, really, and I think that it comes across very naturally in us - in the way we reveal ourselves in music, in relationships too, in everything. We do not play that paranoid musician thing to upstage others. (laughs) But, something else, I think that while it's quite impossible in a way, it's a waste of time really. So, we just have to take life as it is, very complete, with all things. It's very real - you can't just hide out!

MU: You're lyrics read like poetry, and I know that you're a writer. Is there any subject that's taboo, something you wouldn't put into your lyrics?

FR: No, not at all! I think that the lyrics are in fact, and above the title. So, when I write, the way I place myself towards poetry is that, first and foremost, you have to master a language. You have to know it inside and out in order to create a personal code that can be communicated. I think that to create poetry, any poetry, allows me to enter my personality and to say something, and to mean that something but a lot of other somethings as well! (chuckles) I think that language, you know, playing with words, definitely is something that I really love to do. Basically, I come up with abstract words in a way, but they all - when put together - create a code and they create a sense. And, the way that I approach lyrics - for me to write the lyrics is a very slow and demanding process because I choose every word, every rhyme. So while the other guys are doing the music for one or two years for an album, I'm doing the lyrics for that same time period. And, they are just ready when I need them, and even then they might change!

MU: Yeah! That's a disease that all writers have! (mutual laughter)

FR: Yeah! So. . . I think that we're both a dark but very transparent band. It's a band that needs a lot of attention. And, it's definitely, if people read through the lyrics and follow along the catharsis, they know us then. And, I always have liked bands whose lyrics challenge me to learn more.

MU: Yeah, me too. I prefer lyrics that allow you to read between the lines, a deeper meaning.

FR: Yeah. I think, for me, I wouldn't see myself in the band if it weren't like this. I think that nowadays bands start realizing that lyrics and words are as important as sound. They are not just filler or a metric device for the sound. I want deeply to try and make them meaningful and definitely create a better relationship with the listener or the reader. We want to write lyrics that stand by themselves.

MU: That's a great definition of what the phrase "good lyrics" means!

FR: Yeah - that they are strong enough to be read as poems. I'm fulfilling the business, but regardless of that, I think that every poet or everyone that writes - because he needs to write and it's something you cannot explain, you just need to - definitely has this same goal in mind. I do write lyrics, but I would hate if I only wrote lyrics, so I write a lot of other stuff.

MU: You know, you said earlier that you must first master a language. This is another thing that I am curious about. When you sit down to write, do you do so in your native Portuguese and then translate it into English? And, if so, does some of the meaning get lost?

FR: No, as for the lyrics, I write them and think them directly into English. It's funny because people find it hard to understand it, because I'm a Portuguese guy so my native language is quite different from English. But, of course, I have a fascination toward the English language, English poets and everything that is written in English. Since I was a kid I know it's provided a big effect on me. So for me it's definitely become a form of expression. And, when you connect with a language daily, as I do for weeks as I write directly into English, therefore I felt the lyrics directly in English.

MU: That amazes me! I have studied languages, and am studying one intensely now. And to think of knowing it well enough to be creative within it, well that's hard to believe!

FR: Yeah, we were speaking the other day in the tour bus that if you connect so much with the language - sometimes I dream in English, the other guys as well! So, it's something that's a bit hard to understand, but definitely something that happens. It does happen. Portugal is our main soul in poetry, culture to be sure. So, for a Portuguese guy, as we all are, in a country that has a lot of relationships with different countries, we always speak other languages like French and especially English.

Moonspell - The Antidote cover

MU: From what age did you learn English? It must have been quite early for you to feel comfortable and creative within it.

FR: In school? I started to learn English when I was ten, but I already knew a couple of words from self-research. Basically, I was exposed to English like from six, eight or nine years old - even though I cannot get rid of my accent!

MU: No! No need to get rid of your accent. Really! It's lovely and you speak fine English!

FR: Okay then, thanks! (shy laughter)

MU: Obviously you're a writer, but do you keep a journal? You're on tour now and are having lots of experiences, do you write any of this down to turn to for later inspiration?

FR: I don't keep, like, a regular journal. Let's put it this way, because a journal is something to go and write always, but for this tour I keep like a tour diary about our stops. It's a little bit outdated because I've been sick with the flu.

MU: Yeah, I hear that! Same with me and about everyone else I know! (mutual laughter)

FR: It definitely will relate and point out all experiences and the impressions of this tour. But, I'm the kind of guy that goes around always with a notebook and all of that because I think it's very important and I think inspiration is as much a question of being concentrated and getting it. So my biggest paranoia in life is if the masterpiece I'll one day write strikes me by surprise and I don't have a pen to write it with. (laughs)

MU: I think it must be a writer's thing. I have that same fear!

FR: Definitely! Yeah, that's right! So, basically I don't keep journals but I keep always something so I can write.

MU: Okay, now, obviously you are a well read person. Who ranks among your favorite authors?

FR: I read a lot of authors. They are really countless, the authors I mostly read or like, but to quote a few examples, I very much am into Russian literature like Mikhail Bulgakov. For instance, I read "The Master and Margarita", which is a great story about the devil going to Moscow. Um, I'm very much into Oscar Wilde. Yeah, just everything. Oscar Wilde is a very famous author and and in Portugal is no exception! So, I just got into his minor writings and all of that, is really beautiful. He was a great writer. He was very knowledgeable about mythology and all of that. As far as American authors, I'm very much into Attenborough. It's been an obsession, especially on 'The Butterfly Effect' days. I'm in the process of reading all of his work. I haven't done it (laughs) but I've gotten very close! It's really powerful, and important, literature. . . knowledge. I read everything I can get my hands on. I'm already in my third book this tour!

MU: Okay, so everyone else goes out and parties and you go back to the bus and read? Is that how you're able to do this?

FR: (laughs) Sometimes! Not all the time! But, I think you can learn, definitely, more about yourself when you read a book. I think that parties are always a waste of time because you wake up with an empty head!

MU: Let me change the subject real quick. I'm curious if you guys have an opinion on internet downloading and file sharing?

FR: Well, I think as a principle it's great - that people can have access to such a great potential of books and music on the internet. But, I think on the other side, there should be rules in some way. Because authors write something sacred and consecrated, and when you write something it's yours, you know. . . definitely, it's what people call, what people convey as intellectual property. So, I think that there should be a way of bringing the two worlds together because it's very cool for people to download music for free and everything free. But, in the long run they are killing the bands. They have the music, but in two or three years they cannot see the bands live because these bands cannot afford to come and play in front of them! (laughs) So, it's a big problem, there's not like a solution so far, but probably balancing, you know, the music being accessible and the other having a financial reward, I think that's only fair.

MU: I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but there is a huge worldwide net of video traders. They deal in actual video bootlegs, many of which I have. What's your opinion on this?

FR: I mean, I don't mind it for the videos and the live shows, because they play a role definitely. There's a lot of people that either cannot afford a concert ticket to see Moonspell, or people that live too far away that cannot see Moonspell. So, it's a way we all get involved in them. And, whenever people want to bring cameras or record, Moonspell never has a problem with that. Sometimes we give them passes when the promoters do not allow them so that we have access to the material. It's not professionally done for sale, but just for trade. And, hopefully we will probably next year, release a DVD. For sure we'll have a lot of this footage that people already know, but all put together in digital quality so that people can see Moonspell closer to reality.

MU: I think that's really cool of you guys! Many people like to trade because there are bands that don't get played, you don't see them tour widely and many great bands are from overseas! Trading expands the audience!

FR: Definitely. We trade as well, and I was a big tape trader in the underground days from people over in Europe and Asia. And, I learned about almost all my favorite bands like Tiamat and Samael through tape trading. It's very important!

MU: Right on then! That's cool! You're right, no paranoid musician shit going on in Moonspell! (mutual laughter) Well, I don't want to take up more of your time than I already have. I know you're as busy as hell. I appreciate you're taking this time to call and chat with me, it's been absolutely amazing!

FR: No problem! My pleasure!

Moonspell - band


review of Moonspell 'The Antidote'

review of Moonspell 'Darkness And Hope'





Interview: Jacquelyn Grinder [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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