Moonspell are celebrating their 30 years anniversary and are visiting Greece for two special exclusive shows along with Green Carnation.
Fernando Ribeiro answers our questions few days before their performances, making a mini review of the band's three decades but also thoughts about their future.
RockOverdose: It seems history is being written again. 30 years of Moonspell! Did you expect to come this far when you formed the band? Which would be some of the most standout moments of this three decade span?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): No, not at all. It feels surreal every day to realize we started out journey 30 years ago. I am very bad at quoting standout moments because, in a way, a band is built by good and bad moments and Moonspell is characterized by its ability to struggle, rather than being a completely established band, living off its legacy and popularity. Having said that, I believe our first sold out gig in the capitol of Portugal, Lisbon, at a covenant, in a time nobody believed we could go anywhere with the band, this was in 1996 for the Irreligious release party, it was an eye opener and so have many other moments in this band’s history.
RockOverdose: Moonspell always kept on evolving through the years. Was it the need to discover more aspects of your art? Was it something that came out naturally? Or did you feel the need just to not do the same thing twice?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): I speak for myself of course but I always feel there’s something missing when we release an album or perform a show and I, naturally, try to mend it on the next opportunity. It’s always been like this to me, since Under the Moonspell, and it became a strange part of our musical dynamic somehow. It has also passed over to my bandmates. We feel a need to progress and try out a few different things as a honest way of representing the album concept and the influences that took us there. We feel it’s authentic and unavoidable, some fans love it, others hate it, but we can’t help ourselves and we do not calculate the risk when we are songwriting.
RockOverdose: You’ve done quite a lot with your music, change of styles, a double album, an album only in Portuguese, what would be a new challenge for the band, something not done yet, for which you would have the need to dare trying?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): I want to explore dark folk with Moonspell, to add darkness into a somewhat joyful, southern music and I want to discover those Gallic roots of our country but in a different way than bands like Wardruna or Heilung who are totally Nordic. I want to do our version here in the South and I believe it can become a truly special, one of a kind album
RockOverdose: You are very well received in your country, which has honoured you in numerous occasions. This is something that can never happen in Greece for example with our own most important band and brothers as you call them, Rotting Christ, because they are a metal band. We would like to know how the Portuguese nation acts in such cases, do they leave room for a band to be recognized no matter the genre?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): Well…not really. We do well in Portugal, that’s for sure, but its thanks to the fans and not to the press, television, radio, or institutions. Actually, we are largely ignored by them, and the intelligentsia never quote us an example of culture, perseverance or even a successful case of artistic export. They celebrate Fado, Afro sounds, singer songwriters and there’s no room for Metal or even Rock in their radar or club. I live perfectly fine without that kind of “official” recognition and the Portuguese State would give us a gold medal, I’d have it melted to feed the poor.
RockOverdose: In these 30 years of your existence, were there any times that seemed tougher than you could handle? Did you ever feel tired of possible obstacles? Or did you have the strength and experience to overcome them quickly? How would you weigh the positive and negative sides of your career?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): Every day. Moonspell might be my personal achievement, passion, and profession yet it’s also my main source of worrying. We do not have it, besides Type O Negative in 1996, no big band has ever invited us to support them, we never had a big break and to get the favor of our own public is hard, left alone enter the status of bands like Arch Enemy or Behemoth or Amon Amarth which were way more unknown than us when we all started and look at them now, and look at us, trying to pack 400 capacity venues with our daily grinding at promo, socials, music.
I neither have the strength or the experience to deal with denial and being overlooked but I do know that’s a part of the deal: people not liking our albums, or not coming to your shows. Nothing is for granted and I have no other exceptions than entertaining the ones who do show up and do follow us and buy our shit. So, I am at total peace with the up and downs of Moonspell.
RockOverdose: Your latest album “Hermitage” is already more than a year and a half old. How do you see it as an album nowadays? Are you fully satisfied with the way it came out? What would you say if the question was “What does it have to add in the whole Moonspell discography”?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): I don’t think a lot about it to be honest. I love some parts of it like the songs The Greater Good or Without Rule or The Hermit Saints, yet I do not spend my time looking back but looking as much in front as I possibly can. What I do know is that Hermitage is a very valid album that we loved to write, record and performer but that, personally, I want to do a less contemplative and more in your face album next time we join forces to write one.
RockOverdose: What does Hermitage add? A progressive flair, a musical vibe, lyrics that make you wonder about a peaceful, contemplative life in the desert instead of flying around on the bee hive, some excellent guitar solos and a new and much welcomed solid and complex drumming style.
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): We know you are still a very strong follower of the whole metal evolution. Which are some new bands that you believe can make a difference in the future? I would also like a special comment for your fellow Portuguese Gaerea, who now seem to be one of the best bands around and we wait to see them next year for the first time.
Gaerea are now the captains of the Portuguese ship and I love this band to the core. I have all their albums, saw them live many times and it’s a dark jewel as they beautifully combine death and black metal with post rock, and I love the mix. Of course I see the future of Portugal’s metal in many bands and right now bands are making not only better music but also better choices which is a step up from the usual “let’s see what happens” and “play for friends” that has been choking our scene since the nineties.
So to speak I believe that some Alma Mater Records (my label) might crack the door open and establish themselves like Gaerea did. I have to quote Okkultist. Death Metal at its best with Beatriz on vocals, we’re gonna release their new album soon and it sound monstrous! I also look forward for the next Ironsword LP (I know they are very loved in Greece) and I love them too but also Thragedium, which has the potential of appealing to fans of such bands as Solstafir, my Doom stoner buddies of Dawbrider and of course other bands non related to my label like Glasya (Symphonic Metal), Moonshade, Analepsy, Equaleft, Blame Zeus.
RockOverdose: Alma Mater Records is one more of your achievements. Apart from the Portuguse bands you helped so far, we saw you signed The Troops Of Doom from Brazil. Is your focus mainly on Portuguese native language on the bands you sign, or anybody could look for a chance to become part of your company?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): So far, we are exclusively focusing in Portuguese and Brazilian bands. Alma Mater uses my experience and contacts to open some doors that remain closed to bands from these countries. I am very shocked that any Swedish band gets a lot of attention, it doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad, and bands from Portugal and Brazil are constantly off the radar of big magazines and agents. So we are trying to change that.
RockOverdose: It took 10 years after your formation to visit Greece for the first time in “Darkness And Hope” tour. Since then this relationship turned quite strong, what do you believe made this connection so special? Is there a chance that both nations –Greece and Portugal- are circled by the Mediterranean and we understand each other better?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): I am not so sure anymore and I do hope these couple of shows bring back that special connection that covid and our cancellations broke the spell. As a Philosophy student I can’t help myself of being amazed by Greek culture and mythology and as a Kazantzakis reader I romanticize Greece a lot. I have many friends there, Sakis Tolis on top, and I was always wonderfully welcomed in Greece, and I must say very loved too.
If we understand each other better than I understand a German or an English? Fuck yes. We have been ripped off, humiliated, and badmouthed by them every fucking day for being “chaotic” “poor” and “broke” and that kind of shit unites people. We also like to enjoy life first and die later, so yes, misery loves company and here we are.
RockOverdose: As a result of your new visit here with the wonderful Green Carnation, we will have both an acoustic and electric set of yours. Is this something you planned especially for this anniversary of 30 years, or was it something you had in mind before and now was the perfect time to do it?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): It’s special for Greece as were not playing it elsewhere. The first “attraction” on stage will be a Moonspell “trio” of me, Ricardo and Pedro and we will play some acoustic cuts and tell stories about them and our band. It will be very unpretentious and close to the audience which can pose questions to us too! Then, the wonderful Green Carnation, hits the stage and we sum it up with a best of show, hopefully with many songs we haven’t played in Greece on the last visits.
RockOverdose: An odd question since you are an avid football lover. Despite loving Greece and its people, how difficult was it to visit us every time after we beat you twice in Euro 2004 and until you won the Euro yourselves? Does it feel a little better and loose now that we’re both former European champions?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): Not anymore. I stopped watching and following. Football became only about money and fame and the sports are meaningless. People fist fight because they are rivals and there’s violence inside and outside the fields and the Dubai World Cup will be tainted with shame and death.
About Greece breaking our hearts in 2004… I am glad it was Greece and not Germany , France or Italy or Spain. After the game I called Sakis immediately to tell him my heart was broken but to congratulate him too! The part I could hear taking place in Athens was just a big roar on his phone and never ever I felt it was hard to visit Greece. The fact that Greece was Euro champion in Portugal connected the countries and Greece, just like Portugal a few years after, was happy for a week before getting back to problems and crisis.
RockOverdose: We would like to thank you for your time in answering these questions and for 30 years of dedication and for being always yourselves. What would you like the people to know for the band and its future and what should the Greeks expect from this special gigs?
Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell): Moonspell has again to reinvent itself. Times are hard for bands like us, and we would obviously like to have a lot of fans at the shows but like I said, times are hard. Those who will come will get the best we can do: to entertain you under a spell in a way only Moonspell can with our songs, theatrics and passion to play. So, see you there hopefully and let’s make it count!
Interview Questions: Aggelos Katsouras