Moonspell - 21/05/2008

Portuguese dark metalband MOONSPELL was formed in 1989 as Morbid God. After renaming themselves Moonspell in 1992, they released their first EP ‘Under The Moonspell’ in 1994, one year before the release of their first album ‘Wolfheart’. The band quickly gained status and became one of the most recognizable metal bands from Portugal. After the release of mini-album ‘Under The Moonspell’, Moonspell signed with Century Media for six CDs.

In July 2007 Moonspell entered the Danish Antfarm Studios with Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquillity, Gorefest) as co-producer to record a very special project. This release consists of re-recordings of the band's legendary album ‘Under the Moonspell’ (1994) as well as going back as far as their first demo ‘Anno SatanÆ’ and their sole track as Morbid God, "Serpent Angel". All the songs have been re-arranged and revamped. The full-length record (eight songs and around five instrumental compositions) was released early October 2007 via SPV worldwide.

The new Moonspell opus ‘Night Eternal’ was released in Europe last week (May 19) and will be issued in the U.S. on June 10 via SPV/Steamhammer. The follow-up to 2006's "Memorial" was recorded at Antfarm studios in Denmark with producer Tue Madsen. ‘Night Eternal’ will continue the sound of ‘Memorial’ with catchy melodies and great riffs. Former The Gathering and current Agua De Annique vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen makes a guest appearance in the song "Scorpion Flower", on which she sings a duet with Moonspell frontman Fernando Ribeiro. All other female choirs were performed by the Crystal Mountain Singers: Carmen Simões (Ava Inferi), Sophia Vieira (Cinemuerte) and Patrícia Andrade (ex-Volstad, now In The Vanity Chair).

So there's plenty to talk about, and recently Martina conducted an interview with Moonspell drummer Miguel "Mike" Gaspar, so here you can read what he had to say.

Last year you re-released your debut album and you gave it a darker sound. Did this album influence the writing process of 'Night Eternal'?


I think the big step that Moonspell did with 'Night Eternal' was to have the experience to record with Tue Madsen in the Antfarm Studio. This was an opportunity as we were re-recording old songs and even though we didn't want to put too much dedication into it, we ended up doing so anyway. We spent a lot of time rehearsing those songs and discovering how we liked them best. I think Tue was very good in that process, he was very open minded and he discovered something in us that maybe we had lost a bit or forgotten. Like the big excitement for music and for playing even though we always have great concepts with great songs and atmospheres, sometimes in musicianship I think it's awfully nice to explore that and I think with 'Night Eternal' you can definitely see a big step in that process.


How did you launch into writing the material for 'Night Eternal' after the previous album? Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down?


When the time came to work on 'Night Eternal' we'd been so busy and we only had three months to go back into the studio. We didn't have the songs completed yet so the big process of composition took place during the time when we were on tour. Ricardo and Pedro were always composing on their computers, trying out different kinds of riffs and different kinds of orchestrated parts with the keyboards and later with the female singers. This all came together later, like I said we didn't have much time to prepare for the album so I think it was very exciting and a big surprise for all of us. Everybody did most of their hard work practising what they had to do in the studio and also Waldemar participated a big part in the arrangements and in giving the songs a beginning and an end and also giving us the confidence that we weren't doing something absurd. And then a couple of weeks before we went to Denmark, Waldemar came to Portugal for like ten days. We also did that with 'Memorial' and with 'The Antidote' where he just came to our rehearsal place and we just tried out some stuff that sometimes we didn't even see as songs. He captures that and it starts from there. Sometimes we keep his ideas, sometimes we don't and it's kind of nice and comfortable to have that tradition. There was so much variety to choose from, I think that on the album you can feel that variety, you can definitely feel that we are a little more open minded and not obsessive about doing too many solo's or whatever. I think everybody has their space. Not being able to rehearse the songs together like we usually do was something more special and definitely more spontaneous.


Was it hard to come up with a follow-up for the 'Memorial' album? Because it was received well.


Moonspell has had a very complex career with the way we started and the way it proceeded. A lot has changed and we've always tried the best to keep our name out there. We do our best in our shows and on our albums and in looking out for the best people to do our videos and to shoot our photos. You know, just everything that is connected to Moonspell. So to actually write songs is the easiest these days. We don't have as much time as we'd like because to maintain Moonspell as a band that is always on the best tours and the better festivals it takes a lot of effort and work. We've definitely put the most work we ever have into 'Night Eteral'. 'Memorial' was an album that we were doing when there wasn't much attention around us as we had just left Century Media and we were doing our first album with SPV. Everybody was very surprised by the quality of the new album, we have received so much attention for this new album and it hasn't even been released yet! That's kind of weird. It's kind of like a dream.. We don't really understand what's going on but we just continue doing what we have always done and we are working harder. I've even been thinking about new ideas for another album, like drumparts, and the latest album hasn't even been released! So sometimes I think this is the way it should be stimulated, you know, always more and more kind of like when you were a kid. To be able to always be running around and meeting different people connected to differend stuff I think is very stimulating.



What were the goals that you had in mind when you started recording 'Night Eternal'? Did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do? Any elements you definitely wanted on the album?


Yeah, for sure! We definitely wanted an album that represented the career of Moonspell in terms of the best quality parts and sounds and atmospheres that we have created over the years, we really wanted to recover that. Especially Fernando tried to sing more and to not only scream, on 'Memorial' it was 70 percent screams. I myself always go for the more extreme songs but then when I play the softer ones these are always the songs I fall in love with! And that's the way Moonspell has always been. Each member always wants to go in a little bit more different direction but somehow we always find ourselves, 'Night Eternal' was based on that. To have songs like "Scorpion Flower" and "Dreamless", you know, there's a lot of darkness but also a lot of hope and love, especially within the lyrics. And at the same time we still have many songs that are very black and extreme and raw with this deep fury and this Oriental kind of somewhat Arabic flow that is more maternal and primitive, something more close to earth. We try to explore these elements more and more and sometimes you hit it right. I think every song on this album stands on its own which is a good thing. Every song has something special and I think that is something you don't hear that much anymore these days. It seems like the younger generation just wants to do more and more to complicate songs and I think technology has helped to do that. We're becoming an older band and we're starting to feel more exotic and rare these days. We still really think about how we play things, we don't just programme everything. The way I learned to listen to and love music is all about the feeling that has been put into it. If you don't have that, you won't be around for 10 or 20 years. The albums that I love are from the 70s and the 80s and sometimes the early 90s like Tiamat and Samael and all these great bands. Something has definitely been lost since these times. Moonspell is still trying really hard to maintain all that and I think that is the reason why we are still around. We always try to play every show like it was our first one even though we have a lot of live experience. Some bands sound great live but in the studio they sound weird. What you see a lot nowadays is that bands sound amazing on their albums, but live they sound only 50 percent as good. Moonspell has always delivered. Often we are told that we sound better live than we do on our albums because it is an experience to witness a show, it is unique and there will never be another show exactly like it.


What comes first in songwriting, lyrics or melodies?


These days Moonspell is so busy that it all happens at the same time, really. I remember how Fernando sent lyrics through the email (we correspond a lot through computers, of course) and he had maybe 19 lyrics for this album and it was at a point where we didn't know which song had to go with what lyric. It's always like a waiting game where sometimes there's a lyric and he's waiting till a song appears with which he will be able to place that lyric and that's where Pedro, Ricardo and I come in. We're always trying out different things to see what sounds right and what comes across in a Moonspell environment. And sometimes there's special lyrics like in "Dreamless" where Fernando wanted something really slow-paced an melancholic and we'll really try to do it that way. We have so much material lying around that sometimes we'll sit back in our rehearsal room and just listen to what we have recorded. Sometimes we'll just take elements from different songs and we start constructing what we think his vision might be or what he might need. And then sometimes there will be songs where Fernando will go into the studio and he doesn't even like them that much but they end up becoming his favorite songs. It's the same with all of us. Each of us is more passionate about this song or that song, it's how it's always been and how it's always gonna be. But we always end up liking everything and seeing each others' points of view. That's what makes us a band and not a project. We've been doing this for many years and somehow it has always worked. It also has something to do with the kind of music that we listen to. I was never much into pop stars and even today I always like to see some kind of formation, some kind of goal or career and something people have actually fought for and not just rich people that recorded music because they thought it was funny. That's definitely not where Moonspell is coming from. It's all about dedication. I've been in the band since I was 16 so that's how I was educated in this world. We all grew up in the band. Fernando was only 18 and Pedro and Ricardo were only a year or two older.



- And you guys are still together today! -


Yeah, we come from pretty good roots, we're Portuguese and we're one of the few metal bands out there from a Latin country and I think we have a very different message. We are very proud to be able to be in that position. And even though there were times when our career was a bit strange especially coming from portugal we feel we're very different from everything that is going on in the metal world. But at the same time that is what makes us unique and different. Things are getting better all the time and now we have a new album out again so as long as it's good I think we should always continue. And even when things are bad, that is sometimes when you make your best work, it's what you learn the most from. I think you need to encounter everything day by day and never just throw your ideas away and become desperate because something didn't go the way you imagined. Sometimes we just let things go the way they should be naturally and when good things happen it's always a nice surprise but we know from experience that that is not going to be the solution to our problems. That comes through all the things around you, not just music but your friends, your family, your personal goals. Something bigger than yourself and that gives you a kind of balance. Sometimes we have the feeling that we bleed for the band but having all those elements around us like family to support you and friends that really believe in what you're doing, you just somehow continue. And that's how you get used to it. I wouldn't know what else to do.


-You guys are really passionate about the band and your music..-


I'm passionate about many things. Of course if the band wasn't my future there would be other things that I would be passionate about, playing drums, art in general, i'm also a taekwondo instructor but that is more for the connection that I have with different generations. I teach from children to old people and that gives you an idea of the future, the present and the past somehow. Being in a band is like being a circus clown, you're always juggling. That's the way my life is right now and that's the way I like it. We spend weeks working without breathing and we also spend weeks without knowing what to do. But it's cool, you just have to experience it all. You don't want to wake up at 60 wondering what you've been doing with your life. It's cool to be in a position where I'm able to warn people about that. Especially Fernando has always sent a very direct message through his lyrics. It's funny because on all the Moonspell albums there has always been a balance between the evil and the good and love and hate. 'Night Eternal' has a lot of that. It has to do with the world we live in, the symbol of women and what it represents to us, how they've been treated throughout all these years, how they've been looked down on. About being aware. Of course it's always good to be a little bad, but how much of that do you want to concentrate your life on?


I’m sorry but we ran out of time, so we have to finish this interview with one last question. Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement or anything you'd like to add...

Well, thank you for the interview and see you all on tour!!




Current members :

Fernando Ribeiro (Langsuyar) - vocals

Miguel Gaspar (Mike/Nisroth) - drums

Ricardo Amorim (Morning Blade) - guitar

Pedro Paixão (Passionis/Neophytus) - keyboard/guitar

Aires Pereira (Ahriman) - bass


Previous members :

Baalberith - drums (1992)

Luís Lamelas (Malah/Fenrir) - guitar (1992-1993)

J.M. (Tanngrisnir) - guitar (1993-1994)

Mantus/Duarte - guitar (1990-1995)

João Pedro (Ares/Tetragrammaton) - bass (1989-1997)

Sérgio Crestana - bass (1997-2003)

Niclas Etelävuori (Amorphis) - bass (2003, 2008) (session musician only)


Studio Albums :

Wolfheart (1995)

Irreligious (1996)

Sin/Pecado (1998)

The Butterfly Effect (1999)

Darkness and Hope (2001)

The Antidote (2003)

Memorial (2006)

Under Satanæ (2007)

Night Eternal (2008)