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Horia Diaconescu Interview with Fernando Ribeiro - the voice of Moonspell

18 Februarie 2005
de Horia Diaconescu


Cu ocazia concertului pe care Moonspell il va sustine in data de 11 martie la Timisoara, am comunicat cu liderul grupului, Fernando Ribeiro, o personalitate interesanta, cu un cuvant de spus in cadrul scenei de gotic metal. Responsabil de conceptia generala si de versuri, el este cel mai in masura a puncta anumite aspecte ale formatiei portugheze. Discutia a avut loc prin intermediul Internetului, iar rezultatul il publicam prin textul acestui interviu. Pastram forma sa engleza pentru a nu modifica anumite nuante de limbaj pe care Fernando Ribeiro le utilizeaza (ca autor a publicat doua volume de versuri si o traducere biografica din limba engleza pe tema H.P. Lovecraft). 

Discografie Fernando Ribeiro
MOONSPELL - Goat on fire (single, 1994) 
MOONSPELL - Under the moonspell (ep, 1994) 
MOONSPELL - Wolfheart (1995) 
MOONSPELL - Irreligious (1996) 
MOONSPELL - 2econd skin (1997)
ROTTING CHRIST - A dead poem (1997, ca invitat)
MOONSPELL - Sin/Pecado (1998) 
DAEMONARCH - Hermeticum (1998)
MOONSPELL - The butterfly effect (1999)
ANGEL - No fuckin' surrender (It is done) (2000, ca invitat)
ROOT - Black seal (2001, ca invitat)
MOONSPELL - Darkness and hope (2001) 
MOONSPELL - The antidote (2003)
THRAGEDIUM - Isolationist (2002, ca invitat)
THE TEMPLE - Diesel dog sound (2004, ca invitat)
THE CURE TRIBUTE - Our voices (2004, alaturi de Volstad)

Sit oficial Moonspell
- Muzici si Faze / Moonspell
- Muzici si Faze / Moonspell in concert la Timisoara

Fernando Ribeiro - Spreading the antidote

01. Greetings Fernando! You will soon start the European tour together with Cradle of Filth and a secondary circuit in South Eastern Europe as headliners. Moonspell gained a good reputation through intensive touring and concert experience on three continents. What does  "Spreading the antidote" live mean after 15 years in the metal scene?

        It means we are alive and well, that the spell has not faded out, and that we were able together with our fans to keep our head proudly high over the waters. I do not wish to speak against anything or anyone, it just feels good that we can still find a place on the scene for the music we do and believe in, and that on that space there are many, many people who still follow us, pay attention to us and help us to close the lunar circle by communicating into them our songs and words that they take further on wherever they are or will be.

Moonspell - The antidote02. "The antidote" came as a double-media concept, consisting of Moonspell's music and Jose Luis Peixoto's texts included with your CD. He is one of the appreciated authors of the young Portuguese generation. How did you get to mutually experiment and converge on such a personal issue as "death" to the point of making an album together?

        It is not a secret that Moonspell has always had a literary intention behind our music. That was why we followed up the tradition of bands like Maiden (Coleridge) or Celtic Frost (Baudelaire), and started incorporating texts and spirits of authors such as Suskind, Pessoa or Goethe in our own words and finally songs. Having encountered JLP helped us to legitimate this intention and to have something completely unique, a vision of both, totally and especially forged for the Antidote, tapping into its most deep feelings and perspectives. JLP is a great author in whose work one can found more than influences, convergences with Moonspell, in terms of subject and deliverance. Therefore it was natural to work with him, like if our work belonged to each other, and for me, at least, we had an experience that will mark our careers like no other in those terms. 

03. Are we all thirsty for the antidote!?

        I have no doubt about that. If you stop being thirsty is because you have departed from yourself and from life and you still did not found about it.

04. Your lyrics generally deal with the irrational. An album of yours, namely "Butterfly FX", was inspired by chaos theory and our attempts to fathom the "unpredictable". Moonspell is one of the few metal bands insisting on these issues with each new step. What inspires and drives you further?

        Do they? I think I just fade the rational in favour of the intimate, the human. Butterfly was just an example, about how we would face and survive as humans through the apocalypse, that one around us but also inside us. What drives me further is what I do not know and wish to take a look that. Writing is me looking, the words are my eyes and fingers.

05. Do you think a certain Moonspell album has been underrated? Is there anything you have to reproach yourself, to the public or perhaps to an external factor (such as label, promoters or media)? 

        Probably as probably sometimes we were over-rated, I do not know, that is truly a problem I wish not to spend my time with, as I strive to make music and words that can cheat time and space whereas the rating has always to do with the context, the hype, what is correct to praise or to destroy that day. I find Moonspell resistant to that vanity, I only believe in the heart for music, not on strategy, the cloak can not always cover you fully.

06. If you were to make a personal history of Moonspell through relevant song titles, how would this chain look like? 

        In and above Man our alma mater. That is our nature.

07. With your past two albums it seems you went back to the roots of straight heavy and dark metal. So I would naturally like to ask if you are considering trying more of the alternative side you had on "Sin/Pecado" and "Butterfly FX". Those two albums are a part of the Moonspell history that some of the metal audience did not get into!

        On BFX I agree. Our blue period was not easy to get into. It was not inaccessible of course or too intellectual, it was just unusual, strange though very attractive to us. As for SIN most misjudged the album because it succeeded to Irreligious, we were expecting it, even tough it is still one of the best selling ones ever for Moonspell, but wait Sin needs no defence like that. When we make albums there is a theme, a stream that we want to grip into the album, a narrative so to say. Butterfly dealt with apocalypse then the chaos, the industrial, the minimal. Darkness dealt with shadows, with ghosts, with storytelling thus the atmosphere, the radiance, the calm. Antidote is fear thus the power, thus the spirit, the growls, the heavy guitars, the tribal drums. And one can see a pattern here, once you get it you will never leave Moonspell.

Moonspell - the band08. One of the last projects of Moonspell consisted of writing the musical score for a contemporary dance piece based upon the Portuguese folklore traditions about the devil. How did you got to do it and to which degree you found this stimulating and rewarding? How evil is the Lusitanian devil?

        Only Pedro and I were involved on this project but it was rewarding in the way we could explore more into the atmospheric, visual parts of Moonspell sound, after all we were composing for the body and for a performance and so we had to make it with impact, with elegance even though it turned out to be a really dark and suffocating musical piece. The concept changed throughout its preparation with the contribution of the choreographer, the dancers, the scenario and lights. The human won over the devil the way it has to be. As for the Portuguese devil on the book that originated our first contact with the production it has more of a popular one, portrayed as a prankster, a looser. That is why I am a Faustian, That is why I fall more into Lucifer, into the radiance. He got a lot more respect.

09. You are the only Portuguese rock/metal band to have a constant international career and audience. Could you speculate on this issue, as far as the Portuguese scene goes. What does Moonspell have more to offer and why the efforts of other rock artists of your country have not been considered relevant by the record companies and by the international public (on a career span I mean)?

        That is a question you could ask them. As far as I can answer I think Moonspell has a more original and interesting musical basis. We were always more ambitious and never played safe into copying a foreign formula. We could have destroyed ourselves in the process but that did not happen. Also we had always kept room for improvement and learning and always knew our place and expecting nothing we were expecting much. I would lie if I said there is no talent in Portugal but the attitude of bands have had since long almost eclipsed it. I hope people stop looking at us and start looking more at themselves.

10. What are Moonspell's plans for 2005 and beyond. Could you go a bit into details regarding your first DVD release and the future album?

        For the future album is still too premature to say more than that the songs we did so far excited us very much, for they are grand, catchy, violently beautiful. We want to record it briefly after the tour and still release it this year if possible. As for the DVD its production is starting off as we speak and it will contain a live show captured on Katowice’s Poland Metal Mania for the Antidote tour, a wonderful show, also some live footage form With Full Force festival in Germany and bits and pieces of Moonspell live since 1993. It will also contain all our videoclips plus making of (when available) and we will be filming a small documentary in Lisbon and Brandoa (our hometown) like a Moonspell biography as told by themselves. I hope Century Media releases it shortly after the Summer.

Fernando live in Lisaboa11. a) Will you please answer me briefly on a short quiz related to your "profile"? Which are your personal favorite names when it comes on books, authors and films? How about your favorite band and rock personality?

        Book: Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantsakis; Movie: The elephant man by David Lynch; Band: Bathory; Personality: Quorthon (RIP)

b) Personal accomplishments not related to rock music (eg. books, family etc.)?

        Two poetry books released, no seeds planted so far.

c) Your top 5 of rock albums and top 5 of Moonspell songs!

        Bathory Blood Fire Death, Celtic Frost Morbid Tales, Type O Negative Bloody Kisses, Root Hell Symphony, Samael Blood Ritual. 
        And the Moonspell songs: Mephisto, In and Above Man, From lowering skies, Alma Mater, Fullmoon madness.

12. Since it is your first concert here, I would also like you to summarize what you perceive, culturally wise, about Romanian world (history, traditions, artists, mentality etc.)?

        I have a strong feeling that Romania, more than a country, is a true nation. I know little about your history, just the stuff a common citizen would know, the folklore of Dracula, Wallachia, Transylvania, the dictatorship, the strong Latin root we Portuguese share with you, the wars against Hungarians and my passionate philosopher Émile Cioran. I am looking forward to know more though, especially when it comes to literature and poetry.

13. Do you have any personal curiosity or expectations from your first direct contact with Romania (cultural, gastronomic, metalic etc.)?

        Since a child I am fascinated about the East. And every other country I have been so far in the East has never disappointed me and reinsured my fascination. Like I said I am curious about your literature, about your national authors and poets, I always am, from almost every country. Then about what is the “colour” and “vibration” of the country which I will see as soon as I get there. Also about the people, how are their heads standing or falling. Last but not least how we will be received after so many years of strong messages coming from Romania, how Vampiria will be received by the legit Transylvanians.

Fernando live in Lisboa14. "Alma Mater" is, perhaps, Moonspell's most appreciated song among the local rock audience. I think it can be considered lyrically as Moonspell's artistic anthem. Could you tell me the "history" of this song!

        I fully understand that. Alma Mater is a Latin expression that stands for literally Mother soul, metaphorically, the essence of oneself, the important part of a feeling, a passion, or even Mother Earth or Mother Nation. On the convergence of all these readings I decided to write a song that told people about us, Moonspell, about what is like coming from a forsaken yet so strong country as Portugal, how do we feel it, how does it feels us. All of the sudden it seemed alma mater is not exclusively from us or from Portugal, it is a force that all people feel and understand alone or united, no wonder that after ten years people still feel chills down their spine. It is not a Moonspell song anymore, it is a song of all of us.

15. So should we expect you to perform Alma Mater in Timisoara?

     Yes, it will be our pleasure!

16. "Desire or will"?

        Will. Desire is will.

Foto 1, 4, 5 - Moonspell Coliseu Lisboa, live 2001 (de Paulo Moreira)
Foto 2, 3 - The antidote promotional pictures (de Paulo Moreira)
Din arhiva personala Fernando Ribeiro

Interviu de Horia Diaconescu
februarie 2005

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