Following MOONSPELL's performance at New York City's Gramercy Theatre on September 7, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro spoke with Heavy New York. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the group's latest album, 2017's "1755":
Fernando: "'1755' was just something that came out of the blue. Actually, we were entertaining the thought of making it a bonus for [recently released live DVD] 'Lisboa Under The Spell', but then, it would be over the top. Sometimes, just searching, like, you're a musician, you start wondering where is the inspiration coming from, and sometimes, it's just in front of you — a piece of Portuguese history and we decided to take it [and] delay all the [other] plans, including the DVD, because there's time for everything."
On whether the album's concept was in mind before the group starting writing music for it:
Fernando: "It kind of helps when you have the concept. I've always been a lot into conceptual albums — 'Abigail' [by] KING DIAMOND, 'Operation: Mindcrime' [by QUEENSRŸCHE]... I always liked when bands actually took the time to work on something really solid and really interesting, because you get to write a lot about it and you get to investigate a lot about it. We kind of like to think about it like making a movie. I always think that a good concept and good lyrics can work as a script. When you read something, you always find images that can translate into music. I think that was the case with '1755'."
On the group's success in their home country of Portugal:
Fernando: "This new DVD is going really well over there. It's already two weeks at No. 1 in the Portuguese charts. In Portugal, nowadays, it seems like MOONSPELL is becoming a household name — not only for metal, but also for rock. It's cool, because we never expected anything like this to happen."
On the Portuguese metal scene:
Fernando: "There was always a scene in Portugal since the late '70s, but I don't think bands were ambitious. They were content being the Portuguese version of IRON MAIDEN, SEPULTURA, PARADISE LOST, MACHINE HEAD. I always thought, 'Why should people listen to a replica or a clone from Portugal when they can have the original band?' One thing we always tried with MOONSPELL was not to sound [like] a Portuguese version of these bands. Of course, we have our influences, but we try to play them in a way that we could sound original and interesting."
On "Lisboa Under The Spell", which captured live performance of three MOONSPELL albums (1995's "Wolfheart", 1996's "Irreligious" and 2015's "Extinct") in their entireties:
Fernando: "There's no love like the first. Whenever I go to IRON MAIDEN, with all due respect, or METALLICA or [JUDAS] PRIEST, when they play the old stuff, I grew up with that. Sometimes, it's not really about the band — it's about you, as a fan. A show has to be something for the crowd. It was a really big show [for us]. I think 'Wolfheart' and 'Irreligious' laid our foundations as a band, and also our fan base, so it's quite right that it definitely has a special welcoming, a special reception. But on the other hand, we don't like to live just in the past. We definitely wanted to document this on the record. In the '90s, when these albums were out, we could never play them in their entirety because we supporting — we had half an hour, so we couldn't do it. We did it [now]; we had a great feeling about it; but we also added 'Extinct' so people don't lose the musical thread. When you listen to the triple-album, even though the other stuff is from the '90s and 'Extinct' is from 2015, you can still recognize it's the same band."
On the music scene at the time in which the group was founded:
Fernando: "Coming up as a '90s band, what happened in metal was something a little bit different. Nowadays, there's even more styles, but at that time, people were really interested in fusing stuff. That's why we got albums like ours, but also albums like 'Wildhoney' by TIAMAT, which mixed PINK FLOYD with death metal. It was amazing. They were really amazing times. Experimentation was always something we knew we will do, but without breaking our sound features and characteristics. Sometimes people ask me, 'What's your goal as a musician?' My goal was always that someone puts [on] a CD or streams and recognizes it as MOONSPELL. It sounds very simple, but it's the hardest [thing] to have a signature sound."
On performing live:
Fernando: "We learned from a very tender age that playing live is what separates boys from men. When we did 'Wolfheart' back in '95, it was a very successful album, but it was not like, 'Hey, a MOONSPELL album is out — let's run to the shops.' We had to make a couple of tours in a van, like, eight weeks going everywhere in Europe. We're always excited to play live, because you can get more of the complete picture. It's great to listen to music because you can make your own picture, but... we always wanted to be, like, a visual kind of band, and when you're on stage, I think it's the perfect opportunity to make these words come true."
"Lisboa Under The Spell" was released on August 17 via Napalm Records. The live DVD/Blu-ray/3CD package captures MOONSPELL's performance before 4,000 fans at the sold-out Campo Pequeno arena in their hometown of Lisbon, Portugal on February 4, 2017.
MOONSPELL's most recent studio album, "1755", was released last November.
The group is currently touring North America with AMORPHIS, DARK TRANQUILLITY and OMNIUM GATHERUM.