Just fucking love, beer and vampires!

 {mosimage}

These wise words are thrown at the Finnish
audience by Fernando Ribeiro, the front man of the gothic metal band Moonspell,
during last Tuska festival in Helsinki.
The Portuguese singer is, apart from an excellent showman who knows how to
encourage the public, an interesting character who splits the time between his
band and his passion for literature and philosophy. FREE! Magazine had a
long and exciting talk with him at the festival backstage just after the show,
with some cold beers cooling down the hot summer evening.

How was the gig today?

Well, we started at 2 p.m. and there was a lot of daylight! They
have this midsummer sun here, but I think that it was a great show. Definitely
different, less “atmospheric” and more “rock and roll”, but worthy every minute
of it.

Some people say that Finnish audience is a
bit cold. Did you have that impression?

No, they are just different. I mean, I
always think that speaking about an audience is something always very
difficult, and people jump too fast into conclusions, especially people from
Portugal, Spain or Latin America, they always think that the others are cold,
because they are very reactive, they have this “caliente” Latino feeling, but I
think that people in Finland are quite “into the music”. You see it here, where
metal scene is huge. Metal music scene is respected by everyone, from the Prime
Minister to the metal fan, and that does not happen in Spain, or Portugal or Latin America, so I think that it is just different ways
of appreciating. For Moonspell, when we get into the stage, we know how is
going on, and I think that in their own way, Finnish people were enjoying very
much, believe me, they were not cold at all.

Do you know that this year there is this
huge “heavy metal trend”, even in Idols TV show, the winner is heavy metal
singer.

Oh, is he?

Yes, his name is Ari Koivunen.

No way!!!

You have had a tight relation with Finland all
over the past years. During the recording of your album The Antidote you
were working with the producer Hiili Hiilesmaa and also with the bass player
Niclas Etelävuori from Amorphis. So how did it happen that you had these links?

I think that all started on the road. We
love playing in Finland.
First time we played here I think that it was in 95. Our album, Irreligious,
always charted very high here. So basically we had already a very good
impression about the Finnish crowd and the Finnish scene. Then we did a Tour
with Amorphis in the States, and even when they were from up north and
we were from down South, we got along very well. A big connection and we became
friends after that. This was a butterfly effect. When we thought about
recording Darkness and Hope (the first album we recorded in Finnbox in
2001) we said, why not to try Finland?
So we spent 5 weeks recording here, and we loved it, because it is much laid
back, very relaxed. albums, especially

Did you record on winter?

Yeah, we always record lots of stuff on
wintertime. But for us it was a break from the routine.And then when we came
back from The Antidote tour with Hiili it was even a better experience.
We were always switching a bit the producers, not to get them “used to our
work”, so it can be a novelty from album to album, but we loved our time in Finland. I mean,
recently we did a 5 days tour here; we played Helsinki of course, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Nivala and Tampere. And it was very successful. There is
a great empathy between us and Finland
and I think that playing here in Tuska was like the cherry on top of the ice
cream

Do you have preferences for other Finnish
bands, apart from Amorphis?

I like a lot of Finnish bands. I like the
early stuff from HIM, especially up the Razorblade’s Romance, I like The 69
Eyes
, I like Before the Dawn, Swallow the Sun…they are countless. There are so
many bands from black metal, heavy metal…

It is kind of amazing how relatively small
the country is, and how many great bands come out!

Yeah, it is amazing, and a thing I know
about the Finnish, very different from some of Swedish bands for example, it is
that they can be the biggest band in the world, and they are still very nice
people, very down to earth, and they like what they do, they like the music and
hang around, and they have this metal feeling inside, which is basically a great
thing to be around them. There are so many bands… Apocalyptica is a great band
as well, Ita-Saksa… lots of them…

Were you thinking when you started in music
business that you would reach so far? Do you consider yourself a privileged
being able to tour around the world?

Yes, of course. Sometimes you do not even
have time to think, because this life is very fast. We only started to think
about our career in 1998, when we were doing Sin/Pecado,  I was not expecting it but at the same time I
worked hard to get it, so I am happy that I have it, and I am happy to have the
consciousness that there is nothing for granted, and you have to work everyday.
I now come here to Tuska festival in Helsinki,
and we have an excellent position in the band list, we have a 75 minutes set,
in the big stage, but I don´t come here thinking “we are Moonspell”. I come
here to seduce the audience, so they will have a good experience and they can
have what they paid for, rewarding them in many ways. When bands take things
for granted, believe me, they start to do shitty music and shitty things.

It is quite notorious this collaboration you
did with the Portuguese writer Jose Luis Peixoto. How was it?

It was great! We always had this literature
influence in Moonspell. We have learnt from the best, from Iron Maiden, from
Celtic Frost… they always quoted authors in their lyrics. So we didn’t do
anything groundbreaking. We just introduced this influence to Moonspell as
well. My other activity is doing books; I have already published my third book
of poetry and is doing great in Portugal.
At any time I am invited to write short tales, but I do not have much time to
do it… In any case, I always try to find the time to read…

Tell us more about how started this project
for The Antidote with Peixoto.

Peixoto is a big metal fan, and he always
wanted to do something like this. And we are big literature’s fans, and
particularly Peixoto's fans, so I think it was something, like a marriage not “in
heaven” but “in hell”, or something like that… He invited us to make some music
for a crazy presentation of his book. People from book industry are quite
conservative so they were not much into the idea, so we switched around, and
the idea was that we did the music. We did all the energy for the music and he
took pieces of the lyrics, the images…and he wrote a novel composed by short
tales, and each chapter was based on a song. It was a big success in Portugal,
people were very interested in it, and I think that turned out to be very
original. I mean, it is not that we are planning to do this in every album, but
I loved it, and I am very good friend of Peixoto, and it was something really
groundbreaking.

Have you read the Kalevala?

Yes of course. Well, it is not the kind of
book that I would read from page 1 until page…2000 or whatever… but I reckon
that it is a special book. I bought a paperback copy, I have read a bit. I
think Tolkien ripped off a lot!

{sidebar id=8}Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel prize of
literature, was here visiting Helsinki
a couple of months ago. What is your opinion about him?

I love Saramago. I am very proud that he is
Portuguese and I am very sad that he had to move out to Spain, to
Lanzarote, because his country could not accept him as he is. I haven’t read
all the books but I think that he is an amazing writer and he is worth every
word that is written about him and the Nobel Prize. We had a show where there
were Saramago, Peixoto and Moonspell playing. We met him, he is very old, he is
like 82 but very lucid, and he told us that he liked what we do. He was very
nice and his label gave us a lot of books. We were very nervous, playing a
metal song for a Nobel Prize, but in the end came out very well. 

And you are also kept busy translating books.

Yeah, I am translating one now: I am a
Legend
; it is going to be a movie now with Will Smith. The book is going to
be translated into Portuguese and released by the time of the movie. It is a
great story. Richard Matheson Is a very good author, very well known in the
States, he did a story called Duel that was the script for the first
Spielberg movie, and I am going to translate it into Portuguese. Honestly I do
not have time for that, but I am so hooked into books and literature and
translations, doing something else than the band that I also find time to do
it.

Have you read or seen any horror story you
specially liked lately?

I have been reading a lot of fiction, but
not really horror fiction. I read the book Behold the manEcce Homo; it
is a good book. I am reading now fiction about philosophers, about Schopenhauer
and Nietzsche…but it has been a while since I have read pure horror literature.
I am definitely going to read again I am a Legend. I already read it 2 at
least, but it is a fucking great book!

Do you give a lot of importance to the
concept of death?

Of course. In Portugal there is no bigger
obsession than death. There is always a conception about the end. Not that I
see myself as a morbid person but it is something that fascinates me in all the
aspects.

I heard you are going to work in your new
album in Denmark.

Yeah, we are already settled in Denmark. The
album is recorded and we are going to start mixing next Wednesday.

How was the experience?

It was amazing, considering that it is just
a re-recording, but it is a project that we assumed very seriously. We wanted
to give a chance to play good songs that were badly played and very badly
produced in the past. So it will be a bit of a surprise for many people. It is
not our new album but it is not that we are just doing for people to buy it. It
proves that we already did good songs when we were very young. It is all the
stuff pre Wolf heart and it is going to be called Under Satannae.

When is going to be released?

Probably in Spring or Autumn of next year,
2008 .I am very happy with the work of the producer Tue Madsen. And I was very
happy to work in Denmark.
It was very relaxing; I was like on vacation in a way. We did it in Aarhus, very quiet place.

Talking a bit about the near future, you
will play in Wacken festival, that is one of the most important metal festivals
in Europe. Excited about that show?

Well, for us it is just another festival.
Being honest, we could have played in a better position. A lot of people go
there to see Moonspell. I think that Wacken could have shown a little bit more
of respect for Moonspell, because we showed a lot of respect for Wacken, but
well…maybe the festival is becoming too big…

So you are not so happy about it?

I am happy about playing in Wacken but I am
not happy about the position. Moonspell deserves much better but on another
way, that is not what is stopping us for making a show. But for me Wacken is as
important as Tuska, or as important as other festival where we could play for
2000 people, as important as Istanbul,
where we are playing in August. I hate when people are making a ranking of
festivals, for me it does not matter, I respect all the festivals and all the
audiences! 

{mosimage}
Wolfheart (1995): Our first album. We were
kind of “marking territory”. I think that it was an album that nobody thought
it would work, but it became a classic in the underground. I am very proud of
that album because I think that it is very original in the scene.

Irreligious (1996): It is probably
altogether our best album, because it has really great songs, and normally it
is all about the songs. And still today when we play Opium or Mephisto. Those songs were ahead of their time. I don´t want to sound big headed, but for
me it is one example of how gothic metal should definitely be.

{mosimage}Sin/Pecado (1998): It was a rupture album.
It was a very good album with different stuff, and hits like Second Skin,
but a lot of people were not interested in listening to it, because they were
totally hooked to Irreligious and they did not give a chance to the
album, so I think that it is one of our most sensitive albums, and I still love
it. Probably a lot of people did not understand the album. For us it was an
album that we had to do.

The Butterfly Effect (1999):  It was going completely nuts in London. It has to do with
the fact that came out in the period of 1999-2000 and I was very interested in
what was going on, about this tension. Now we settled down, well…not exactly,
but not so crazy as in 1999. It seems we are fans of that album more than
composers.

Darkness of Hope (2001): It is probably our
most heartbreaking and sad album… it is not called Darkness of Hope for any
reason. It comes from the heart and it is very dark, but I think that it is a
great album. Not to listen when you are depressed because it can get you very
down, I think.

{mosimage}The Antidote (2003): It is one of the best
Moonspell albums. It is very tribal and one of the most original albums. It has
this song that I love called everything invaded, you saw the response
today: killer! It is an album we did very well.


Memorial
(2006): It is a bloody album; I
would say “In your face” album, with very good metal songs. It was “our baby”
in the past months and I think that people really enjoy it.