One of the greatest Gothic metal bands of all time, MOONSPELL, are back with a brand new record called “Extinct”. Metalpaths’ journalist Vassilina Louka caught up with Fernando Ribeiro (vocals), for a lengthy and very interesting interview regarding the new record and much more.

(Due to some technical problems with Fernando’s microphone, the quality of sound is too poor, however – in case you still want to – you can watch the video version of the interview below.)

Transcribed by John Savvidis.

We are all waiting your new album called “Extinct”. Do you want to tell us more about it?

Yeah, it’s coming out in March. It’s, obviously, an album that makes another step in our career as musicians, songwriters and as a band. It was an album that had a little different origin than the others, that album came from the need and an opportunity to express ourselves that way. For Moonspell, I think no one was really expecting a new album from us, since “Alpha Noir/Omega White” are 3 years old, and we did a lot of touring in between. The fans were probably expecting it, but for Moonspell things don’t work that way. We are a band with a solid root for our creativity, so when we feel its time for a new album, things go really fast. “Extinct” is obviously a Moonspell album, but if you contact with it, you can recognize that there is fresh ideas, a new concept. This time around musically, its a very diverse album. We focuced more on the melodic and more gothic parts. It’s a darker record, but if you look deep in it, it’s art so it’s a little more open, it’s not like it’s claustrophobic and full of layers. It’s about songs that have oxygen, you know “Extinct” is about getting extinct, the animals we love to be done with, like “we’re here one day but what will happen?”. But we are really satisfied with this, that we managed to step out of our original territory.


Could you tell us more about the song titles? They are very special.

Well, titles are always special, it’s like when you baptize a child. People and things when they are given a name they gain life and a different personality. This time around, all the titles on the album, like every Moonspell album, we try to convey certain feelings, stories that people want to read. I write lyrics and so I listen to music of all kind, I don’t practice the guitar or play thousands of notes, but I see myself not always as a musician but as a person doing research by reading more than a thousand pages on extinction. For instance there’s two songs: the first one called “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” and “The Last Of Us” and “The Future Is Dark”. Simple attitude, simple feelings that can ensue going or not into the dark path. That’s why the breathing thing, that we do normally to stay alive, and even though you have to face the situation of chaos or something, you can always take a deep breath. We have the song called “Medusalem”, for instance which is like a word game. “Dying Breed” which is in the same theme with the title track “Extinct”. So I tried to make songs that would sound solid together to fuel this conceptual sense of the album. It’s always very significant in our music, to do things the way that we like. We’re one of the bands where everything connects, from the cover, the photos the album titles, especially the lyrics and the music. So this time around I’d say it’s a more personal album, narrates stories about many stuff, “Alpha Noir” was more fantastic, had more to do with fantasy, I loved it, but now that I’m at 40 and my life is really complete. Some bands still sing about fantasy and I think sometimes they get out of the way, really, there can’t be enough material to sing for instance, about pirates. There is a big lack of personal emotion, especially in gothic metal. With Moonspell we try very much to bring that dimension into our lyrics. Stories about something, you know. This is probably the most introspective album where I’ve asked “what’s next? what are we going to do?”. I was marked by doubt, and I think it was kind of a positive thing for me to express myself that way. “Extinct” like I said is totally an album that expresses ourselves and our feelings. Because the life of a band is not always the same. Even though the theme is really scientific, I think that what I’m trying to say is not a macro story, but a more individual story.


Where did the recordings take place?

Well, this time around we wanted to make things really different from what the the band did in the past. We just travelled into the studio, stayed there for a couple of months and recorded the album. This time around, I wanted the experience of the band going altogether into the studio. We did this record with Jens Borgen, I really liked his work with Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Opeth etc. and I liked his style in general. From the first e-mails we exchanged, I realized he was kinda bored of the same things I was, he wanted to do something different. that actually challenged him. He was a producer who works very close with bands, so we finished with the preproduction and I remember Jens flying to Sweden on Sunday and on Monday we were working together. So we spent over 2 months doing studio work. But I had a great time, I love the things Jens did with the album, even though he was into Swedish death metal, he respected our sound. And in general, I had a really cool time with him, cause we were always on the same page. When I wanted to take a break, I could take a break. We also discovered that he was a Moonspell fan, so it was a perfect match. You know the late 90s albums like “Irreligious” and “Wolfheart”. When we record at home, it’s awesome, but we wanted to do this one totally isolated and focused.


So that’s why it was ready so quickly, so much hard work!

“Extinct” was the less work we’ve put on the album recording. When it comes to writing it took 2-3 years for this album. But it took 1 year of thinking what this record would be. And after we came back from the tour in Spain, we worked every day for straight 2 months for the album. Even though we had some days off, we worked a lot in the studio. We really wanted to take the chance to take our time and never make time an issue, as we try these ideas. All these stuff we have on this album, even though we worked 4 – 9 for this Moonspell album, we were really tired. We came into the studio after the show in Portugal, and from that point on the promotion, sending promos of the album. We worked so much in these couple of months and everything’s going so fast, you know. Sometimes with the albums you think it’s not taking much time, but we took our time to try these ideas, to make the arrangements. Even though we’re not 23 years old, I think it’s a pace we can handle. We are very excited we managed to create an album that lives up to our expectations.

Could you say that “Extinct” is your best album so far?

It’s hard to see things under the score, to choose the best at anything. I think obviously that “Extinct” is a great album, and we tried very much to make it a great album, everything that great albums have. What people will think, is something that they ought to have experienced. It’s a much more difficult album to get past. I’m very proud on how far we’ve been as a band, we’ve tried something different something we’ve never done before. I think people don’t pick between Moonspell albums, they love all of Moonspells’ albums. We want to show that our albums are not like a straight line, they are just like life with its ups and downs.


It’s very important cause if you personally like your work, fans will love it too.

Yes I hope so. You know, sometimes not everybody agrees with me but it’s natural. Music is the most natural thing for me. Music has to do with the freedom of liking stuff. With Moonspell like I said, we are very involved in our band, in everything we do, both music and lyrics and everything artistic. We are deeply into everything that has to do with all those aspects, the salvation you get from dealing with everything else. Sometimes you get so involved people say “oh he’s too involved in the band” and it’s the truth. When I stand behind my work the fans will appreciate it they’ll think “well this guy is trying to make a difference and he’s also trying to tell us a story”. But also there are people who like to shit on this album, cause that’s what people, especially nowadays with the internet, everyone has an opinion. And sometimes they’re so obsessed over their opinion that they forget about the real deal, music, which is an emotional deal. It’s not something you listen to because a friend told you, it’s something that’s inside you. It’s like making music, the emotion is what counts. And I think this is an example of how solid we stand behind our work.


Could you say that all the songs on the album have something very strong or are there some songs that stand out as the strongest?

Well we’ve always tried to make the songs as good as possible, songs that are memorable but also albums that can work together with songs. Albums like “Wolfheart” have their standout songs but the rest of the album is also great. What we tried to do with “Extinct” is this resurrection, but in a way that will please people, cause that’s what happens these days. Release one song and that one song needs to be persuading. But I’d like the people to listen to the whole album, that’s the spirit: listening all the songs, pointing out the favorites, having the feeling that it’s not an album of 1-2 songs, but they have to take their time with the album. Every song has its moment, its special moment. “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” is a great song, but also “The Future Is Dark” is a very different song for Moonspell (song no 9 on the album), it’s very delicate song, yet strong and dark. It’s the only song I needed to take a break, we usually never take break from anything (laughs) I thought it was our best song on the album. And we like “Malignia”, cause I think this song is depended on me. We really worked hard on this one. Songs like “Medusalem” are very special, cause we worked with an orchestra. Its an album that will get hate on the internet, but it will also gain admiration. We really appreciate that you guys will look at the album cover and realize that it goes beyond the cover, it’s about the concept. A concept seen on the artwork of Seth which has a pattern, not formula. Its ugly but its also fitting to the concept.

Could we expect a special videoclip?

Well, we’ll start by one. Obviously we’ll have some lyric videos, but for the title track “Extinct” we want something powerful. We want to make this really crazy freak video and we’re going to record this next week, and it’s going to be out in March. I think we’re going to work with the same directors that we did “White Skies” and “Lickanthrope”. And it’s a great idea, something we really like, the first off “Extinction”, we’re gonna make something with ships, there’s a lot of rain here in Portugal. We really want him to present the full story, to try to make something impressive, something that will stand next to our previous videos.

Do you have any tours now based on your new album?

Well, we’re gonna tour on the 6th of March, and the albums’ coming out on the 12th of March, together with Septicflesh, we’re gonna tour Europe (Germany, France, Portugal, Spain). And then we’ll head to the US with Septicflesh, and from there to Mexico. Festivals, we’re going to play at With Full Force, in Leipzig Germany. Many festivals: Graspop, MetalDays. Then we’ll go to Cyprus, Turkey, back into East Europe. We’ll have like 250 shows for the new album.

Are you planning to play your whole new album in your shows? Or put an old one in as with “Irreligious” and “Wolfheart”?

“Wolfheart” was 26 years ago. We’ll think about our repertoir, we’ll start rehearsing for the tour. I think we’ll first support the new album and then go back to our older setlist. Some stuff on a Moonspell setlist are a basis that can’t change.

Since you’ve planned a couple of tours already, do you think after them that it’s time for a live album?

I think so yeah. We have a lot of ideas, just like with our first one “Lusitanian Metal”. Of course we’re gonna write some new songs after the tour, but we’re going to make something for the fans as a live record. We’re really looking forward to it, maybe in a festival maybe in Portugal.

Could you do an acoustic show?

We did a tour here in Portugal. What we did is we took some of our old songs from Moonspell and we had the band, a cello quartet. And we even took this show far, we did one in Wacken 2012 and it was a great success. So many people like the acoustic idea of playing in theaters or playing in cathedrals. We love all kinds of music, even though it might be without electricity, laid back and with a different format. I think the people are going to be very surprised, if they see me perform live like this, cause its something they’re not used to.

You said before you’re planning a European tour. Are you coming back to Greece so soon?

I hope so. I mean obviously, we could have done it on a world tour. It’s impossible to play everywhere, but we always have great memories from there. We’ll have some unexpected things in our setlist, we don’t want our fans to get bored. We’ll get to Greece sooner or later I promise.