Moonspell returned with a new album that’s called “Hermitage” after a 4 year hiatus. So Grande Rock got in touch with the band’s leader and vocalist Fernando Ribeiro to talk about the new album, the new “reality” we all go through and the band’s future plans, among other things. Read more below… (You can also listen to the podcast or watch the video below).
Moonspell band pic
Hi Fernando, I’m glad to have you on Grande Rock. Great job on “Hermitage”!
F: Thank you so much, it is very kind.

Yes, I was having a listen and it is really really cool. I like all the sounding and everything going on in there as well.
F: Yes, we are getting a very cool response. It yes again a new turn in our wherever yet so-called career. We actually don’t overthink it; we always go a little bit with the flow what we want to do. I think the good old parcy fellas we are we are always happy about everything. So, we are always trying to re-invent our country and ourselves. So yeah, we are getting away with it and it’s cool.
It’s been few years since your previous album “1755”. What happened during this time? What did you guys been up to?
F: Well, “1755” was quite like something that we haven’t planned so much you know. We did “Extinct” back in 2015 and “Hermitage” was always the album that we kind of have in our minds to follow up. It suits “Exctint” even musically, but I mean our plans were not meant to be and also, we were not very keen in you know any plans. And today plans are not important anymore. So, we kind of got carried away but the opportunity to making an album that could mix our biggest passions, Portuguese history, especially the history of an earthquake that changed the face of Lisbon and Europe by its violence but also there was a lot of philosophical things and the line that the concept album, the fact that was in Portuguese and obviously heavy metals sang in Portuguese. And then again, we were surprised by, we thought that people in Brazil and Portugal will dig the album and we will tour a little bit. But we were always touring in a way. It’s like you knows, we were quite surprised about it even, the things that we didn’t think that the foreign people will get into this album that much. But they actually did so we kind of expanded to the road really. Nowadays is a distance reality, but we were on the road being everywhere, UK, USA, Russia, a little bit everywhere. And in between we always had “Hermitage” in the back of our heads and actually we started writing it in 2017 when the world was a bit different, and everything was more hopeful even though it was miserable as well it was strange. But yeah, I think what happened was like playing and playing and playing while songwriting for “Hermitage”.
How much did Covid impacted Moonspell over the past year and the music business in general?
F: Well, it kind of took us by surprise and I think that the music business and the culture and entertainment are really like you know are completely on the opposite of social distancing and it took a big blow. Obviously all our plans were either delayed or cancelled or postponed and still in Portugal the culture community, the music community came together and we could play some shows in Portugal with the crowd and it think that’s important for our mental health was that we stepped down from our like larger goals, cause the band always have big ideas: I want to tour there, I want to promote this, I want to do that and kind of content with what we had because in such a typical year and such as catastrophic year to have something to hold was really important.
Having said that, besides sometimes going to the airport and coming back, especially because we were recording at the Oregon Studios in UK, I think he didn’t affect us that much just made us think how lucky we are of being able to go to the UK with the things that are happening in there and record an album to start with. I think it was a really, in the passage between 2020 and 2021 I could still not believe it, but the “Hermitage” album even though it’s kind of going to be read in a different light now after Covid it was not written having Covid in mind, Covid didn’t existed when we started writing it, but it makes it all a different meaning right now. It’s an album solid about taking a break, about being alone like the fiction in the album kind of became our reality. And there was different light it was written but it fits the time definitively.
Actually, Covid didn’t impact much the writing and recording a new album from what I can understand as you guys had the chance to come to the UK to record it.
F: Yeah, we had to be smart, we had to take the small window of opportunity because what happened is that in the summer, we have a lot of British people that live here, that have a house here and come back in the summer, so we kind of you know when the political management of Covid came it got complicated to all the countries. In Portugal it got complicated as sometimes we were on the blacklist, so we were always waiting for Thursday it was when they announce if we could be and then we know we wished very hard that we wouldn’t be caught in that situation to having to come home or something like that. It was complicated, but actually when it comes to the songwriting and the lyric writing of the album, I think, I’m convinced, I mean I don’t remember anymore because it has been so overwhelming that in 2017 without virus and the sickness there was a sort of social distancing. No that we could not be together, not because it was agreed by the law, not because it was a sort of prevention of contagion but really, we couldn’t figure out a way of understanding each other.
I think the album it is a little bit like that, about the big communication breakdown that allowed a lot of stuff that it was quite absurd and quite on the realm of fiction to happen in our watch, so I think the album was a bit about that. And nowadays is going to be read under a different light but I think that we were kind of going on the hermit trip by stonewalling ourselves you couldn’t talk about anything, music, gender, religion, race everything so pulverized and “Hermitage” is kind of our way of telling ourselves and our fans that will think about it that we need to take a break as it’s not a sustainable world, as we were all in bad luck to get this even if you are sick or not, this is completely effecting everyone. Obviously, people that are sick pulled the shorter stick on this pandemic but on the other hand I think that the big dimension of it, it’s also to do with the lifestyle that we have, we are always travelling, we are always consuming, we are always thinking of more and me and I think that it’s an album that kind of tries to say that well there is a little bit more than us or about us. It’s called “Hermitage” but sometimes it means lack of community in something that kind of vanished away quite rapidly in the last few years.
What are your expectations from the album?
F: I’m 46 so nowadays my expectations about life and about the way that it’s going to work are a little more like a cynical European. It’s not that I don’t care; I do care, I think that everyone has a lot to prove all the times, but I rather talk in the interviews about the behind the scenes and the motivation. I’m trying to sell our “fish” to people because you know you get this every day and every hour; you go to an Internet page and say if you want to see this you have to see that so my expectations were to make a different album, a non-string attached album where songwriters were free enough to do whatever they want in some kind of signature sound that we are trying to look for. Obviously, I had really big expectations on working with Jaime Gomez Arellano in the UK and I think it was great, I think that he was the right man for the job. He was also a really cool host, so we did in the limitations of Covid; he took us on a stroll to a 12th century graveyard, more of a rural kind of England, one and half hour away from London.

But I also believe that now it’s up to the fans, the people, it’s not my job, it’s a little almost done when we closed the session of the door to go back to Portugal. Now a day I can talk a lot about the album, I can say cool things about the album hopefully, but it’s the album itself what it was meant to be when we left the studio that it’s going to decide about the reaction and the expectation. But I’m very happy because a lot of people say that it’s authentic and for me it was the big expectation and hope because we were going to change, to get more darker and more psychedelic and more progressive but we still wanted to be Moonspell, so I hope that we are in good hands. Sometimes I feel that after 13 albums is not in our hands anymore, it’s in the hands of the people and the reviewers and so far, is that people really love it. Some people hate it as well, but it’s life you know. I don’t hate music, sometimes I dislike it as hate it’s a very “easy” word and it comes to our mind and lips very quickly. But I think that most people are really enjoying the experience, enjoying the journey in a way and most people like the fact that brings novelty and not a repetition of formula that we used before. Obviously that formula is in there as it’s our ingredient, called this way, but there is a lot to chew on definitely. It is an album to be discovered.
What separates “Hermitage” from your previous albums? Especially from “1755”.
F: “1755” was quite something; I think we are still not completely done with that style I think the Portuguese operatic, but it’s sound a bit bizarre and it seems that we are always denying our past but it’s not really what we wanted to do. Also, we really dread the repetion, it is probably what we run from as a band like the vampire from the cross. We don’t want to make an album that people enjoy like “make an album” it makes fell something where you insert the coin like a jukebox, and you go there and do everything that people want. I think that music is like a blind date and the blind date for “Hermitage” was actually to strip down all the layers, the operatic, the symphonic and just being five guys playing music. It sounds even cheap but it’s like what we wanted, it’s an album that you could listen like if you had the band in your room and it’s not like you a coir of Valkyries in your room or like a big orchestra, it’s just five guys. And sometimes heavy metal music becomes so big, and people are trying so hard; I love heavy metal but sometimes I have to listen to other stuff because the drumminf is so fast, the singer doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl, she or he must sing so many notes high and everything is so over the top. And this is something that “Hermitage” isn’t over the top, everything is very subtle I have to say.
There is also a new member in the band, drummer Hugo Ribeiro. When did he join?
F: In the end of 2019 we were running into some problems with our old drummer and then in 2020. I mean it’s always sad cause we were friends and everything but it kind of blew up and we had to split our ways with Mike and then Covid came and it took us a while to get the right way of announcing it but we kind of did it and we needed a new drummer, not that we had a lot of shows to play but it was also good for the chemistry of the band not to leave the place open and also to have a drummer that brings us more enthusiasm, and then Hugo just showed up. I didn’t pick him myself as I was a big friend with Mike, I didn’t want to get involved in choosing someone. So Pedro, our keyboard and one of the songwriters made his choice and I was waiting to see him and then Hugo came to our rehearsal studio and he played and it was such a nice guy and not too much not too little, like those kind of guys; and he had a lot of taste and a lot of enthusiasm playing drums and I think even though it was not a typical year to be in the band because the band need time and need to tour together to bond and I think he did a great job and I think that he is a really great guy, I really like him because he is a good person and an amazing drummer. And we were lucky that in such a short notice, in such a hard year to join anything and to make projects that he could join and could come with us to record his first album. Everything happened in a flash and nowadays is a Moonspell band member, and he plays with us and we could play these four shows in Portugal, we played some TV shows and done some videoclips. So, we are getting there with him and I think it was a great choice and even a blessing for Moonspell.
With the last year there has been a lot of virtual shows, so what’s your opinion about them?
F: At the beginning I wanted to wait and see as the pandemic was something really weird that our generation never went through, so I wanted the fans to also tell me what the rule of music in life was and what the role of Moonspell in fans’ life was. And at the beginning was everything kind of of blurry and there were a lot of artists going to Instagram, probably attention deficit or something like that and I was like “let’s see what’s going on” and I let that dust settle and that we had the chance to make few shows in Portugal and we kind of took it from there. And then the streaming was starting, in a way, and we kind of joined the movement with the Halloween show in the South of Portugal, but that it was delayed because the government like we could play cause it was not affecting the livestream but then people could not get there, but then on Monday they say they could, but you know a big mess that we couldn’t get hold of and then we did it on the 6th of November, where we had everything that could go wrong but then it was all pristine, not a glitch, there was interaction, got setlist and people absolutely loved it and I was quite relief, I had to say, because we never did something like this, it was all our production, like we have all these lasers and I think it looked good for people at home. I was speaking a little bit of English in Portugal and I had to apologize to people, but I had a screen were people were interacting; and then it was great cause we have it for 72 hours and then a lot of people wanted it again, so we made it again.

Then I was back home for Christmas with my wife and my kid and it was such a boring holiday especially being without a big family as we get drunk and then I said well as it was professionally recorded I’m going to drop in on YouTube and I dropped in our Moonspell’s YouTube and I’ve got some really cool feedbacks like “you saved our Christmas’ Eve” and nowadays Portugal is under lockdown, an heavy form of lockdown, so the cultural space and venues are not open so we think that they can be open in April maybe, so we trying to find out as we wanted to do something with this album in Lisbon and Porto museums, those have a hundred capacity as we already played there and already sold them out, but at the moment is not the time for big planning, so we are going to do something more modest with like 200 people maybe and we will going to stream it probably around May and we going to do it with the same team, different songs and concept but we really want to do it because if you ask me. I don’t think that heavy metal music is a social distance music and people were not watching DVD anymore, but when it’s live you know like some people in Australia woke up so early to watch it and it has a different feeling. Also, I think it’s not about what I like or not, if there is a space for it and fans want it, we definitely want to provide it.
What does the future hold for Moonspell? Any exiting projects?
F: Yeah, I hope so. The plan is to keep the head above the water and maintain the enthusiasm, because it is hard as people says that it is a financial thing and it is, but tour is our lifestyle, I mean I’ve been touring since ’95 so many years, so it’s not that I don’t want to let go but I still think it’s the best way to promote our music or be with the fans and we kind of miss it. So, we don’t have many plans, I have to say, probably we will announce a tour for the beginning of 2022 and there is going to be some UK and Ireland dates. Also we will be going to announce a tour for October 2022 but things nowadays are slow with the announcements because no one want to risk but for sure we will get back on the road. If things are going even worst, well you can always have our album! You can still listen to it and party at home but nowadays it’s hard to make plans.
How did you come up with the name Moonspell initially?
F: Well, it was in 1992 and we were called “Morbid God” and it was such a horrible name not completely horrible but it’s such a cliché name and our old bass player and I, we made a list of names and he came up with “Moonspell” and we though “that’s a really cool name, is it taken?” and it wasn’t. But nowadays when we say the Instagram and the hashtag Moonspell it is very common and typical in the witches community, there is makeup brand called Moonspell as well, but we have the trademark for the band name so it’s quite a cool name and I still have some of these novels that are really cheesy called like “The Right of Moonspell” so like romantic novel, like Harley Quinn and etc. And I think we kinda changed it cause the other name wasn’t working.

Do you think that the streaming services have helped the band and music business in general?
F: Financially not a bit, because the business model was okay when it was like 2000 and I have Spotify since the beginning because I think it is such a great platform to get your music across, but I got to say when the profit, I mean the community got so larger I think they should have redistributed better because it’s a great idea, but without content is nothing, it’s empty. Obviously, we are all tidying this pushing game between digital and label and sometimes as I’m a constructive guy I speak with the Spotify executives as they are available people and I say, “yeah we can discuss this forever, but it will be so easy to take one zero from the left and put it on the right”. I think bands do deserve that. If we want to see in a corporate way, we are also shareholders so we profit more so they should distribute it more, definitely.
The best Moonspell album according to you?
F: You know we always have to answer the cliché with like “it’s the last one” because that’s the one that resonated the most with us, but I think our best albums in many ways is the ’96 “Irreligious” as I think it was the right music for the right time and he had effects, we were medias sweethearts, our fans were sweethearts, and it was a very sweet time. There was no criticism, and everybody loved it and it also has some of our best songs like “Opium”, “Mephisto” and “Full Moon Madness” it has really came down really well. I think hand in hands our best album.
Thank you very much! It’s being a pleasure so thank you very much Fernando it was lovely talking to you!
F: OK same here. Be safe! Thank you very much, bye bye!