“The new album was received quite well. As you know, we experimented a lot on the last two CD's. So as a result some people were feeling a negative vibe when we announced 'Darkness And Hope' and told us that this album might not be very successful. But it turned out to be quite successful: a lot of the old fans seem to be liking it and the press has been very enthusiastic. I've been doing interviews for a month and a half and the response to 'Darkness And Hope' has been overwhelming.”
Did the success surprise you?
“I don't think that surprise is the right word, but it certainly was good to learn that people liked it. In the past we've tried to make every album an unique experience and that inspired numerous emotions from people, ranging from conditional love to unconditional hate. With 'Darkness And Hope' we've tried to do a very pure album and judging by the people's reactions our fans feel the same. It is no exaggeration that we had very high expectations from this album: when we were mixing the album we were already hoping for a good reception because we felt that we had recorded a great album. But this goes for every form of art: from the moment the artist finishes his product there's a form of anxiety from his side to know the impact of it on his audience. On this album we've tried to balance the different elements from our past and we will be pleased as artists when the album receives recognition in its own way.”
How does this album fit in with the Moonspell-story?
“Well, on each album we have a certain story to tell and each Moonspell-album has had its own concept and identity. This identity come spontaneously when we are laying out the basic plans for every album. Because we never start from scratch when we write the music, we always arrange a meeting first where we share our different conceptual ideas. When we finally have laid out that concept we start focussing on reaching a certain goal and which goal that is depends on the story that we are going to tell. In the end every Moonspell-album is born out of a craving to tell a certain story. That's is the common link between our albums. So even though we've written very different records in the past they all share the same essence. They all have the same class, elegance and power. Those three words in my opinion reflect what Moonspell stands for.”
How do you look back on your previous effort, 'The Butterfly FX'?
“With Butterfly FX we wanted to do a record based on the apocalypse and that's why it had a multitude of electronic and industrial sounds. It was a good CD with a lot of experimental elements. This time we wanted to do a more spiritual record and the title of the album reflects the story that we try to tell. We came up with the name of the album before we had anything else and build up from that. We tried to create a soundtrack based on these two words, with every song telling a certain tale and in fact being a chapter in this book called 'Darkness And Hope'. Each chapter reflects the frantic, elegant peace of mind that every human being is trying to accomplish and which is reflected in these dark yet hopeful moments. With 'Darkness And Hope' we translated those feelings of decadence and optimism into a pure Moonspell-cd with dark and solid atmospheres.”
Musically, I think that this album is a mixture of 'Irreligious' and 'Sin/Pecado', with traces from 'Butterfly FX' in the rhythm section. Did you intend to go back to your roots on this album?
“Yes and no. This is our sixth release and our fifth studioalbum and we know that we've done a lot of different things in the past years. 'Wolfheart' was a very raw record inspired by Celtic Frost and Bathory, 'Irreligious' was influenced by Type O Negative, 'Sin/Pecado' was a very acoustic album and 'Butterfly FX' was unlike everything else. This time we didn't try to look for new elements elsewhere, but reflected upon our past instead. This may sound strange, but when you've incorporated every influence from the outside, you can still find new influences within yourself.”
Moonspell has never really been a band that you could easily put a label on. Why take a step back instead of forward this time?
“Because we have done a lot of different things and have spend the last five years -if you include songwriting, recording and touring- on two very experimental albums. This time we wanted to do something more familiar. It's true that Moonspell has always been a band that is very hard to put a label on. We couldn't be contend with having to be restricted to a previously fixed pattern. But for now I think that we have found the sound that we are satisfied with: dark, melodic and avant-garde. We are happy with what we are now and 'Darkness And Hope' will be a guideline of the style that we will be following in the next years.“
With your last two albums you've lost a lot of fans who couldn't keep up with the changes to your sound. Do you think that you'll win those fans back with 'Darkness And Hope'?
“We all knew that we could expect this question when we wrote this album. Though hard to label, Moonspell has become a name that means something to people, a band that people pick up and listen to. We knew that success would never come overnight to a band like us, but we are happy with the way we came out of it. Now is the time to conquer new territory, now is the time to get people acquainted to our sound. But we've never thought in terms like winning and losing fans. What we've tried to do in the last ten years is to release high-quality albums that all have a different quality and are spiritually bounded to each other by the name Moonspell. Every album is a taste of eternity –like we described on a song on the 'Irreligious' album- but that has assimilated and incorporated different musical and spiritual elements. And yes, the consequence may have been that we have lost fans because of it. But there have also been people who came back to a certain album after dismissing it at first. I know of people who hated 'Sin/Pecado' and 'Butterfly FX' at first but became addicted to them over time. But to answer your question: in a way 'Darkness And Hope' is the purest Moonspell-album to date and that can only do us good.”
At the same time it is also your darkest album to date, much darker than 'Irreligious' or even the 'Inno A Satana'-demo.
“Yes. When we wrote the album we were caught up in one of the coldest winters Portugal has faced in many years. And we recorded the album in Finland a couple of months ago and spend a lot of time surrounded in darkness there too. This is reflected in the music, so the environment in which we wrote and recorded the album has been quite appropriate for 'Darkness And Hope'.”
What has been the most difficult Moonspell-album to write so far?
“With each album there is a certain number of difficulties to overcome and the answer to this question depends on how you measure difficulty. Artistically, looking back I'd say that the first albums were the most difficult. When you are starting to make music you've got to unlock yourself and learn how to channel your creative energy. For us that was a very lengthy process, so I'd say that 'Under The Moonspell' and 'Wolfheart' were the most difficult albums to write. But if you judge the difficulty-factor by the amount of time and energy spend on bringing a concept to life, then 'Darkness And Hope' was the hardest one. Judging by the hours we put into the writing and recording of the music, designing the artwork and shooting the video, than this was certainly the album that devoted the most time to.”
'Darkness And Hope' was available on mp3 weeks before the official release. What do you think about this and mp3 in general?
“I don't think that mp3 in itself is a negative thing. It is good that people can download songs for free and enjoy music that way. What I don't like about Napster and Audiogalaxy is that they don't pay any royalties to the artist. The artist creates art, the art generates value, the value generates income, but that income isn't shared with the artist. That's what bothers me about it. I do feel that Napster and mp3 have been an important step in the history of the music industry, because it has forced mayor companies to rethink their actions. By the end of the nineties it seemed like a lot of the big companies were resting on their laurels and relied on formulas that proved to be successful in the past, instead of trying to take risks and break new ground. Mp3 has shaken those companies up and forced them to think of new ideas. And I don't find it strange that there's a demand for free music. Here in Portugal the vat-rate (extra tax – Ed) is about 5 percent, so the CD's are affordable. But in other countries it can be as high as twenty percent and this artificially increases the price of a CD by a fifth.”
“And if you have to spend say, twenty Euro for a CD that costs only two Euro to manufacture, than I don't find it strange that people resort to downloading mp3's or burning cdr's –which by the way I deem more harmful than just downloading mp3's. We've spoken to our record company Century Media about how we should handle this problem and decided to give the buyers a high-quality product. That means not just a CD with a booklet, but a CD with a booklet that has a great design, a high-quality limited edition box with bonustracks and video's for the different editions. So people can either download our albums from the internet for free, or can choose to buy something that is far superior and truly worth to spend their money on.”
You also have a handful of mp3's in the download-section of your website. Some of these are rare tracks, other ones are taken from an unplugged show. What is the story behind the acoustic tracks?
“Well, as you know 'Sin/Pecado' was a very acoustic record with a lot of atmospheric elements. Shortly after the release we were invited by a big recordstore and a radioshow to do an unplugged show and sometime later we were asked to do another acoustic show. We decided to put the recordings of that second show on the website to give people a taste of what things were like that evening. It was a strange experience, awkward almost, to play these songs on an acoustic guitar, as they weren't intended to be like that. When you are playing unplugged you are feeling very naked, because it reaches out to the essence of your soul. But in the end the songs proved to be right for this format and even the older songs such as 'Opium' and 'Of Dream And Drama' proved to be strong enough to be played unplugged.”
And will you ever release those songs on a CD?
“As a matter of fact, yes. There are five songs on the website, taken from a total of eight. We are currently talking to Century Media about releasing those eight songs on a special EP for the fans, complete with the pictures of that evening.”
Moonspell started out as a blackmetalband. How do you look back on those early days and do you still feel any connection with the blackmetalscene?”
“Those early days were interesting as we were young musicians trying to develop our own identity. I think that from the beginning on Moonspell has always been an eccentric band: not only as we were from the south, but also because we didn't intend to follow the rules imposed by the Scandinavian scene. We didn't accept their ignorant rethorics, something that people didn't understand at the time. We choose to move on, they decided to stay where they were –we are talking '94/'95 now. From that time on I think that the blackmetalscene has developed in a rather simplistic way. Blackmetal has become rather childish, very simple and uninteresting from an artist's point of view. I still like certain blackmetalbands –Emperor for example has been a band that have always been very innovative- but I don't follow the blackmetalscene as much as I used to. It has been and still is a big difference though: I still feel influenced as much by Venom and Bathory as much as by the Sisters Of Mercy.”
What are your touringplans?
“We will participate on the upcoming Tatto The Planet-tour, together with Cradle Of Filth, Slayer and Biohazard. I am looking forward to these gigs because the line-up is very varied. We'll also do a CD-presentation in Portugal and will go on a US-tour later this year. We plan to go on a headliner European tour in February or March of 2002.”
How do you look back on your previous European tour with Kreator?
“That was a strange tour to do. The tour started off weirdly, but after a couple of days we really got off and played some good shows, especially in Germany and the Benelux. We toured Europe for two months and had a lot of good experiences. Looking back I'd say that the line-up was a bit strange. It was intended to be us, Katatonia and 69 Eyes, but it turned out to be us, Kreator and some support acts. We had a lot of fun with the guys from Kreator, but now that I've heard their new record I understand how strange the billing might have seemed –their new CD sounds nothing like the Endorama-album they were promoting at the time. On the next tour we'll probably have support-acts that are closer to our sound: it is good to have variety, but not as much as we had last year. Which bands would I like to tour with? Probably Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, 69 Eyes, etcetera. But nothing is settled, these are just bands that I would like to hit the road with.”
Don't you think that it is time to record a live-album? You already kinda did one on the '2nd Skin'-ep, but isn't it time to do a full one?
“Yes, it is about time and it will happen in the near future. The idea behind the mini-livealbum was to make a document of that time: we had performed a lot in support of 'Wolfheart' and 'Irreligious' and those live recordings were a testament of that past era. The same thing will happen again soon but on a larger scale: the next album will be the end of a slightly longer era. We will record our show at the Coliseum in Portugal and release it to coincide with our 10th anniversary. It will reflect our first decade and the development of the music.”
Your demo 'Inno A Satana' and mcd 'Under The Moonspell' are pretty hard to get at the moment. Do you have plans to re-release them?
“Yes. We are currently talking to our record label about the possibilities, but we'll probably re-release them at the same time as the live-album, on our tenth birthday. All these plans are still in an embryonic stage and we don't know how exactly they will take place, but it is likely to happen as a part of this package. The older material has become very rare and I've seen our demo auctioned Ebay for hundreds of dollars. So there's clearly a demand for it.“
In which year was Moonspell formed?
“Moonspell was formed in 1992. But we see the releasedate of our first musical product as the beginning of the band and that was in 1993. So in other words, we'll probably celebrate our tenth anniversary in 2003.”
How many more albums do you have to do for Century Media?
“According to our contract we have to release one more album.”
And will you resign to them after that, or will you negotiate with a bigger company?
“We have no plans as far as record companies are concerned. Right now the main objective is to promote the new album and to go on tour and after that we'll start gathering ideas for the next album just like we did with the previous ones. I don't like it when bands release half-hearted albums because they need to get rid of a contract. So we won't do that and the next album will be worthy of the name Moonspell as much as this one. When the time comes to look ahead we wont be involved in that process, we'll leave that up to the business-people to decide where to sign. We strictly concentrate on the music and will try to make every release as perfect as possible.”
Okay Fernando, that's about it. Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the promotion of the new album. To wrap it up, can you tell me why people should buy 'Darkness And Hope'?
“Because it is a very strong album. It has the classic Moonspell personality and reflects many unique experiences. Nowadays we don't pretend to be anything else than what we are, as we've fought hard to become that what we have become. The energy that we gathered in the process is reflected in this record and people who'll take the time will realise the unique combination of the cultural influences, the spiritual references and the dark backgrounds. We hope that people will buy it or at least listen to it, because there is a lot in this record that people might be able to relate to.”