RtM: "Hermitage" can already be considered a milestone for the band's career, and I believe that you also believe in that, because you realized this daring idea of playing the album in its entirety, and still in the Mira D'aire grotto.
Fernando Ribeiro: Thank you! Above all, Hermitage will always be a special record, due to the context in which it was recorded and released, and to a certain “confirmation” of several things that constitute the literary concept of the record.
RtM: Talk a little more about how this incredible idea of doing this concert and the choice of location came about.
FR: As we knew that this album, due to the pandemic, would not be supported by a promotion tour, we decided, from the outset, to document it live, complete and in its entirety, so that some justice could be done to the album.
The Mira D’Aire Caves are a natural “monument” that is part of the Portuguese imagination. During the pandemic, I visited it again with my son and niece and, as it were, joined the dots.
The natural scenery and the lighting, it looked like a geological work by Bosch or Caravaggio and I thought it was a great idea to bring music about hermits there... First, we did the photo shoot, then the video for Common Prayers and finally the live event.
RtM: Moonspell never allowed itself to stagnate or limit itself musically, and "Hermitage" surprises after the wonderful and complex "1755", bringing a more progressive sound, sometimes cleaner and darker. Comment on what inspired the lyrical theme and sound of "Hermitage".
FR: I don't know if it's restlessness or simply the fact that we are never truly satisfied with what we do, at least I am never. In the case of Hermitage, the sound was inspired by progressive which has been a very clear influence on Metal and Moonspell, especially since records like "Wildhoney" by Tiamat.
In my case, I received a bag from my uncle with all of Pink Floyd's discography from the 70's and that ended up influencing me too.
The literary concept is related to the solitude to which the world is facing, the lack of communication and empathy between people, which leads many people to isolate themselves from the world for reasons different from the classic hermit saints, and in this counterpoint, the disco.
There was talk of social distancing, but without being enacted by law or a health emergency.
We are like hermits to ourselves and to each other.
I also really like Emerson Lake and Palmer, for example, or post rock like Apse, A Perfect Circle or more metal stuff like Katatonia that makes great music.
RtM: "Hermitage" also features the new drummer Hugo Ribeiro. And regarding Hugo, how was his contact and adaptation so far, and what did he bring back to add to the band's sound?
FR: Hugo is the most talented and complete drummer that ever played in the band and we canevolve a lot in the complexity of the rhythmic parts and this confidence allowed us to have more imagination and go further. I think Hugo still has a lot to give to Moonspell and it's just getting started! And I think he started off on the right foot, as his performance at the Hermitage is excellent.
RtM: Mike Gaspar ended up leaving the band after all these years. What was it like to deal with this process of change? Of course, we understand that changes are part of it, but when it involves an original member, it can be a little more difficult.
FR: Very difficult. Personally, Mike was not only Moonspell's drummer, but also my best friend and I even considered not continuing without him. It was one of the toughest decisions of my life, but we had, in fact, reached a point that we could not resolve. I wish Mike and Seventh Storm, his new band, created in his image, all the best of luck.
RtM: About "1755", I consider it not only a milestone for world of Metal, but a complex work, rich in history and with a unique atmosphere. Full of epic and thought-provoking nuances. Taking emotion to high peaks. If possible, I would like you to comment on the importance of It for you and about the creative idea for such a powerful and thought-provoking album.
FR: It was a spur of the moment thing, although the ideas are rooted in my student background. The record was also born from the absence of a musical work that contemplated this event and all its social, political, artistic and philosophical consequences.
I explained the concept to my partners and they immediately understood that the sound would have to be big and epic, almost symphonic, and that it would have to be sung entirely in Portuguese.
For us it was very important, as it brought together two of Moonspell's passions: History of Portugal and Heavy Metal. And we really want to make another record in Portuguese, as soon as we find a theme.
RtM: As artists and a consolidated band, I believe that from the beginning you sought to bring something innovative, challenge yourself and still feel the commitment to bring messages and ideas to make your audience reflect, interpret, instigating curiosity.
I would like you to comment on this, and if you understand that every artist has to have this duty and also be careful to convey a message to their fans, because musicians/artists are a potential opinion maker.
FR: Each artist does what he wants and there is no judgment. There are several paths that can be followed and for me, I don't see why one path should be more legitimate than another. Whether you want to quote Feuerbach or have a giant rubber duck onstage, our mission is to entertain.
Nowadays with all the splits, crises and depression that exist, a musician who can make people think about something else and focus on the show and not on the problems they have, is an act of immense generosity and empathy.
Personally, I like the poetic, philosophical and intellectual part of Metal. I like to know that the Maiden theme "The Evil that men Do" is a Shakespearean quote. And I follow this path. But if another musician wants to make the audience pretend they're on a Viking ship, rowing, who am I to say it has to be my way and not his? There is room for everything and everyone.
RtM: Moonspell's discography is very strong and diversified. Because at each launch we have the characteristic elements, however, with different syntheses. You listen, you know it's Moonspell, but in a fresh and different way. How is the creative process in general for the band?
FR: We are a zeitgeist band, i.e., what is happening in the world, in our lives, what enters or is retrieved in our libraries and clubs and by the dissatisfaction with what we do and the enthusiasm in discovering new melodies and, who knows , add new Moonspell themes to people's daily lives.
If we had stopped at the first records, or repeated the formulas, we wouldn't have given the world themes like Nocturna, Scorpion Flower, Breathe or the whole of 1755.
RtM: You recently had to cancel your European tour due to the financial crisis that some countries are going through. In Brazil and South America in general, it wouldn't be so different, because crises come, the rulers neglect and the people unfortunately pay the price. In the view of those of you who have already traveled the world, what could be done to contain these mass crises that happen?
FR: The European tour has taken place. The US tour was canceled due to lack of transport and the UK tour didn't sell enough tickets in London, which was bizarre as London has always been one of the most important cities for Moonspell. What can be done? Absolutely nothing.
We just have to rely on the generosity of the fans and depend on the depth of their love for the music, and in our case for them to decide to spend their hard earned money and experience Moonspell. The world chose capitalism and liberalism, without rules, there is no balance, no basis for experimenting with regulation, so the burden will always be on top of the fans and bands and those who still invest in this kind of deal with people rather than numbers or algorithms.
In our case, Moonspell opted to lower conditions, fees/payments to the band, production, merch prices, so that we can still play for our fans. We are always working to give them the best.
RtM: Thank you for your time and for answering this interview, may the tour in Latin America be very successful, we will be there at Opinião in Porto Alegre, if the universe wants it that way. And finally, could you tell us something about what fans can expect from the next album?
FR: Very grateful for the opportunity. And for the votes! See you in Porto Alegre for a big night, under the spell.
We will work on a new album, without rushing, something simpler, less prog, returning to the most emblematic songs, something more intelligible at first listen and with the concept around the power of books and words. It will come out in 2024, or, in the worst case, in 2025.
Thanks: Erick Tedesco - Tedesco Mídia