Interview with Fernando about new album
“Alpha Noir” is set for North American release on May 8th andit’s the first release through Napalm Records. Being that this is obviously one of the most anticipated albums of the year in metal, how ready are you to release it to the fans?
We are more ready than ever for the fans to hear the new material. Sometimes when you write music like we do, it’s like you’re a radio station broadcasting from the desert (Laughs). You don’t really know if people will listen or not. I do think that the people who listen to it will really enjoy the new album though. Sometimes in a band you have to learn to deal with what you can’t control, which is the response to the music. Some people may not love the album and some may think it’s our best, it’s a natural thing for human beings. We’ve been through it all as band by now though. We’ve seen the glory, the humiliation, the progress, all of that throughout the years. We are really excited to share this album with our fans though. I think with every record it’s a combination of two things. One is how you sell it as a presentation of yourself and make it the best production possible, and two, then how you sell it to the crowds. Whether that be through videos, shows, or whatever. It’s a whole process and I really do hope people get the chance to pick up “Alpha Noir” because I think it’s really something special.
Every time a press release comes out about this record, the comments from fans include “Album of the year” without even hearing it yet. With that dedication and love from the fans and the four year span without a new record, did you feel any pressure while writing the new material?
I think that the biggest pressure came from ourselves in the band. As a band, we do all the writing, the touring, the performing, and we meet our fans at the shows, so there’s a lot ahead of us with the release of each record. I know a lot of fans have wanted us to release a song already so they know what to expect, but I think that kind of spoils the magic. Still to this day, I enjoy waiting until the album is released to hear the record as a whole composition. We put a lot of work in how the songs are written, how the album flows, and I don’t feel many bands put as much emphasis on that these days. We put our heart and souls into every bit of the record, from the music, to the lyrics, to the artwork, to the videos, everything man, so there’s a lot we have to handle, but we love it. We are asked all the time about expectations, the inspiration for each album, why we still do it, and the simple answer is that we do it for the music and the fans. So I would say there is a little pressure, but we are very direct and honest with our approach to the music and fans, so I think it will all be resolved once “Alpha Noir” is released.
With the special edition, you are releasing a counterpart to “Alpha Noir” and it’s entitled “Omega White.” You’ve said that with both records together, it’s the most “absolute” record that Moonspell has written. Can you elaborate on that?
Definitely. “Omega White” will only be available with the special edition like you said through Napalm Records. Obviously, we are not naive and we know fans will eventually hear it online somehow anyway, but I think it really takes the album experience to another level, so I would hope fans would pick it up. Within those four years of touring and writing, we really got to sit back and take a good look at the big picture of Moonspell more than we ever have been able to before. We really wanted to make the best album for ourselves and the fans, and “Omega White” came out of that idea. We composed a lot of songs in those four years and realized that we had something more than one album, something that hits all of the missing corners of the music, and it’s something that we think fans will truly appreciate and enjoy. I know with iTunes and other sites, you can buy your favorite track from each record and disregard the other songs, but with these records together I feel more people will enjoy the whole experience. A lot of people write albums for that one song, but that’s never been what Moonspell is about. We are always about putting out the best music for the fans and it confuses me why some bands don’t follow that idea. To put a record out just to have a new record out is shocking to me. We put everything we have into each song and it shows, and that’s why I really believe we are still around today. So I hope all of you fans pick up the special edition, pop a beer, and enjoy the experience.
The band will be releasing “Lickanthrope” as the first video off of “Alpha Noir” and you’ve said that each song is a jewel, so why was this one chosen for the first video?
I can’t tell you how hard it is to pick a song for a video man (Laughs). We do not make singles, we make albums. We know we have to release a video for each record, so we try and pick the best song to represent the sound and add to it with the visual of a video. The “Lickanthrope” clip involves little red riding hood, werewolves, but there is a real moral behind the video. It’s not like that “Twilight” shit or being romantic just to be romantic, it’s about being the way you are and being happy with that. Being from Portugal and like we are, if you show up at a bar with a metal shirt and long hair, people always offer you salvation. We want to be the way we are and we enjoy being who we are. That’s our freedom and that’s our life. So it’s more of a song and video expressing our independence. Another cool thing was that we’ve already worked with the director, Filipe Melo, and so when I approached him with the idea, he was totally down for it. He filmed us before for a video and it was a small, intimate show and I thought it turned out incredible. It was recorded on actual film, not digital, and I think he was the perfect choice for the new video. He views each video as a movie or his own cinema, and that definitely added to the end result, which I think is incredible. There’s a bit of everything in the video, pagan Portuguese folklore, Suicide Girls, tons of werewolves, so I think it will be something special to watch. It will be out on April 13th, which is also a good time to release a video like this (laughs).
I know you’ve been playing “Lickanthrope,” plus some other new tracks live at your recent shows, how has the fans response been so far?
It’s always weird, at first, playing the new songs live. It’s hard for the fans as well because they haven’t heard these songs yet. Instead of hearing maybe one of their favorites, they hear this song that they’ve never heard before, but overall I think it’s been really positive. I think it’s important to play these new songs live early so you get the feel of how they mesh with the other tracks, and you kind of realize how much you really enjoyed writing these songs back when we were getting the new record together. I think we will get a true reaction from the fans once the record is out of course and they are more familiar with the songs, but it’s never what you imagine, and I think that’s still cool. It keeps everything fresh ya know.
Speaking of live shows, you’ve got the European festivals lineup for the summer but when can we expect the return of Moonspell to the States?
As of now, the only thing confirmed so far is the Barge To Hell Cruise in December. So we are trying to book some things around January or February next year, but nothing is confirmed. Coming up we have the European festivals, some headliners here at home, so we are definitely staying busy, which is a good thing. We have toured the States many times, but we’ve really never brought the full Moonspell experience over to you guys, so we really want to make sure and do that when we come back. We want the longer sets, the lights, the whole experience, but we always want great support as well. Hopefully the response from the new record will be strong and we will be able to do that as soon as possible.
You guys were on the first 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise, and like you said, you are confirmed for the Barge To Hell Cruise in December. What are you looking most forward to on that trip?
Everything! Like you said, we played the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise two years ago and it was a blast. It was the first year, so no one really knew what to expect, but I thought it was such an amazing idea and the result was perfect. The atmosphere was incredible, everyone was super friendly, and it was really cool to hang out with the fans for us. It’s hard to do that during a normal festival or show, so that was a really positive experience for us. Of course it was a show, but it truly brought out the brotherhood side of metal with everyone. I remember talking with fans at 5Am one morning and they were all from different countries. I believe they were from Chile, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, New Zealand, Spain, and other places, but that has never happened to us before. It was a great idea and I can’t wait for the Barge To Hell cruise. Plus, I’ve never been to the Bahamas so that will be another check on my passport and we are all really excited!
Very cool. Now Fernando, you’ve been involved with Moonspell since 1989 and I was wondering what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from all of this time in the scene?
I think the best lesson that I’ve learned so far is to be able to learn. On the first few tours with this band we were really observing the other bands and how they acted, and it really taught us a lot for the future. Of course the shows were important, but everything behind the scenes was really important too and we had no idea about that stuff. One band I remember admiring was Skeletonwitch, who we toured with back in 2008 I believe. We were sitting on our big tour bus ya know, and they had a small van, but they were having the time of their lives. Now they are more established, which is awesome, but tt really took me back and I thought it was incredible. This was only four years ago ya know, so we are still learning and I think that’s a great thing for us as a band. That and learning how to be patient (laughs). There’s a ton of traveling and waiting around to play a one hour set, so that can be tiring, but at the end of the day it’s about putting on the best show possible for the fans, so we will gladly continue to do it for as long as we can.
Very cool! Do you have any final words to the fans?
I want to send a sincere thank you to all of our fans out there. I hope you really enjoy the new record, “Alpha Noir”, because we put a lot of work into it for you guys and we think we came out with something really special. We hope you enjoy the experience of the album and we hope to see you out on the road when we are near your area! Thanks for everything!