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Interview with Miguel Gaspar from Moonspell

Interview with Miguel Gaspar from Moonspell by Danny (05-05-2008)

Moonspell is releasing “Night Eternal” and Miguel ‘Mike’ Gaspar was eager to tell us all about it. Although I was expecting an interview with Fernando Ribeiro, Mike turned out to be a perfect interviewee as well.

You’re both long enough in the band to know everything about it, isn’t it?
I sure do and I do know Fernando very well ;-)
You’re there from the beginning.
Yes, since the demo. I came into the band in 1992 and I was sixteen. so I have practically been raised in Moonspell
So, you weren’t with Morbid God
There was a drummer, at the time, but he was in the army and he disappeared and nobody knew where he was. He was going to record the first song, “The Serpent Angel”. And I was looking for a band and I suggested to do it, but then the drummer showed up out of nowhere and I lost the opportunity to record that song. But the drummer wasn’t good and after an audition I entered the band and recorded the demo. Everything went really fast, during those first years. In ’94 we had ‘Under The Moonspell’, in ’95 ‘Wolfheart’ and I was still only eighteen and we were already on tour. Those first years made us who we are now.

Let’s talk about the new album and start with the concept?
Fernando started early, writing the new lyrics, always searching for the right song to match the ideas he wanted to tell the audience. The main image on this album is the female presence. All the elements in our lives that we feel towards women. The way the world has treated them, with a lack of respect. The female presence is very important on “Night Eternal”, that’s why there are a lot of female vocals on the album. This kind of ‘woman’ feeling has brought us back to our mothers. And that nourishment we feel resembles a lot of the earth and we forget it’s a lot bigger than we are. We are the little insects around and we don’t respect all this, you know, with what we are doing to the earth. It’s going to come back at us, with a destruction that we are going to have in the end. That reflects to everything in your life. The natural resources will not last forever. It’s like with a relationship with your wife, your family, your friends, you have to put a lot of effort, a lot of love and a lot of time into it. That’s the interpretation I have, but I know Fernando feels the same about it, or we wouldn’t be in the same band. ;-)

It’s away from the usual concepts you had.
Yeah, but Fernando is exploding with ideas and poetry books and doing translations. He just translated the book “I Am Legend” into Portuguese, the book from which the movie was made. I don’t think that’s something a normal metal vocalist would be up to, but writing stories has always been Fernando’s world. It’s the biggest part of him. And we always followed him, because his stories are nice and open. I don’t write the lyrics, but I do definitely know how they started and what reason got him to write the songs. That’s because I’m part of his life and part of the band. I’m sometimes surprised that certain people discover a lot more in the lyrics than what’s really meant by us.
I also discover new things I didn’t think of at the time we were writing them. So it’s always ongoing.

Well, at least you don’t put ‘’inspired by Satan’ anymore in your booklets like you did on your early albums.
Hahaha, that’s good, but that was definitely the beginning of the band. It’s something that we don’t neglect, but during that age it was an extreme element that makes you want to start a band. We were part of a certain generation. I cutted myself and I don’t know what crazy satanic stuff we did at that time. We did fire breathing, we had rituals with candles in the forest. This had a lot to do with discovering. We never burnt down any churches or killed anyone. But Satan will always be around for that reason, you know, he inspired us, definitely in the theatrical way, but also in the way of living. It represents a lot of atheist questions and rebellion against things that you don’t feel are right for you. We come from a very catholic area, Portugal is very catholic. We were brought up in that way and it really sucked sometimes. We were preached what we should do or not do. We didn’t even have time to discover it for ourselves.
Some people are treating their kids like dogs, like they are stupid. It’s not right.
It shows a lot of the capabilities of men. When we look at history, it’s always men who makes war and who destroys everything. Even religion has always been a power.
If I have a good or bad life, I will always see the true nature of things in life and be able to see them that way.

Who’s writing the music? The whole band or you and Fernando?
The way we work has been changed over the years. With “Night Eternal”, it was Ricardo and Pedro, who did a lot of guitar work on their laptops. Sometimes I was listening to certain riffs and I was to play over them. I like giving it some temporal changes. Or should I stop before the chorus or go directly into it. And everybody was bringing in ideas.
Fernando always stays away during the start. Usually when we’re doing the songs, it’s just me, Pedro and Ricardo in the studio. We play a bit together and talk about which direction each song should go into. And then Fernando comes in. Last, there was a certain lyric for which he wanted a song that didn’t exist yet. And then we’re all very democratic. That’s what makes “Night Eternal” very interesting. We all came forward with our different ideas.
We always have different times in our lives and we want different directions. There were times, I wanted to do prog-ballads and Fernando wanted extreme black metal songs. And a few years later, I wanted to some black metal and Fernando preferred something very delicate.

It seems like all extremes have gotten more extreme on the new album. The quiet parts are more melodic, the heavy parts are darker,…?
It’s always hard to have all these different elements on one album. We always had that problem. When we recorded “Wolfheart”, Waldemar wanted to kill us because we had too many influences. He couldn’t believe the spirit we had. Because we came from a small village in Portugal and in the eighties and nineties there were only a few places you could hang out to get a beer and listen to music. Everybody hung out there, from punk to rock to goth to whatever. And these friendships that were created had their influences on our music. I had friends that listened to The Cure and Bauhaus and Pedro was into the Mersey Beat. And there’s also the more Arabic influence that Portugal has. So all four of us, we have these elements and styles like black metal, death metal and many more. And we finally made an album where we could use all of that. They all sound good and they all go well together. We didn’t even think about it. It all came up naturally. We weren’t even very confident in the beginning until we started to record the album because we’d never played the songs together, until we got to Danmark. We just practiced as much as we could. I played drums everyday. They did all the backing choirs with the Crystal Mountain Singers. Pedro didn’t have enough time and had to do some nights in the studio. That gave the maternal sound throughout the new album. It became connected to bring the message of the philosophical side of what Fernando is trying to say, to the music. It’s almost perfection. I think it’s perfection, because that’s what I like to think of us ;-), We definitely grooved on “Night Eternal”

You knew Tue Madsen for a long time?
This is the first full album with him. We met previously with the re-recording of “Under Satanae” and we discovered his capabilities. He made us feel really comfortable in his home, in his personal studio. He has a little room for the recording of the vocals and the guitars. We even had to rent a special studio for the drums.

There is no official bass player in Moonspell?
We chose Niclas Etelävuori from Amorphis because he did “Antidote”, which was absolutely amazing. He’s experienced and a good friend of ours. When I heard the demo tracks, on which Waldemar played the bass, I felt that we needed someone like Niclas. He has a very good control over his sounds and he brought the vintage seventies to the band. Portuguese musicians have a background of rock and roll, while Niclas is experienced with black and death metal.
Ares doesn’t have a problem with that?
He actually had no choice. With the auditions, there were a few conditions and this was one of them. He could do the odd recordings like with “Under Satanae”. That was the perfect album for a first time recording. I think it was a great experience for him, but that were the older songs which needed a different approach. Ares is more a violent bass player. He doesn’t really care what he’s playing. He’s going for the feelings and for the fans.

Is there any pressure from the record company? For example to make a Memorial Pt2?
With SPV, things are very different. They definitely don’t have any decisions to make towards our sound or music. Even when we signed to them, they thought that we were more gothic, for some reason. Apparently they hadn’t had a careful listening to “Memorial”
You can’t really compare the two albums. “Memorial” was two years ago. “Night Eternal” reaches another level, because of the playing and the sounds. The melodies are a lot more in your face. Especially the guitar playing is a lot more Scandinavian, a lot faster. While the drums are not so confined. They sound very alive.
Also the vocals, I never heard Fernando with such clear vocals, in both areas, the softer and the extreme parts. You can hear, he’s a lot more comfortable. So it’s definitely a step up.

I especially like the song with Anneke van Giersbergen, “Scorpion Flower”
That’s an awesome song. I think Pedro found the rhythm, although he didn’t like it very much and then Fernando said: “That’s perfect for a duet that I’m thinking of”. So we started to think about a female vocalist and Anneke came to our mind, because we toured with The Gathering in the past. She certainly brought the right energy to the song. She’s also in the video. If you know her from The Gathering or from her new project Agua de Annique, you will be surprised because no one has ever seen her like this. We want to bring her to Rock in Rio in Portugal. That would be great. To see her as front woman with a Portuguese band in front of a lot of Portuguese people, would be amazing.

Is there a special bond with Belgrade? Because Finisterra was filmed there and now the videos are shot there again?
It’s because the production company is over there. They are very professional in what they do and they offer us an amazing package. (hotel, food, lights,…) They are a lot cheaper than what you find in our region. It would be impossible to have the same quality of videos with the same dedication and know-how, especially with “Night Eternal”.

Is your way of putting your album on the net with the so-called widget not risky?
We really wanted to promote the album. We got fed up with all the download bullshit as happened with “Under Satanae”. We wanted to do the premiere on our MySpace, to let people hear our songs. We wanted to be prepared and be the first to let the fans hear our music and the widget is revolutionary and futuristic.

It was an honour to interview you, Mike. See you in Antwerp in December.
OK, thanks, bye.

Geplaatst door danny op dinsdag 03 juni 2008 - 13:50:54
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