MOONSPELL | In the mind of Fernando Ribeiro

August 7th saw the re-release of MOONSPELL’s path-breaking, 1999- album The Butterfly Effect via Napalm Records. We grabbed the opportunity to have a chat with Fernando and pick his brain.

Welcome to MHF Magazine.

According to the butterfly effect, every single action we take could have an impact that will define anything and everything else. What was the point in your career as a musician that you think played a crucial role in who you are today?

When we released Wolfheart, back in 1995, we immediately went on tour supporting Morbid Angel and Immortal. We trekked around the whole of Europe, except Portugal, on a van. Like I said it was 1995, there was not a travelling network like the one of today, no internet, no mobile phones, no 24-hour service-stations. We navigated through maps. We did around 30.000 km on a van, where we slept, drove, listened to music, took girls in, drunk and ate. It was tiresome but it had some rewards. However, it took a big bite at my mental health then and I visited a therapist for the very first time. I wasn’t ready for such a nomad, punkish life, getting ripped off by Morbid Angel’s management, starving show after show, going for days with a shower. The tour eventually ended and Robert (Kampf), the boss from Century Media welcomed us on their old office, held the door for us and told us we just sold 50.000 copies from Wolfheart in a single month! We were in “business”, the van, the distance, those small, daily things were our butterfly effect.

Singer and lyricist, a thriving book writer and novelist, record and book label owner, husband and father… Do you get any sleep? How many hours do you work on an average day and how do you manage it all?

Of course, I do! I have to say, and I speak against myself, “being busy” it’s just something musicians say to look cool and sound professional. A lot of the musicians I know, when not on tour or studio, do absolutely nothing. Time is about right management, so I do get my sleeping times of 8 hours, sometimes even the luxury of a power nap. Also, I read a lot, especially at breakfast and all of a sudden 500 pages or more are gone. I also cook, take my kid to school, karate, swimming, to the beach. My wife, she’s a singer too, she’s got fibromyalgia so she’s often tired and can’t help so much around the house, so it what it is, and I am quite happy with the time I have. I am not a me person or need “personal” time for “myself”. That’s the wrong in the world, everybody is so self-centred these days.

Born and raised in Portugal, in what ways do you think your surroundings led the way to metal music? Was the genre popular where you grew up?

I still haven’t computed that relation between surroundings and going into Metal. Of course, I was raised on one of Lisbon’s poorest and most problematic suburbs, but I am not that sure I am the typical case of finding in music an escape for my “issues”. Life was too normal for that and my family was struggling to make a living, there was no time for such “first world problems” of finding oneself. I have two things that might explain me gravitating towards Metal. First: friendship. The guys I made friends with were into Rock and Metal and they acted like they possessed a secret. That intrigued me. The other, more prosaic, perhaps, was me when I was a kid at the beach, I saw this metalhead couple. She looked like she jumped from an erotic fantasy poster, long-haired, pagan face, slim body. He was a fully stacked metalhead, with a Holy Diver/Dio backpatch. I must say I fell in love. The genre wasn’t popular in Portugal, but we had a passionate scene back then that met at the few gigs around, flea markets, pubs, the usual “inner circle” Portuguese fashion.

You are re-releasing the path-breaking, 1999- album The Butterfly Effect via Napalm Records. Why now and why this specific record?

We have to look at the big plan here. It all started when I formed Alma Mater Records back here in Portugal to handle the Moonspell distro and promo. We took our band from the multinational “claw” and since then, things went much better. We suggested to Century Media to do a rerun of our back catalogue and they said yes. After all, Moonspell fans couldn’t get our LP’s or CD’s as they were sold out and never reprinted. People were paying astronomic sums for our old records and as much as I’m okay with that as a collector myself, not everybody has that kind of money.

It all started with Wolfheart and Irreligious, it made sense. It sold a lot (again) and we involved Napalm Records and we started last year with Sin/Pecado and now The Butterfly Effect. Up next will be Darkness and Hope and The Antidote, closing that Century Media cycle. So, it’s going to be chronological.

Let’s “Disappear Here”.  What’s your haven, your safe place where you literally or mentally disappear into when things get tough?

Books. I believe literature is the most complete art exactly because it doesn’t give you all the specific coordinates like sometimes music, cinema or art does. When you read tree in a book you think about a specific tree that you used to see when going to school or whatever. When I read tree, I think about a tree as well, but a different one. That individuality is my safe place, my alone place, my haven. I don’t have one in the real world, maybe my son in my lap, cuddling.

Let’s talk about “Adaptables”. Being adaptable means embracing change. In the metal music industry that’s not always the case as we thrive and feed on a feeling of old-school nostalgia. How do you overcome this barrier and implement innovation?

By not giving a shit. Also, I have learned, and it was hard, not to judge anyone else and mind my own business. That made all the difference for me. The thing is that Moonspell does get, twenty years after we did those albums, a kind of honoris causa thing, “path-breaking”, “avant-garde”, especially with albums such as The Butterfly Effect. I disagree. We were never a groundbreaking. But when it comes to songwriting, we have always been FREE.

You love poetry. What’s the most poetic thing that a fan has ever done for Moonspell?

A German fan named Irina had a violent car crash. During her recovery and therapy, she made a hand-written, leather-bound, drawing diary to keep her going through the motion. Eventually, we met and she brought along that magnificent piece of healing, all really well done and kept, with that leather-bound package for us to autograph and make it “special” for her. I commented on the beautiful edition she had there, one of a kind. After a couple of months, she handed me a copy, well, another original, to speak the truth for my own collection. She made it all again and probably, in the process, revived all of the trauma. I think that was quite poetic and I still keep that copy with my best books, at my home office.

What does the future hold for Moonspell during these uncertain times and what goals keep you motivated at the time being?

To keep our head above the waters has always been our goal and have some enjoyment while trying to breathe. Our new album is around the corner and we will expand our sound when it comes to our guiding principles of originality and quality. We are too old to set the bar down for us or to try and “adapt” to the pyro driven, middle earth, “sympho-nympho” metal of today. We are Moonspell and we will die trying.

Moonspell Official website

Napalm Records

Until we meet again,