This is Lee Walker from Planet Mosh meeting up with Mike Gaspar of Moonspell.
LW –Thanks for taking the time out to discuss things Moonspell related for the Planetmosh readers.
LW – For the people out there just discovering Moonspell as a result of this interview how did the band start?
MG – We started back in ‘92 previously the band was called Morbid God and had only one promo track called “Serpent Angel”. I came into the band and we changed the name because it made no sense for the project we wanted and also the new line up. In ‘93 we released our first demo “Anno Satanae”. This brought us some attention in the black metal underground and started to get a lot of fan mail from all over the world. Of coarse it took two weeks to get stuff in the mail not like today. We had our own internet and communication already established. We learned how to organise our selves at a very young age and it stuck till today. We were part of the Black Metal movement trying to come up with something new using our Southern European influences. This was a new era of metal bands that came from exotic countries. Were is Portugal? that was the beauty you didn’t have to come from Scandinavia to make good metal. We wanted to prove that! We got a deal for our first EP printed on a CD. For the time it was a big deal. Adipocere Records from France released it and with our fresh approach to music we landed a six album deal with Century Media records that pretty much made our career into a life we thought impossible to achieve. Wolfheart our first LP was a huge surprise to many in the industry. It was to be just another newcomer. After our first tour with Morbid Angel and Immortal things changed and we were bigger than we thought. The sales of our album grew all during the tour. Tours were huge back then almost 60 shows non stop. It made us who we are today! 20 years after we are still around to make the best dark music possible.
LW – What made you chose the name Moonspell for the band?
MG – For us it is a constant connection with life and all that is around us. The night represents the darker side that we indulge our selves with, the terror and fright that we all hide from but are so anxious for in reality. Moonspell has elements that relate to nature, the freedom and unknown of the wild. The primitive side that wants to hunt but also the beauty of intelligence that will never stop to evolve. In the beginning it was maybe just a cool name that attracted us due to our fascination to the moon. Like a pack of wolves howling in the night. The brotherhood sealed with blood . The romanticism of being part of your own imagination and not others. Always under the spell
LW – What is the metal scene like in Portugal?
MG – It’s pretty complicated coming from a country that did not have much freedom. Until the late 70´s it was hard to listen and obtain music. It was also not accepted well in our culture. This left a big gap in the learning and access to instruments or the outside world in general. So things took way longer to do around here. Not many producers or studios new much about metal. We had to invent our own way of doing things. In Germany, England and the States everyone one was way ahead of us do to the large industry and popularity of Rock n Roll later hard rock and metal and all the other genres in between. So it was a constant fight to get your name out, do shows, record and have a rehearsal place. I think many bands we discouraged and just gave up! I saw a lot of quality back in the 90´s but it seemed it was just too hard. Moonspell gave up everything to be where we are today. Dropped out of school, left jobs , girlfriends missed out on all the friends parties you name it, we were on the road or in the studio. It takes pure commitment and unfortunately I see a lack of it here. But the Portuguese fans are the best in the worlds we love to see metal shows and the bigger the better. Like Mettallica in Rock in Rio Lisbon for 90.000 crazy fans. We played that year also ! he he. The shows are more and better just not many national acts we are still the only to have a solid career. We hope for this to change I think the new generation might have a chance. As long as they keep this awesome form of music alive always always support them.
LW – What bands/artists have influenced you over the years ?
MG – I personally as an 8 year old just listened to Kiss, Motley Crue, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and many of the glam rock bands of the 80’s. It got korny cause of the image but man I just got an album from Cinderella and that shit is heavy a lot of blues and hard playing not so girly after all!!!
I was living in the States and moved to Portugal in ‘88 I was 12 years old. Here the crowd I hanged out with was more into stuff like Kreator, Slayer, Metallica, Bathory, Merceful Fate and Iron Maiden of course. Fans felt more desperate for lack of shows so everyone would get together with there metal vests and go to the beach and listen to extreme albums together. This was for me! I immediately started to play in a thrash cover band by the time I was 13. But my first real band Decayed took me the following year part of a more closed circle of the underground that were into bands like Root, Samael,Venom, Possessed, the more satanic bands, Bathory being the one we all looked up to. This experience made me ready for Moonspell and connected to the same influences and took everything really seriously.
Type O Negative was the band that really connected though. The mix of decadence and beauty from an urban chaotic surrounding with hardcore background but turned into a more sophisticated art form with true raw talent. The outcasts ! We identified with this feeling and for sure it’s the band we learned the most from music wise and on the road.
The traditional fado from Portugal and all the ethnic roots due to a long history and many wars in our land was a pure dominant in our compositions, We not only got ideas from Portuguese folk but also great bands like Dead Can Dance . It’s like listening to you soul. So you see we were not your typical satanic church burning band. Our vision was much grander. Never liked to be a copy of no one .
LW – I have seen your sounds described as being everything from “Dark Wave”, Goth through to Doom and Metal. How would you describe it ?
MG – That and much more I would say. To tell you the truth we are just huge metal fans and went through many genres. Thrash, Death, Black were the top of our list back in the day. But then we also discovered bands like the Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Joy Division, Depech Mode, Cathedral, Candlemass and many more. We have experimented with this combination of goth metal especially albums like “Irreligious” from ‘96 just hit the perfect nerve and the request for goth but heavier became very popular. I think Moonspell played a strong roll at the time. Things have changed a lot and so have we, but to limit ourselves to one method and not explore every option and desire would not be us. We have learned how to do it better over and over. Always learning trying our best. We love it we can be playing at Zillo a goth fest and the next day at Wacken on a pure metal line up. We also have been billed with only hardcore bands and we get along great ! Go figure
LW – You have completed tours with the likes of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu, Borgi, and Danzig, Lacuna Coil. How has those experiences effected the band?
MG – It’s been a long road and these are bands we know forever. I see them more as friends and to be together on the road is always great fun. It’s like a school trip really. You just get to do a lot more thing that you wouldn’t be allowed to do in school ! Lacuna Coil being from the south is of course like having your cousins over for a family day. We are so alike and have such similar experiences. Cradle Of Filth did their first show in Lisbon with us back in ‘94 so you can imagine how it feels to still be doing the same thing we did when we were so young . We have learned from each others success and are part of the same generation. We all just come from other parts of the world. Kinda like the metal Olympics. I am very proud of all of them and always an honour to share the stage. Danzig has been around way longer than any of us but the tour I did with him I saw almost every show it was great the stage presence and energy was pure and genuine. It made me feel small and like a kid again. Great respect a true gentlemen treated us like royalty. We did listen to a lot of Danzig back in the day! Mother!!!!
LW – What has been your most memorable experience to date?
MG – We have been fortunate and have many stories but I guess the first time we went to South America and Mexico. The first time was in 1998 with the Sin album. Only with our third release we did shows in another continent and had always toured in Europe. I remember having body guards and some military tension around us when we arrived. Luckily most of them were fans! The crowds were overwhelming with 3 to 4 thousand capacity venues. Autograph sessions that lasted for hours with queues a mile long. One show in Colombia was held in a football stadium but the audience had to be seated far from the stage with a huge gap of green fields. It was absurd to play but still they went insane through out the whole show. In the end they invaded the field and we had to run strait into some cars and back to the hotel! Kinda felt like Guns’n’Roses ha ha!
Ever since we have a great connection and go there with every album the long travels and lack of sleep are for sure worth it.
LW – You are about to release your latest album “Alpha Noir/Omega White” through Napalm Records. How did this album come together?
MG – It happened naturally over the 3 year time period that we composed. At first we just wanted a normal set list of songs that would represent who we are today as a band. Writing became difficult at a point cause some songs were so different from one another. Always finding a balance from metal to Goth. It even disturbed us a bit in the actual song writing of each individual song. So I remember just as a form of working we started to write songs to the heaviest point possible with nothing holding us back! Other time we would explore our more Goth rock influences. It worked very well our creativity and unlocked many feeling we hadn’t had for a long time. So the double album was never intentional but with the evolution of thing it made sense. It’s something we’ve never done and makes sense for the wide audience we have. To sell both separately would be like a lost twin at birth. So we insisted till the end so it would make sense. Also shows a lot of who we are for our 20th year anniversary. A true gift to all that have supported us through thick and thin. Like a tribute to our fans.
LW – How do you think it compares to your previous releases such as Night Eternal, The Antidote, Wolfheart, Under The Moonspell etc ?
MG – It’s really had to compare because we never release an album with the same formula. We always start albums first by talking with each other and finding the direction and inspiration for each album. Wolfheart we were so young and thirsty to prove ourselves and be respected by elders . To have that kind of every again only with a time machine. Can’t really see me doing an album again like that. Very inexperienced musician with crazy ideas and a lot of refinance in the lyrics and image. We wanted to stand out and not be another black metal band with corpse paint. The wolfpack howled and the night came, it was a journey of pure adrenaline and novelty. The albums that came after especially Irreligious gave us much fame and fortune. We had a sound that was original and throbbing in the community. I think compared to that this album is much more mature and certain of it’s message. We are much more experienced and kick the shit out of our selves to come up with the best songs. This album stands out for the intensity of metal stuff we never did before. The white album is a guilty pleasure a fine wine, the perfect night with the girl or boy of your dreams. We dreamt of an album that would be more Sisters and Type O Negative but never had the chance. The main album releases have been heavier and heavier and did not want to stop this process thing were really working out great for us. This way we finally felt freedom to do our best in both styles.
LW – Could you give the Planetmosh readers an overview of the album ?
MG – Alpha: The Arena. The stronghold. The fist up in the air. This inspired us to have an album that was like a punch in the stomach , the feeling of climbing walls with so much intensity. Kinda like when I heard Kill Em All from Metallica I just wanted to rip my flesh of my bones listening to that sound raw, but the quality of riffs would not be lost in the mayhem . Topics go from werewolves, pure fear, standing up for ones identity going deep in our roots, never turning back never the same mistake. It’s a very proud album with no bullshit.
Omega: The healing room. The jewel. The head hanging down like the sunset.
The 80´s rock and goth movement played a huge role. The simplicity to song structures making songs much more important than the details. Music has become really complex, this effects the sound and it’s expression. Grabbing hold of our dark gothic experience we really wanted to go deeper in our souls and do what we do best. The confidence of doing good songs with sensual, romantic, and poetic music wise and lyrics is not easy. At what point does this just sound cheesy? we had to over come that and follow our hearts to reach that goal. We matured and just don’t care really what people say. We know there is a huge public out there that loves this stuff. At shows you see a much bigger mix of genres compared to the past. We represent and identify completely with this new age we were never just into this our that music is good our shit!
LW – What are your favourite songs from it ?
MG – Alpha Noir, Love is Blasphemy and Sacrificial are my top songs at the moment.
LW – If you had to pick one song to sum up Moonspell right now what would it be?
MG – Alma Mater of course. It’s a song that has our history our blood our sweat, tears, dirt and approval of so many all over the world. It’s like a National Anthem to us and those that identify with this message. Unity and a place called home that excepts us for who we are. We fought and risked it all, it proved that any band from any place no matter how small our isolated you are . It can happen !
LW – Besides the album release what do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
MG – We will be doing many summer festivals. The touring has never stopped and has even gotten better with our older albums. It seams like many people are nostalgic or never had the chance or even too young to see us live with our earlier albums. So we have been doing some shows with Wolfheart and Irreligious were we play the exact set list as on the album. It’s amazing not to sound old but this really touches me. This for sure makes our playing abilities and options wide open.
We will be at Wacken for a special show with a small orchestra. Barge to Hell the cruise ship festival from Miami to the Bahamas and back with 40 metal bands will be part of the schedule. More like vacations, this will be in December. South America,
European tour and maybe the States will be all part of 2012. What a Hell of year.
LW – Are there any bands out there you would recommend keeping an eye on right now ?
MG – Septic Flesh for sure. They are a great death metal band for our times. On album and live. We first toured with them with Cradle of Filth and Gorgoroth . They hadn’t had much touring experience but still performed for the time with great enthusiasm. I believe that they have been really busy with many requests for shows and tours. Definitely a band to follow. Not to mention the great art work and concepts behind each album.
It’s hard to follow bands these days I get so disappointed with the lack of playing and showmanship live. If you can’t cut it on stage get a job! I hope to see more up and coming metal bands it’s got a bit boring lately.
LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?
MG – Just would like to than you all for following and supporting us for so long. We are closer and closer to our fans over the years sometimes even directed us when all seamed lost and confused. It wouldn’t make any sense continuing without them. We are forever and humbly grateful. Stay metal stay true see you on tour sooner than later brothers and sisters.
Saudações a todos,
Hail to all,
For more information on Moonspell please check out the bands official Website HEREor their Facebook Page