MOONSPELL – Interview with Miguel Gaspar
MOONSPELL, the long standing ambassadors of Portuguese metal, are about to unleash a double album “Alpha Noir / Omega White”, which promises to be the crowning of their 20 year musical career. In anticipation of the eagerly awaited release (April 27 Europe/May 8 US, via Napalm Records), Beyond the Dark Horizon spoke with drummer Miguel Gaspar about the new album’s main reference points and some of the band’s near future plans.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Greetings Miguel, and thanks for speaking with Beyond the Dark Horizon! How are you?
Miguel Gaspar: It´s been crazy over here at the Moonspell camp and we are all helping to get the word out on the new album. I am fine and actually getting ready to go to the airport. We have a festival in Italy, the first since the release of the album! Pretty anxious and excited to start the new cycle of shows.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: For the last two decades Moonspell have been rocking the dark metal scene, bringing on surprising variation with almost every new release, so what is the secret to the band’s longevity and stylistic freshness?
Miguel Gaspar: I think our story is very original due to the fact that we are the only Portuguese band to have such a career. We started with nothing and had to build everything on our own. We had much independence and free will at a very young age. Success came also at the very beginning, all to quick if you ask me. Somehow the years have passed differently for us, kinda like if time stood still and our inspiration for music just grew each time more. We are for sure older and feel a bit drained from all the touring. But in reality still have the same fire we did 20 years ago! Living in Portugal also keeps us away from all the drama of big cities where everyone is trying to be a rock star. We stayed humble and have simple lives with a lot of commitment and hard work on a daily basis. Our headquarters is our studio “Inferno” where we meet everyday to rehearse, compose, prepare productions for events and tours, do interviews, plan merchandise you name it it happens there! We know that when you lose the momentum it’s much harder to be in shape, also inspiration. We don´t need long vacations, never have. We are the kinda band that will go straight off the bus after a tour and do an album. Irreligeous was like that. It proved to be a great album. We like to keep the live spirit constantly in our music. This method has really paid off. The brotherhood in the band and the relation with everyone that works with us is also something that we have worked on over years to reach the best comfortable situation so that it´s possible to have more playing and less worrying about the chaos that goes around us. Our techs Rock!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Let’s talk about the new album: it’s been almost 4 years since the first great echoes of “Night Eternal” and now you’re luring your fans with a double release under the antithetic name of “Alpha Noir” / “Omega White”. Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting process and the motivation behind this dual structure?
Miguel Gaspar: The idea came up as a joke at first by Pedro. He said it was the only thing we hadn´t done yet! These days you try to put extras on an album to help it sail, like dvd, studio images, media books, videos etc.
To offer the fans an entire extra album full of original songs was the best idea and most honest in our opinion. We treasure the relationship we have with the audience and had a gut feeling that in these days where everything is about time and money to deliver something that will make people take time to enjoy all the music. It´s a romantic thought from the past where good music was enough to fulfill our days.
This concept was an awesome tool for song writing. We divided all ideas into 2 categories. Alpha and Omega. This gave us a lot of freedom to take the songs to other levels without compromise. We live with the duality of metal and go with the perfect combination in one song. This time we just split and tried to deliver the best metal album that would make you want to headbang like a teenager. The other is a more mature and romantic approach to the Goth rock elements that we love and are known for in albums like Irreligious and Sin. We are a complex band but maybe it works for us!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Without spoiling the surprise factor surrounding the new material, can you indulge us with some insight into the “Alpha Noir” atmosphere? What sets it apart from your previous albums?
Miguel Gaspar: The biggest aspect for me is the Guitar riffs! We worked hard as a band to get the best structures and heaviness possible. The vocals are also a lot catchier with a demon at work! Fernando did an amazing job with the lyrics meeting the music and the right balance of output. He fine-tuned his instrument like drums. It takes a lot of team work to get the sound and playing right in the pocket. The strength is incredible and took it to another level that we were not use to. We put no breaks on this one; we drove all songs to the edge as much as we could. We never did that in the past. We normally have fast songs mixed with goth type ballads. Albums like Kill Em All from Metallica inspired me a lot. To have that eager and naive spirit. But full of uncontrolled testosterone. I´m pretty proud of this release since I´m a huge metal fan. Mercyful Fate, Testament, Bathory and all the good thrash from the 80´s was a huge influence! When you get older you miss more what got you into this in the first place. The younger generation needs some good head banging! he he
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Could “Alpha Noir” and its counterpart “Omega White” be in any way linked with the great shift in social and personal consciousness that is now taking place worldwide, like an encouragement to do away with outdated patterns and channel the change into the right way? (Quote: “We want a new world!”)
Miguel Gaspar: For sure it´s a statement! Each time more people don´t think for themselves and lead lives controlled by others. We have the power to lead our own future but are too lazy or scared to do so. We live in a decadent time where we do not see people anymore, just numbers. This has a major toll on everyone. I feel that we are a society that is depressed, uninspired and has given up on dreams! Who wouldn’t really! When I see the news I feel like that. Politicians are scary. They are the best actors in the world. How can you believe anything they say when you know it´s always gonna be about power and money. This is so sad, we should be talking and resolving bigger issues like the harm we have done to our planet. The starvation of so many people. There are people out there that could solve this easily if they really wanted to. But there you go, there’s no money making in saving the world! We just feel that anyone can make a difference. Speak your mind and do something to make your life and the ones that surround you better! Let´s Rock!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Speaking about the “Omega White” CD and the recently offered pre-taste by the sound of the “White Skies” track – surfacing an astonishing and pleasant resemblance of Fernando’s vocals to Type O Negative’s Peter Steele – what can you tell us about the concept behind this so called ‘softer’ part of Moonspell? Would a continuation of the ‘Darkness and Hope’ motif be valid at this point? (Quote: “I carry the news of darkness and hope”)
Miguel Gaspar: Omega White is an album that we wanted to have for the years of great music listening to bands like Type O Negative, Sisters of Mercy and even 80´s hard rock. It has been hard to do songs like this due to the intensity we have given in the more up tempo metal orientated tracks. So this was a pure pleasure for us to do. The sensitivity, the melodies, fragile moments, keyboards and more keyboards just missed them so much from the past. I think we found our selves in this style and had a duty to fulfill this genre with the best songs possible. Like a tribute to Rock! The passing of Peter Steele was very hard to deal with. We toured together, had mutual friends and felt like he was a big brother that showed us the ropes. Going back to this style that made us stand out from everyone in the 90´s enriched our sound and helped deal with all the tragedies. If we are anywhere compared to our idols then its such an honor. Can´t wait to meet him in the past life for the ultimate jam! His bass was like no other.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: The album cover is a piece of finest art in itself and Seth Siro Anton’s popularity is on the rise these days with his involvement in so many artistic projects. How did the cover art come together, I mean how much insight did the artist have in the album’s general concept?
Miguel Gaspar: With this album Seth had complete freedom and control over almost everything. Fernando sent his ideas, concepts and lyrics. Also maybe a brief talk on the phone to discuss the direction of the art work. Being a dual album with 2 covers and how it would come together. This took a bit of time to explain and you can imagine between Portuguese and Greek it can get confusing! he he
But seriously after the other experience with Night Eternal where we had more input and discussed the possibilities much more. This one was all done with complete confidence in Seth’s ideas and vision. We knew there was no need to get in the way and knew he would deliver the finest most artistic piece of work with a true connection to the music and the people behind it. He knows us very well personally and has followed our career from the very start. So he knows what fits better and respects the past bringing that feeling back to the covers of our albums but yet renewed with so much more charisma and passion. Thank you my Greek Brother the gods have blessed you!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Now staying in the visual (and performing) arts field, let’s talk about your new video “Lickanthrope”. From entertainment to promotion and message carrier, what’s the role of a video in your opinion, and what did it take for “Lickanthrope” to be selected for such a purpose?
Miguel Gaspar: In our case we try to bring to life the imagination behind the music and the lyrics. To have something that will pull you in and never let go. It´s hard to do in only four minutes. A movie would be more complete for albums like ours. But still you can do so much in such a short time. This is important to promote albums but at the same time it´s an opportunity to fulfill childhood dreams. I love the fantasy of cinema so to be part of it and please others with all the scary horror scenes with powerful music is the ultimate gratification. The story of werewolves and little red riding hood in a bar having shots is just a blast to witness. Like Fernando says, “We don´t want to be saved” this means we like being who we are. We like metal, tattoos, vampires, dark clothes and all the crazy stuff that makes your life so much better! This is a strong message that deals with important issues of how we felt and still feel in this clean but false society. Metal On!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Speaking of ways to convey one’s message to the world, I know this has already been asked in one way or another, but still, what do you think of the omniscient Internet in our age of advancing technology and communication: is it a blessing, is it a curse? Do you think physical releases will one day lose ground in front of the digital ones?
Miguel Gaspar: We have been around this subject for years. The internet made our lives much easier and better for what we do! The true fans like ourselves will always want the original copy. It just has to be really good for you to want to spend your money on it. The options these days are crazy and you can get most of it for free. We found that maybe you sell less albums but more people go to shows or buy your merch. There is so many ways to get around this. Complaining about it will not help for sure. I can not blame a kid that has no money wanting to listen to our album by a download. When he grows up and makes his own money he might get those albums like I have done. I really just see a positive way of getting our music to so many more people and places that are hard to get real copies in their countries. Metal is prohibited is some places or hard to get in poorer countries. This is an awesome way to go over that boundary! Just wish kids these days would get out more or learn to actually play an instrument! This is the one negative side to it. To many hours in front of a screen for such a young mind that should be out playing.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: With the new album coming out, what’s next for Moonspell?
Miguel Gaspar: We are starting European festivals and also have a big release party in Lisbon on the 12th of May in a bullfighting arena where we will play both full albums and many of our classics! It will be one huge party. Hope to get to the states next year the closest we will be at is the Barge to Hell cruise 40 bands 5 days in the Caribbean, what a pleasure ha ha!
Beyond the Dark Horizon: I remember being amazed at the video projections enhancing your live shows in support of the “Night Eternal” album; have you prepared anything similar for your upcoming live set? What should fans expect?
Miguel Gaspar: Yes and no!! Alpha Noir will have an old school image to it. We think it fits better to the music. Going back to cool back drops, props even pyro when we get the chance. Let´s say we want a full on back in the day metal show!!
Omega White for sure will have more ambiance with a cleaner look with subtle projections that will have sometimes a hypnotic effect. I guess we will incorporate a bit of both this time around. We never like to do the same thing, every album has a new concept.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Thank you very much for doing this interview. Any last words under the Spell of the Moon?
Miguel Gaspar: Many thanks for the interview. I hope you enjoyed it and that it was informative. A big hug to all the great fans and friends that follow us for so long. You are always with us at all time, without your support we would be doomed. Dark greetings and have a great time whenever you can! See you at the bar soon!