Moonspell: From Lisboa To The Sunset Strip
The almighty Moonspell from Lisbon, Portugal made their way back to the wilds of the Sunset Strip, performing on an epic metal show also featuring the likes of Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity, and Omnium Gatherum. Touring the states in support of their dynamic 1755 magnum opus – now available via Napalm Records – Moonspell presented an intensely imaginative performance featuring music from a vast and brilliant career. Just prior to their set, Highwire Daze Online caught up with Moonspell’s charismatic front man Fernando Ribeiro to discuss their 1755 album, their superbly ambitious Lisboa Under The Spell live endeavor, performing at the legendary Whisky A Go Go, being one of the first metal bands to tour the States a few months after the 9/11 attacks, and a whole lot more! Read on…
Is there any overall story or concept behind your latest album 1755?
Actually it’s a full concept album – it’s about an event in Portuguese history, which was a very big natural disaster – an earthquake that devastated the city of Lisbon – our capital – on the first of November in 1755. We came up with the concept because it was very interesting – it’s a historical event – and beside the death count and all the tragedies that happened that day in Lisbon, it was also the violence awakening from middle age Portugal to a much more modern 18th Century Portugal – to where everything was happening around the world, and Portugal was still very old school with The Inquisition, the church and the clerical power – and the earthquake changed that. And to put that on a metal album really took people by surprise- and they really enjoyed it, because metal and history, I think, go very well together.
You also did a recent live album/DVD Lisboa Under the Spell. That was quite an ambitious undertaking. What was it like to revisit the two early albums in their entirety?
Well I have to say, personally as a music fan, it’s very rare that I sit down and listen to the live albums of DVD’s that I like – like Live After Death by Maiden or Maiden Rock In Rio – I think they made an effort to make a really strong album. So that was our intention with Lisboa Under the Spell – to make a very complete outtake of the band’s live history. Play our first two albums – play a three hour show together with Extinct. Because I think to release such a thing in the market – with all the respect to the festivals or to do it in a different context – was not something we were very interested in. So we kind of took a while to produce all of this – the triple album and the triple DVD. And I think for the fan, it’s much more rewarding, because they can get something that is much more meaningful than just another live release. I think that live releases don’t get so much attention these days, but this one with Moonspell is getting a lot of attention. And I think because it’s beefed up and it’s really complete if you are a Moonspell fan.
What goes through your mind when Moonspell is playing the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip?
I love it! I mean, its rock and roll history. Especially coming out from Portugal, you don’t get to probably play or visit much of the rock and roll history which was made here on this street – with The Whisky on top. I feel that it’s great! The first time we played here was 20 years ago and it was pretty exciting – I told all of my friends. And I think that 20 years after, it still has this great feeling that we’re playing a really special place – with a different atmosphere and a different responsibility. Everybody has played here. It’s one of those places that you only hear about – it’s kind of like a fictional place until you get to play it yourself.
In 2001, you were one of the first overseas metal bands to tour here in the State following the 9/11 attacks. What was the experience like touring in the States at the time, especially on an album called Darkness and Hope?
We were even supposed to tour around 9/11, but we had to postpone that tour like many bands did, because everybody was very terrified and confused – not only in America but in Europe – because we didn’t know what was going on. Darkness and Hope was probably a good way of reflecting what was happening in the States back then, because historically the States has never been really attacked. All countries in Europe have been invaded – left alone and invaded again. And here, the history is a bit different, and it was the first terrorist attack that hit America in a way that we’ve only seen in movies before. So people were sad. But I also saw a lot of people rebuilding – not only in New York but their whole ways of looking to the world. In a strange way, that’s what was happening in Lisbon in 1755 – although it was not a terrorist attack. Most of history is made up of cities which fall and rise – and I think that was the case with New York – and all of America. Even though the attack was in New York, every American felt it like it was just outside their place. It was a very heavy thing. Fortunately thing have become better in every aspect since that unfortunate year.
Do you have any messages for Moonspell fans here in the States?
I would like to thank everyone that has seen us live this time throughout the States. The support for this tour has been incredible – we’re very thankful and we’re very happy to be on this run. It’s made with great friends and great musicians – Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis and Omnium Gatherum. So I think it’s definitely one of our best tours so far in the States – especially the responses of the crowds. So we look forward to come back – and thanks again!
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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