THE DEMO CORNER
Moonspell has been around for quite a while. The band has undergone some style changes and bounced around a few record labels; through all of those changes the one constant in their existence is their live shows, and when finally given a chance to headline their own tour in 2009 in North America in support of Night Eternal, they ran with it. Fast forward to the present day and a new record label in Napalm Records is in place, as well as a new album in Alpha Noir, which will come with a companion album in Omega White for those lucky enough to get the special edition. Recently, Metal Psalter caught up with drummer Mike Gaspar to talk about the new arrangements, translating the love of horror movies into their video “Lickanthrope,” and an update on getting more Portuguese into celebrating Halloween.
Peter: Since the U.S. tour in 2009, Moonspell signed with Napalm Records. When did the deal come about and how did the band decide on the label?
Mike Gaspar: The deal actually was something that came after the whole album was practically done and recorded. We invested ourselves in this production and tried to worry about getting a contract later. This makes you push yourself a lot because you don´t know what the future holds and you’re not all [that] comfortable with a nice deal, so you don´t care if the album is good or not. We had some other record companies interested but Napalm was the best offer. We also felt a lot of enthusiasm from their part to have us and that felt good for a change. I think they are a label that has matured and are very focused on the quality of their work. I think this will be a good relationship. The people that are behind the labels are what make the huge difference. We feel they are honest, reliable, and huge metal fans. That makes us feel at home.
Peter: The first album to be released with Napalm Records is Alpha Noir. What are some of the things you can say about the album’s production and recording aspects?
Mike: It was a long process, over three years to be exact; we worked with Benny Richter for the first time on the pre-production and writing. He came to Portugal to stay with us and really get under our skin. It was also the first time we worked with someone that was younger than us! We felt a bit like dinosaurs. Time has passed and things have changed, and what we thought was boring and old fashioned is what he liked the most and maybe it’s because there are less bands these days and the older ones fade away more. The fresh look on music that Benny brought to the table was confusing at first, but in the end very creative and still ‘in the face’. The combination was just a thrill to see happen. We spent long hours every day working on the songs. We were never tired and just wanted to get more done while he was here.
The recording was also a complicated, but fun process.
We went back to the mighty Tue Madsen, with whom we have been working with on previous albums. He is our dream producer now that I know him so well. He’s always so calm and understanding, always going the extra mile to get every part just right. He just makes us sound huge.
The drums for the two albums were done in Denmark in his home studio. I was there two separate times in 2011. The rest of the album was recorded in our studio back in Portugal so that we would have more time for guitars, vocals, bass and keyboards. Tue also travelled to Portugal twice to set up the sound for the tracking. For everything else, Pedro (Paixao, guitarist and keyboardist) was our guy. He tracked all the instruments, and since we were at home we took our time. I think this was a good atmosphere so there was no need to rush things. We sent all files to Denmark and the album was mixed from there. We had to be in touch by internet and constantly hearing and sending opinions of the mixes. It was pretty crazy, but we got it done.
Peter: Who did the cover art for Alpha Noir and how does it reflect on the music and themes covered on the album?
Mike: Seth Siro Anton came to our need once again. He had done the cover of Night Eternal. That was our first experience with him and until the cover of Night Eternal was done we had never really met him. In the meanwhile we toured together with his band Septic Flesh and even shared a bus on tour. Let me tell you that we got along great and are very similar in influences and culture. We are both from the south of Europe and see things eye to eye in a manner that most cannot. I think this helped him understand where we are coming from and delivered a masterpiece of art that reflects the visual duality of our music. Also the symbolism is constant not only in the present but also touching our past and bringing icons from earlier albums, things that maybe only true fans will figure out. We gave him all the liberty to do as he pleased; we had total confidence in him and were sure he would impress us. His style of photography mixed with drawing all captured in one is nostalgic and romantic, but still vanguard. I think listening to the lyrics while looking at the art work a lot will make sense and also make the listening much more enjoyable. He is a true brother and we honor his talent. I can´t wait to get my edition and have the experience myself!
Peter: The special edition of the album will come with another album in Omega White. How does it differ from Alpha Noir and what do you hope the listener will get from the album?
Mike: Omega White is an experience that we wanted to have for a long time now. It has always been in the back of our heads as an album that was done uniquely with one direction of the great bands that influenced us in the more Gothic genre. We have experimented a lot with both worlds, Metal and Gothic. So it was pretty exciting to have this freedom of writing an album where we did not feel the pressure of asking ourselves “Is this heavy enough?” To the contrary, we took it to the limit surprising ourselves with such a refreshing collection of unique songs that nurture the mind and soul. Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative were, for sure, a big part the reason for such an album. It’s been under our skin since the early years of our career. I think we do it very well and felt the responsibility of giving our fans an album that they waited so long for; it’s an album to discover on your own, to be sure.
Peter: A video will be made for the song “Lickanthrope.” What are some of the specifics on the making of the video and what can people expect to see?
Mike: It is actually online as of Friday the 13th. It’s a great date to celebrate all the horror movies that fascinate us even today. This is also the spirit behind this video. Werewolves and little Miss Riding Hood are some of the characters in this story, but also many hints from movies like Dusk Till Dawn are incorporated in trying to create an atmosphere where all the creatures of the night can enjoy themselves. Filipe Melo was behind this crazy project. We had worked with him in the past with “I`ll See You in My Dreams,” the first short film done about zombies in Portugal. It was a great experience and he is extremely devoted and a huge fan of these classic Hammer movies. He really gets into the characters and by the end of the long hours of shooting he, himself, turns into a monster! It´s an amazing experience to work with true fans of the genre, which just makes it all the better and worthwhile, no matter what the sacrifice. All in all, we once again made history with the first Portuguese Werewolf transformation. It´s amazing for us, due to all of the production done in Portugal in a small town called Nandufe. It´s not like we live in Hollywood; it was a huge effort from everyone that worked on this to try and be part of movie history. It felt like a motion picture with such an incredible cast, director, camera people, wardrobe, makeup, characterization, and special effects done on set and post production. Wow! I truly hope everyone appreciates this devotion for the art of film making combined with music.
My two favorite worlds; it can´t get any better. Check it out and see for yourself.
Peter: For those who have never seen Moonspell live, what can someone expect in terms of performance and visuals?
Mike: For one, we play as loud and as tight as we can. The live experience gives you so much more than an album does. So for Moonspell, it has always been an issue to make the songs live sound much bigger and intense. We take the true rock n’ roll spirit on stage to have the best time possible. We entertain people, so to see a show with guys on stage that just play their instruments because they’re afraid to make a mistake is really boring for me. You got to give it all you’ve got every show and be better than the previous one. It doesn’t always happen, but the spirit keeps us in shape. This has crafted us into a band that feels at home when we perform and the fans are part of it; it’s one big celebration of dark metal music! The lights and props are essential to extend the visual and more theatrical aspects of our music. Sometimes we can´t have everything we want, due to being from Europe. In the United States it´s hard to travel with everything, but we still manage a way to take the essentials so the show will go on to it´s best possible visual performance. It’s taken many years investing and working with the right people. We should all support more bands live; I think this is the key to success. The road will teach you a lifetime of experiences and this is what will make or break a band. You have to stick together and get the job done because many people travel far and pay money to see their favorite bands. You just have to deliver and make sure they leave satisfied. It´s our honor on the line, and that’s how I see it. The bond with our fans has been amazing and we are truly grateful.
Peter: Are there any plans for a North American tour in support of Alpha Noir?
Mike: Well, we hope so; it would be crazy not to! With every release since 1999, we have toured the States for at least two times per album. We started later than in Europe, where we have toured since 1995. Our first albums were very successful and gave us great opportunities to tour with huge crowds. Our experience with the States has been quite long now and we have learned a lot with that. I even think it has blended into our music with the more rough edges you get from playing live. The whole rock n’ roll spirit is really intense and we love it. So far, the closest show we have booked is The Barge to Hell Cruise. We did the first 70,000 tons of Metal cruise and we did not know what to expect. We were amazed by the organization and the fans that just had a great time celebrating metal. I was truly proud to be part of such a positive community that gathers for the pleasure of heavy music.
Peter: In a previous interview, Moonspell was attempting to bring the spirit of Halloween to their home country of Portugal. Would you mind giving a progress report on this?
Mike: Sure, we just did a show celebrating Wolfheart. We played the entire album with extras and the fans went nuts and enjoyed it way more than I had anticipated. It was a sold out show and many came to celebrate Halloween with us. It´s become a custom and every time it gets better, but still something that only metal fans get into. We show up on prime TV and with tons of media. The Portuguese at least know way more about it than in the past, but I confess I miss doing a Halloween show in the States, as it´s always awesome to relive my childhood. I born in the States and did a lot trick or treating.
Peter: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Mike: Big thanks to everyone that has supported us throughout the years. You are dear to us. The Wolf Pack continues and we shall reunite for the howling.
We worked hard on these two beauties and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! See you all soon!
Moonspell's Mike Gaspar
April 17, 2012
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Brandoa, Lisbon PORTUGAL
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Gothic / Extreme Metal
Fernando Ribeiro: Vocals
Morning Blade: Guitars
Pedro Paixao: Guitars & Keyboards
Aires Pereira: Bass
Miguel Gaspar: Drums
Mortuary Vol. 1 Split (1993)
Anno Satanæ Demo (1993)
Goat on Fire/Wolves From
the Fog EP (1994)
Under the Moonspell EP (1994)
Live in Kracow '96 Split DVD (1996)
2econd Skin EP (1997)
Sin / Pecado (1998)
The Butterfly Effect(1999)
Darkness and Hope (2001)
The Antidote (2003)
Fear Split (2006)
The Great Silver Eye Comp. (2007)
Under Satanæ (2007)
Night Eternal (2008)
Lusitanian Metal Live CD/DVD (2008)
Alpha Noir / Omega White (2012)