The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll in the music industry, and now, bands are faced with more challenges, such as VISA fees for foreign bands to tour the United States will soon increase to over 50%. While there has been a severe split in political differences and opinions surrounding the virus, there’s one thing we can all agree on: 2020 sucks. We recently spoke to Moonspell mastermind Fernando Ribeiro to discuss these gloomy days, what the pandemic has been like in Portugal, to return to the stage, and releasing the reissue for The Butterfly Effect (order here) during these trying times.
What made you decide on making a reissue for The Butterfly Effect?
To be honest the reissue of The Butterfly Effect is a part of a larger plan to get the full back catalogue of MOONSPELL up and running and available for all the fans out there. I always found it bizarre that our fans, especially the younger ones, did not have the chance to get our physical records in their collections. Above all, it’s a lost opportunity. So we started off a couple of years ago with Wolfheart and Irreligious reissues that were very welcomed by the fans and then we tapped into the good response to have the rest of the catalogue available. The idea is also to have quality products, with bonus songs or mixes, extended artwork, liner notes, even different cover artwork like in The Butterfly Effect. It’s going extremely well, it’s a way to be in the radar of the fans and also to generate some attention and royalty money to the band under the unfortunate circumstances musicians live in the actual times.
What was the experience like having your first concert during a pandemic?
Rewarding. I kinda lost hope in the idea of playing live this year so I am nothing but thankful for the luck Moonspell had in being able to do so. Another gig but this time in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is coming around too. I have to say the fans were absolutely brilliant and civil, observing all the rules, while having the best time possible. That added to the thrill of coming back to stage. I know these are baby steps and a bit of a dystopia to play to seated people wearing a mask but we have to start somewhere, I believe.
From your experience with these new “COVID” shows with the new safety measures along with a limiting capacity, what do you think concerts will look like once tours can fully return?
I don’t know. I just feel that musicians should be ready for all circumstances even for the absolute failure of live music . For example, the US Visa department just raised the P1 visa costs and tightened the rules over foreign artists touring the USA. Add that to the pandemics and the death cost, regulations and political context of North America and I believe, COVID or not, that in the short term it will be impossible for bands as us to tour over there. Regarding the full return to form and to packed places I believe it’s still a long way that also depends on changing our way of living with the virus and not only fighting against it. Like I told you, nobody can be sure, one thing is what we want to happen, another is what’s true happening.
What was the process like recruiting Hugo on drums?
Pedro, our keyboard player and main songwriter he also functions as a musical director of Moonspell so the choice was his. I am not very keen on making those choices myself. I was a big friend of the old drummer and I really wanted someone else to take care of the recruitment process. Now that I have played with Hugo both in studio, for the new songs and in a live context, I think Pedro did a great choice as Hugo is a brilliant drummer who can bring a much needed difference on the field to Moonspell.
What experience did you go through during quarantine towards the early stages of the pandemic and what are the restrictions like for you now?
I tried to keep healthy but also sane. Actually we have been touring a lot and I was thinking already of having a slower year and spend time with the family, do the new album and have some other projects like my first novel prioritised. When the quarantine was mandatory Moonspell wasn’t in the middle of a tour or releasing a new album so we were lucky in that aspect. We saved for a rainy day and we don’t live above our possibilities, no fast cars, no mansions, just a regular blue-collar band so we absorbed the shock. But now it’s getting hard on us. Especially at a financial level and also being away from a lifestyle we have embraced since 1995, many years ago. Restrictions in Portugal vary but we have to use a mask in closed places, shops, etc. and a lot of other rules. The pandemic is also being handled politically which is a very bad thing as many times, if not all the time, politicians lack seriousness and criteria. So it gets confusing most times. Also people are very polarised about the virus, crazy shit is happening I feel it’s going either to torch up the world or we get to our senses and make it better. The middle ground is no more.
Are there any details you can reveal to us about the new album?
We are in our home studio with Jaime Arelliano Gomez (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Solstafir producer) and we are going through the new songs before we hit the UK to record them at Orgone studios in October. It will come out in February 2021 but we will have a couple of singles lined up before this horrible year ends. We feel it’s urgent our fans listen to some of our new music in the next few months. Expect a more melodic, doomy, moody, progressive and adult Moonspell.
While you’re experimenting with a few live shows, do you have any plans for a livestream or virtual tour?
We do. And we hope to announce it soon. We play an annual Halloween show and maybe this year we’ll turn into a virtual experience perhaps. Stay tuned for more news.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or add to your fans?
Stay safe, healthy and we wish you all the luck in the world to get by with your dear ones through this challenge that is COVID and all bad it brought along. Music is entertainment and solace in its essence and I do hope we can do our bit with Moonspell to bring some of it to our fans around the world. Thanks so much for the interview and all the best to everyone reading it.