Moonspell (Alcatraz 2017)

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Moonspell is releasing studio album number eleven “1755” on November 3 via Napalm Records. On this new album you’ll hear them as you’ve never heard Moonspell before! “A historical, rigorous, serious, artistic record. A black beast from Portugal that the metal scene so craves for.”

We had the chance to talk with keyboardist Pedro Paixão from Moonspell before their show at Alcatraz Metal Festival.

Hi, how are you?
Great festival, I’m doing fine, thanks.

Where did the name Moonspell come from?
I joined the band 1 year after they changed their name to Moonspell. Before they were called Morbid God and in 1992 they wanted another name. Everyone had suggestions, the name Moonspell won. The other alternatives were bad. For me Moonspell was the name to do something in music and join the band.

How come you joined Moonspell?
I ask myself that also a lot. I wasn’t into music back then. I listened to music, but I didn’t play music. In 1992 I became friends with Fernando and saw some rehearsals. My brother was a metal fan and I started to listen as well. I bought a keyboard and I met Fernando, it all came together and then they asked me to join because keyboards were new in the 90’s and I had one. I couldn’t play, but Fernando said that I’ll learn, and I’m still learning how to play it after 24 years.

On the 3th of November you release a new album called ‘1755’. In 1755 there was an earthquake in Lisbon. There have been a lot of historic moments since then. Why did you choose that historic moment?
Our new album is about the tragic event that took place on the 1st of November of 1755 in Lisbon, decimating the entire city. It killed a lot of people because it was “All Saints’ Day” and many were in the churches that day. From that day on religion lost a lot of power in our country. Everybody started to question the church and religion because of why that happened. Afterwards they started studying earthquakes in Europe because of that. Before 1755 the houses of the people couldn’t be higher than the churches, afterwards that also changed. It is interesting to read how the mentality changed in our country towards believing in the church. The earthquake also provoked a tsunami. It is interesting to imagine this event. It’s mostly a record which invokes the agony of that day. We also wanted to recreate the end of the 18th Century Lisbon and there will be a melodic approach to that time and to the atmosphere back then.

This year Portugal won Eurovision with a Portuguese song. The new album 1755 is also in Portuguese. Why did you decided to make a full album in your own language?
We fell in love with the concept and it made perfect sense to sing it in our own language. I love writing in Portuguese. I guess we were just waiting for the right opportunity to work on such an album. Musically, it will be earthshaking but also very detailed with orchestrations and percussion as we want people to relive the Lisbon of the 18th Century. I hope the fans that don’t speak our language or Spanish will understand. I’ll hope they get the feeling. We were very careful as well to choose our words. The earthquake and tsunami is also a great theme to write lyrics around. We have a song: ‘All the Saints’, we sing about all the Saints that were not enough to stop this. Also you can write about the sea that is burning and the ground that is tearing and rupturing. And even in Portuguese these words sound better. It’s a bit risky, but interesting! It is also good that we won Eurovision, for me it isn’t the best song, but is seems to be that the people of Europe are getting to know our country better and that is a good sign.

I read that you are giving 3 special shows before the release?
In support of our new album, we will play three shows in Portugal to coincide with the album’s release. We will have a double-date hometown show in Lisbon where you can enjoy also our annual Halloween party as well as watch our show. (Dates: October 30-31 – Lisboa Ao Vivo, Lisbon and November 1 – Hard Club, Sala 1, Porto.) We will produce the gigs ourselves in partnership with Alma Mater Records and in collaboration with Napalm.

Do you have a favorite album from Moonspell to play live?
The Antidote, because it’s an intimate album for me. It has an epic side, but it’s like an epic feeling inside of yourself. It is a very honest and raw album in a way, but still full of emotions. The album was released with a book named O Antídoto (the antidote, in Portuguese) by José Luís Peixoto. Each song is a chapter in the book that enhances the story in the lyrics.

Is the metal scene big in Portugal?
No, I can’t say that there are weekly shows. But the scene is very small. There are maybe 2 or 3 festivals in Portugal where you can see Korn and a few other metal bands. It’s small because we also had a dictatorship. It couldn’t grow like in the other countries around us. Our generation also grew up to music that wasn’t rock in Portugal. It will take some time for the people to accept metal today. It is growing, but very slow. In Portugal we are also mainstream, they know who we are because we are a band from there.

Do you have a ritual before going up on stage?
Not really, I’m on stage a lot earlier than the other members. I want to feel the vibe of the stage. More a routine I think.

What’s in store after the release of 1755?
Touring in Spain and Portugal. We are going to play in old theaters. Then we are going to take a break for 2 months because our guitar player is becoming a dad. And in January we will tour in Europe. But we are planning next year still.

Do you have a family?
I do, but my kids are grown up. I can party all over again (laughs).

Do you have a message for our readers?
Check out Moonspell, our music is very diverse even for a old band (laughs).

Thank you very much for this interview and good luck with the show and your new album!