Under the Moonspell notebook #4
I do not want to go all Forrest Gump on you, but life is no box of chocolates. The other day I bought a watermelon in the supermarket and while I was slicing it into smaller pieces in my kitchen, I thought this oversized fruit, green on the outside and watery red on the inside is a much better metaphor for life than the nicely wrapped box Tom Hanks kindly offers to the passer by, along with the amazing tale of Forest’s very own American dreaming.
Some years ago, we played the South of Portugal, a gig in Algarve, the only edition of a festival in the middle of nowhere. We arrive there in a scalding afternoon and were amazed by the infrastructure of the event. The local crew went about riding 4×4 motorbikes, everybody had their personal radio on, the stage was greatly equipped, but nobody was really sure if people would attend. The results from the other nights were more than shy and we prepared ourselves for one of those nights, where everyone, and I mean everyone counts. It was the best night of the festival with 200 tickets sold. The previous night had 50 people attending and those guys were not riding their bikes for nothing, as the place was huge. It could easily accommodate, if my memory does not fail me, at least 10.000 souls. Every time there was a night like this (and believe me, they happen to everyone) an old tech of us evoked a funny image even if bordering the frontiers of gross: “a sausage in a pavilion.” A few years after we had the exact same experience, in the North of Portugal, where someone designed a cross motorbike convention but the city hall cut down the transportation from the city leaving us to play for 70,100 people, after a Queen tribute band with one of the most annoying, on and off stage, singers I have ever met. Portugal at its best, when this guy wanted to buy my sneakers and was down talking me all the time. Well, I do not sing in a Queen tribute band (yet) and honestly after that night nobody was in position of showing off. The show went on, regardless and everybody had fun, except this guy so it seems.
The Algarve show was quite cool and carefree, with a certain intimacy happening and a few encores. That crowd was like our 300 Spartans; even tough they were a 100 short. I recall one fan writing us and telling us how she had absolutely enjoyed it, because she had the band more for “herself”. Which actually leads me to a burning question- what’s the perfect setup to watch a show? Touring the metalfests was actually good for us. Some shows like in Dessau or Austria, suffered from a rotten weather (famed Central European Summer), and from the crowds roaming in between stages, sometimes distracted by all that a festival contains. One must not underestimate the social factor of festivals. It does happen backstage as well, where friends are met and we catch up to do some seriously hang out. I could not forget when our bus broke down in Zadar, Croatia and we couldn’t make it to our Slovakian club gig in Kosice. What saved me from total frustration and an eternal day of a closed face cranking was the chance to meet people. Sat down for red wine with the always-gentle Mille from Kreator, or exchanging some words with a rejuvenated Nergal. What topped everything was to spend the day with my favorite friend and artist Seth (Siro Anton, Septic Flesh)’ watch their show and talk a lot of good old southern European bullshit through the night. Portugal and Greece roots run deep, far beyond the crisis someone invented for us.
Nonetheless this festival tour had a few club shows thrown in between where we got to headline and one can not go against what one experiences. In a club, with a light-show, Moonspell is revealed differently as a band and there is a half-lit proximity that works for our fans and us. The crowds are there, closely hanging from every sound and word and they are generous and supportive. Many people say that festival and package tours are killing club shows, but we have been doing both for years and still to this night the clubs come through even if they are smaller and sometimes damp. Our last gigs in Atelier Rock in Belgium and Dynamo club in Holland were nothing short of exciting for everyone.
But, coming back a few years to that strange Portuguese festival, there was a watermelon, a huge one, uncut, in our dressing room fridge, filling almost all space in the tiny mini bar like cooler. Everybody laughed at it, after all, for no reason, as we ask (in our catering rider) for season fruit but it seems that the products of earth are never so appealing as the beer bottles or the fuckin cheetos (I never understood how they are done, these salty treats). They taste like alien food, the texture belonging to a future that is still not here). Goes without saying, that the watermelon served for every other purpose than to be nobly eaten. Shame on us, spoiled young brats that boredom lead to sometimes unspeakable acts.
That watermelon crossed my mind while I was chopping down the one I got from the super, and putting it in boxes to cool on my fridge. A metaphor for life as there people who cut it and people that just, out of nowhere, materialize to eat the juicy bits. For many years I have been angry with them. They are everywhere: in your house, in your job, in your thoughts. Many mornings I woke up with the same feeling I went to bed with: that people did not appreciate enough the cutters, but life has shown me that not only I have been often in the side of the eaters, but also that these people can be talented and lovely, and that many of them are not to blame, as they were always used to things being done already when they get into the table for dinner or find their laundry neatly folded and in order in their drawers. I am the middle child of my family. I have one older sister and a younger brother. He always shared rooms. He put up the long nights with me typing Wolfheart and Irreligious on my electric and quite nosy typing machine. There is this James Blake song, with a great title: Never learnt how to share. And even if his album annoys me sometimes, that sentence holds. The feeling to be mastered is to be content with the role of being the watermelon slicer. To take joy of people picking it up even if they do not thank you all the time.
That says a lot about being in a band, especially when you tour. I always shared rooms, like I said. First with my brothers, then with people I lived with, now with my wife and son. On tour, only a tiny, fragile curtain on your bunk I always shut, even when I leave the coffin sized bed to face the light of the new day, secures your privacy. Touring is a challenge to your rights to privacy and a true lesson in brotherhood with all its sharing and territorial pissing. I believe that having brothers and full bedrooms and dinner tables helped me to go through the touring experience and all that involves from picking up Snus buds from in between the couches to see our LD’s ugly shoes in military order in a ship of fools. Playing live is like animating what you did on studio and this sharing experience is the most noteworthy in any musician’s book. There is always a crossroad in every way and sometimes it’s hard to answer the question if the people who listen to us are somewhat involved in what we write in the comfort and secrecy of our studio and homes. One can not give a yes or no answer as magazines, striving for polemics, want you to. If you say yes, our reputation, as an individual artist will quickly fade, especially in the Metal scene where people are so anal about true and fake distinctions. If you say no, people who actually listen to you and dearly support you will feel defrauded and used. So the best answer is that they sometimes cross our mind and that nobody intents really to alienate their crowd. We also have to consider then that the artistic input comes from us and so does the ultimate artistic decision. But people are a factor, not one a conditional one, as writing is a free process by definition and many times the fans can inspire, probably not as a book inspires you, but by the simple fact they give you their attention and for how much misanthropy Black Metal will promote, they will be nothing without the other misanthropes who listen to them. We need people, we work with and for them and to cut off your music from contact is, childishly, impossible.
I would like to thank you for your attention and the morale given into my previous notebook. Sometimes, when I write, the image of someone doing a radio show comes to my mind. A guy alone in a small booth, his records, thoughts and sounds. Is there anybody listening, who can say? Of course that our social networking has grown but it’s not without disgust that I have to recognize we live in a world dominated by numbers instead of anything else. And those are not the numbers of passion the old mathematicians answer to the questions of the world with. Sometimes, well, really often they are dictatorial and one can not enjoy the ride without thinking about them. Yet, judging by the thoughtful comments we got, I am pleased to realize that behind the likes there is people with something to add, to share, to put up with, to shed a new light over my personal need to communicate under the terms of words. I have read them all and yeah we want to get those amazing books from Toronto (please write us to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly provide an address), yeah Fargo Rock City it’s getting kind of boring in places and tones (it would be cool if someone wrote a book about living the tape-trading and the rise of great bands that it brought along), yeah, hand down, Moonspell true fans have a human quality that is remarkable and makes the band proud. I always thought that we’d never be the viral band, releasing a great video that gets millions of views because it’s sassy, or extreme, or has a great idea behind that pours zeitgeist all over the place. The later post was one that raised more comments and it’s like we are writing letters to each other, which is, yeah, old and done with but the most honest way I know to get close to people and things.
My father craves melon and watermelons like no one else I know. In special occasions, when the season is here, I always ask him “Father, do it like they do in the weddings.” And my father slices the melon in two halves, sawing them with little teeth, pointy ends, so that one half fits the other and it brings the fruit up to the table, in one place, like if it was touched by the hands of an artist. (Some day I will post a picture here to justly illustrate it).
We can’t help to find solace and happiness in the smallest of things and the look I exchange with my dad is silent, priceless and feels great. He is happy with slicing, I am happy to look at it. If listening to music returns to this simplicity, my dilemmas would be over and I could finish what I left undone (books, visits, drinks with, an afternoon stroll)
Thanks for reading and enjoy the summer. I will write back soon.
I am off to Wacken (you can read about our trip here next week), but before I leave you with more tips:
Soulsavers: The Light and the Dead see
Track: In the morning (feat.Dave Gahan)
Lyrics: Why can’t you hear me?
Why can’t you feel me?
Was there a message, that I’m not getting
Do you think that I am lost or am I found
Just after midnight, when I woke up sweating
I was dreaming you were right here with me now
(Repeated advice) The Magician- Somerset Maugham
He has an immense bibliography but, for me, this is his masterpiece, a allegedly encounter with Aleister Crowley.
Find it here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14257
Source: Official Moonspell Facebook Page