The Wolf has been busy. Touring the UK, Dublin (what a wonderful city), France and Benelux again. Then we headed East and played Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in just one breath. Taking in that wonderful slavic energy, tasting exquisite Borsch and Chicken Kiev and zipping high-quality Vodka after wonderful shows. What remains and shall be done (soon) is a strong will of visiting without the constraints of a timeline and resting up before shows and travel at the speed of light. I need to savour all those cities with the calm of a cultural tourist. Plans…it doesn’t hurt to make them.
Other than that, I have finished translating one of my poetry books into English (the third one from 2007, Diálogo de Vultos/ Dialogue of figures); I wrote a few good chapters from my memoirs (more about that soon, but it’s being written in Portuguese) and I am on the process of translating all the blog texts into Portuguese as well, it starts making sense to do that.
I am back at our HQ, Inferno Studios, unknown location in Portugal working on something terribly exciting with Moonspell. Two weeks ago it was the 4th birthday of my kid Fausto, and goth! we had fun, but I guess I am still recovering for it; and this weekend was spent staring at a blue sky, drinking wine and beer and eating/growing flesh, but also writing a lot and putting things into order. A lot is happening on the Moonspell camp, lots to think about, lots of “should I stay or should I go now” and a real life of groceries, kindergarten on top. Catching up, basically. It’s the first real break since March 2015, we stopped for a month for real good reasons but coincidentally I am sitting in the studio couch while Pedro works on a song and in a few minutes it will be time to scream into the mic and let go.
Before that a little notes about milking a cow. This is an expression that became jargon in the music business to define, quite cynically, the new ways of a band (or in fact their publisher or label) to expand their resources and revenue. Since Metallica sued Napster it created a solid wave of protest. A wave made of concrete, made stronger by the habit of newer generations that listen to music, born in a free for all atmosphere, of not realising the principles of paid for music. More than a blame-game, this is an issue that almost brought down the entire production of music. But, not mentioning the typical greedy mistakes of labels and publishers and the proliferation of 4-CD boxes, best ofs, Live at Festival X, that bands had to put up with and so did their fans; what came out of all the commotion was also a feeling of independence and a strong sense of adaptation.
I hate to write about music without referring the creative factor which is truly what keeps bands together when everything else seems to fail, that something to say that has to be said is still a cornerstone in all creative forms of Art, especially lyrics and music. So now I mentioned it. However musicians get trapped many times on the crossfire between fans and business decisions. I have always worked under a scope of collaboration and problem-solving with all our labels. Sometimes things might get ugly but I always dreaded the idea of splitting up a band because of a manager or a label dispute like I have seen so many sad times happen to friends of mine. So, that notion of a higher value, always kept us strong and working even if sometimes under a heavy rain.
Now 2016 has arrived with all its notions and concepts and against many odds, bands like us are experiencing a stronger response from the crowd and they are willing and adapting to many of the releases our label Napalm offers them. The special boxes, the vinyls, the singles, the digipacks, the merch: I’ve always seen people carrying or wearing them around like personal jewels and artefacts of a personality. Much more than product. That observation makes the whole thing of understanding the milk and cow metaphor really hard.
First I think bands and whoever they feel like working with on the exploitation of the rights generated by their creativity, are doing the same as anyone else on another line of business. Adapting. Creativity: that spark works at various levels, not only musical, but plastic, poetic. A lot of musicians are trend-setters for other related arts or tendencies like fashion, make-up, cars, whatnot. To observe this in a totally just form with other jobs, I never understood why people are so critical when a band and a promoter makes a package deal with a ticket/record; or something else. In fact if you have any kind of job, creative or not, isn’t it your obligation to explore and try to expand your faculties, your reach and improve yourself and your condition? Of course we all have a moral compass inside coming from the Underground and we have continued our holier than thou ethics online. But that responsibility can and must be exercised even if you make a beer with your band logo; a credit card or a t-shirt with a duck coming out of a banana.
It’s up to the band to understand their fans, to fine tune their complaints as long as they are reasonable and doable, we all love fantasy, you know; but a part of our independence is also to play our cards right, responsibly and to the full. After all we raised the cow through thick and thin. And for a fan to think they are a cow to be milked, that’s a lousy feeling for everyone. It really is. After all we depend on each other on this bovine world and nobody of us really wants to be cattle. It’s enough what we go through on the airplanes and airports.
So next time try you think that,have that milky feeling, try to see the bigger picture. On a perfect world I would go to the baker and sing him Alma Mater for bread. Instead I have to spend almost all my time trying to balance interesting with something that makes you proud to have. Wish me luck raising my wolfpack.