I was born on the 26th of August of 1974, at 7AM, in Lisbon, Portugal. I was the second child to my mother Ana but her first baby boy. First there was Paula, my older sis, and then Ricardo my younger brother. I am a middle son.
Yesterday, I gather a couple of special friends. Some couldn’t attend our little get together, Summer is hard on people with our occupation, but I have been chilling out all day long at my brother’s yard, drinking beer, smoking, chatting, playing with the kids, cooking for my vegan buddies, and when night fell Jack Daniels joined in the party until my kid pulled it out, already sleep crazy. I put him to bed, kissed him goodnight and came out to finish my drink, musing about life, accounting mistakes and the things to hold on to, thinking in absolute silence, which is something I love to do. Then I went and slept on it.
Today I am one year older, marching unequivocally to when I will be fifty, seven years from now. Closer than ever, a bit further from many of the moments when my life kickstarted.My birth, the early years, school, books, music, paternity, family and the moment the little river (which my last name stands for in Portuguese)became the affluent and got mixed in the bigger waters of my band Moonspell, which is now 25 years and that obviously changed whatever fate anyone had in mind for me in 1974.
One of my birthday wishes was for some time alone, to put some words into this blog, which I haven’t visited for many reasons, being the main one a much needed break from my own opinions and the way I see my industry and my world going as time goes by.
I do work a lot for Moonspell. I do it at a cost that always feels short compared to what I achieve, as an individual or as group. Dealing with numbers, expectations, problems, personalities, turns you into a different man. This past month, after we left our agency, we have been dealing with making Moonspell a solid name, a warranty for us and for the many who depend on us now. This job bounces between being creative and sometimes making hard calls that deeply affect our mood. Two things have happened to me: I became more intense than ever and I do thank my band colleagues and my family for always bringing things into perspective, when I am unable to shake that more aggressive skin of mine.
The other thing is that, on my free, free time, I do come back to myself by writing. So, after the dirty deeds done, I sat down many times at my study’s couch and penned down what I think it will become the sucessor of Extinct, being that 1755 is, as far as I am concerned, a fully historical-conceptual album, and, who knows, the first chapter of a new way for Moonspell that we might pick up later, same terms, about the fascinating and endless source of inspiration which is Portugal’s approximately 900 years of History.
When I do this I feel “that’s my thing”. I might being getting better at closing deals and imagining experiences with the fans, but I do know now, more than ever, what my true core is and the difference I can make in my world. In the beginning there was the word.
Aside from that, I am regular guy, with a different story to be told, trying by trial and error not to fail when family, life or career calls. I could be depressing about it, but, strangely, I am not. With so many musical warriors falling, I can only theorise they haven’t found what they were looking for and lost control over things. Sometimes we might crawl into a hole and find it’s not deep enough or that we just need to close the door behind us. I have nothing but respect for those who do. The same respect that I extend for those who don’t.
It’s still too early to get into what drove me to write a new album and the contours of this sketch will travel beyond what I expect while sitting on the couch. But the process, the mere process, the challenge, the research makes me immediately a better person as I can easily lay all the anger and frustration, and deposit it in the stories that color my free time, while I count clouds of smoke.
A better person for me is someone who does’ expect anything in particular from someone else who is his friend or companion. Too many times have I caught myself tangled in the thought why do they get these things and we don’t. That’s poison running slow in the surface of your skin and all people who live from their creations and what the world makes of them, have tasted it. Some to the point of becoming sour themselves. And all for what? For entitlement, which is the modern and silent mental disease of our ages.
Our rights, our money, our slot at festivals, our fights with flights companies. It’s hard not to react intensely to that and it’s dead easy to jump into the conclusion that we deserve more than our fellow men, even when we don’t know the full circumstances of defeat or victory or what do they mean at all. If that person who is a friend, or an idol, whose need for attention grows to the point that you don’t know if that person is whom you met in the flesh and blood or some competitive, larger than life hologram posted on socials; it’s up to you to use your memory and true feelings to decide on your responsibility to your “lost” friend. To give up a true feeling because of a spur of the moment it’s a hard decision.
We all judge and we’re all judged during our lives. It’s in our nature to feel holier than thou, to expect reward, to minimise the other’s intentions and hard work. You need a fully equipped armoury to fight this beast and more than everything you need to find your heart to dress the armour.
The best birthday gift I can ever give myself is to at last grasp at that knowledge and to become aware of the right alphabet to use it. When paradigm changes, there’s shrapnel everywhere, and I dread words like humility, self-consciousness, belonging. These epitomise the era of projection, of restless wanting, being cheap while giving . We are nothing at all and, to add confusion, we are everything all the same. If I am intense some times, let it be. I am 43, I can have a temper, I can say no way, and I will always feel good about it because to protect our interests is my lifetime mission. On the other hand, I know I will zoom out from the situation, or that someone will help me to. So, these days, I rest assured.
To pursue happiness is a decision. That starts deep within and that you control more than what you might imagine if you can clear the cobwebs from entitlement and start looking further, to the front, to the skies, to the inside. But never look at who’s speeding at your side. In all truth, it’s not about winning the race, it’s about not tripping and falling down while you run.
Photo caption: My friends came carrying gifts. Here’s some of them: David Bowie narrates Peter and the Wolf (courtesy of the Vilhena- Gaspars); Post Pop Depression from a friend who knows too much (Ricardo Amorim, the biographer); Nosferatu by James Bernard from a collector to a guy that keeps his records on boxes (Paulo Mendez, the right friend to have). Also a black barrel Jameson from our visiting Finnish cousin Nico and last but never the least a pocket watch from an old and gone uncle grandpa, my first spiritual guide into the works of Crowley, Levi, Boulez, Arthur C.Clarke and other giant minds. Not to the milk tooth of my son Fausto which fell yesterday, and became his gift for me inside that little round box.