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The Return

I don’t remember exactly when but once, during some studio recordings, I picked a U2 biography (called One year and a half in the life of U2) and even tough I am not their biggest fan on Earth, it provided me some cool reading time as well as some inside info about the biggest Pop band in the planet. One of the most curious chapters related Bono coming home from the ZOO TV tour and checking in a hotel for a couple of days before facing the music back at his place, wife, kids, family, routines, and especially being just another guy at home instead of Macphisto or The Fly, worshiped by thousands on stage.

I never checked in in a hotel. I always want straight home and faced whatever what’s playing: great welcoming, chaotic welcoming, needy welcoming, ruptured welcoming, bittersweet. It does take a process and, if you’re so kind and patient, I will let you in.

Day 0:

This is prep day. Last show, quick and silly goodbyes. Shake hands and hugs with people you actually liked. Avoid the ones you didn’t. Spread my possessions (especially the cool fan gifts that I get along the way) on the back lounge. Throw away underwear and socks. Check in online, get aisle seats. Recount the merch money. Play the show doing our best to avoid last gig pranks (we kinda hate it and it’s unfair for the crowd when the crew and other bands clown around too long on stage -even tough we had some cool pranks already-). Get some sleep so that I arrive I look more of a human, less of a tour zombie.

Day 1:

Traveling. No matter from how far and how many hours it takes, I am electric when I get back home, with a strange energy that is fueled by the love and the privilege of reconnecting with your loved ones. On this day, even if your bones are nearly crushed from sleeping in a moving bus for thirty nights on a row, you are numb to pain. You want to taste and try things: your favorite dish, red wine, something from your stash. You might feel a bit dizzy and numb throughout the day as your body reclaims rest, privacy, coolness but that electricity doesn’t let run out of energy to spin your kid in the air, to climb the stairs with 5 heavy bags, to open and put together the gifts you brought home, to play and play, until finally you go to bed at a decent hour (local time, to avoid jat-lag) and sleep a heavy, bizarre sleep like you have been knocked out, instead of gently slipping away to Morpheus’ arms.

Day 2:

You wake up too early for your own good, regretting the possible yet chaotic sleeping habits of the tour. Anyway who can go to sleep immediately after show? You make plans so that next tour you behave. Right. You feel like if the vehicle you’re riding on for weeks just ran over you. Your ribs hurt. Your head hurts. You are in a terrible mood. Even your hair and fingernails hurt. It’s the shit day. You are still fitting in and if it’s like your shape shifted a little, making the insertion painful. The hours go by, you still put up with it as humanly as possible and the way you endure this day is the key for what follows. You wake up with a rush of adrenaline at night. Your body has been on stage every other night. And in those hours in Portugal, everybody was asleep. You trick yourself into sleep again. Good luck with that brother.

Day 3:

Half of the day you are still under that spleen. Same sensation. Then adaptation sets in and you start valuing your return. You connect with people around. Smile even. Your kid picks your hand to take you somewhere, to see a toy, or a wall, or nothing at all, and it’s like you are viewing one of the most incredible things on Earth. You resurrect, have your first expresso that your stomach couldn’t take in the first few hours. You smell good, your clothes are hanging to dry, you get something on the post. You are a citizen again, a father, more human than yesterday.

Day 4:

The Sun is up and shining. You go out to the park with your kid. Play for hours.You go and watch the ocean. Feel the breeze in your cheeks. You wonder how can you endure being far away from all of this? You think: 5 more years and that’s it. Maybe 10 then…You come home, take a nap with your tired child. The warmth, the smell of that little head. The scent of home, some privacy. I was smiling all day long. I still am.

Day 5:

You get an email. Next year 6 weeks tour routing. But it looks so far from where I stand now. I shall answer it. But not today. I have a date with my wife.

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Garden of Hidden

When we reach Ottawa, Canada’s capitol, for the final run of the tour (tomorrow we wrap it up at Toronto’s Mod Club, which will be already a taste of home, since this club is located near the Portuguese area of the city-Little Portugal-) the Sun is up and shining. I really don’t care if the brightest star is mocking us after weeks of dark skies and snow storms. It feels good and I exit our tourbus as soon as I am awake and go for a walk downtown, to think about life.

In three days time I will be home. I will have another tour to show for, whatever that’s worth.I will be very happy when I pick up my son up for the first time in very long days. I will be jet-legged, and even a bit sick on the stomach when i sit down to eat a proper dinner, of homemade food. In a couple of days I will catch up, my internal temperature will regulate, my hours of sleep as well. I am sure I will not be thinking about the tour anymore but looking forward to do new things both personally and with the band.

Not that we have something to regret about this tour. It wasn’t, for sure, a walk in the park and there were many problems, complains, egos, impositions, long travels but, for our band, at least, the compensations came and they are too good not to be mentioned: our fans shredding and singing along every night, packed or not; our friends making it easy for us bringing us food,drinks, herbal entertainment and their priceless company. The shows: all focused, all good, very few mistakes and problems,more passion than anything else. And, of course, all the thoughts in my mind, all that I have learnt about people, about bands, about how they work,the different mentalities. The way people get around. Every time I tour, I can’t help feeling I am on a special band, with special people and that I would not fit anywhere else. Moonspell is the perfect chaos and order cocktail.

Yesterday I was sitting at the quite depressive room in Montreal, Canada, while a girl, a stranger to us, spilled her beans about everything from her relationship with her Dad to her use of liquor. I felt uncomfortable. She could be my little cousin or my little sis and I simply don’t get why would someone use her privacy to break the ice. Actually,she was freezing up the room. When I lighted up a green cigarette,she is telling all of us that we should be doing salvia instead.Not weed. Add that to some strange story about a native Canadian appeal to eat for seal meat and she bore the mark for the night.For such a young girl, it’s quite impossible to have all that life experience, I thought,always oblivious to how the Internet and viral culture, poses, for these hyper-storytellers, as a substitute for real experience. The problem is that we do have to keep track and check on reality as often as possible. It’s easy to get lost and a simple” Hi! My name is…can I hang out for a while? I’m alone.” would have been more than sufficient and a lot more solar.

My life has a lot of fantasy as well. But I know where I came from. My sister still lives there and I check back every other week for dinner and for the cousins to play. I know where I am going to. I even have people expecting me.

The other day in Kansas City I got a bit drunk after show. All day I was oozing around and when I was on stage I thought to myself: “we’ll never make it in the US. We don’t have the right music. ” After this spontaneous and silent thought, it was like the room has heard me and people just started going nuts at the show, slam pit and all. A couple of days after we had a full room in NYC, probably in the best show we ever had in the US of A. How bizarre. Now, entering, the Ritual Club in Ottawa for before-last gig, I see the prohibition everywhere. No stagediving, no smoking, no this, no that. I just wish that they would put so much effort and thought on cleaning up and making it presentable for the working bands, crews and later the ticket buyers. If you want to smoke, go freeze your ass outside. In the meanwhile, you can throw the empty bottles everywhere. Maybe we are living in a kind of Garden of Eden allegory, with moral and hygienic keepers popping secretly up from all places, unaware that with all their prohibition, manners, fixed ideas, and plain bullshit, they are rotting faster inside than that apple they wanted to eat but scrupulously kept up the tree, waiting for a better day.

That day won’t come. But me, I am going home.

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Rock is dead

Touring has become a haven of prohibition and rules and we are all to blame for it, fellow touring musicians and concert goers. With a scary percentage of musicians trying to replicate their domestic/borgeouis lifestyle on tour, things have become almost scary with the advent of the pisswinklers (yeah, Germans wants the alpha world to sit down while pissing, otherwise we’re anti-social), there are allergies and conditions invented by the minute, whose symptoms strangely becoming afflictions to whatever turns the other guy on.

Everybody that tours likes either one of these two things: to keep on touring, non-stop, jumping from tourbus to tourbus, plane to plane, never letting time catch up. If they are too much at home, they get angry, roadsick, useless and ultimately bored. When time is up, you have to put the beast again inside the rolling cage and in the dressing room dungeons. Like rare flowers, they breed in the dark and in the ugly and smile as they eat miles without blinking. Some of our crew are like this, Goth bless them, always ready for the turmoil. Others, like me, like to tour, tour, tour and then stay at home enjoying the routine of my kid’s breakfast and cartoons, take a walk with him out in the Sun, read from my small but proud library, go to a café where they know your name and what you will have for lunch. I live between the necessary pain of touring (totally balanced by the sheer experience of myself I get to enjoy while performing); and the absolute loving condition of a routine where I can help my family being safe and my son to grow into the perfect being he is. This dilemma, the feet on both side of the shores, the permanent stretching, expansion if you want, is what might make the difference for me and for the person I helped bringing into this sick world.

There is still another thing that I ask from touring: some freedom to have a smoke, to be up all night listening loudly to Morbid Angel, talk shit with my brothers, crack some jokes, do stupid stuff, get butt naked in the back lounge. You know. Clean, innocent, boys will be boys fun. But if we keep on trying to have our home, our way, we will kill that spirit, that secret bound that made us all smile in silence when some mischief was happening in the back. The thick, weedy smoke cloud weighing low, below the lamps, like a sign in the fog for lost travellers. All that is gone, the world got higienic. We killed the germs and with them, our imperfections. We were tamed.

Add that to my stupefacted discovery that red wine could be Vegan, to the keep it quiet and tidy, winter Olimpics on TV instead of sexolyimpics, I start to miss the black metal chaos of WWII, indian limb-eating rituals videos and the general mess of the Marduk tour. I have to say that Texas and the weed cloud hoovering over the now appropriatedly named green room and the Arizona blasé attitude over smoking and drinking were much appreciated. To sum it up: we don’t get away with what we used to get away with. And I do not like it.

I am in Denver, Colorado today so all will be groovy. I just invented a new play that I am dying to test with my wife and kid when i get back home. That made my day. The rest is yet to come.We just hope we can give Rock a beautiful funeral. Every night.

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Super Bowl

You feel you are really touring when you start feeling homely feelings in places where you have never been. This is happening to me right now, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have been here playing before. I have even probably this same exact place. But all days are different and you can’t afford the luxury of memory all the time. Thus, the familiar sensations.

This tour has been a cool tour. It was a hard process to get here, full of legal tribulations, accounts on red, anxiety. But the shows are being passionate and naked of any great light effects or optimal conditions, Moonspell is a different beast. One that bites.

Right now, it’s killing time, too cold outside, maybe I will try that dry shampoo after all.

I watched Super Bowl. Danced with the Devil. Missed my true home. Stiff upper lip.

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No option but Optimism

I started writing this text under a totally different mindset.I was on the road in Siberia, my survival instinct was sharp, I had beaten my maladies and I was ready for what might come. The lack of sleep, of rest; playing and travelling every day, leaves me, naturaly tired, but also iron-bound in my convictions and believes.

After my return home and with all the problems that started falling on my lap, as well as all the unavoidable last years conclusions, plans, wrong turns and reality-checks, I stopped writing or looking at these words. I wasn’t feeling up to share words about optimism when everywhere around me doors were closing, quarters were tightening,and people talking all the time like if everyone had the right to tell me wrong. I had a few rough days and decided to endure them as quietly and alone as I could, trying to stick to my instincts and the plans I have made. I dedicated myself to my family exclusively then. After a few days and with the fake yet welcoming thought of turning another calendar page, I thought these words would make more sense than ever, so here they are as a token of my appreciation for your following of my irregular blantings. I wish you all a happy 2014. I really do:

“An image comes to mind.

Art is like a beautiful, full mountain. The illusion of its exterior aspect is gilded with creativity, recognition and communication. But what’s in the core of that mountain? A boiling, fragmented rock made of dispute, despise, overlooked acts, bureacracy, trouble, selfishness, ego. If you stare at it long enough, it eats you alive. You need the fresh air outside, but, too many times, the path to the outside is long, you can not breed,tiredom lures you to sleep, a giant eye hipnotizing you with the ugly truths.

During all these years that I have been touring with Moonspell we never really halted at anything. There was no sabbatical year, no one getting crazy and demanding to be home for a while. No cabin fever, no time for ourselves, no day of reckoning. All the problems we had inside the band, were solved in real time, while they happened. Whenever people had to leave the band, for example, it was just a matter of days until we got back on the road or in the studio, dealing with the grievance or depression with our instruments on our hands, as it should be. This has been going on since 1995.

We have build our families and our domestic lives as good as we could with the time that we could spare from an intense schedule of travels, shows, songs, and band engagements. Everyday we think hard if we are doing a good job at both shores of our lives, while the river stream in between (the band) keeps on going, at different paces, but always running, impervious to what happens in the shores and to the way we lead the troops, on the road or back home. This acceptance of our lifestyle is earned and it does not go without crossing through some hard times. But, whatever happens, life does go on and the band stays central as we do not know or can afford any way around it. Vacations booked, a festival just called, change of plans. Weddings and funerals: we are glad if we can attend our own. Routine: packed bags inside cars and vans, backline stored in several continents, logistics, excel sheets, early airport calls.

There are many compensations of course that balance all these odds. By playing cities we have never been before and see that amazement in people’s eyes is priceless even if impossible to trade into words. Also at the family camp, when one loves and he is truly dedicated, we can do more in our short-timed presence and longer absences, than many who spend their nine to five routine, thinking in ways of having more time for themselves or that arrived home too tired and drained to love, to nurture, to feed,to be with. Today, we have visited The Forbidden City in Beijing, a testimony to a great nation that is China. Just a few days ago, we descended into the sacred waters of Lake Baykal, the sea of Siberia, and felt its incredible energy purifying our touring soul and bodies. When I travel deep in the heart of these nations, even if for a couple of hours in the morning, stolen from the much needed repairing sleeps, I can not stop from wondering how we all became cynics in Europe, ready to throw the first critical stone, at any of these nations while, at home, our “democracies” rot and our ways suffer a silent yet implacable death.   

In a couple of hours we will hit the stage in Beijing for a first time in Asia but I already have the feeling we will be back to discover and trade with these magic territories, full of an energy I sometimes fail to invoke when the road is long and the time is short.”

That was in 2013. We did it. Has the world moved with us? Noticed us? Has home noticed? Maybe not. Maybe my weak contribution to define Optimism is just a straight look into this Optimism as a single option, one can and  is obliged to take and honor as the way of disbelief will end up freezing you at start point. There is not other option than Optimism if you want to suceed. In the end, your Optimism is measured by the fight you have to put with. And if I dare to take a look at what is now on my desk and in my mind, I can only say I am optimist.

January 2014

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Picture by  Duncan Macleod

 

 

Russia still

Dear followers:

It’s been hard to keep up with everything here in Russia. We travel long distances by plane or bus every day and play every night. This is a BIG country and quite an experience to cross it. I am doing much better now, my vocals are back to shape and I am feeling well. I take almost all of my free time to lay in bed and rest. Of course, I will account in much more detail what is happening in the tour, including the scary off-road experience with a Russian bus. Yes what you see online is true, Russian drivers are stone cold crazy!!! Against all diffculties, we have risen to the ocasion and the shows are being wonderful to play.

I am working on a text about how I am (or have become) an optimist, I am sure/hope you’d like to read it. In the meanwhile enjoy my visual interpretation of Ivan Ogareff, the villain of the great Jules Verne novel Michael Strogoff, courier to the Czar, that I am having the privilege of reading while visiting some of the very own places where the action takes place.

Until a quick return, i thank thee…

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