About Me

Interview with Seventh Storm

When no one foresaw it, Moonspell parted ways with drummer Mike Gaspar. Despite Covid and all the setbacks, Mike managed to gather strength and put together a group of good musicians forming Seventh Storm. Two years after the formation of this project, they are about to release “Maledictus” and they have all the ingredients to be a tremendous success! Metal Imperium recently talked to Mike...

M.I. - About two years after leaving Moonspell left, you already have a new project with a new album about to come out. How do you feel?

Yes, at this point, some time has passed and it's time to reflect on the time that passed. We were involved in the whole process and we lived everything with intensity. Sometimes it's hard to describe in all its fullness, everything I felt, but without a doubt I couldn't be happier and prouder of this record.

M.I. – Was there a moment when you doubted your decision?

It's not quite the case, it's life that sends us forward and the situations that come to you... it was a storm in my life when I least expected it, but we all go through things like that. I tried to invest all my energy, all my focus in a single project to feed myself, to have something to continue my life. It's been 30 years, always with victories, with album releases, with performances, a person kinda gets addicted to it. I've had a very intense life and sometimes I even think about how did I manage to do everything I did. But I'm happy to have this opportunity and turn something negative into something spectacular.

M.I. – Does this new album make you feel butterflies in your stomach because of the nervousness and emotion, as you must have felt in the first Moonspell releases?

Undoubtedly! I felt like a teenager again! The reactions of people who follow this style of music have been just that, they say this music took them back to the 90s. In 95/96, I was 20 years old. Who at 20 goes on world tours and meets legends everywhere? I didn't even have the opportunity to appreciate it because I was too young and I didn't even know what was happening. And this time, I'm fully aware of what's happening. And those butterflies are what make me want to go on stage, to play and to be with people. It's what gives me energy even if I'm worn out and tired, but you know that people are there for you and you have to do your best.

M.I. – Seventh Storm emerged during the pandemic, but how did they come together? You're the mentor of the band, it's Mike's band... how did you join the musicians who are with you now?

Who was really behind this project was my friend Pedro Venâncio who has a program on a radio in Cascais. At the time, he put me in touch with 3 of the musicians. It was a time when I thought about giving up, because of everything, the pandemic, for being in Portugal, which is a very different reality from Europe. I have musician friends, but they all live in Finland, Sweden, Germany, but I couldn't go that way, because I liked to give Portuguese musicians another chance and to have a project with so much Portuguese influence, obviously they had to be Portuguese musicians! I was born in the United States, but I am as American as I am Portuguese. It was important to have this connection with national musicians and, without their help, it would have been impossible because I had to start from scratch. But I had a lot of friends with studios that were ready to help and that help was essential at the time. Rez was different! He texted me to offer his “services” and I wasn't even looking at it. I was focused on the music, but I didn't know what genre I would lean towards. He was very patient and said he was there and believed in whatever I was involved in. He put me completely at ease and after 3 or 4 weeks I saw a video of him covering Dio and it clicked and I thought I couldn't be wasting time when I had a singer who was offering to work with me, with that quality of voice and that quality of diction in English, being Portuguese... just seeing him I realized that he had all the elements I was looking for. We went for a drink and had a quick one-hour conversation, and from there, about two years ago, we got to work right away. Then there were the restrictions and it was a struggle because of the times we had to be at home and everything. It was a very intense and learning process... I also learned a lot from them.

M.I. – These musicians all come from less heavier musical genres. How did they manage it?

Ben is a fan of extreme music, but he never had the opportunity to be bands like that. But as we got into heavier melodies, I realized that with them and with this project I wanted to get to something that I felt comfortable with, something that I could be proud of and not forget about my past. That was very important, besides wanting to make good music, which was the most important thing for me!

M.I. – You announced the band on April 25, 2021. Why this day in particular?

I think it is an important milestone for Portugal, without a doubt. Also that nostalgia for what freedom is. Nowadays, we have freedom, but maybe we don't value it the way people used to value it. It was also at that time that music began to have more force and events and concerts began to take place.

M.I. – Your goal was to bring the emotion of 90s metal and mix it with traditional Portuguese music. Do you think you were successful?

So far the reactions have been spectacular! I never expected anything, having already a publisher at this level and this promotion, especially when I’m starting from scratch, I didn't want to take anything for granted. I've seen some reviews and what I've noticed the most is the amazement. Sometimes I even get confused thinking how did this happen?! (laughts) But the truth is that, looking at the past, when there is energy, when there is a will, when there is a dream, with my story, we didn't think it was impossible, but we didn't know if this was going to happen. Seeing the results now, I can only say that I did the best I could. There were times when there were more intense phases, when I had to be more professional and look for the elements I had abroad with the producers I worked with, but I had the Portuguese essence... I hadn't recorded an album in Portugal since the beginning of the 90s. I recorded in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and it was very comfortable just having to go to Lisbon and having a team around me, which we created and that gave me a lot of confidence. A production like this doesn't happen every day, we were doing it little by little, on weekends. I recorded all the drums in one day, the singer also recorded 4 songs in one day, then we did two more days for other details... and I called it all a demo, which was the best performance that underground bands could have when they were starting. I never imagined my demo becoming an album released by Atomic Fire which is part of Warner Music. I think it isn't that bad for a first album! (laughts)!

M.I. – You’re right! But you are also aware that it may also have been because you are such an acclaimed, well-known musician...

Yeah, but I think that happens more with a vocalist or a guitarist! The drummer is always in the back! I say many times that music can be the best in the world, but if it doesn't have the right distribution, the right time, sometimes it all gets lost. It is noticeable with so many geniuses that only are appreciated after passing away! When two things combine: music and promotion, as in the case of Atomic, which has 30 years of experience, with Nuclear Blast, with a huge portfolio of metal bands, I can only be proud to be with them. And then there is the sympathy with which they work and the willingness. They are big fans of this music genre and I think that helps a lot. In addition to being people whose work is well-known!

M.I. – And how did this contract with Atomic Fire come up? Did you send demos to publishers or did they contact you?

I really needed to try to have 3 songs recorded as professionally as possible and from the beginning, Thomas a Danish producer said he would help me. And then I still had to change my from being a drummer to manager! I had two weeks I couldn't sleep because of the anguish of sending the demos to friends and the anguish of knowing the answers. And those first two weeks felt like two years! (laughts)! And I was already thinking that maybe I would have to put the demo on Spotify alone... there are bands like that... that only get a contract after ten years, after they already have an audience. But here it was not the case. Esa from Amorphis suggested Markus from Atomic to me. He is a person who stays with the bands, follows the process. There are promoters who sign bands, but then don't support them. And I didn't want to be in such a reality. He received the demo on the 13th of September, and as soon as he heard it, in less than 24 hours, he emailed me at eight in the morning... my mornings have changed a lot, because with the German schedules we do everything in the morning, which is great, because you can get a lot done. When I saw who it was, I was extremely excited. After two days of confirming with his team, he sent an email saying he wanted to sign us. He's got an amazing portfolio with Opeth, Helloween, Meshuggah, and I was just seeing how this band was going to fit in the middle of it all.

M.I. – In other words, years when we were in a pandemic, when something unexpected happened to you, leaving a band, had everything to go wrong, but it went wonderfully well. It's like a rebirth for you, isn't it?

It's the same symbol I worked on... the S and the 7... the numerology around the band is a bit of that, the rebirth, the desire to find spirituality, to return to nature. I wanted to put this in the project to symbolize calmer waters, but the lyrics had to be as blunt as possible. And that contrast is all on the record. There is already a calm and I feel that things are going their way and I feel that this was also important to have a little calm here at home. (laughts)!

M.I. - (Laughts) So the album cover portrays really well this whirlwind of emotions...

Yes, yes, without a doubt! At the time I was running a lot on the beach... Parede beach when the sun is rising has a wonderful view! And then I have all the trips of my life, all the stories... and it was like this all my life and Portugal is historically connected to the sea. This album tries to show the abilities of this Portuguese band and not forget our past and overcome these troubled seas.

M.I. – You who have already achieved so much as a musician, what do you intend to achieve with Seventh Storm?

A band's first album sometimes defines their career. For me, the peak is already happening because what I wanted was to show my music and now I'm looking forward to being around the public soon... in a calmer way, but that's the best part for me, which is to be in contact with people.

M.I. – Your singles “Saudade” and “Haunted Sea” have had phenomenal reactions. Has the fan reaction been what you expected?

The reason this exists is the friends and fans who didn't let me down. It was like a divorce, we were all missing something that was part of our lives. But, in my case, there were thousands of people who were used to seeing me play live and it was a little more complicated. And the reactions are the result of that, but the support was always there. The metal community unites a lot. On this record I tried my best to do something that acoustically would bring us back to music. And the acoustic version of “Saudade” was really done thinking about those moments.

M.I. – If you could give Mike of 30 years ago some advice, what would you say?

Wow! He was always very nervous and shy, he looked like a baby in a man's body. I’d tell him that we go through life and take nothing. I couldn't be the person I am now at that time because he was too innocent. For me it was drums, being with the band, playing music, rehearsing. I already had everything that made me happy. Even today I could have chosen to do something else, already with a long career, I don't think I had anything to prove to anyone given our history as a Portuguese band, I was always away, but that was the reality. I would love for Portugal to be in Finland, because the bands were all known there. I have a group of friends with kids who are crazy about what's happening to us. And they'd say, "So you don't have a band now, Mike?" and these kids encouraged me to keep going. The best thing is not to stop believing in yourself, and we have to support each other. At this stage I was lucky, because I had a lot of people pushing for me.

M.I. – Were you excited about that?

I didn't even imagine! Then there are the stories... people who were with me at the concerts and come to tell me this... oh and I asked you for the drumsticks and such...

M.I. - I happen to be one of those people. We met at several concerts and one time I asked you for the drumsticks and you gave them to me!

See, there it is! You were lucky! I don’t give them to everyone! (laughts)

M.I. – Thank you so much for your time and I wish Seventh Storm lots of luck, lots of concerts and I hope to talk to you in the future about other albums to come!

This is just the beginning!

M.I. – Do you want to leave a message for your fans and Metal Imperium’s readers?

It's just a deep thanks to everyone who gives us strength, our family, our friends, for this second chance. As I always say, I did my best and everyone is with me! Thanks!

Listen Seventh Storm, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Sónia Fonseca