‘Still exploring new territories’ | Winter Moods

Hot off the heels of the pop-rock band’s 30th anniversary concert, Winter Moods frontman Ivan Grech speaks to us about the enduring band’s history, as well as their upcoming album, The Journey

Winter Moods celebrated their 30th anniversary with an ‘intimate’ gig at Fort St Elmo on June 13. Photo: Justin Ciappara
Winter Moods celebrated their 30th anniversary with an ‘intimate’ gig at Fort St Elmo on June 13. Photo: Justin Ciappara

How do you feel about reaching the 30-year mark as a band? Do you feel like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve set out to accomplish as musicians?

It feels great to still be doing what we love together after all these years – it’s been a wonderful journey. We will never say we’ve accomplished everything – that would be the beginning of the end – it’s never enough and we are still learning and exploring new territories. But what matters most is that we're still having fun.

What have been some of your highlights over the years?

We’ve had a few, performing in front of more than 50,000 people at the Ring-Fest in Cologne was a memorable experience, as well as performances in Belfort France and Rome.

The countless awards and top-selling albums were also highlights, but we all agree that our very own concerts with record-breaking crowds are at the top of the list. We are proud to have performed to over 8,000 in 2008 at the Valetta Waterfront and over 10,000 at the Granaries in 2010. These concerts are special because these crowds came out for our very own concerts – not a festival, but specifically for Winter Moods.

How would you say your musical style evolved?

Well, we never really gave it much thought. After we released Morning Ale in 2000, we let what we were creating take its course. All of us contribute in our own way. Each one of us brings in different ideas and influences and that makes it an interesting process. One must go beyond our major hit songs and listen to our albums as a whole to get the real picture.

On a related note, how did the music scene change around you? What, in your eyes, were the most significant developments in the Maltese music scene?

We’ve seen it evolve drastically… from going with a cassette tape to a radio DJ to all of today’s media frenzy; from writing a couple of songs to perform at the annual summer festival to the Isle of MTV and mega concerts; from recording a song or two for promotion to recording, releasing and selling album after album.

The local scene today is at its best – the popularisation of radio and TV stations and the internet and social media are a bridge for established and upcoming artists to reach out to more people. There are a lot of amazing bands and artistes from all genres. It’s a vibrant, interesting and ever-flourishing scene.

What are some of the key struggles of local musicians, both then and now?

It’s a small island, there is only so much you can do here. I think established bands and artistes have achieved more than expected for such a small industry. I always feel like there are those who have the whole package and could be up there with international stars. There’s so much talent here and unfortunately it doesn’t get noticed nor appreciated as much as it should be.

Malta must also invest in the future of its talent. Music and arts in schools must be taken more seriously. We need properly functioning music and art academies, where one can flourish and further enhance their talent, as well as opportunities to secure scholarships in world-renowned music and arts schools internationally.

What’s next for you?

We keep enjoying our music. We’ve just celebrated our 30-year anniversary with a concert at Fort St Elmo. It was yet again an amazing night, though at a more intimate venue this time round, with 3,000 people who enjoyed every minute and sang with us and cheered all the way. The feedback was quite overwhelming.

Our new album, The Journey, was received well and is doing very well, much better than we expected actually. Last Saturday, people were singing along with songs from the new album whole heartedly, and that fills our hearts with courage and inspiration. As long as we enjoy it and people enjoy it, as long as we are relevant, the journey continues.