INTERVIEW WITH ADAM ZAARS OF TRIBULATION
The Swedish Tribulation is about to release the fifth album called WHERE THE GLOOM BECOMES THE SOUND. The album is another piece of the masterpiece of the dark and gloom metal of death. The four-piece however went thru the line-up change when the guitarist Jonathan Hulten and was replaced by the former Enforcer guitarist Joseph Tholl. Metal-Rules.Com recently talked to the guitarist Adam Zaars about the upcoming amazing album, line up change and touring.
Interview and live photos by Arto Lehtinen
Good day – What’s up in the Tribulation camp at the moment ?!
Hello sir, we just recorded one more video for the upcoming album and other than that it’s mostly interviews like this at the moment. We are all looking forward to the album being released so that we can move forward from there.
THE FIFTH TRIBULATION OPUS
The 5th Tribulation album titled WHERE THE GLOOM BECOMES THE SOUND will be released in January, quite soon anyway. Well, how do you feel about the material and songs of the album when you are giving a listen to it now? I bet you must be 100% pleased?
In a way it’s old news to us at this point since it’s been such a long year due to everything currently going on. It feels like it’s been years since the recording! But obviously that’s only our point of view, for everyone else it isn’t even out yet! So, it’s a bit ambivalent to some extent. We are all happy with the album, it sounds great, the songs are well written and inspired and we put a lot of effort into it as usual, so I would say we are all very pleased with it and want it to finally get delivered to the rest of you. On the other hand I am personally looking forward to writing some new material since we are a new band now, and I’ve actually already started.
What kind of process was it for you to start writing and composing the new stuff for the fifth album, WHERE THE GLOOM BECOMES THE SOUND? The previous Tribulation albums have got amazing response, did you feel some kind of pressure on your shoulders ?!
Yes and no. There are no constants in mind activity, I guess. I usually feel more like that when we are on tour and interactive with the audience, meeting other bands and so on. It’s contagious in a way; you get a connection and feel like that would be a good idea to build on. Then the actual writing starts, and you turn yourself inwards and get enclosed in some kind of bubble and any ideas like that suddenly feel tainted and impure and you just get on with the art you feel you have to get out, not minding the previous impressions that grabbed you whilst outside of the bubble. You shake it off. Not even that really, you just forget about it. At the moment I don’t really care about how it’s going to be received since we, as usual, just did what we do and that’s just the way it is.
How did you share the songwriting for this new record? Did you work in the same way as you did with previous albums or did you change roles or working methods somehow ? Presumably Jonathan Hulten’s role as a writer and composer played a major part?
We did it the same way as we’ve done on at least the two previous albums. I wrote my songs on my end and Jonathan wrote his songs on his end. Jonathan wrote 13 songs for the album, seven of those ended up on the album and I wrote the remaining three. That was the biggest difference, that I didn’t write more. I just could find the inspiration and time, and luckily Jonathan had done more than enough, so that ended up well in the end anyway.
As far as the title of the album is concerned – How did you pick WHERE THE GLOOM BECOMES THE SOUND for the title and where were you inspired to name the album that?
It’s a line that has been with us for a few years now, and we even thought about having that as a title for Down Below, but it wasn’t quite right. It originally comes from the song Hades “Pluton” by Sopor Aeternus. It’s a band, or an artist, that I’ve listened to for many years now, and that song in particular has been spinning on tour a lot. The line kind of sums up what our intention has been with Tribulation from the very beginning and when we were discussing the title in the studio (we’re always late with this because we want it to reflect the music) we thought about it again, and this time it felt like the perfect fit.
As for the front cover art, could you tell what that picture means and how it reflects the content and material of the fifth album?
In the world of Tribulation a lot of what’s going on is based on getting the right feeling for everything, in a, on the surface at least, quite a shallow way. Johannes had this sculpture, this bust, by the turn of the century artist Fernand Khnopff on a poster that he brought to the studio. We always try to make the studio as Tribulation friendly as possible. There was no intention more than that to begin with. After a while when discussing the cover it dawned on all of us, I think, that we already had the cover and it had been watching over us the entire time. It wasn’t more than that we felt the expression in the sculpture really reflected what we wanted to convey. That fact that it’s a sibyl nicely ties it to some of the lyrical content, but that was more luck than anything else. So both title and cover reflect the music more than it matches the lyrical content, really.
You have always put a lot of effort into the lyrics on each album. As to the lyrics on WHERE THE GLOOM BECOMES THE SOUND, I have understood the myth and magic play a significant part in the lyrics, but you leave a listener to figure out the meaning of the lyrics, correct? Which kind of aspects have influenced you for the writing or the lyrics?
Yes, but that’s as it always has been, really. I think I’ve explained more about the lyrics on this album than ever before actually, but some of it should probably remain shrouded for the serious miner to discover. Where’s the fun in explaining everything? For this album, we were inspired by Sumerian and Greek myths, 19th-century occultism, ideas derived from sāṃkhya philosophy and medieval haṭhayoga as well as Indian purāṇic and to some extent Buddhist mythology in general, Swedish folklore and the more ghastly side of supernatural phenomena in general. Nothing new under the mighty sun!
You recorded at the Studio Ryssviken where you rehearsed and completed the material,as far as I know and you worked with Jamie Elton, and finally, the whole album was mixed by Tom Dalgety; did the whole process go as described or did I miss something ? Could you tell a bit more about the process?
That was a very good description I would say! Jamie was there, in the studio, from day one and helped us all the way, making sure we did what we had to do in order to get everything done and always helping us when problems arose, both in the song structures, phrasing and in technical matters. Jonathan recorded most of his stuff from his home, and we were rarely all four of us in the studio at the same time. That was partly due to the black death that’s going around, but also to create a good working environment. It was easier to be two or three rather than five if what you’re doing is recording guitar solos, and so on. It was the first time we recorded in a studio with windows, and that was both good and bad I would say. Always good with some sun, I guess, but it has its advantages to record in the dark. On Formulas we even recorded only in the evenings and at night, so that’s a bit of a change. We kept the drums up the entire session in case we wanted to change anything, that had its advantages as well.
As for Tom Dalgety, he has worked with Ghost for instance. Did you end up working with him because you toured with Ghost? Did he bring new and fresh tips for you?
We met him a few times on that tour and got along really well, so yes, it is because of that. Yes, he was involved to a lesser extent in the writing and recording of the album, though he and Jamie always kept in touch, but then he really worked his magic in the mix. He kept throwing ideas at us and some we discarded, but most of them can be heard on the album! He’s very easy to work with and he’s really a great guy overall. We had a really great team!
What would you like to unveil more about what people can expect from the album?
Gloomy sounding metal of death! It’s in line with what the previous albums are like, but updated, renewed and in a new context. It feels fresh!
WHEN THE LINE-UP CHANGES
Jonathan Hulten stepped aside from Tribulation and was replaced by Joseph Tholl. Did you see his departure and willing to do something else was coming step by step or did his departure come out of the blue for you? ( I witnessed Hulten’s performance at Roadburn a few years ago that made me think what may happen between him and Tribulation)
We knew that it could and probably would happen. I think it could have happened a while ago as well, and I think he could have stayed for another few years as well. So the timing of the departure was a bit out of the blue as we had just begun promoting the album, but it is what it is. It probably had to do with this strange year, that I think has made pretty much everyone on this earth to ponder what to do with our time here. I fully support his decision to make a change in his life!
How did your new guitarist Joseph Tholl end up as a full-time member to Tribulation? I remember having seen him play in Enforcer and Merciless at some point.
I and Johannes have known and played with Joseph since we were kids and he’s always been around. And we had even thought about asking him if Jonathan was to leave the band before this. He has the right ear and heart for music and he’s a really great composer and guitar player and a really great friend, so it was really a no-brainer. Luckily he wanted to join!
Could introducing Joseph Tholl to the crowd and fans bring some unexpected challenges when he will be on stage with you for the first time, because Hulten had and still has, a loyal fanbase? What kind of response have you received from the fans when you announced he’s joining the band?
I don’t know, maybe. People are strange, you know. And people feel a lot about certain things, and they don’t want those things to change, and I get that. But from our perspective there really no problem and as with most things in life when shit happens you really have a choice whether you’re going to mope about it or accept it and move on, and we are moving on partly because it’s usually the right thing to do, in my opinion, and because we feel like Joseph is the right match for it. If he hadn’t accepted the offer things might have been different, but that’s not the case now. Now people can react however they feel like reacting once we get going with new material and when playing live, and everyone has a right to their own opinion about it, and that’s the way it should be. Hopefully it won’t be a bad experience for Joseph in a live setting, but I doubt it will! We’ve dealt with shit like that in the past as well, and mostly it’s only fueled our live shows! I haven’t seen a lot of reactions about it, I try to stay away from social media in general and comments in particular.
TRIBULATION RITUAL LIVE
Several metal bands and festivals have arranged live streams to give the metal community something special to enjoy during the whole year. Apparently more are on the way. Have you ever planned on carrying out a streaming thing? If you did, how would it look like?
We haven’t, but if this goes on I’m sure we can find a way of bringing Tribulation into the 21st century as well! Let’s see what we can cook up. Probably candles, smoke and all that good stuff.
It is obvious any kind of gigging and touring planned and scheduled went up in smoke because of the raging pandemic. I believe you are making any plans for 2021, as we are supposed to return to normal routines during 2021 at some point, what are your touring plans? Have you however prepared for a ‘Plan-B’ if these restrictions and lockdowns still continue?
We had one tour in Europe planned for January and February, and that is now supposed to happen in September and October instead. It’s with Bölzer and Molassess! Let’s see how thing turns out, no use in guessing, we just have to wait and see. If we can’t do it I’m sure we’ll make something online as well as recording some new material.
I have witnessed Tribulation quite a few times at various places. But the gig at Swedenrock a few years ago was absolutely mesmerizing, because of the lights, darkened tent and awesome sound. Seen from your point of view, which are the key elements for a successful Tribulation show?
I’m glad to hear that, thank you! There are a lot of different kinds of successful Tribulation shows. Some of our best shows, in my opinion, have been on the floor in some small bar without a light show and barely with a PA. Lots of energy and incense! Others have been the major shows with a full crew, great lights, great sound and hundreds of people! The latter is the one we prefer, for sure, and the one we are intent on doing more of in the future. The ideal show, that we haven’t yet performed, would be like that but with a really proper stage show. We’ve been close, as on the live album we released, but it can really be much, much bigger than that!
As for the future of Tribulation on a wider scale, where do you see Tribulation going forward – do you view touring with big name bands could open more doors for Tribulation to increase the fanbase?
Possibly, but we would rather focus on doing our own tours so that we can do our own thing. But sometimes opportunities appear that you would be a fool not to grab ahold of. We’ll see.
Before concluding the interview, could you name your five personal albums that have had a major influence on you as a fan and a musician ?!
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
Dissection – Reinkaos
Jan Johansson – Jazz på Svenska
Bo Hansson – Mellanväsen
Morbid Angel – Covenant
I’d like to thank you for your time in answering this interview. The last words are yours!
Furthermore, I consider that the pandemic must be destroyed!
The Official TRIBULATION sites :