About Me

Interview with Tribulation

On April 7, Tribulation will release their next EP "Hamartia" through Century Media Records. Last year, the quartet released the title track "Hamartia" and now they are back with another single from this album: "Axis Mundi", which is the first composition by Joseph Tholl (guitars), and offers the listener a new set of flavors and nuances that perfectly represent Tribulation in 2023.
To promote this new EP, Adam Zaars, the band’s nice guitarist, spoke with Metal Imperium and confessed Tribulation love playing in Portugal and are looking forward to coming back!

M.I. - Hello Adam! How are you doing? The band was formed in 2004, 19 years ago. You were still so young. What have you learned with Tribulation in these two decades? 

I am fine, thanks! That's a big question! A whole lot, I would say! Obviously I learned to follow my intuition, to craft songs in a better way and obviously just being a better performer. It's not only with Tribulation that this has been going on, but Tribulation has been the biggest and main part of all this... so those would be what I can think of now at least!

M.I. - In the first 3 albums, the band seemed to be trying to find their identity, hence the difference in sound between these 3 albums... and you also changed the logo. Was it a necessary move? Why? 

Yeah, we've changed the logo four or five times. But it wasn't difficult at all and I wouldn't say we were trying to find our sound in the beginning either. We were just doing what we wanted to do and I think our music always reflected who we were at the time. When we did the first album we were very young, still in school, just obsessed with anything metal and, at that time, it was a lot of death and black metal that was on the radar for us and completely encompassed all aspects of every day. What I mean is that's when we wrote the first one, that's what we wanted to sound like with that album. And since then it's always reflected who and where we were in our lives.

M.I. - Were you always genuinely into extreme sounds or was it also to be cool, you know?

Yeah, I know what you mean! Absolutely and that's probably part of it. There are many, many aspects to a subculture, but it was absolutely 100% genuine with regards to the music, it was the soundtrack to my every minute.

M.I. -  How old were you when you attended your first show? Which bands did you see playing on that show?

Well, I come from a rather small town in Sweden called Arvika and we had a festival in this city. Every year we had a festival that started out being industrial but eventually it kind of got more mainstream throughout the years... this was during the 90s and early 2000s. Every year we had bands like the Sisters of Mercy, Rammstein, Slayer, Depeche Mode and a bunch of huge artists, so that's probably where I saw my first bands. The Sisters of Mercy I can remember and I wasn't very impressed though. So my first actual concert that I actively went to, my first big one was probably Iron Maiden in Stockholm, in 2003, with Jacob, our previous drummer in the band. The two of us went and waited in line from 10 in the morning to get up front, didn't drink and didn't eat for a whole day but we got to the front line, so it was worth it.

M.I. - “Hamartia” was released as a single in September 2022. Now it will be released as an EP in April. Why do you seem to appreciate EPs so much? Is this EP a way of keeping your fans entertained while waiting for the upcoming album? Is this a promotional strategy from the label?

Not this time at least! There can be, not pressure, but inquiries from the label to release something like that, absolutely, and we've done so in the past a few times. But this is the first EP with songs that are not found elsewhere, that are not on any album that we've done in almost 20 years now, so it feels good to do something that you wanted to do. So this time there was no pressure from the label to do anything. We did it for a number of reasons. The main one or the two main ones being that when we released our latest album “Where the Gloom becomes sound”, the pandemic just broke out so our touring plans for that album completely fell through and we didn't want to start writing an album when we had just released one. So we wanted to do something else. The other reason is that we have a new guitar player, so we wanted to try it out with him and see how that felt and where it would take us sonically. So, with these two main factors combined, it just made a lot of sense to do something shorter than an album when we couldn't play live and when we didn't want to write an album, so it seems like the obvious choice.

M.I. - But it went well with him, right? Because Joseph has already contributed to the band with the composition of “Axis Mundi”, the latest single. It’s a fine song. How happy or how satisfied are you with him?

Oh, very much! I mean, we've known each other since we were kids, we played in bands before, we played music since we were 13, we had our first band together, so hanging out with him and writing and playing music with him wasn't new. It was new in the Tribulation context but it went really well. We always said from the beginning that we wanted him to write because we listened to his other music, and we found that there are elements that could fit the Tribulation sound very well but from a new perspective and I think that's what he really delivered. Another thing that he is doing really well is to push us in directions that we wouldn't have thought of ourselves. Sometimes it works and sometimes we say “No!” but it's still good to have someone that is kind of pushing us because we kind of fall into a routine and do the same things in the same way and someone from the outside comes in and just shakes things up.

M.I. - The EP is set to be released on Good Friday, the 7th April. Is this just a random date or was it carefully chosen for some reason?

It’s a random date I'm afraid to say! It would be awesome if we had chosen it but I have to be honest and say we didn't! Maybe the label were more thoughtful than we were and chose it because of that but we didn't.

M.I. - The EP “Hamartia” features the cover of “Vengeance” by the Blue Oyster Cult. Why have you opted to do a cover of this song? You’ve also done covers of bands such as The Offspring, The Cure, The Misfits... you do covers of tracks you think you could improve or of tracks that mean something special to you?

Neither! I wouldn't say improve but but to make something different out of a song that we also like. The selection of songs is rather slim for us because we don't find it very fruitful to do a regular death metal song, a Morbid Angel song or something, because it's too far from where we are at the moment musically. So we always try to find songs between... it's usually with clean vocals and that's difficult, because if you do that as a more extreme metal band in my opinion you ruin the song. So we have to find songs where we won't completely ruin the song and can make something different out of it! We have to obviously find songs that we like and, all of the songs you mentioned, are songs that we like but there are other Blue Oyster songs that I like more but we would probably ruin them if we tried to cover them, so we won't do that. “Vengeance” is an awesome song.

M.I. - Because of the pandemic, the whole promotion for the latest album was delayed. Did it alter all your plans regarding upcoming releases or what?

Yeah, it changed all the plans, but we would probably write and record an album right about now even if the pandemic hadn't happened. So, at the moment, we have festivals during the summer and we might do something else as well but we're not gonna tour extensively on these new songs. We're gonna write and record a new album in probably September/October. The live shows we have are our main focus at the moment.

M.I. - When “Where the gloom becomes sound” was released in January 2021, you said that the band was already gathering new material. In what stage of the whole writing / recording process are you actually? Are you working on it already? You say you can easily write intros... do you usually record those intro ideas? How many files have you got of those? Do you often go back and pick intros you wrote a while back?

A little bit further down the road but pretty much at the same point. I went to Stockholm a couple of weeks ago to try out a few ideas, so we do have at least a direction of where we want to take it and we might not go that way but at least we have an idea. We usually do and then it ends up somewhere else but but that's just part of the process so that's fine as well. 

M.I. - The EP features a new member, Joseph Tholl. Has the work dynamic in Tribulation changed in any way because of Joseph joining in? It’s your intention that you and Joseph split the writing duties... how’s it working so far?

I imagine that we will be doing it more or less in the same way that we have... I'll be writing my material on my end and Joseph will be writing his but we will probably spend more time together as well to try out ideas and to try to get some songs out, so more or less the same. That's at least what we did a few weeks ago. I had a few ideas and then he built something out of it, so I'm not even sure that's going to be on the album but you never know. Of course Johannes and Oscar will also be involved in that process when we are in the studio trying out vocals and different ideas.

M.I. - Last autumn, the band toured with Watain, Bolzer and Abbath on the “Chariots of Fire tour”... what unites all these acts? How did the chance of touring together happen? How did the tour go?

We've known Watain forever! We've toured with them and played with them before. We’ve known the Bolzer guys for a long time as well now and we've played shows with them in the past and they show up to our shows and we show up to their shows. So it was just a matter of finding a width of bands that still have connecting grounds and I think that worked out good for this one. The audience seemed to like it all on every night so, even though we sound very different, there's something that connects all of the bands. I think that's because we know each other and we know it works well too,
we get along and we have some kind of common ground musically and aesthetically and we all share a DIY attitude to being in a band as well. I guess we connect on many different levels!

M.I. – On this tour, you’ve played in Lisbon. Do you recall anything of that show in particular? 

We've had good shows in Lisbon before but I remember during the day we went into the city, tried to find some food, everything was closed, and we ended up eating some kebabs and falafels. It was just one of those days that you just go into the city and don't think much about the show. It was a big place but, when there's a big place, sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it's empty, so you never know! But then we we got back to the venue and, all of a sudden, someone in the group chat for the tour sent a photo of the huge line outside the venue! Then we thought “Okay, this is gonna be awesome!” and we found out it was sold out as well... and then we had a fantastic show, one of the best on the tour!

M.I. - The band’s got a few concerts and festivals lined up already for this year. Is Tribulation more of a live band or a studio band? 

Both! In the past I'd say more of a live band sometimes, than sometimes more of a studio band, but I definitely think we're both! We love being in the studio, I love working on songs with the other guys in the studio, building them up, finding the right way and getting everything the way you want it! It's such a liberating space for me at least to get everything out of myself that I want to express. We've always focused on the live shows as well and, from the beginning, that's why we started doing this, we wanted to play live, we wanted to play on big stages and do big shows. We're doing shows but if we ever have the opportunity in the future to make it bigger, we definitely will!

M.I. - Tribulation are definitely a band concerned about their overall look and visuals and your shows are so intense and visually attractive! Everything makes sense! How important is image for the band? Is it all done according to your “taste” or do you have an artistic director that guides you in that?

We do not! That's good to hear, that's very good to hear! We just do whatever we feel like doing. Usually I give my ideas and sometimes they like it, sometimes they don't! If they like it, we go for it!

M.I. - When you play live, do you enter a stage persona or are you completely aware of everything that surrounds you? Some artists say they just block everything out and it's just them and their music!

Both definitely! I mean it becomes a rich ritual because it's something you just do over and over again and it's very similar each time you do it, it's like a tradition... every year Christmas comes and you get into the Christmas spirit. It's something you do over and over again, so you definitely go into a certain space but that doesn't mean I don't pay attention to what's going on. And there are so many things in the show that we have to time on the second, so you can't just have an “out-of-body” experience, but there's definitely a mix of the two.

M.I. - How do you feel about being famous? Do you like it or you rather have your privacy? How complicated is it dealing with it? 

Yeah, I never think about it in that sense, except when I'm touring when obviously people know who I am. I go about my daily life as anyone else, I have my family, go on walks with my dog and whatever. I'm an introvert, I don't hang out with people, I don't really go out partying that much, so I rarely think about any of that, except when I'm on tour and that's in a very specific context where people know who I am because that's why we're there. So I am a private person and rarely experience any kind of fame.

M.I. - How do you deal with it when people come up to you and start asking for autographs or photos. Do you feel comfortable?

Yeah, I do, it's not a problem! I've been in that situation myself wanting to have an autograph and a picture with someone and I just try to be polite and do it.

M.I. - You are still young... do you have an “idol” that you look up to for some reason? If you do, tell us about him/her.

I guess when it comes to my musical Idols it's more about the music rather than anything else. I've always Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden very highly and Ace Frehley from Kiss as well but it's purely aesthetical, it's about music and expression and looks and all of that, it's not about who they are as people really.

M.I. – Okay, Adam, what can fans expect of Tribulation in the the next few months and when can they expect a new album?

Well, we have a few summer festivals and then a new album that we're gonna record. When it is going to be out I'm not sure, probably next year!

M.I. - Many thanks for your time and excellent music, Adam. All the best for you and for Tribulation. Could you leave some final words for your fans and our readers, please?

If anyone has ever come to our show, I'd like to thank them, that's what keeps us going! Without that we couldn't do it! I hope to be back in Portugal very soon. Like I said earlier, we always have great shows there and the latest one was the best so far, so the next one might be even better... so please come!

Listen to Tribulation, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, clicke here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca