Tribulation’s Adam Zaars: We Never Set Out to Mix Different Styles Together
Tribulation's Adam Zaars was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The guitarist in the goth-tinged Swedish metal band spoke about the group's latest record, Where the Gloom Becomes Sound.
The fifth record from the band continues on the path's laid out across 2018's Down Below and 2015's The Children of the Night, which is one that is cinematic in scope and encompasses a variety of sounds from punk, goth rock, death metal and rock 'n' roll.
Despite the band's penchant for blending these sounds so well, opposed to a cut-and-paste amalgamation, Zaars expressed he rarely finds genre mashing to be an attractive quality in the music he consumes and that Tribulation's outright songwriting aim was not to bring cohesion to so many influences.
He also discussed the exit of guitarist Jonathan Hultén, who left the group after recording Where the Gloom Becomes Sound as well as a synchronicity that brought some common themes to the new album.
Let's talk about the coronavirus first off, because obviously it disrupted the plans of every band. What was the biggest obstacle you overcame recording an album during a pandemic?
Recording the album wasn't that much of a challenge, even in this time. In one way we were timing it quite well because most of the material was already written when we entered the studio. Throughout the year, except for a few summer festivals, we weren't going on tour anyway, and now the album is released. It's really from now on that it will affect us to a larger extent.
Jonathan Hultén wrote and recorded the new album and then left the band. What's unique about a creative process that happens while someone is planning to leave?
We didn't know about it when we were writing the album and when we were recording it he didn't know about it either. It wasn't that much different than any other recording we've done. It's obviously a strange situation that we are in at the moment, but luckily we have a new guitar player, Joseph Tholl. So, at the moment, we're really just focusing on looking forward.
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There's a classical elemental theme throughout the album — water, fire, earth, air, and ether. What made that so appealing to be the subject of metal songs?
It was kind of a coincidence that we even started writing about it. In the past we've taken advantage when we find synchronicities and both me and Jonathan have been reading about the elements in various contexts — what they are and how they've been used by people in the past and nowadays as well.
When we were writing the songs, both me and Jonathan were naming the songs — the working titles of the songs — after the elements. We had a couple of fiery songs, a watery song and so on. When we noticed that we both were doing it, we just thought that that was interesting and let it, to some extent, shape the album.
It's not a concept album about the elements, but when we see something good, I guess we take it.
It's an album that incorporates so many different styles of music. What's challenging about maintaining consistency while being musically adventurous?
It's a long process, at least for me, when I'm writing the songs because you never quite know where they are going when you have an open field like this.
I often have ideas of where I want to take it, but usually they go in a different way. It takes time and it's an intuitive process where you have to remain patient in getting it the right way.
When I hear of bands that are mixing styles, I don't really feel like I want to listen to it, most likely. I can understand that most people probably think a similar thing about us. I rarely like when people are mixing sides and we never set out to do that — we've just been trying to write the music we feel is Tribulation. It takes time and you have to be patient and listen to your inner voice.
There's a cinematic quality throughout this record. In what ways does the music of this album tell just as much of a story as the lyrics?
It has a cinematic touch to it and we've always been inspired by movie soundtracks, especially horror and giallo movie soundtracks from Italian horror movies. You can tell that that is the case because they build some kind of an atmosphere that can, in the best circumstances, take you to a different world. It's a kind of escape to some, since the music is at the very heart of it.
Since the inspiration we take is often of an otherworldly form, I'm always happy to hear when we managed to take the listener on the kind of journey with the music.
Thanks to Adam Zaars for the interview. Get your copy of Tribulation's 'Where the Gloom Becomes Sound' here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases) and follow the band on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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