In a tiny little room backstage at the Garage, Glasgow we sat down for a natter with Jakob of melodic black metal band Tribulation. As luck would have it, Adam Zaars wandered in partway through which helped with a couple of the questions we had about the lyrics!
Children of the Night, your most recent album, came out in April. What were the reviews like?
Jakob: Mostly good. Some people pointed out things that we didn’t like – “half of it’s good, half of it sucks”, that kind of thing. But they were very few. Mostly well recieved, which is good.
This is your third album as a band – your second with them. How did the songwriting and recording process differ compared to Formulas of Death?
Jakob: We wrote this one as a unit. We lived in the same town, rehearsed from the first sketch to the final product. Before it was more just finished songs as I came along late into the creative process for Formulas. This time was more of a team effort, I would say.
How would you say the sound has progressed musically?
Jakob: It draws inspiration from the same sources, but this time other things came out! We didn’t sit down and think “we must make our new album like this!”. You listen to a lot of things over time and after it processes in your brain it comes out. You may hear some stuff, and feel others!
Why the decision to do an instrumental track? And how do you pronounce the name of it?!
Jakob: [Jakob kindly taught me to say “serla-flicht” or thereabouts! – Mosh] Roughly translated it means “flight of the soul”. I really like the title. There wasn’t a decision to make it instrumental. It just felt… finished.
Now that you explain the title, it does go with the music very well. Did you name the song after writing it?
Jakob: No, the name was there really early on in the process.
Your lyrics are very death and horror oriented. Where do you draw the inspiration from for your lyrical content?
Adam: From life. They have a focus. They are of a spiritual, even a religious nature. They are about what spirituality is about… transformation.
Musically, what would you say are your influences?
Jakob: Pretty much everything we’ve listened to since we were kids. Hard rock, metal and Swedish folk music! Some prog music.
Adam: I don’t think it is the obvious. It’s a mixture of the obvious and other things.
Jakob: There is Bathory and Iron Maiden, but also Swedish folk songs.
Adam: We do the music in a way that a lot of other metal bands don’t. I think a lot of bands actively do metal songs. We take melodies from anywhere and if it works, it works. It doesn’t have to be a metal melody or a metal riff. We take music and put it into the Tribulation context.
What is it about Sweden that makes it produce so many dark acts, and black metal acts in particular?
Adam: I don’t think it’s an act of rebellion or trying to get away from the stereotype of blue eyes and blonde hair. Maybe in our teenage years, sure, but… in our Swedish culture and folklore we have an inherent darkness. It’s not necessarily a bad darkness, or evil. I would rather say it is beautiful. That’s where our kind of darkness comes from. We have this word in Swedish, but I’m not sure how to translate it – vemod. It’s like melancholia, but with something that grips your heart.
You have a lot of live dates lined up through to the end of January. Are you a band who creates to be able to play live, or plays live to be able to fund creation of new material?
Adam: Both, I guess but we started with the idea of playing live.
Jakob: We don’t use the next album as an excuse to get on the road again. We like to try and make the music “do-able” live. We focus during the writing process on how something will sound with only us.
Adam: There are songs we can’t play live. We will do it if we can afford to bring in someone to play the organ, someone to play violin… then we might. But at the moment, we just can’t afford it.
Out of all the places you’ve been to, where have you particularly enjoyed playing?
Jakob: I particularly remember that time where it rained in Austin. It was so humid, we were sweating before we even started playing.
Adam: It was on tour with Watain and In Solitude. The only open air date on that tour. It was humid, warm… but for our set it was fine. But when Watain were playing the rain really came down. The equipment was under some kind of roof, but the promoter had fucked up so a lot of it got damaged by the water.
Jakob: The thunderstorm was really cool. Our gig was so intense.
Last question – who is the best screen vampire of representation of vampirism?
Adam: Nosferatu. Max Schreck did an incredible job, especially given the time. 1922, I think it was released. It’s still one of the scariest images I know. Klaus Kinski did almost as good a job, too.
So… how about Twilight, then?
Good answer – we could just leave it there!
Adam: I’ve not see it.
Jakob: I’ve seen the first one. They’re outside, playing baseball and running really fast? No.