Adam Zaars of Tribulation
Interview by Andrew Daly
Seething with raw anger and possessing the heat of a thousand suns, the music of Tribulation has become a staple of the indie metal scene.
Unafraid to take chances, the members of Tribulation have done it again, taking listeners on a journey that’s akin to stretching their consciousness within its literal limits. Indeed, the heavy-hitting rhythms and grinding yet melodic guitar antics of the young band are a sight to behold, but there’s a delicate grandeur beneath the surface that can only be seen through repeated listens, an ever-expanding understanding of what makes this band tick.
With yet another rager under their belt, Adam Zaars of Tribulation dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to give us the rundown on the band’s new music, their overall progression, and what’s next as they move ahead.
What can you tell me about your latest music?
It’s just another step on our journey and the first step with our new guitar player Joseph Tholl. I guess that is what I can say in regards to what we’ve done in the past, at least, that Joseph has been involved in the songwriting, writing one song of his own and helping me with mine. I suppose that has to leave some kind of mark on the material that is new.
We’ve continued with the sound we’ve developed over the years, building it from our extreme metal foundation while drawing on various other influences like horror movie scores, dark wave, black metal, literature, history, magic and art, and whatever else has influenced us for this. I find it more in line now with how I envision it than I did a few years back. The gnarlier aspects of it are more pronounced; the cynicism shines through while at the same time leaving some glimmers of hope for the listener. But not too much, I hope.
How have you progressed from your last record? What does the current approach look like from a compositional standpoint?
For me, at least, I always have an idea of how I want it to feel/sound, and that is always some kind of goal. We don’t always get there, and that’s perfectly fine because otherwise, everything would end up sounding more or less the same, but like I just said, I think we got closer to that this time, in a more consistent way. It’s quite difficult to describe what that ideal is because it’s very abstract. I think you can hear it in songs such as “The Lament” and “Hemoclysm,” to name two.
But that’s, of course, only my side of it! Me and Joseph composed our material on our own, and then we met in the studio to try things out and, in the case of my songs, to find the right order for the various parts and ideas. Joseph’s song “Axis Mundi” was more finished than my two songs, but it’s always a process to get the vocals right, and so on. I would go to Stockholm every other weekend or so to work on the songs, mostly with Joseph and Johannes, but Oscar also played his part.
Are you more comfortable in the studio or live? Why?
Both, really. I’ve always enjoyed both sides of it, and I’m very used to and comfortable with both aspects of it. They are very different things, of course, with their own ups and downs, but I really look forward both to going into the studio and to going on tour.
Some have said rock is dead. Where do you stand on that notion?
The rock is dead; long live the rock! I suppose that sums up my position on this. Same thing with punk. The old methods might be dead or in slumber, whether it’s an attitude, lifestyle, or a type of music, but the concepts are still alive and….well, possibly not well, but different. Though, it might be more complex than that. Punks nowadays often seem to be very mainstream in their views (though there seem to be mainstreams at this point!), and rock music has possibly lost its dangerous edge.
In a way, rock/metal is even more rock now when it’s gone over the peak of mainstream acceptance and back into the underground/counter-culture. It depends on what “rock” and “punk” means. Both punk and metal have also been exposed to the new, more sensitive internet/social media age where people from a more mainstream cultural understanding of the world have gained access and been appalled by the goings on of the actual counter cultures and subcultures, but that only creates new avenues of expression. Sometimes bad, sometimes good.
There are no guitars in the top ten list songs any longer, but I, as a counter-cultural creature, don’t see that as something bad because people are still playing guitar, and there are countless great and young guitar players (and drummers and bass players) on YouTube sharing their expertise in a way I could have only dreamed of when I was a kid.
As long as people are passionate about what they are doing, and as long as people keep creating art and making new subcultures/subcultural expressions, there will be places for this; it’s just not going to be the same. Because of the emerging centralization of the Internet as a whole, I imagine there will be (and might already be) a myriad of various “rock” subcultures in the future as well as it will leave so much space for what isn’t considered appropriate. Life finds a way!
What are a few things that you know now that would have been helpful during your earliest days?
Don’t only be an idealist artist-artist. I still am, but I wish I was more keen on anything having to do with running a business, as that’s such a big part of being in a band, whether you like it or not. Learn about money and economics. Dare to dream big with artistic visions and ideals, but keep some room to be grounded and rational as well. Don’t rely on anyone else to do the work for you, do the work yourself. Something like that.
What are some of the hardest things about making new music for a low attention span world?
Nothing, I don’t make music for them. If they don’t happen to like it, of course! We don’t adapt to the latest findings about how long an intro can play before someone changes the song because a hook hasn’t come. That would be artistic suicide. If anything, we would still be obstinate about it and make it extra long! But really, not even that. We just make the music we want to make! Already not listening to my own advice from the previous answer.
How has your overall approach evolved from your younger years? Do you have any cringe factor when listening to older work?
Not much, to be honest. As I said, I’m still that idealist artist type when it comes to Tribulation. We always have to have room for things taking the time they take. We still don’t try to push it. I know someone like Stephen King would disagree, but sometimes we still have to wait it out. It has to be in a certain way. I still see it as an almost magical process where I pick up on things that happen to come my way, not that I’m necessarily seeking out.
As for the cringe moments… well, there are a few, of course. We were always very, very serious and angry and evil and all that, but I still admire people who dare to be serious, especially in a scene where everything always has to be so fun and “chill” and so on. I guess we were overly pretentious at times, but I think I still am to a lot of people. We were also very young, and I can even be impressed at what we did back then. I can even be inspired by our early days since we had so many ideas, and we were so intent on doing everything exactly how we wanted to do them.
What’s next in all lanes?
New album! We’re recording late this year. That has to be the only focus for now! Thanks for the interview!
Feature Photo: Tribulation courtesy of Breaking The Law PR.jpg Background framing licensed from Shutterstock
Adam Zaars of Tribulation: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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