The vampires have risen and they are here to stay, Black Sunday catches up with Jonathan & Jakob from Tribulation to find out more about the inception of the band, the pros and cons of touring and what the music industry is really like.
Tell me a little bit about the beginnings of Tribulation.
We’ve been playing together since forever but the band Tribulation formed in 2004. In 2001 we started a thrash band called Hazard, which later split up into Tribulation and what would later become the heavy metal band Enforcer.
In our generation we were a group of people who had numerous bands in different constellation together throughout our teens, but certain groups had the function of being like a stem from which the other projects sprung forth. Tribulation was one of those with a more serious intention.
It’s obvious that you have quite an open approach to your sound i.e. going from genre to genre – what kind of music did you grow up to and do you think that has influenced your sound as a band?
We’ve always listened to a wide variety of music. I believe you can find fibers of inspiration in almost anything, but as aspiring musicians and fans of heavy music growing up I’d say we listened a lot to the “usual” stuff. Kiss, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Slayer, you know, classics. Then we took the natural step of listening to more extreme stuff, but not just harder metal, we also started exploring darker, stranger, more introspective things. Being from the vast forests in the west of Sweden we also got exposed to a certain amount of folk music, which I believe has helped form our tonality.
The themes of darkness and horror have quite the influence on the imagery and lyrics of the band – tell me more about how that came about.
Dark subjects have always fascinated and appealed to us, both as individuals and as a group, ever since we were children. One could almost consider it a part of our trademark; whatever we do, musically, lyrically or visually, we end up twisting it in our own particular way, and one of the features of the result from that is that it always ends up taking a darker turn, even if that not necessarily would have to be the case. It’s just a matter of us being ourselves, expressing ourselves.
I was at the London gig recently and one thing I noticed is that your live show has quite the atmosphere to it, it goes beyond a band just playing music onstage– is this intentional?
It certainly is. It is important to us to visualize the music somehow to make it stronger, be it on stage or via music videos or artwork. I can only speak from my own experience but I always preferred watching bands that did something more than just play their songs one by one in a row. It is also a means for ourselves to get into it. To cross that line where you’re no longer yourself, but an extended version of yourself, not thinking – only following the notions that the music provides you with.
I am always interested in creativity and the creative process, tell me how Tribulation put together a record.
As with practically everything, it begins with an idea, sensation or emotion that appears for whatever reason – be it that it’s inspired by something or just by itself. You start elaborating with this feeling, and soon enough you have something tangible enough to show to the other persons in the band. From there we continue to develop the material and keep scrutinizing it over and over again until we have “conquered” it, or “made it ours.” But the music does not really stop evolving at that point, almost not even when it has been recorded. When we are playing live, small variations keep popping up as a natural continuation of where we left it last time we played it. They live and thrive in our minds as long as we keep thinking about them.
You have toured the US and Europe – how do you find life on the road? What are the best and worst bits?
I find it intriguing and horrible, the best and worst of times are always had on tour. The worst part I’d say is that you’re pushing your body and mind to their uttermost levels to perform every night and to survive malnutrition and lack of sleep. At the same time you get to play new stages, see new cities, experience new things and spread your art to new people which is the upside of touring.
From the beginning of Tribulation to the present day – has the reality of being in a band fitted your expectations?
It certainly is less glamorous than one could have imagined. The basic conditions are in principle the same as the first time you get up on a stage before 10 people, as when you are standing before a crowd of thousands; it’s you, the instrument and an area to move around in. What changes is your way of relating to it, your mindset.
That goes for everything that is not the actual playing as well. You learn to not be too comfortable with food, sleep, lifting heavy stuff etc, especially when it comes to touring. It wears you out, unless you have an inner drive that is stronger than the toll it takes on you – both mentally and physically.
And finally, what is coming up for Tribulation that you can share with the readers?
We have a few weeks left of our North American tour with Deafheaven, then we go to Israel for a show, then we do Black Christmas in Sweden and then we play in Dublin the day before new years eve. And after that, in late January, we’re doing a European tour with Grave Pleasures and Vampire. We have some more plans for the not too distant future, but nothing I can talk about at the moment.
Interview: Katie Doherty