THROWBACK: Adam Zaars (Tribulation) interviewed

In 2009, we heard Tribulation’s savage call, inviting them to take part in our New Wave of Old-School Death Metal piece. Turns out the Swedes, who were also paying bills in Enforcer, didn’t have the time to commit right away. Needless to say, long after the story was submitted Adam Zaars, guitarist, felt compelled to answer our questions. In light of Tribulation’s excellent new album, The Children of the Night, and to celebrate “Death Metal… the New Way” (our August 2009 issue is sold out, sadly) we bring you the unpublished 2009 interview with Zaars and Tribulation! NOTE: The interview transitions from basic to detailed as a framing device.

When did you form?
Adam Zaars: We formed the band in early 2004.

Current band members?
Adam Zaars: Adam Zaars – Guitar
Jonathan Hultén – Guitar
Johannes Andersson – Bass/Throat
Jakob Johansson – Drums

What are your day jobs?
Adam Zaars: Mainly Tribulation, and studying.

What other bands have you been in?
Adam Zaars: Johannes and Jonathan are playing in Stench. I, Adam, am playing in Enforcer as well.

Average age of the band members?
Adam Zaars: : 21.

How many albums do you have?
Adam Zaars: 1.

What label are you signed to?
Adam Zaars: Pulverised Records released the CD; Blood Harvest put out the LP.

How did it start? What was the spark that got you into playing old school death?
Adam Zaars: The spark was many things. We are doing this because we want to do it. We are doing it because it is needed in order to preserve and evolve Death Metal in the right way. Back when we started we did it simply because we wanted to take on the same things bands like Morbid Angel and the likes did, and in time it has become more serious and more dedicated.

Describe what you mean by “Old School Death Metal”?
Adam Zaars: We have never said that we play Old School Death Metal. People generally say that we do, and I can understand why, but to us it is simply Death Metal. The music that people talk about when they say Death Metal is far from what we are doing, we are simply trying to “reclaim” it.

What are your memories of the scene back then? If you were around, feel free to get nostalgic. If you weren’t around, feel free to tell me what you liked about the burgeoning death metal scene. Sound, bands, fliers, ‘zines!
Adam Zaars: Well, since we all are in our early twenties we were around, but obviously far too young to have any connection to it what so ever. What first got us in to Heavy Metal in general was everything about it, not just the music. It has always been about the whole thing, flyers, studs, clothes, lyrics and the whole lifestyle.

Do you think there’s something missing in today’s death metal scene? If so, what do you think is missing?
Adam Zaars: Everything is missing, the bands are missing. There are a handful of great bands around, but that’s about it.

Are you into the current death metal scene? If so, what bands or style of death metal appeals to you?’
Adam Zaars: Well, no, not really. Bands worth mentioning are Dead Congregation, Necrovation, Necros Christos, Teitanblood and a few more. The good bands are better than ever, but they are rare. Maybe that’s a good thing though.

The reason I ask is this: is old school death metal more about nostalgia or is there something more concrete involved?
Adam Zaars: It is nothing about nostalgia. If you have the right formulas of death, and if you know what you are dealing with you will manage to create real Death Metal. There is nothing old school, and there is nothing nostalgic about it, it’s just Death Metal. Something obviously went wrong somewhere in the ’90s, and just a few bands kept the real thing.

You’ve been in other bands before. What does this current band offer that your other band or bands do not or have not?
Adam Zaars: It’s is different kinds of Heavy Metal, and it is different kinds of personal levels involved. So far it is working out really well being in both.

Since the days of tape trading are, more or less, long gone how valuable is MySpace (or other social networking sites) to the band?
Adam Zaars: MySpace is a good thing for us, any publicity is. I know that some people prefer not to be on MySpace, and for good reasons, but we have no intention to keep or music to a small number of people.

I see a lot of old school death metal tribute pages on MySpace. And a lot of bands – new and old – doing the old school sound and look. How do you compare MySpace to networking in the old days?
Adam Zaars: Since I wasn’t around it’s hard to say. But I’m sure it a lot different. Nowadays you don’t need to order something you haven’t heard and wait for a couple of weeks before hearing it, and so on.

Did you ever tape trade? If so, what did you like about it? What did you look forward to trading tapes?
Adam Zaars: I never traded that much, I prefer buying stuff actually. But I have a lot of tapes, so I guess I’m into it in some way.

Why old school death metal now? I mean, what prompted you to go back and explore death metal from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s?
Adam Zaars: I never listened to anything else, it’s nothing that I did because I wanted to, or because someone else wanted to. I have been listening to bands like Sarcófago and Morbid Angel since I was like 13. It’s simply because it appeals very much to me.

Would you call this “True Underground Death Metal”?
Adam Zaars: If you mean Tribulation, then no.

What are some of your favorite death metal records and why?
Adam Zaars: Morbid Angel Altars of Madness is in the top. It’s pretty much the essence of what Death Metal is all about. It’s relatively early as well, and very innovative. Other than that I have to say that mostly demo tapes have inspired me.

How have those records influenced or inspired you?
Adam Zaars: They have inspired my whole lifestyle really. I mean, of course they have inspired us musically, it’s pretty obvious, but there is so much more around it. Like I said earlier, it’s everything surrounding it.

Do you think death metal went wrong somewhere? Too clean, too technical, too polished?
Adam Zaars: Well, yes, again like I said earlier. They lost the mentality, the core of the music and the real Death of it. The whole feeling and the true essence!

Do you have aspirations to sign to a larger label like Nuclear Blast or Century Media?
Adam Zaars: We are aiming higher than were we are at the moment, yes. That on the other hand does not mean that we’re going to “betray the music” or whatever to get there, we’ll always stay true to it whether we’re staying on small labels or signing to a major one.

Explain what your relationship is like now with your current label? Are you happy just to have a record out or are you seeking something more?
Adam Zaars: At the moment we are happy just to have the record out. They also helped us getting a European tour. We’re not sure what will happen in  the future.

Tell me a little bit about your discography?
Adam Zaars: Not much to tell really. We have released one demo tape, some rehearsal stuff, a 7″ called Putrid Rebirth and finally the monumental LP The Horror.

What about your production approach? Anything special there or do you just plug in, play and hit record?
Adam Zaars: We planned the recording of the album very precise. Other than the planning we pretty much just plug in and record, but not without finding the perfect sound of course.

Do you aim for a specific sound?
Adam Zaars: We are aiming for our sound, we are not trying to imitate anyone. I think the sound on the album fits the music perfect. It’s a pretty timeless sound I think.

Do you have specific gear you’re using? I know a lot of people bought Boss “Heavy Metal” HM-2s to get that Entombed/buzzsaw sound.
Adam Zaars: We have never intended to have that sound. I’m using a JPM 900 Marshall amp, no pedals.

Tell me about your merch. Old school in vibe?
Adam Zaars: I don’t know what you define as old school, we only use things that fit the music. If by old school you mean things that doesn’t look like a bad video game, then I guess we’re old school. You don’t? I have a few, new as well.

What do you make of old bands reforming? Like Evocation, Unanimated, etc.?
Adam Zaars: They can do what ever they want. Most of the time it seems a bit effortless, but sometimes it turns out good. The new Unanimated album is really good!

Do you think old school death can make a bit of a comeback like Thrash? I know you’d probably love to have it stay underground.
Adam Zaars: I don’t really care if it does, I’m just interested in my own band. If it does it will blow over fast and the real bands will be left, like Tribulation.

If old school death makes a comeback I can see it cross-pollinating with other old school sounds. New York DM mixed with the Stockholm Sound. The Earache grind/death sound mixed with Florida (guess Napalm already did that). You see what I’m getting at. What’s your take on the evolution of old school death?
Adam Zaars: Isn’t it already being made? And since like 15 years? Like I said before I think that we are evolving it as we speak, but it surely has nothing to do with mixing any specific sounds, I think it goes deeper than that.

** Tribulation’s new album, Children of the Night, is out April 14th on Century Media Records. Pre-order configurations are available HERE. There’s also a limited (1,000 copies) LP+CD box HERE.