We caught up with Jonathan Hultén, the guitarist, songwriter and Illustrator from Swedish death metallers, Tribulation. They will hit our shores next week for a quick three date tour, starting with the Dark Mofo Festival in Hobart on the 15th June.
How did the band first come to exist?
Tribulation came into being through the split-up of the band Hazard in 2004. Me, Adam and Johannes started anew together while the Wikstrand brothers, who made up the other half of Hazard, eventually would start the band Enforcer. The main reason it didn’t work out was that we had different ideas of what we wanted to do with the band, musically and conceptually. While Hazard for most case had been inspired by Bay Area thrash bands, we started to lean towards an even heavier sound. Morbid Angel had a important influence on our new direction, especially with their first album ‘Altars of Madness’.
Is there an interesting story behind the name?
It is actually initially taken from ‘Visions from the Dark Side’ by Morbid Angel, but as soon as it was taken out of its context it kind of got another significance to it – especially with time as our experiences got tied together with the name. With its biblical connotation along with the actual meaning of the word it sounds very severe and weighty, which is exactly how it feels to be in an ambitious band with all that it comprises. It’s a struggle with ups and downs, which of course is unavoidable with all types of relationships and dreams.
What’s your most recent release?
It is called ‘The Children of the Night’ and was released by Century Media in 2015. For us it was a big challenge to complete, as it music-wise was a ride into uncharted territory. Coming from a more death and black-metal oriented sphere on our previous albums, we started to follow a certain trail of musical inspiration that had only briefly been touched upon on our second album, and that made us plunge into a whole new world of ideas and atmospheres for ‘The Children of the Night’. It is often more classic rock that death metal, but still has very much in common with the genre we originate from.
What’s the one must have item on the rider?
That would be water, no doubt. Beer comes next.
Any pre-show rituals?
We are all very much in our own world and have our own specific routines before a show, although they could appear somewhat similar from an outside perspective.
It starts about two hours before stage time, when you mentally start to prepare for the upcoming big discharge of energy. What follows is like a slow transformation
into your stage-self by changing clothes and putting on make-up and generally preparing yourself for whats to come, practically and emotionally. Yet what happens
inside each of us during this time (and during the show) is highly individual and most likely pretty different from person to person.
What do you think is the hardest aspect of being in a touring band?
Except for all physical inconveniences like the lack of sleep, not eating well nor regularly and carrying heavy stuff every night, it is no doubt the group dynamics within the band, since you are spending so much time together in so many uncomfortable situations. But of course, you have a lot of fun and good times together as well.
What’s on the cards in the next few months for the band?
Well, it’s festival summer, so we are going to play a lot, starting with Sweden Rock next week. By the end of August we are heading out on our first North American
headline tour, which is going to be an adventure for sure. In total it will be our fifth visit to the states, but this time not as an opening band – which is a very important step for us. After that, we are going to concentrate on our, for most part unwritten, next album.
Any band, album, or song that you personally credit as a major influence?
There are all those bands that you grew up on, like Iron Maiden and KISS for example. They are as present as ever in the back of my mind when writing a song, but
personally it would not be fair to say that they are the bands that feels the most relevant to me right now. If I would have to pick a band/artist, I would say Philip
Glass. If I had to choose an album I would take ‘Meanam’ by Jami Sieber. As for the song, I would say ‘Frates’ by Arvo Pärt.
Most prized music related item you own?
I guess I should say my guitar here, but to be honest I am prone to say my computer instead, since I have created and recorded so much music on it these past years.
It is really like an instrument in itself, like a little magic box that has the power to produce, store, realize and materialize ideas.
Last album you picked up?
To be honest I don’t even remember, as I stopped buying albums really early on in my teens. Never been much of a materialist nor a collector, so my music consumption is solely digital. I guess I am a child of my time.
What album is currently on high rotation?
I’m currently listening a lot to Anna von Hausswolff’s latest album ‘The Miraculous’. It came out in 2015 and still has me firmly in its grip.
What do you think of online music sharing?
I like the idea, and furthermore I think it is inevitable in the internet-age. Generally, I would say that it is more important that your music gets spread and more
people get to take part in it than it is to make money out of it by restricting its accessibility. Artists get by, by playing live shows and selling merchandise rather than selling cd’s, and I’m fine with that – although I’m an artist myself. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of selling cd’s, but it’s more about that it is a matter of course to me that music should be free – just like education and healthcare should be.
Who are your non-musical influences?
There are a lot of authors and painters that would fall into that category. But generally I’m very drawn to certain aesthetics, things I perceive as beautiful and inspire me. It can be visually graceful, beautifully composed thoughts and ideas, or actually anything that has that quality to it. In other words, it can be found anywhere, or in anyone. One of the best and most intense ways of becoming inspired is through the interaction with people that in some way come to fascinate you, be it through something you have in common or through the dynamics of the conversation itself. And nature, like human interaction, is like a constant source of inspiration too, always profound and mysterious.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Taking care of my Facebook account, it really gets to me sometimes. I guess I’m not cut out for social media in the end (HaHa) I’m sure it is a very common cause
of frustration these days, it is such a time consuming thing to deal with. Furthermore it’s nothing like real human interaction, it is merely a poor substitute.
When you’re not with the band, what are you usually found doing?
Creating music for my singer-songwriter project, meeting with friends, reading or illustrating, walking in the woods.
The Final Say
Come to the shows, see you there!
Tribulation: Australian Tour 2016
15 June – Dark Mofo Festival, Hobart –
w/ Dark Congregation, Hymns Of The Dead + Heaps More
17 June – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney – Event
w/ Exordium Mors, Rise Of Avernus & Bastardizer
18 June – Crowbar, Brisbane – Event
w/ Anatomy & Chemical Cascades