Canada have always been a bit of a dark horse in the metal scene, often overshadowed by the exploits of its rowdier neighbour down south. Of course it’s always had its shining stars, and certainly in more recent years there’s almost been an uprising in new talent. Representing one such band flying the home, and indeed universal, iron flag, guitarist Terry Anderson of Tribune elaborates on the new album, and hopefully next step down that road…
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me!
Terry Anderson: No problem. You have questions and I have answers. Bring it on.
At this time we’re actually talking only a few days before the launch of your new album ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’ – how are you feeling?
Terry: I feel great. The album is finally out, we’re going on tour soon, and I don’t have to work my other job for two months.
Has it been a long gap between actually finishing the recording and the album going out to market?
Terry: Yeah. We live in Burnaby, B.C. and we decided to record in Kelowna. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, there’s a mountain range between these two locations. We commuted over the weekends so we could still work our day jobs. Between the gas and the fast food, I’d have to say that next time, we’re going to take two weeks off. This round of recording sessions has taught us a lot about what we should and should not do. At the end of the day however, it was still a very positive experience for Tribune.
Why did you choose to give the album a split, or essentially two, names?
Terry: Well, the album is a collection of songs that we wrote over the last 7 years. Elder Lore refers to the three songs we wrote back before we moved to Vancouver. The Dark Arts is how we refer to the five newer songs on the album.
Does the name give away anything about the overall concepts or themes of the album?
Terry: I’d say yes and no. It means something to us yet it’s still vague and open to interpretation.
This is your second full-length release – something that many regard as being a more difficult career point – has this been true of ‘Elder Lore/ The Dark Arts’ or was the writing process easier than expected?
Terry: The writing process itself is something that we’ve always paid attention to since the band’s beginnings. There are multiple whiteboards in our basement that have riffs grease-penned in with names like ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Plains of Edom’ or possibly some video game or fantasy novel reference. But to answer your question… Some of these songs took years to finalize, and some of them took only weeks. Our main criteria is that they’re all killer and no filler.
As a band you’ve been together around eight years now – has it been quite important to you to take a more long-term approach to your releases, as opposed to churning them out at speed?
Terry: I think we’re only beginning to reach our prime. Tribune already has new material that is a blast to play. And because we’re always trying to test ourselves, the new arrangements are a real work out! But… when you make it through that crazy new song that your muscles are still learning to commit to memory, you feel the burn like anyone working out in a gym. And it’s a good feeling. Very addictive.
You’ve been offering the first single from the album, ‘The Succubus’, as a free download – why did you take this approach?
Terry: It was purely democratic. Like many choices made in the band. ‘Succubus won by popular opinion. If we ever added a sixth member, like a keyboardist or trumpet player, they’ll have to be treated like a pet. That way, there’ll still be a tie-breaker with 5 votes.
What’s the response been like?
Terry: Pretty good. We get a lot of, “When are you coming to my town?” and “Have my babies!” I’m allowed to bend the truth right? (laughs)
How did you work to try and capture the band’s live sound on the album?
Terry: First, I recorded us playing live. After, I mapped out every single tempo change from riff to riff and built click tracks in our audio engineering suite… Each member of the band played to the clicks, which on their own sound like a metronome that has recently had too much coffee and/or beer. We’ve found that we’re sensitive to tempo changes as acute as 2 BPM between a verse and a chorus. This actually happens in The Succubus. Anyway, once we were all happy with the flow of the clicks’, we used them as our templates to build up all of the instruments track by track. By doing this, we were able to record tracks in Burnaby and send them to our engineer in Kelowna, where he could just drop them in with the tracks he recorded. As for the sound production itself, we’re a five piece band with few frills and gimmicks. Except for a few creative overdubs and the sample at the beginning of the album, we wanted to keep our album sounding as gritty and down to earth as one of our regular band practices.
The overall musical approach of the band has changed somewhat since your first EP, both in being heavier and more melodic – have you now achieved the sort of sound you were always aiming for?
Terry: Trying to get the sound we’re aiming for is like having all five of us play pin-the-tail on the donkey in the same room with buck knives, and blindfolded. The truth is that we’re always aiming for everything at once. We push the envelope in various directions intentionally and tactfully. The Tribune way is to always do more and always do better than we did before. Any album you see from us is just a milestone along the same never-ending quest that we’ve set ourselves upon. The quest to spend lots of money…
I believe you have plans for a two month tour of the US and Canada from April – are you looking forward to playing anywhere in particular?
Terry: The States. All of it. I’ve never left the country in my whole life. It’s time to go and see what our brothers and sisters below the border are all about. Doing Las Vegas sounds like a lot of fun though. I’ve heard good things about The Cheyenne Saloon.
Will you be looking to include a lot of tracks from ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’ in the set list?
Terry: Of course we will. All of them if we can. We like to switch up our set from show to show. But I can guarantee that our focus will be to play songs off the new album.
On your Facebook page it says that if the apocalypse does occur this year that ‘not only will Tribune be there, but they will also provide the soundtrack…’ – what other bands or songs do you think would provide good background music for such an event?
Terry: That’s a no brainer for me. If it had to be a band’s whole repertoire, then it should be Slayer. If it’s a single song, let it be Tool’s Aenema. “Wash it all away!”
Thanks for the interview. It sounds to me like you really like your job. Hail Heavy Metal!