TRIBAL: Raw Sentiments & Intense Feelings


Brazilian metallers Tribal released their self-titled EP in February, and the band’s founder, guitarist and frontman Cristiano Fernandes talked with Prog Sphere about it.

Define the mission of Tribal.

Tribal is a djent / prog metal band from Brazil, and its main mission is to play technical progressive metal (through odd time signatures and exploring keys and scales), and deliver an experience to the audience that they can relate to, by lyrics that talk about the basic feelings of human nature. But also deliver a visual live performance experience, with lots of energy, and visual elements, like face painting, lights and statues on stage.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut EP “Tribal” and the themes it captures.

The concept behind it all is minimalism, bringing back to the very foundation of what makes us who we are. Raw sentiments, intense feelings, or else, being human. It is about deep life changing personal experiences, right down to the core. Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives, by nourishing the most important aspects of life. That is what we intended to depict in this EP and the main reason for the name Tribal. About the creative process it works mainly three ways: from a guitar riff that either I or Anderson wrote it and then show each other to play it, from a vocal line that I might have created or lyrics written that makes these vocals, and lastly by just jamming and seeing what come out of it. We record a few of those and there is always some great material to work with.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Tribal”?

Tribal is about the exchange of experiences. So everything that happens to us in our lives I think is suitable for writing a song about it. And we really like when the fans interact with us, giving ideas, sharing their opinions and specially their own experiences, no matter what they are. That is our approach to it, being in a collective environment, and presenting to one another their life stories. And our new song themes are going on that direction as well. One is about the need we have to belong to something, which we will release parts of it soon. It feels like everyone needs the acceptance of society, and if you’re not, you are an outcast. But you know, metalheads have always been the outcasts, so we are very strong people, aren’t we?!

Tribal EP

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Everything we play, every part, no matter if it was used or not in the album is documented on its right notation. We use a software for that and we exchange the files so every one can have it and give their inputs, or add parts to it. It is a collaborative process that works well for us.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes, for sure! We use some crazy time signatures and lots of polyrythms, atonal scales, sudden shifts of tempo and flow, doing that by combining a variety of music styles, from metal to jazz and Brazilian traditional rhythms and instruments. So when writing songs we verify which parts go to one another, in terms of keys and tempo, and specially in terms of feel. It might take a little more time to write the songs this way but I guess they are crafted to a way that everything stands at the right place.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

After we have finished rehearsing we started recording each instrument separably, a part from the drums, as it was programmed according to the drum patterns created by Edu. After that, we recorded 2 bass lines, one that is more “in your face” which is more of a clean bass sound, and a second one being a distorted bass on the background, but only on distorted parts. Both guitars are doubled as well, you may called it quadruple guitar recording, being panned accordingly. Then vocals, solos and fills. Overall process took a little less than one month, I suppose. Everything was recorded in line, as most bands do nowadays, and we have used the POD Pro HD for the guitars and other sims for the bass. But if possible for the full length album we plan on recording everything, so no use of VST’s for tone purposes, but we will see how it will go.

How long “Tribal” EP was in the making?

The song writing process for the 6 songs on the EP took about one year, from start writing the songs all the way to the rehearsals. A couple of riffs that I had previously were used as well. And then the recording took a couple of weeks, for all the takes that we have used. Producing took another month or so of discussion, to get all the parts where they should be.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Definitely Meshuggah is a great influence to all of us. Textures has been always there too, specially after Richard Rietdijk, former Textures keyboardist and sound engineer has helped us produce the EP. But our influences goes from Watchtower and Spiral Architect, then Fates Warning, Enchant, Superior and Sepultura but also Allan Holdsworth, Tribal Tech, Frank Gambale, Virgil on the jazz fusion side. On the other hand, all lyrics are based on life experiences, being good or bad, and that is what Tribal means to us, deconstructing ourselves right down to the core, and then releasing this energy within.

Tribal band

What is your view on technology in music?

I believe that technological advancements are here to help us and not to replace us. So I think that as long as we continue playing and writing our songs as a full live band, we can use VST’s, Cab impulses, and so on, in order to gain recording time and tone quality. But once again never to replace humans. The song “The Age of Frustration” depicts it as it is based on H. G. Well’s book The Shape of Things to Come. For example, people are so hooked to their phones nowadays that they can’t even enjoy a face to face conversation, or they prefer take photos and videos at concerts rather than enjoying the moment with the band and the people around them. As well as there are many bands using lots of samplers live, so to me that is not a band, but a computer playing. We, at Tribal, are not against the use of samplers, as long as it is not excessive. I saw on YouTube this couple of dudes playing guitars in Switzerland but drums, keys and bass was samplers. That, to me, it is too much, and I wouldn’t pay to see that.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Great question! We want to write songs and lyrics that people can relate to, so from the minimalist elements of human existence, like anger, rage, fear, love, happiness, and so on, all of these life changing experiences we want to express in our songs. Most of them were written at moments when I was going thought a rough time in my life, so they sound quite heavy! But also we want in the future to make a statement about the tribes here in Brazil that are more and more exterminated for the use of a disorderly agriculture, which the lyrics of “The Last Stand” talk about. Is about the Xeta tribe from our state in southern Brazil that was practically terminated for this reason and illegal occupation of the land.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now we will be featured at Terrorizer magazine next month and on an official tribute CD to Sepultura on September. Then our main objectives are finish writing a full length album this year (which is going quite well), record it through a label, and next year go abroad on tour, US or Europe, but we are very open to going to all countries. And of course a complete tour of Brazil. So we invite all of you out there to check us out on social media, and then hopefully, next year, see us perform live in a city near you!

Stay tuned for more Tribal news via the band’s Facebook page.

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