Interview with Cristiano Fernandes of TRIBAL

Brazilian quartet Tribal bring a mix of djent / progressive metal with traditional Brazilian music and fusion, and their debut self-titled EP is start of their journey through this interesting mix of styles. The band’s singer and guitarist Cristiano Fernandes had some time to answer our questions about their work, and below is what he had to say.

What made you go for the name Tribal?

Hello everyone! Tribal, for us, means minimalism, that is the very foundation of what makes us who we are. Raw sentiments, intense feelings, being human. It is about deep life changing personal experiences, right down to the core. Also, Tribal is a name that works in most languages so that helps people relating to it.

How do you usually describe your music?

To me, our music is about life experiences, and each song try to express a different feel. We say we are much influenced by Djent and Progressive Metal, but we also use many elements of Jazz Fusion and Brazilian traditional rhythms and instruments. Once a friend of ours said that Tribal sounds like if the band U.K. went Djent.

What is your writing process like?

Well, it works different ways. I mean, being a prog metal band, a guitar riff is always important, so it might just be me or Anderson sending each other riffs and checking what performs best. The same thing happens with vocals, so sometimes I’ve written lyrics to a song or just have the melody, and the guys just evolve from that idea. So I try to walk around with my phone, recording or writing it down the parts, only problem is that when some ideas struck in the shower! And another great, if not the best, method is by simply jamming! We record some rehearsals where we just jam and some great ideas come from there.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

Musically speaking, there are many bands and artists that I’m inspired, such as Meshuggah, Allan Holdsworth, Vai, Textures, Soulfly and so on. But I believe that we are inspired by many things, not only music. I think that any life event that we go through in our lives, being good or bad, or people we meet, is a source of inspiration, and in my case I channel those experiences towards music.

Tribal EP cover

What is your favourite piece on the “Tribal” EP?

That is a tricky question! It varies from time to time, specially when we are playing live or rehearsing. At the moment I’m enjoying a lot “The Age of Frustration”, which is the opening track, for the main riff is in 15/16 and the drums are 4/4 and 7/8 and the feeling when playing live because the crowd just goes wild!

What makes “Tribal” different?

I believe the mixture between Brazilian instruments and rhythms, jazz fusion and metal makes our sound quite unique. The extensive use of polyrythmies and different chord patterns creates a different tension to it. Also, we bring many visual elements when performing live, to bring a different experience to our fans.

What should music lovers expect from the EP?

People should expect a journey, that is, on its own way, each of the songs are different, but are related somehow. If you like odd time signatures, 8 string guitars, atonal scales, shredding “Holdsworthian” solos, and vocals that goes from clean or spoken to scream and harsh, that’s the place to be. We want to be sure that you know your are listening to Tribal. It’s not an easy listening album, because that are lots of hidden details, but give it a couple of tries and you will be hooked for sure!

Tribal band

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

That is a great question! Because that is exactly our intention, our music is always written with a lot of emotion so we want to pass that to our listeners. Each song is about a different life experience, like the song “Broken” for example, was written when I was in an ICU for a month, where I felt incapable of everything, what we’ve tried to show on the music video. So our if the audience is able to feel the various aspects of human nature when listening to Tribal, we have accomplished our mission.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

We do like to write and record our songs in studio, and the studio where we rehearse is awesome not only for playing, but also to talk, have a beer. The four of us get along really well, in music, values and ideas. But nothing compares to a live performance! I think we are a live act, just go out there and just musically explode, passing this raw energy to the crowd, hence where Tribal comes from!

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Definitely Meshuggah’s “Chaosphere”, which was a breakthrough for me, having all elements that I like in one band. One that has accompanied me in relaxation and on the road, and which I love listening to is “In Absentia” from Porcupine Tree. And last, but not least, Steve Vai’s “Fire Garden”, because Vai is just perfect!

Stay in touch with Tribal via their Facebook page. Purchase the Tribal EP on Bandcamp.