Tribe After Tribe - 21/10/2008

In the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction comes the new album from renowned rockers TRIBE AFTER TRIBE: ‘MOAB’, a vital and important piece of music that is truly a new testament for the troubled times of the 21st Century. TRIBE AFTER TRIBE fiercely and fearlessly take on an ancient tale that, for all its inherent difficulty and divisiveness, must be subjected to the crucible of reason for critical examination before it can be rewritten with the balm of tolerance and love. In doing so, ‘MOAB’ brilliantly captures both the absurdities and dangers of the diluted belief systems that have been gradually warped and twisted by all-too-human misdeeds across two millennia .. to the point where they're now on the verge of tearing our world apart.


Continuing the work they began in South Africa more than two decades ago, TRIBE AFTER TRIBE fuses unique world rock elements with ringleader Robbi Robb's incisive, intelligent lyrical dreamscapes, exposing the evil forces of Apartheid and its ideological brethren .. forces that remain with us today, perhaps more so than ever before. The message in the music is not, however, a political one, but rather a simple signpost pointing to the common ground of the human heart which we all share; a place where all gunfire is, in essence, 'friendly fire'.

 

 

So it appears there is much to talk about and Tribe After Tribe frontman Robbi Robb was available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com
 

First of all, congrats with your new album, how are you?

Thanks man all is good and well.

 

It’s been 6 years since your previous album ‘Enchanted Entrance’ came out, what happened in the years between 2002 and 2008, can you give us a quick update of After Tribe?

Oh wow there was so much that happened!  Firstly I can say that Tribe after Tribe has had many strange misfortunes as a band, but not as many misfortunes that can compare to the world since the 911 events. We had the tsunami in India, and the Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Working with Amma’s charity organization – which is the one we trust most in the world, we have participated in many fundraisers to buy materials for building houses in India, with a small group of people we generated 144 000 dollar. On the Amma website you can see what was done with that money and how many houses were built with it – it’s just fantastic – also we did fundraisers for getting supplies to people in the Baton Rouge area which was a little town that was virtually ignored by FEMA. This has been very rewarding for me and it took up a lot of time and time seemed to pass really quickly. Also my wife and I moved to the desert. I began writing a book on quantum physics and biology with regards to healing the body. Healthy individuals make healthy societies. So I was quite free and happy to be out of the music business and had no intention of going back in until Thorsten called from Rodeostar and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – artistic freedom within the music business. Also Thorsten knew how important service has become to me and his offer included projects that enabled us to make money for an orphanage we support in Africa and to set up a children’s foundation in my name.  So I was motivated by this offer to return to the rock world and so I began writing M.O.A.B.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘M.O.A.B’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

It must have begun while I was watching the twin towers crumble to the ground, it might have started when I saw that the terrorists were muslims, it must have started when I heard that 44% of all Americans truly believe that Christ will return to earth, It must have gotten strength when I saw that bush meets every Monday morning with Christians who specialize in the apocalypse, the chords of the songs must have formed when massive bombs where being dropped on civilians in ancients cultures thousands of years older than America, it must have gotten rhythms from muslim women being shot to death in front of crowds in a soccer field. It must been all these things that came together in the mystery of my mind, because then all of a sudden the album was perceived.  It was written within a period of three weeks. It took about ten days to record and then about ten days to mix.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘M.O.A.B’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

I wanted to have a huge window through which people could see, this window had to be created with music and words and with silences, so that the view could penetrate their minds.

 

On your new album you have worked with an impressive list of musicians, how did you get in contact with them and what was it like to work with a excellent bassplayer like Joey Vera? 

Joey is a master listener and that’s what makes him a good musician – did you know the word “musike” from where we get the word music, actually means “listen”  Joey and I have been listening to each other for many years – he has helped us out in many ways over the years with writing and with gigging.

 

In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you and is there any typical way that a Tribe After Tribe songs comes into being?

As I say the feeling that you are passing through to another dimension – or looking through a window – or building a bridge between my heart and the heart of the listener.. I don’t write songs, I write atmospheres and these atmospheres penetrate each person differently sometimes causing a window or a bridge or another atmosphere… but the songs should have this quality to them, then I feel they are complete.

 

 

Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?

I write the songs and the lyrics. The lyrics are expressions of what I have soaked up from my environment, like photographs of life, some are photos of the news that surrounds me, some are photos of the insides of the collective unconscious mind of the nation, some are photos of the psychological aspects of the world, but I don’t make anything up, I just let it flow through me – say it as I see it so to speak – some songs are expressions of how I understand things and things I would like to to see happen… I write because of life….

 

Is there a particular message you wanted to deliver through the lyrical content of these songs?

When I first went to school and did my first history lesson we were told the story about a Zulu chief whose name was Dingaan. The Poineers called “voortrekkers” arrived in Zululand with a thousand people. Piet Retief asked Dingaan if they could stay in the area. Dingaan said yes – Dingaan invited Piet and the voortrekkers to a party – and were told to leave all weapons outside. At the height of the party Dingaan whistled and the Zulu warriors came in and dragged the women, children and the men who attended the party to a small hill and clubbed them all to death. In our history books there was a black and white print of the scene – which was frightening to my mind and I guess it would be to any child that age.  So this story enters the young boys mind and like a mental virus it enters the blood stream and becomes part of the young boy’s body.  The essence of the story or the moral of the story is “never trust a black man – they will kill you as soon as they can!” and so the young man grows up with this belief embedded in his body/mind.

 

So you see this happened to me, I grew up to be a racist with the fear and distrust of African  people – after playing with African musicians the toxic story that was in my body came undone and I was cured. Through this exposure to africans in the townships, I was exposed not to violence, or white hating, but to laughter  and music, and most of all to generosity.  So this is the motive behind ‘M.O.A.B.’ – The story of Moses is a similar mental virus that was implanted in the psyche of the nations when the nations where still young in terms of understanding themselves and their relationships to the universe, the night sky, the darkness, and so to God. This story – has caused toxic beliefs to be embedded into the body/mind of many of the great western nations and especially Israel, and the Judeo Christian nations. The story is in fact a story of Genocide in the name of God. Any body who believes this story – has a fragmented humanity. A fragmented humanity set loose into the world Fragments all of humanity! This is a simple fact. Healthy individuals make healthy societies no matter which way you argue the point.

 

By understanding this story and how we soak up stories and how we become vehicles for the stories to perpetuate themselves we can begin to heal the world by healing ourselves of these toxic tales. There are so many toxic mental viruses imbedded in our religions that even if you never read the bible you would be infected by them because they have infected the pool of common thuoght. It is this pool of common thought that has to be cleansed of these viruses. This album Moab is in this way a medicine music – tossed into the pool like an antibiotic that will in its own strength and power dissolve a bit more of the religious toxins that are tearing this world a part. If each of us do this for ourselves the greater the healing of the world will be.

 

Many years later I was told the “whole story” about Dingaan. The real story goes along way to understanding why Dingaan did what he did – perhaps in his shoes and with his choices you and I might even have done the same thing.

 

So the moral of what I am saying is that – we must look closely at the stories we believe – ask ourselves why we believe them – who told them to us and why did they tell these stories to us…with this line of questioning maybe then we will see that our thoughts are not all our own and that once a story takes hold in your psyche – it gets you to think along the story lines…yea your thoughts are not your own.

 

 

Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

It depends on which came first – but either way the lyrics and the music do need to reflect each other - unless of course the contrast has an effect that I like. For example the stories read from the bible are read by amritakripa – who has this childlike innocence to her voice – but the words that she is saying are downright evil words – this is the heaviest metal of heavy metal as a journalist once told me – it is the contrast that makes it so heavy! If I had a heavy voice reading it - it would have been too predictable.

 

How hard was it to come up with a follow-up on ‘Enchanted Entrance’ and what do you think are the main differences between your previous album and ‘M.O.A.B’?

‘Enchanted Entrance’ also arose out of jams with friends and we just selected the best parts. Those lyrics are what I call dreamspeak – I never wrote them – I just sang and then wrote down what I sang and tried to make sense of that.  ‘M.O.A.B.’ is more structured and thought out compared to ‘Enchanted Entrance’.

 

About the song writing, how can we imagine you work on new songs?

There is no recipe – no formula – no knowing how a song comes, enormous melodic thoughts rise up in my blood like trees, with large fruits,  each one a song…. all I need to do is wait and one will fall from this tree and I will pick it up and taste it – if it’s good I share it with you.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘M.O.A.B. Stories From Deuteronomy’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Moab is the desert that Moses traveled to or through to get to the promised land –

Moab = desert
 

Moab = Mother of all Battles – Suddam Hussein told Bush “if you attack me you start the mother of all battles”.
 

Moab = Mother of all bombs – so Bush attacked Iraq with a bomb called the massive ordinance airburst bomb!

 

So all these stories fuel the music and the lyric content of the album Moab.
 

 

How did the recording process proceed for this album, did you work differently than on previous albums?

The only difference this time was that we recorded in the desert of Joshua tree where I have my home studio.

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

Quite a bit yes – most of it is very positive, people are really getting the message of the album. But most of all people are really digging the music.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

It’s a good feeling when you talk to someone and share ideas and they understand what you are expressing – so in light of that,  yes,  I like people to have a good communication with me – like I say;  I am a bridge builder, my songs are bridges, each song is only complete when it lands on the shores of the listener’s heart.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Its not that I would change moab – but then again every time I finish an album I am so inspired by the things I have learned that I would like to start all over again … it’s like that with each album…

 

I’d like to talk about your personal goals nowadays, specifically as a guitar player. Is there a particular area in your playing that you are still working on?

Yes always – I struggle with cliques – I don’t like repeating myself so I constantly look for ways to destroy my playing, so that new things can arise from the ashes of that…

 

Which song is your favorite one to play live?

Songs are portals to the present moment – we do not try to copy the album but use the songs as spring boards to the moment – so anything can happen live – and it is being safe and trusting with this that is the most important thing. And the most difficult, and also the most rewarding.

 

Who are your greatest influences - both in terms of composition, as well as your guitar-playing? Is it difficult to sound original these days?

Well we mustn’t ever forget jimi Hendrix. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar are two of the greatest musicians to ever walk this planet! And I don’t say that myself but some of the greatest classical musicians agree! I also love the Oud. I play this instrument pretty okay, but the masters kill me with their depth. And then there is my most favourite of all musical instruments, and styles and it is called the Rudra vina. And the style of music is called Drupad from India –  man this stuff is deep!!!, this music is like the Hubble telescope of deep space music, I will never be able to play this shit, but God knows I own a rudra vina and I give it a good try!  I think my guitar playing definitely has some originality to it – I hate cliques as I was telling you earlier...


 

What is your opinion on the metal and rock scene In South Africa these days, is it different than 10/15 years ago and is there anything missing?

I don’t know what’s going on there musically or especially with regards to rock music.

 

What have been highlights and low points throughout your career?

Venlo in the Netherlands was a highlight – we had ten local djmebe players join us on stage and it was amazing.

 

How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences? Are there any particular bands that’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?

We used to go to the mountains and swim in the rivers in Africa and at night go listen to the Africans play their drums and dance – this had a huge influence on me and that’s why I blend those sort of African rhythms with rock music – as I was listening to everything from zeppelin to black Sabbath and even Donovan.

 

What can we expect from Tribe After Tribe in the near future, any touring plans?

Yes next summer we will tour quite extensively.

 

Where do you see the band going within the next 5 years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

I want to dive into an album of which all the profits will be going to an orphanage in south Africa – and then I want to make an album based on the hunting of the bushman of the Kalahari desert. Profits from that record will go to support the bushmen in their plight -

 

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for your support –

 

Shine on

Robbi

 

 

Current members:

Billy Tsounis - Guitar 

Robbi Robb - Vocals, Guitar 

Eric Ryan - Guitar 

Craig Else - Guitar 

Mike Hansen - Drums, Percussions 

Joey Vera - Bass 
 

Former members:   

Bruce Williams - Keyboard  

Fuzzy Marcus - Bass 

Robby Whitelaw - Bass 

Doug Pinnick - Bass 

Jeff Ament - Bass 

Reynold Carlson - Drums 

Chris Frazier - Drums 

Barry Schneider - Drums 

 

Albums:

Tribe After Tribe (1991)      

Love Under Will (1993)      

Pearls Before Swine (1997)      

Enchanted Entrance (2002)      

Power (2003)      

M.O.A.B (2008)