Sunday, 11 January 2015

An interview with Tom Sutton from The Order of Israfel

Sludgelord) Tell us about how The Order of Israfel got started, how did you come together and decide to start The Order of Israfel?

            Tom) I've had this band in mind for over 10 years.  I'd been working on ideas
            and songs since about 2003, and then when I moved to Gothenburg in 2012,
            it was   finally time to look for the right people for the band.  I had met Patrik
            on the Pentagram tour when I was guitar teching for them.  His old band,
            Doomdogs played 3 shows on that tour, and I got along really well with
            everyone in their band.  When I started talking about moving to Gothenburg,
            he said he'd be interested in playing together.  That was the first piece of the
            puzzle.  Patrik knew of Hans, our drummer, knew about his old band, Lotus,
            and knew he   was a Black Sabbath obsessive.  We got together and
            jammed.  It was great straight away, actually.  Staffan came a bit later.  We
            tried out a few people, but none of them seemed right.  Finally, Staffan, who
            was my housemate at the time, asked to hear the demos of my songs, and
            really liked them.  We tried him out, and it sounded great.    We're very lucky
            with how the line-up has turned out.  We sound good together, and we all
            get along really well.

Sludgelord) What is the meaning of the name?

            Tom) I first heard the name Israfel when a friend referred to him as the angel

            of music.  That idea just totally captured my imagination.  I feel like music is
            one of the great divine forces for good on Earth, and I loved the idea of an
            angel that personifies that.  Yes, it comes from Islam and is mentioned in an
            Edgar Allen Poe poem too, but the main inspiration came from that first time I
            Heard the name.  The idea behind the name The Order Of Israfel is from my
            experiences in finding such a strong connection between music fans around
            the world.  It doesn't matter what genre you're into, if two people who truly
            love music come together, then there's some kind of understanding there.  I
            created the idea of The Order as a celebration of that understanding and
            connection, and of the divine healing, uplifting, and teaching power of

Sludgelord) How does it feel being a doom band from the Swedish home of thrash metal?

            Tom) It's fine!  We know some of those guys.  Actually, we're playing at the

            next Gothenburg Sound Festival with some bands like that.  We're
            comfortable not having an immediate doom metal scene around us, 'cos it's
            normal for doom bands to exist in isolation.

Sludgelord) You have had a pretty relentless tour schedule, tell me about some things you do to keep centred during the hectic times?

            Tom) I highly recommend listening to Enya!  But really, I love the guys in the
            band, and when I was dealing with some personal issues during this tour, they
            were 100% there for me, as we all were for each other, and that helped me
            during the difficult times.  And Enya!

Sludgelord) What has been your favourite country to play in?

            Tom) Hmmmm, I would say that the best gigs on the tour for us were
            Gothenburg in Sweden, Siegen in Germany, and Paris, France, but
            everywhere is fun to play in its own way.  Norway is beautiful, the UK is full of
            Sabbath vibe, Germany has a lot of serious doom metal fans.  There's
            good things everywhere.

Sludgelord) If you had to name an overall influence the band have used to inspire the music (not necessarily another band, it could be an ideology or something unrelated like a love of food) what would it be?

            Tom). It would be spiritual pursuits, I guess.  Looking for ways to be kinder,

            happier, simpler.  Some of the songs are directly about those things. 
            And nature too.  I love the feeling of forests, and we tried to create that
             kind of feeling in the songs.  

Sludgelord) What would you say is the biggest accomplishment the band has achieved?

            Tom) I guess making an album that we're proud of is the biggest.  We're really
            happy with everything from the album itself to the artwork.  But there have
            been a few proud moments.  I love it when people who are serious doom fans
            write to us.  And we had some great reactions on this tour.  One guy followed
            us to three shows in the UK.  He even slept in his car to make it happen.  That
            kind of stuff makes us really happy.

Sludgelord) Tell me about the phenomenal album you recently released, how was the recording process? What was the writing process like?

            Tom) Thanks very much!  The writing process was pretty much me slowly

            putting songs together over a period of a few years.  Once the band
            was together,   there were some parts of songs that we worked on together,
            though.  I wanted to create the kind of spooky but heavy and rockin'
            songs that I wanted to hear.  We recorded it with a guy called Jörgen
            Cremonese, along with Charlie Storm who recorded the drums and co-
            mixed it with Jörgen.  The drums were done at Charlie's studio in one day,
            and the rest was at Jörgen's    house.  It was really relaxing that way.  We had
            no deadline at all.  We just recorded till we were done.  He has a nice
            house on a hill, so the view was great, and the atmosphere was perfect. 
            He's very particular about details.  Everything from amps to string types to
            what plectrum we used for each song.  He's a great producer.

Sludgelord) Run me through the live gear each one of you use, how does it differ from the gear you used to record?

            Tom) On the album, it was a Swedish amp called an Elmwood for both Staffan
            and I, along with an old VEM through fuzz pedals.  And we used an old Vox
            for the solos.  On stage, Staffan is using a Schmidt by Diesel, which
            sounds wonderful, and I've been using my Hiwatt through a modified
            Ibanez Tubescreamer.  Staffan and I just used the same guitars we play
            on stage.  Patrik has a great   Acoustic bass amp that sounds killer, and his
            own custom bass made by Inferno Guitars.  And Hans has this killer Ludwig
            kit that used to belong to Dozer.  We all love that kit.

 Sludgelord) What are you listening too at the moment?

            Tom) A lot of Cathedral as always!  That never ends!  I recently played a
            Status Quo tribute show with another band I'm in called Horisont, so I've been
            really exploring the 70's Status Quo records.  And one thing I love to do is listen
            to Hans Zimmer's Batman soundtracks while reading Batman comics, so a lot
            of that too.

Sludgelord) Anything you would like to plug?

            Tom) Sure!  Horisont have just released a new 7" called 'Break The Limit', which
            is the first thing of theirs I've played on, and my new band, Night Viper, will be
            releasing its first single soon too.  We sound like early Judas Priest or 'Kill 'em
            All'- era Metallica as fronted by Tina Turner.  Check it out!

Interview by: Asher G. Alexander