Time again to talk to the Swedish legend and one of the most important figures in the extreme metal genre Lord K. This time it is an up close and personal interview about a new band that Lord K has together with other well known metal figures from Sweden. Jörgen Sandström and Tobben Gustafsson are the names of the other members and they are known from acts like Entombed and Vomitory. Today this trio is working together in Torture Divison which is the most evil and deadly death metal act at the moment. When I and Lord K met up we talked about the band, live shows, the past and the future and why this band does things a bit different than other bands.
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Promo and live pictures of the band by Peter Herneheim
Promo pictures of the band provided by Torture Divisions website
Live pictures taken from the archive of Anders Sandvall
Hi again Lord K, it’s a pleasure talking to you. I have some questions for you so if it’s OK lets get started.
Get the muthafucking shit started already and “let’s get it on!” as Big John would have said.
Let’s talk a bit about your band Torture Divison, when did you have the idea to start the band?
Me and Tobben were in a band together previous to TD and at the end when I thought it wasn’t fun anymore playing in that band I talked to Tobben about starting a new death metal force superior to everything else – so we did it and invited Jörgen Sandström to join us and do what we do best; create the world’s best death metal. I think this was in the end of 2007 or in the beginning of 2008. I can easily say that TD is a dream that comes true for me considering which guys are in this band.
You and drummer Tobben are the forces behind Torture Division. Was it hard to get Jörgen to be a member of this new act?
When me and Golden T (that would be Tobben) started cooking this force up we had but one goal – to have the might Mr. Sandström with us. That was the whole idea and we didn’t really wanna do this band with anyone else. So on the way to a gig with our previous band we called him up and explained what we had in mind and he had but one demand – which we tuned to B and nothing else. You could say it wasn’t too hard to meet his wishes, ha ha… We actually never thought he’d be interested in doing this band with us since he’s got quite a few bands already, but he surprised us and accepted and the Division was born to conquer the world and create the best death metal around. There is no way TD could be what we are if it’s not s 3. This line up is final.
Was it decided from the beginning that the band was going to be a trio?
That was the plan, yes. The hardest bands in the world are trios. Just look at Krisiun. There’s something unique about being a 3-piece. You have to work harder to make you sound like a battalion, but with us 3 it’s no problem. We actually did talk about having a second guitarist for live situations but came to the conclusion that it would not be as fucking death metal as being just the three of us. So, yes – we will always be a trio. And being just 3 individuals renders us more money each when we do gigs, ha ha… But seriously, TD is meant to be a trio and there will be no fourth member in this band – permanent or on stage.
Where does the name Torture Divison come from? Does the name have any special meaning to the members?
I don’t know where it came from but I thought it up and considering the meaning of those 2 words together… Well, we got ourselves the best fucking name for a death metal band. It has no particular meaning; it’s just descriptive of what we do and what our approach is.
Is Torture Division considered as a band or a project?
It’s definitely a real band. It’s not like we rehearse all too often or anything, and we don’t have to. We try to get together if we have a gig coming up or something, but usually we just write music in our different parts of Sweden and collaborate over the internet and so forth. We have over 60 years of combined death metal experience so it’s not like we need to rehearse 5 times a week to pull our shit off.
How would you describe what kind of music Torture Division plays? I think you play old school death metal with the roots deeply in the early 90’s Swedish death metal era. Do you agree on that?
I don’t know if we are old-school – I never thought about it like that. I think our music is the perfect blend of groove and brutality, with blastbeats on top for full effect. Actually, there are blastbeats all over the fucking place I just remembered. My biggest inspiration for what I create with this band is definitely Tobben’s main band Vomitory. I always admired how they pull off their death metal and sure draw influences from that kind of brutality. We are a mix of the old and new school of death metal if I really have to pin it down to something. We are not technical for shit we are not the fastest band around or anything – we just concentrate on doing death metal the way we wanna hear it. The fact that it ends up being the best fucking death metal around is just a bonus, ha ha…
You have chosen not to sign any record deal for the band and instead you are releasing demos that the listener can download for free, why?
That was a decision we made from the start. Everything that we record will be available for free. We hope the people enjoying what we do support us by buying merch and by doing so they directly support our future recordings that we will give away for free as well. We have turned down a number of labels coz we are not interested in recording an album for any label whatsoever. Abyss Records just released our 3 first demos on a CD and Vic Records will release it as an LP – but none of those labels own any rights to the material or anything. The music is there for grabs – if you wanna release it on a label – just fucking do so and inform us about it. The only thing we have asked for when it comes to those labels is a small amount of cash that will be invested in future recordings. No matter how many labels end up releasing this in some format – the material will always be available at our site anyways.
The “only” thing you require from the fans is that they buy merchandise; do you earn a lot of money on selling merchandise?
No, we don’t make a lot of cash off it, but sure we get something or the whole idea would be pointless. If 50 people buy our shirts we make something like 3500-4000 SEK, all of which goes directly into the account of recording and printing new shirts.
Has the band got any say as to how the shirts and the other merchandise look like? And who does the art-work on the shirts etc?
We decide everything ourselves, of course. Guger (www.germann.se) is the guy responsible for our designs nowadays, a fantastic artist with a very unique style that I admire and love. Usually we check with the people over at our forums if they are interested in buying a specific design. Most of the time they are, and sometimes they are not. In the end it comes down to what we wanna have on the shirts anyways, but it would be foolish to print shirts that no one would wanna fucking buy to begin with.
Your first demo was recorded during December 07/January 08 and was called WITH ENDLESS WRATH. What was the response on that demo?
It seemed like the people liked it. I thin it’s a little too unpolished, the production isn’t on par with how the 2nd and 3rd demo sounds (hey, Swanö got involved from the second demo which explains the improvement in quality en masse), but it’s a cool little recording. Maybe we will re-record the damn thing one day and give it a proper sound but it’s definitely not something we prioritize. We rather concentrate on writing new material for the next trilogy.
What did the fans/media think of the demo recorded in April/may 08 titled WE BRING UPON THEE?
Again people seemed to really like it and the skull crushing production is just perfect for what we do. This is how TD is supposed to sound, brutal as fuck. One of my all time favorites is on this piece; “Invoking The Knifer”. That break in the middle of the tune makes me fucking wanna kill people when I hear it. I love this demo, much thanx to the production which is completely fantastic. I also love how Jörgen started to incorporate a little Swedish into our songs, something you’ll see more of even if English is the dominating language for obvious reasons.
The third demo in the troika was called OUR INFERNAL TORTURE and was mixed by Dan Swanö, he has mixed the two latest demos with TD, and how is it to work with him?
I can’t say enough good things about that guy. He’s a fucking phenomenon and a very good friend whom I love and respect a fucking lot. Dan’s helped me out so much during the years with everything when it comes to setting p gear for me, record, etc. I sure wouldn’t be what I am today if it wasn’t thanx to Dan and his support and help. I can call him up whenever I have some problems with my gear and he takes his time and helps me fix it. The guy is fucking fantastic and I wish him nothing but the best in all areas. He deserves even more recognition because he’s absolutely ace.
The first demo was mixed by Marus Edvardsson what’s the difference between working with Edvardsson and working with Swanö?
We thank Marcus for the work with the first demo but it’s easy choosing between them when it comes down to who’s going to work with TD in the future. They are just on completely different levels, you know. We didn’t really work with Marcus per e, he got the files and did what he could with them (have in kind those files for the first recording was shitty so it’s a wonder he could get some sound out of it to begin with, ha ha). It’s a charming recording that first demo but as mentioned – we all prefer how the sound is on the 2 latter recordings. It just suits our style perfect.
Where do you find inspiration for your material?
All the lesser death metal in the world is an inspiration. It’s not hard to create what we do. Cook up some fantastic riffs, add some blastbeats and groove and there you go: Torture Division.
Everything Torture Division has done so far can be downloaded from your website in MP3 format. What’s the benefit with releasing demos in MP3 format compared to releasing it on a regular CD disc?
It’s much more easily spread of course. Everyone and their mother with a computer can get hold of it and spread it like cancer. But it’s cooler to have the actual CD, without a doubt. Now you can have both when it comes to us (not to forget – the fucking LP coming sometime in May).
You tell your fans to spread the demos and that you don’t mind that at all, then I wonder, what’s your opinion on the Pirate Bay trial (a trial that currently is taking place in Sweden) where the founders of Pirate Bay were sentenced to jail for distributing free music over the net?
This issue is fucking hard… I have downloaded in the past and I will most likely download in the future so I can’t say that I’m against it coz that wouldn’t be right. Sure, a lot of artists lose eventual money when people steal their things but that’s how it looks and we have to accept it I guess. I don’t think its right to punish those guys behind TPB coz I can’t remember the last time a weapon store clerk was punished because one of the guns he sold was used to kill someone or something. We could debate this for hours but it’s not going to happen because it wouldn’t solve shit. People are nagging about the prices on CD’s and whatnot being too high. That’s not the problem, people wouldn’t fucking buy a CD for 2 bucks as long as they can steal it from the internet.
Which one of your demos are you the most satisfied with?
I prefer the 2 last demos and the Christmas single we released. The productions play a huge part. If I have to choose I’d say that the third demo is the best one, just like it should be.
How much time have you put into the band from the start?
I don’t think about that because it’s so much fucking fun working with TD and my cronies. It’s not like I invest hours every day, you know (if you don’t count e-mails and site updates etc). Usually I just grab my guitar when I feel like it and start working on a tune or 2. TD is not taking up much time for me and the time it does consume is well-spent. I love this shit, you know.
You are signed to the booking agency Aska Productions which is co-led by you, how does the co-operation with the band and the agency work out?
Can’t say we do much of a co-operation actually. It’s just nice to have this band under Aska since it’s a legit company or whatever. Usually I deal directly with the promoters who wanna book us, and I do that as a member of TD not as one of the owners of Aska.
Why only feature three songs on each demo?
3 songs are ideal. It’s not too short and not too long. Some 10-15 minutes of death metal with every release seems like a great idea. Have in mind thousands of bands release 40 minutes of shit with each and every album. We narrow it down to 10-15 minutes of death metal domination a few times per year. This is death metal, not fucking opera.
I know that you guys in the band don’t live in the same town, but can you rehearse or so either way?
When we do rehearse all 3 of us we usually borrow some rehearsal room here in my town or in Stockholm where J resides. We have yet to borrow Vomitory’s place but I’m sure that will come. Their place is by far the best one anyways, ha ha… Normally we rehearse individually and then get together for a full rehearsal when the time for a gig comes up. I think we have rehearsed 2 or 3 times as a full band, ha ha… And judging from our performances we don’t need much more.
You did a cover of the WASP song “The Torture Never Stops” on your Christmas CDS SUFFER THE SHITMASS, why did you do a cover of that song?
That’s pretty obvious, ain’t it? Just look at the title of the fucking tune.
You have got your own studio The Dungeon that you use, is it a “proper” studio or a home studio?
It’s my home studio where I put down all my guitars for both TD and my main band The Project Hate. Swanö’s made sure I have myself a killer set up when it comes to gear and the relief of recording at home is unbeatable. There are no time limits or anything and if I feel like taking a bath instead of recording guitars – I can do that in 2 seconds and pick up the recording again when I feel like it without having to care about some fucking deadlines or whatever. I have bought myself some excellent guitar stuff to get a killer sound so there’s no need for me to record anywhere else when it comes to guitars (and bass).
I know that Jörgen also has got his own studio and Tobben records his stuff in Senseless Recordings, do the members record their parts in each separate studio?
Yeah, we usually record everything in our own cities/homes/studios. Senseless Recordings is a mobile studio that we rent (thanx to merch money) for Tobben when he needs to play the drums for a demo. It’s a perfect solution since Tobben need not move his drums or anything but the studio comes to the rehearsal room of Vomitory and then they set everything up. Smooth as fuck. Jörgen records his shit in ART Studios which is a studio owned by his neighbor and friend Jonas from the band Backdraft.
What is Dan Swanö’s strongest feature as producer and mixer do you think?
He’s fucking ace at getting a good sound out of almost everything. And it’s not like he’s got ONE sound either. Listen to the demos we have done and compare it to what the new TPH album sounds like, 2 different worlds of productions. Dan’s not producing anything we work together with though so I don’t know what to say about that part. But he’s probably fantastic at that as well, ha ha ha…
Are you gonna continue to work with Swanö in the future?
I wanna work with Dan until the day I fucking die. I guess you can say that’s a “yes”.
You had your live debut with Torture Division last year at the Metaltown Festival in Gothenburg Sweden. How was that?
Ah, it was fun, fun crowd and a great stage time. We were surprised so many people showed up to see a pretty much unknown band, but it looked like they fucking loved it – just like we thought they would if they only got their asses there. We had a blast and the gig went fucking fine. I’d love to play there again for sure.
I was there and thought you did a brilliant show off in how proper old school death metal should sound like, and to see you was the main reason why I did travel to Gothenburg. It look like you really enjoyed being on stage, at least that was the impression I got, do you enjoy being on stage?
We absolutely love it. It feels so fucking great to share the stage with 2 people like Tobben and Jörgen, both of whom have tons of live experience and know how to pull off their shit. Just like myself I might add, ha ha… It’s kind of hard to “fill” a stage like the one on Metaltown considering we are only 3 persons, but hey – it’s death metal – not a fucking circus. We did good and had a fucking blast. I’m glad you enjoyed it. If you thought that gig was good you should have seen us at House Of Metal in Umea this year. THAT shit was fantastic.
You also did play a new song called “Lik” that isn’t featured on any demo, why isn’t it on any of the demos?
It’s a tune that we wrote just before entering the stage at Metaltown. We decided that it shall only be a tune that we play live if the vibe is good and we feel like it. Basically it was created because we didn’t have too many fucking songs at the time of the gig. It’s a cool little tune and we will play it again given the opportunity.
You have also performed at the House of Metal festival and at the Close-Up Boat as well as in Karlstad, that’s quite a lot of live shows for Torture Divison. Are you gonna do any more live shows this year?
If we are approached with a good offer and we can accept it – of course we will play live again this year. We have nothing booked as of now though, which is a shame. I think we did some 3 gigs in a period of one and a half month, which is pretty much considering we all have jobs and whatnot. It was fucking great though and I’ll gladly accept to do it again ASAP.
What has been the best show for the band so far?
The show at House Of Metal in Umea, hands down. That gig was fucking fantastic. Period. Excellent crowd, excellent stage and the best fucking organization in the world. I’ll take this chance and say thanks to Petra and Mats of HoM. They are the best. Check out some footage on YouTube from that gig. You can see that we are definitely having the time of our lives.
Abyss Records is gonna release a CD version of all the demos you’ve did last year and Vic records is gonna release them on vinyl, was it an easy decision to let the labels release your demos?
Yes. We explained to them that they will own no fucking rights whatsoever to the material and if anyone else wants to release the very same thing – they can and there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it. It even states this in the booklet coming with the CD. We did give Vic exclusive rights to the LP format though, simply because we love those guys and they deserve it.
How come you let those labels release the TD demos?
Abyss nagged and nagged on us about wanting to release them, something we kind of ignored at first. Then we had a talk in the band and said “why the fuck shouldn’t we let them release it, it’s not like it will hurt us”. If they can sell some fucking copies at gigs and shit in the US – fine. It’s not like we are going over there to sell them, you know. Vic got the LP rights because, as mentioned, we love them.
Are the vinyl and the CD available in stores today?
I don’t think Abyss got any real distributors or anything so I guess that one is available thru their site. Can’t ay I give much of a fuck actually, ha ha… I got a few copies here and that’d good enough for me. The P will be out in May I think. That one goes on my wall.
According to the TD website haven’t the labels any legal rights to release the demos, are the labels only licensed to release the demos?
We haven’t written any contracts or anything, simply because we refuse to. We have told them “yes, you can release it and do whatever the fuck you want with it”, and that’s that. We just want them to inform us about sales and shit. We own our material a 100% and if they wanna play ball with us they’ll have to do it according to our rules. It’s as simple as that.
Do you know if the labels is gonna do any promotion for the CD and the vinyl?
I have no idea, but I am surprised over the fact that Abyss actually threw out some ads here and there in various magazines. Sure, ugly ass ad’s but they’re still ads, ha ha… When it comes to Vic I just hope they get their money back ASAP, because they deserve it for releasing this on LP.
Do you know what the cover art-work is gonna look like on the CD and the vinyl?
Absolutely, and so do you if you search the net.
What’s the plan for TD this year? You say on your homepage that you are gonna do three more demos this year?
We’ll see if we manage to cook up 3 more demos this year, we take one step at the time. I just finished the massive work with the new TPH album so all my focus has been there as of late. Now when that masterpiece is done I can start working on TD again, which is nice. I already have some riffs cooked up but I need a real sitting to structure it all and make it into a song eventually. We’ll see when the next trilogy is completed, but some chapters of it should be done this year for sure.
How do you find the time to work with TD? I know that your other band The Project Hate, where Jörgen also participates in, have recorded a brand new album, and I mean, a day contains only 24 hours?
It’s called dedication. I love this shit, you know. Music is my life and has been so for the major part of my life. I will always find time for this since I live for it. Doing TPH and TD is 2 completely different things. Composing for TPH takes a lot of fucking work and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many hours/days/months I have spent on the new album… TD is a different story as it doesn’t require as much work for obvious reasons. Have in mind I work full-time, run some websites and have a girlfriend as well… You could say I’m kind of occupied and I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way.
Do you have any songs finished yet for the upcoming demos?
No real songs, but ideas are recorded for future use as soon as the time is right, ha…
You are very secretive regarding when you’re gonna release a demo, suddenly it’s just there on your website, why don’t you just set a date and tell everyone when the demo is gonna be available for downloading?
It’s more fun this way. It keeps people on their toes. We do mention we are recording it and so forth, but I find it to be a lot more un to just smack it out there when people least expect it and see the reactions. You should never know where you have Torture Division…
Can you reveal any titles of any of the songs or maybe any title of the demos?
Yes, I could – but I won’t. We have the next trilogy thought out already a far as titles and everything goes, but you know me – I won’t say anything just yet.
What do you think of the MySpace forum? I know that all of the members as well as the band have their own pages at MySpace?
I don’t care about MySpace too much but it’s a great outlet for promotion, which is the reason we use it. And since we have it, why not make sure it looks fucking fantastic as well? That’s all thanx to our webmaster Statik Majik – the best fucking guy around.
TD has also got a Facebook page; do you have many members as fans of the band on Facebook?
We do?! I sure didn’t fucking start one, ha ha… I don’t even have a Facebook thing myself so I have never seen it. Whoever did it for us – thanx.
Does the band get much mail from fans worldwide? And what are the most common questions asked to you by fans?
We don’t get too many mails actually – guess the world is not aware if the worlds best death metal band on a larger scale, yet. People usually don’t have any questions though when we do get mails, except for them wondering about merchandise.
Despite the fact that you are an “underground” act you have a huge fanbase, where in the world are you the biggest at the moment?
I have no fucking idea actually. I don’t think we are particularly well-known or anything, and that’s fine by us. It seems like people from all over the world love what we do, I can’t say there’s an advantage for any country as far as MySpace comments or anything goes.
On your website you say that TD is always gonna consist of you, Jörgen and Tobben and if anyone should leave then TD is put to rest, how long do you think the band is gonna live?
For as long as we think it’s fun to do what we do. And fuck knows we are enjoying ourselves right now.
All three of you in the band are legends and three of the leading men in the death metal community, what does it feel like to be considered as an icon for many fans?
Wow… Are we legends? I like that, though it’s hardly even close to the truth, ha ha… I guess there’s a chance some people see us as icons or whatever, but hey… Just because we are old and dominating doesn’t mean we are legends. Or actually, strike that – we are fucking legends. It’s nice that some kids have us as icons. We look great, we are extremely talented and we perform the best death metal around. There could be worse icons.
For those unlucky bastards that haven’t discovered TD yet, what can you say to them?
You know nothing about death metal, bitches.
When do you think that your next demo will be ready to put up on the website?
Hopefully in a few months, you’ll notice when it happens.
That’s all for now, I would really like to thank you for once again taking on me and my many questions. I really hope that readers world wide will discover the best death metal act in Sweden at the moment, Torture Divison, with this interview. Good luck in the future. And finally, do you have any final words to say to the readers and fans?
Thanx for the support, Anders, We really appreciate it. Download our demos, spread it worldwide and wait patiently for trilogy number 2 to arrive. Ok, this legend is signing off.