The Sword is an American metal band originating from Austin Texas. We caught up with guitarist Kyle Shutt to talk about the bands upcoming first ever Australian headline tour and to celebrate the new album High Country.

SCENEzine
How you doing Kyle?

Kyle Shutt
I’m doing great man. I’m drinking a beer out here in the snow in Brooklyn. We got a hell of a blizzard lately so that’s what I’m doing (laughs).

SCENEzine
How’s 2016 going for The sword so far?

Kyle Shutt
Well last year we toured from August right the way through from when our new album came out until Christmas over here. Then we decided to take the winter off because touring in the winter sucks. I decided to face winter head on by moving to Brooklyn. I have been here about three weeks and am loving it so far. We are getting ready to head to Australia for a little tour then we just announced two more tours in the States that will carry us over from spring into summer. So yeah staying busy and loving life.

SCENEzine
Your new album High Country came out towards the end of last year. Are you happy with how it turned out?

Kyle Shutt
I’m ecstatic with how it turned out. This is the first time we have ever really gone into the studio with just a bunch of ideas instead of a bunch of songs. We just kind of let each song grow at its own pace. While we were in there we would work on it if we would feel like we were getting a lot of headway done we would keep it up. If we felt like we were struggling we would abandon the idea and move onto something else then come back to it later after we had different perspectives. It was a risk to put out the album that we did but it was a calculated risk. We had to make some sort of a change at some point. I was really happy with how everything came out on this one.

SCENEzine
How do you decide which tracks will be instrumental and which needed vocals?

Kyle Shutt
There was definitely a few that I thought we would flesh out into more of a song. But after we would jam and were happy with the way it ended up like a song like “suffer no fools” which I wrote was just a bunch of riffs that we just threw into one song. Once we finished the demo for it we thought this is bad ass lets just make this instrumental. We have always had instrumental songs expect for our fourth album we didn’t. I felt like maybe with this one we kind of wanted to make up for the lost instrumental tracks on the last album. We knew we wanted an intro track that was instrumental and then “suffer no fools” ended up being like that. Bryan our bass player did a little acoustic song that we knew was going to be an interlude but it grew into more. He also did this other synthesiser track that turned into an instrumental. Actually somebody wanted us to do a soundtrack for a movie they were making and they bailed on us. But we had written all of this material so then thought why don’t we just throw everything on this album instead of having all of this material by the wayside.

SCENEzine
Is there a story behind the album artwork?

Kyle Shutt
Not particularly. JD had discovered the artists work in a store that he was in one day. He just thought that it would make a really rad album cover. So we reached out to him and told him the album was called High Country and we wanted it to be real bright and colourful. We definitely wanted it to be a photographic album cover. Our old album cover were always illustrated and this time around we wanted to do something photographic so that was where that idea came from.

the sword album art

SCENEzine
This album is a little more mellow than previous Sword albums. Do you think it’s important to challenge yourself as songwriter to try different styles?

Kyle Shutt
I believe so. Also I tell people that this album is deceptively heavy. It’s heavy but in different ways. We just used a bunch of different sounds and if you turn it up loud enough you really do get to hear a lot more of the low end. I feel like a lot of the heavier tracks on the album can stand toe to toe with any of our other heaviest tracks. They are just a different kind of heavy. Some of the songs are a little more mellow by nature. A song like “turn to dust” was one of the ones that I wrote that I knew I wanted to write a track that was a little more sparse guitar wise.
I think it was important for us to try out different styles of recording. Instead of it just being an amp with guitar and distortion pedal we tried everything we could possibly do. Things like taking a grand piano and putting a dirty old rhythm mic on it to see the nastiest tone we could get out of the lowest note on it.

SCENEzine
Do you guys laugh off the term stoner rock?

Kyle Shutt
I just think it’s funny that stoner rock has become a genre in itself. I think all rock is stoner rock cause it all sounds good when you’re stoned. I did an interview recently where somebody asked me that and I said well you don’t call hip hop stoner rap (laughs) it just sounds good when you’re baked. But not every so called stoner rock band actually smokes pot. It’s kind of silly to me to relegate a style of music down to a drug but I don’t get offended. At the risk of sounding cheesy it’s like Billy Joel said it’s still just rock n roll.

SCENEzine
Our favourite track from the album is “empty temples” with it’s super catchy riff I can’t get out of my head. Did that song come easily in the writing process?

Kyle Shutt
Yeah that was one of the first ones that JD came in with. He wrote that entire song basically. It was kind of an idea we wanted to try like a loud quite loud approach to song writing Instead of the entire song just being turned up to eleven. We have always been into bands that play with a cleaner guitar tone and we wanted to try more of that. But that’s one of those particular songs where half way through the song it comes in with that crazy heavy bridge. It’s just as heavy as any of our other songs we have ever recorded.

SCENEzine
With the song “mist & shadow” it’s quite easy to get lost in the song while listening to it. Was that kind of the aim to immerse the listener in the song?

Kyle Shutt
Yeah definitely. We have written songs like that on previous albums. Like a song like “dying earth” that has a definite verse chorus verse chorus and then a long bridge that leads you to the conclusion. But with that one our bass player wrote most of that song and JD came up with the lyric structure and then I came up with the jam in the middle. That was one of our most collaborative efforts I would say on the record. Just the way that we had arranged it once we started playing it live we realised what we had done when seeing what it does to people.
That one is definitely one of my favourites on the record.

SCENEzine
The exciting news for The Sword Australian fans is that you’ll be back soon. Are you excited to come back?

Kyle Shutt
Man are you kidding me? We fucking love Australia. We have ever since the first time we went. We made Metallica promise to take us there and they actually made good on their promise. When they booked their Australian tour they brought us along with them and that was a lot of fun. We did a couple of Soundwave’s a few years back but this will be the first time we have actually done a proper club tour there. That’s what we are most excited about. To be able to spend a lot more time with our fans than we have ever got to in the past. We usually only get to play for half an hour then we’re done. This time we really get to play for like an hour and a half and give everybody a taste of what we’ve been up to the last thirteen years.

SCENEzine
Do you have a favourite memory from a previous Australian visit?

Kyle Shutt
Man I love hanging out in Fremantle. Every time we go to Perth we always try to hop on a train and go out to Fremantle. One of us will usually get a tattoo there or go see the Bon Scott statue those are always good times. We’ve always had a great time in Sydney and Melbourne. Just going down to Bondi beach and watching bikini girls walk around (laughs) it’s the small things in life that make it worth living. Drinking shitty beer, having good times in clubs. Eating meat pies at three am when you’re wasted outside a seven eleven. We have always had such a great time there it’s impossible to pick one thing.

SCENEzine
I’m guessing Black Sabbath have been a major influence on you guys. How do you feel about the fact they will soon be hanging up their guitars?

Kyle Shutt
Black Sabbath was a huge influence on us fifteen years ago. But they only had so many records that you could digest. We digested them so long ago that they are more a part of our blood now than anything we put on to listen to regularly. I’ve been into a lot more different style of music lately. I listen to anything and everything really as long as it’s good. But the fact that they are hanging up their guitars is sort of just something that had to happen at some point. With the old guard they are just dropping like flies lately. I’m really kind of curious to see what’s going to happen with the state of the industry. Everything’s changing so rapidly that it’s almost hard to keep track of. Especially in rock n roll circles. Pretty soon there’s not going to be a Tony Iommi I hate to admit it but it’s true. Pretty soon there’s not going to be a Brian May anymore and pretty soon there’s not going to be a Keith Richards. I don’t know if there’s going to be a new guard of musicians that are able to get that large. I don’t know if the world wants new music. I just wonder if there’s much interest for new rock bands anymore. I don’t care we are still going to do what we do but it’s something that I just wonder what’s going to happen once all of these older guys aren’t able to play anymore. What’s going to happen to the festival seen when they aren’t able to headline anymore.

SCENEzine
Yeah the world may run out of headliners.

Kyle Shutt
Yeah I don’t know. But we aren’t going to stop for any reason. We never got into this for the money or the fame. This is what we do. We write bad ass songs and we take our guitars and go all over the world and play music for people. So as long as people are wanting to line up down the street to see us then we are still going to be out there doing our thing.

SCENEzine
Are you still happy to play fan favourites like “Freya” live?

Kyle Shutt
Yeah man we have been definitely playing it on this last tour. We just have so much material at this point it’s hard to play every single song that everybody wants to hear. You never know what we are going to play because we might play Chicago two or three times a year. So it’s like we might not play “Freya” this time but we played it last time so where were you buddy (laughs).
We tend not to play some of our older material anymore just because we are really not that into it. Plus once everybody starts going into a crazy mosh frenzy it kind of take away from the energy from what we are doing on stage. It took long enough to get girls to come see us so if they do and drinks are getting spilled in the front row it’s like come on guys can’t you calm down a little. The thing is most of the people moshing are my age (laughs). There’s nothing like seeing a room full of people go nuts but there’s a big difference between people going insane and people just beating the shit out of each other. One way to stop that is just not really play “Iron Swan” anymore (laughs).

SCENEzine
Can you leave us with a last message for your Australian fans?

Kyle Shutt
I don’t mean to sound tripe but we really do love the country down there. I absolutely can’t wait to get back. I’ve been so excited ever since we announced this tour. I can’t get on the plane fast enough. I hope everybody comes out. We will all have a great time. Please don’t be shy, come see us at the bar after the show lets have some pints and have a great time while we are there.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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