The Sword Return To Houston With Brand New Set
The Sword. Photo: Courtesy of Razor & Tie Records
It doesn’t feel like it, but Austin’s The Sword has been around close to fifteen years without any signs of slowing down. Though it’s been ten years since their debut album, it seems like it wasn’t long ago that the band was headlining sets upstairs at Rudyard’s. And while the band has gone through some changes while charting outside the US with last year’s High Country, it’s their latest release, this year’s acoustic companion Low Country, that really seems to showcase how diverse these guys truly are. Free Press Houston was lucky enough to sit down with founding member and guitarist Kyle Shutt to talk about what the band has been up to, their gear, and what they’ll have in store for us when they perform this Thursday at Warehouse Live with Opeth.
Free Press Houston: The last two albums — last year’s High Road and the subsequent acoustic version released this year, Low Road — sound more diverse and progressive than your albums prior. Was that a conscious decision when you went to write and record them?
Kyle Shutt: Definitely. We wanted to shake things up this time around. The records before, we were just building to this. We always made the albums that we wanted to hear, but the fact that we’re older and that we’ve gone through so much as a band, we wanted to make this one different. When you’re in a band sometimes it’s hard to get inspired, and where we are now as a band we wanted to make this new album with new elements while going ahead in a new way. The next record, who knows? No matter what we’re just gonna keep moving ahead, constantly writing and touring.
FPH: Now that not everyone in the band is living in Texas anymore, does that distance from each other have any influence on how you guys operate as a band or is it not even an issue?
Shutt: No, it’s not an issue now with this thing called the internet. [laughs] It’s changed the dynamic of how we practice, but we haven’t really practiced much like we used to much before anyway. After 15 years, we just write and record and then practice a bit before tour because we’re all used to each other and we’re pretty polished as a live band.
FPH: You guys have always experimented with your sound to a degree, do you think that metal bands in particular are afraid to tamper with what gets traditionally called metal?
Shutt: We’re just a rock band, just four dudes from Texas who have always played metaled-up rock music. On the acoustic album, it started off as the thought of doing one song acoustic, and then another, and then we just did the whole thing. We’ve always tried to be a band that had plenty of hooks, and maybe some bands don’t want to do the whole verse chorus verse thing like we do and that’s cool. But the metal community has never really known what to make of us anyway. I guess it’s always been cool to hate on The Sword. [laughs]
FPH: On gear for a bit; is Bryan still making pedals and are you still using the one knob amp head as your primary for tour or is the three knob dual your primary amp now?
Shutt: Yeah, Bryan hasn’t made anything lately. The Wah I use nightly, he made all crazy for me. After sitting next to a guy for so long on a tour bus, you get a feel for what the other person wants from their sound, so he gets what I want. The Earthquaker pedals are our big thing now. I accidentally poured whiskey all over my dual three knob head, so I’m back to the one knob again for this tour. It’s such a crazy amp, and easily the loudest I’ve ever heard. I mean, I’ll have it on 1 and it’s still crazy loud. My gear can change up nightly, but right now that’s what I’m using.
FPH: Back when I lived in Austin around your first record, and pretty much every time I saw you guys back when you played the tiny room at Rudyard’s here in Houston, you’ve always focused on an intense live show. Are you guys changing up the live show to reflect the newer material, and what should people expect when they see you guys here on the 13th?
Shutt: We aren’t playing an acoustic set or anything, but we’ve incorporated some of the quieter stuff we do into the live show. We’ve made a cool arrangement with how we play “Seriously Mysterious” to change it up live. I mean, if you bring out The Sword on tour, we can rip through a forty minute set with our usual intensity. But going this route for this tour with Opeth will help us really diversify our overall set.
The overall vibe to any set from these guys is always one of heavy riffs and sheer power from start to finish. Though they seem to evolve more than many bands in the hard rock or metal genre, they still offer up plenty of songs that you can definitely bang your head to. While the band will be on a pretty lengthy tour to round out the year, you can catch them this Thursday October 13th in the ballroom at Warehouse Live as direct support for Opeth. The all ages show has doors at 7 pm and tickets between $35 and $38.