The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Kyle Shutt The Sword - Interview
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The Sword

Australia has been fortunate enough to catch Texas rockers The Sword a few times now, with the band supporting Metallica in 2010 and doing the Soundwave Festival twice after that. This time however, the band are doing their first headlining tour of Australia and New Zealand which will see the band performing tracks off their latest album "High Country". We caught up with guitarist Kyle Shutt ahead of the tour to talk setlists, performing live in Australia and the changes the band made on their new material.



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Andrew: So how's your year been so far?

Kyle: It's been great actually, I moved to Brooklyn from Austin, Texas a week into the year so I've been here about 3 weeks and just loving life man! About 6 feet of snow on the ground right now but it's all good [laughs].

Andrew: Yeah I heard you guys had a bit of snow this year! So you guys are coming back to Australia for a headlining tour, it's fantastic to see you guys coming back again so welcome back to Australia!

Kyle: Thanks man, really appreciate that! We're looking forward to doing a headliner because we've never actually had a proper club run there before so I'm really excited.

Andrew: Yeah obviously you guys have been here a few times before for Soundwave and opening for Metallica so I guess a headlining run is going to be a little different than some of the shows that you have done in the past over here.

Kyle: Yeah I mean it's fun to do a festival and everything when you're set is at one o'clock in the afternoon in 120 degrees fahrenheit or 50 degrees celsius [laughs]. But it will be cool to be indoors and to really see how many people come out to see us.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. I guess because you are touring on the back of your latest album "High Country" - and I remember I was speaking to J.D. (Cronise, guitars) last year about this, quite a different album for you guys - you guys have been on tour the last few months since it's release?

Kyle: Yeah we started in August in Europe and then came and did 2 legs in the States so we were on tour for about 4 months straight and then we took about 6 weeks off here just for the winter. It's terrible to tour in the winter in the States anyway.

Andrew: [laughs] How many songs have you been playing off the new album and how have they been playing out live?

Kyle: We've been playing a lot, we've been playing about 10 tracks off of it every night just because on the Apocryphon tour, we played so much old material. We pretty much brought everything back that we hadn't been playing for a while and we've sort of exhausted a lot of our catalogue. We've been excited about playing all the new material and it is quite different like you said, we play in a different tuning now and it's almost been like a The Sword 2.0. We're just having a lot more fun with even translating some of the old material into a new way of playing it and stuff like that so it really does feel like a breath of fresh air for us.

Andrew: Ok so the new material has affected the performances of the old material then.

Kyle: It really did. We tried it in Europe first to see how it would go over and it didn't seem like many people realize that we've changed tunings of the songs which I think is a good just because everyone is just so happy that we're there playing the songs and having fun. Even playing some of the old material in a new way I think sort of brightens it up a bit and makes it a bit clearer and we're able to play with a little less distortion than we had in the past and then play with a few more different sounds because we're not relying heavily on the natural distortion of playing in such low tuning.

Andrew: Well I was going to ask how the old stuff is mixing with the new stuff and that pretty much answers that where you have changed the way you play the older stuff.

Kyle: Yeah we tried to switch between tunings like switch guitars every third song or something but I hate doing that. I get it that some bands switch guitars every song or whatever they want to do but we feel it takes away from the momentum of the set when you just have to be constantly switching guitars around and stuff like that. Plus we only have one guitar tech/stage manager guy so it creates a lot less responsibility for him to have to worry about handing us different guitars all the time and always tuning stuff and everything. Because he needs to keep all the punters off the stage who try to jump up there [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] So what can we expect on the Australian tour this time around? Will it be pretty much what you've been doing on tour so far or will you be bringing over something a bit more unique or special?

Kyle: We are bringing over something unique and special, it's a band called American Sharks who are some great friends of ours. And just the attitude that we're all going to have on stage at the shows, you're going to get a real taste of how we are currently I think, instead of it being more like a festival tour where you see us for 30 minutes. I think you're going to see a lot more of our personality up there just because we're going to be there with a bunch of our friends and just trying to take Australia by storm.

Andrew: Yeah it's going to be a cool tour for sure. How has your previous experiences in Australia been like?

Kyle: They're very different actually than they are in other places because the only other times we were there were with Metallica which was fantastic, don't get me wrong but that was playing huge arenas and things like that. And then doing 2 Soundwave tours, a festival run is a lot different than a club run. Australia is one of those places where we've never really done a proper club tour before so I'm more excited just to see how it turns out more than anything, I've been to a lot of clubs in Australia because we had so much down time there. A lot of the hotels and the esplanade and places like that but honestly, I'm a little nervous because we don't know how it's going to turn out [laughs].

Andrew: I'm sure it's going to go very well because as much fun as your festival gigs have been, it seems like you guys are more suited to the smaller and more intimate club shows.

Kyle: Yeah we are, we're prepared to do anything really but it is a lot more fun when you have the crowd right there in your face and it does seem a little more dangerous because anything can happen. And people, especially down under, like to have their beer [laughs], so it seems like it's going to be a little rowdy. Sometimes when you play a festival, it's so hot that everyone doesn't want to drink so much or kinda cut loose and have fun or they don't have enough money to even buy a few drinks because the ticket costs so much, or just something like that. So it's just a lot more fun to play after dark and let everybody cut loose a little bit.

Andrew: In the years that you guys have been around, what has been the most interesting or craziest thing that you have ever seen at a live show?

Kyle: Actually on the first High Country tour, we played in Nottingham in the UK and during the encore, a full scale riot broke out. Like a bar brawl that I had never seen in my life, there was 20 people just knocking the shit out of each other and security guards were getting the shit beat out of them. It all started with this one girl who got pushed down and when she got up, she punched some guy that didn't push her down and then he punched her back and then a guy was like, 'You're not going to be hitting a girl like that!', and the the whole place just erupted. And this girl was in the middle of it all, she kept getting pushed down and she would get up and just clock somebody else. It was just fucking crazy! I've seen plenty of moshpits and plenty of bar fights that break out but this was the first full on riot I had ever seen! We had to stop playing, we just ran off the stage because we were like, 'Let's get the fuck out of here man!'.

Andrew: Oh yeah well especially in this day and age with all the security alerts and that kind of stuff, I guess you gotta take precaution wherever you can.

Kyle: You really do, I wish we could be a little more light hearted about it but you have to be a lot more aware than you used to be it seems like, with anything really.


Andrew: Yeah absolutely. The High Country album as I said before, is quite a different album for you guys. Looking back on it now in the 6 or 7 months that it's been out, are you guys still completely happy with how it's turned out and is this the kind of stuff we can expect on future albums?

Kyle: Yeah we definitely want to make an album like this one and it was a conscious effort to sort of shake things up a little bit and maybe try something that was a little out of our comfort zone. Because I felt like if we had made another album like we had made in the past, it would just start to get boring for us and we definitely don't want to do something to make a certain segment of our fans happy. I feel like once the album came out, there was kind of minimal backlash from a certain vocal minority, people on social media sites and everything. People that were maybe a little unhappy or didn't get it at first but the second we hit the road, it was very obvious that all of our fans were really happy with it and they were all singing along to the new songs just as much as they were with the old ones. I think people have gotten over the initial shock of it being different and just embraced it as the next step in what we do. We plan on being our own for a long time so I'm not going to promise that this is what we're going to do from here on out, it's just that we're going to continue to evolve and do whatever we want because that's the way we've always done it since we started.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. I think it's always good to reinvent yourself so to speak and keep things fresh, and also keep the fans on their toes as well.

Kyle: Exactly because that way, it's not like next time we put out an album, everybody is going to be guessing what the hell it's going to sound like! They're not exactly going to know what they're going to get just because we've kept flipping the tables on them so many times.

Andrew: Just going back to the beginning of your career, how did you get into music in the first place? Who was your biggest influences?

Kyle: I grew up in a very small town in Texas and there really wasn't much in the way of live music to see, so everything I heard was on the radio. Unfortunately in the States right now, the radio is really dried up but I was shocked actually in Australia to see stations like Triple J and everything play all kinds of music all over, it's not like it's a very strict format. How I grew up in the States listening to all kinds of radio stations just listening to hip hop over here and rock over here and metal over here and country especially, growing up in Texas, had a huge influence on me. It all kind of derived from the blues really, which is kind of what Austin, Texas is known for where we kind of started it and everything and I think that's kind of what The Sword is. We're just a big mix of every kind of music we ever got into. I can tell you though that my Dad actually was a huge influence on the kind of music that I was exposed to early on because he listened to a lot of Skid Row and AC/DC. Actually I was into Ozzy before I was into Black Sabbath just because he was a huge Ozzy fan so that was kind of the first big rock n' roll that I ever really heard that I knew that I really enjoyed.

Andrew: Was there any particular guitar player that you were inspired by?

Kyle: I started playing guitar when I was about 11 years old and Greenday was a big influence on me because punk rock, or pop punk or whatever you want to call it, was kind of on MTV a lot at the time. I listened to a lot of Rancid and Greenday and Nirvana was huge obviously and that was all easy for me to play because it's just so simple, it's all 3 chord songs that really got me into the idea that I could actually be a guitar player instead of just sitting there trying to learn scales all day and stuff like that. I really got into Metallica of course and Pantera was a huge influence on me, that was all when I was very young. I would say once I moved to Austin, I got into bands like Queen and Black Sabbath and Melvins was a huge influence on me back in the day too. Usually anything that had a guitar in it, I would just buy and devour.

Andrew: Cool it's always interesting to see what kind of influences people have. One of the questions that we try to ask everyone is going back on the recordings of classic albums in history, if you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of one, which album do you think that would be?

Kyle: Oh there's a bunch, how do you narrow it down? I feel like I was just talking about this the other day but I wish I could of been there for "Appetite For Destruction" because I heard it took them a year to make that album. It was Guns N' Roses debut and I just wonder what the hell went on in that studio because it took them so long to make it! I just wonder how fucked up they were or anything like that. Another one which I was just talking about the other day is whenever Queen was doing a lot of their classic albums like "Night At The Opera" and things like that, bands used to have a real different recording schedule. They didn't go in at 10 in the morning and work all day, they usually show up at night and just record all night long and come up with all kinds of different ideas. And songs grew in the studio a lot more back in those days it seemed like and it would of been cool to just kinda see how those guys came up with a lot of stuff. I don't know if you've seen that new Keith Richards movie that just came out (Under The Influence), it's pretty amazing. It has a lot of footage showing them coming up with how they made like "Sympathy For The Devil" and "Street Fighting Man" and stuff like that and I would have just killed to have been there to witness every single one of those sessions.

Andrew: Yeah it would have been very interesting to see some of those very well known albums getting put together, absolutely. Anyway it's going to be fantastic when you guys come over next month, good luck on the tour and we will see you next month!

Kyle: Thank you so much man, I appreciate it.


Friday 19th Feb / The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Saturday 20th Feb / Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Sunday 21st Feb / Rolling Thunder Festival, Coburg VIC
Monday 22nd Feb / Max Watts, Melbourne
Wednesday 24th Feb / Max Watts, Sydney
Thursday 25th Feb / Max Watts, Brisbane
Friday 26th Feb / Bodega Bar, Wellington, NZ
Saturday 27th Feb / The Studio, Auckland, NZ

Tickets and tour details can be found at Heathen Skulls.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on January 29th 2016