THE SWORD STRIVES FOR ON­GO­ING SONIC EVO­LU­TION

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - TOM MUR­RAY

For gui­tarist Kyle Shutt of The Sword, mu­si­cal evo­lu­tion is a very nec­es­sary thing.

The Austin, Texas-based out­fit has moved a cer­tain dis­tance on from the al­most tra­di­tional me­tal crunch of their 2006 debut, Age of Win­ter, adding new el­e­ments, dab­bling in dif­fer­ent tex­tures, rest­lessly re­think­ing their sound over their six-al­bum career. Now, with their lat­est ef­fort, Used Fu­ture, they’ve upped the quo­tient of sonic el­e­ments like syn­the­siz­ers to their usual gnarly, gui­tar-pum­mel­ing, riff rock­ing in­ten­sity, even touch­ing on clas­sic rock.

Tell Shutt that it’s an in­ter­est­ing leap away from the clas­sic Sword sound and he’ll need to think about it for a mo­ment, how­ever.

“Well, I guess it doesn’t feel like a change to me be­cause I’ve been in it for the en­tire time,” he fi­nally says af­ter a mo­ment’s con­sid­er­a­tion. “We’ve grown so much; we’re not the same kids that made our first record in our bass player’s house for free. But I guess that if you put an old track up against some­thing from Used Fu­ture or (2015’s) High Coun­try then yeah, we’ve def­i­nitely moved on. That’s kind of nec­es­sary, though, right?” Ab­so­lutely.

Not all lis­ten­ers might agree, but keep­ing a band at a cer­tain mu­si­cal point in their creative lives causes stag­na­tion, and we don’t want that, do we?

“No, we don’t,” says Shutt. “Look at a band like Rush. What if they had made the same al­bum 10 times over? We’d never have Mov­ing Pic­tures!”

Used Fu­ture might not yet be The Sword’s Mov­ing Pic­tures, but there’s lit­tle doubt they’re get­ting there. I spoke with Shutt about stay­ing true to artis­tic im­pulses, what it’s like to lis­ten to the The Sword in the van, and the re­cent, un­ex­pected death of a band friend.

Q: It’s a lit­tle strange to talk to you right now, be­cause we’re both still reel­ing a lit­tle about the death of An­thony Bour­dain yes­ter­day. The Sword ap­peared on his tele­vi­sion show No Reser­va­tions back in 2012, and it seemed like you had a con­nec­tion.

A: Oh, God, yeah, that was hor­ri­ble, heart­break­ing news. He was ir­re­place­able. I had taken him to what was then my neigh­bour­hood bar, which I haven’t been to in some time, and all to­day I’ve been get­ting texts from peo­ple there say­ing “re­mem­ber that day?”

Q: Was he re­ally as ap­proach­able as he seemed?

A: Yeah, dude, he was ex­actly how you’d think he’d be. You get the idea that he talks a lot be­cause he nar­rates the show, but ac­tu­ally he didn’t; he’d ask ques­tions and re­ally lis­ten to what you had to say.

Q: On a less som­bre tan­gent, you’re com­ing to Ed­mon­ton with your sixth and lat­est al­bum, Used Fu­ture.

A: It’s a high point for me. If we ended it all to­mor­row I can say that Used Fu­ture is our best al­bum. I mean, I love it, and we re­ally make mu­sic for our­selves, not other peo­ple.

Q: How does it sit with your other ma­te­rial, which is more clas­si­cally me­tal?

A: When you hear these songs amongst our older stuff it sounds re­ally dy­namic and pow­er­ful. I mean, we’re also a much bet­ter live band now. It’s out of con­trol. We don’t have pyro or any­thing, we’ve just de­vel­oped as play­ers. I’ll see old videos of our­selves and think “damn,” like I’m look­ing at a bunch of kids.

Q: You’ve got quite lib­eral tastes in the band, from Michael Jack­son to ZZ Top. Do you find this creep­ing in at times?

A: Yeah, though not in a de­lib­er­ate way. It creeps in and you’re like “oops.” I lis­ten to a lot of ’80s and ’90s dance pop and ’60s soul. I also like the rock ’n’ roll that came out be­fore the Bea­tles. Pre-Bri­tish in­va­sion. That stuff is fas­ci­nat­ing to me. It kind of worms its way into my gui­tar play­ing.

Q : How so?

A: I don’t go for flashy, I try to make a lot of cool sounds in­stead of just play­ing fast. Once you learn how to do a dou­ble tap you think “well, I did that once, maybe twice, maybe I should move on.” I don’t want a bag of tricks, I like to keep learn­ing. It takes a lot for me to get sick of some­thing but when I do I like to turn it up­side down.

Q: This doesn’t bode well for fans who like their head­bang­ing to be un­com­pli­cated.

A: I can’t be re­spon­si­ble for what peo­ple en­joy or don’t en­joy.

Q: Does the band’s de­vel­op­ing style ever cause prob­lems with fans?

A: No, be­cause they wouldn’t ac­tu­ally be fans, right? In any event, I couldn’t be in a band that cranked out the hits time and time again. Look at Queens of the Stone Age. They don’t play any­thing off of their first al­bum, and they’re the big­gest band in the world. You can’t worry about what peo­ple think, you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and if peo­ple want to get off the train they can get off. That just makes room for other peo­ple.

JACK THOMP­SON

The Sword plays Union Hall Fri­day night.

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