The Sword is often labelled as a doom metal band, but these days the quartet are embracing a more uplifting vibe. Since forming in 2003, the Texan rockers have grown considerably as musicians and people. They are committed to making music they would want to listen to.
Three years have passed since their last record, the band has been laying low and taking it easy. But now The Sword are gearing up for their fifth release High Country. We spoke to guitarist and vocalist John ‘JD’ Cronise about changing sounds and writing from a personal perspective.
TEO: What has inspired the classic rock direction of High Country?
JD: It’s what I listen to. After taking the time off, I re-evaluated how I wanted to approach the band. When I originally started, I wanted to start a band that I would have wanted to listen to. Our first album represents the band I wanted to listen to in 2006 and our new album represents the band I want to listen to in 2015.
Are you trying to distance yourself from the doom metal genre?
It’s always going to be a part of our history. We don’t listen to that much super heavy music anymore. We all do occasionally; it’s not anything we would ever abandon. It’s something we all love. We’re older, more seasoned music fans and musicians. We have broad tastes when it comes to music. We wanted our music to reflect our tastes a little bit more than just staying true to a certain direction.
How worried are you about alienating fans with this new sound?
Not too worried. It’s going to happen for sure. You used the correct word, that it’s a sound. I think that the fans it is going to alienate are people who just want a certain sound. The fans that dig it like the sound of our band and our songs.
What was it like working with producer Adrian Queseda on this new record?
It was cool. We’ve never really worked with someone who was just acting as the producer in the studio. It has always been either ourselves or someone that was the engineer/producer. He brought a little more to the creative side because he didn’t have to worry about where all the microphones went and that sort of thing. He was able to bring more texture to it and some ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of.
Why have you decided to press an exclusive vinyl for your Australian fans?
I would love to take credit for that but I think that was the label’s idea. Our fans like vinyl and our label is very aware of that.
What about yourself, are you into vinyl? What’s your favourite record in your collection?
Yeah, I’m into vinyl. I have a record collection and a decent record player. But I don’t buy a ton of new vinyl. I think it’s cool that it’s popular these days. That’s a good question…it would have to be whatever has the coolest cover. Maybe something like Led Zeppelin III because it has the wheel that spins inside it.
Your lyrics are often inspired by literature. What have you been reading lately?
I actually haven’t been reading too much lately. Books of short stories mostly. On this record I tried to write lyrics that were from a more personal perspective and not directly inspired by other people’s work. That was the direction I decided to take on it. That [literature] has been a big inspiration in the past, paying homage to those authors that inspired me. At this point I’m more into writing my own stories. There’s a song on the record called ‘Buzzards’ and that’s the only story song. It’s not really based on anything; it’s an original narrative.
What are you expecting from your European tour over the next two months?
Hopefully the weather will be nice. Last time it was the dead of winter. It was pretty frigid. Europe is lovely in the summer time.
With such an extensive discography, how do you decide on a set list?
It can be hard at times. We’ll all just sit there staring at a piece of paper backstage before the show, looking at each other like, “What the hell do we play?” In the past we have always played an even selection of songs from all of our records. Maybe more so than a lot of bands do. At this point we will probably concentrate more on the new record and the last, the ones that Jimmy our drummer has played on. We’ll always play a few old songs in there. The new songs are where our heads are at. That older stuff, I’m proud of it and I appreciate it. But playing it live, a lot of the times it doesn’t feel comfortable for me anymore. If the vibe is right, anything can happen.
You last toured Australia with Metallica in 2010. Any plans to visit soon?
Actually I think we were there for Soundwave the next year or something like that. We’re hoping to come early next year for a small headlining tour.
Until then you can listen to High Country which just came out on August 21. High Country can be purchased or streamed on their website .
Words: Melina Scarfo