On the first day of summer, Nick McGarvey, DJ of Friday night’s show The Beef Vortex made the quick jaunt to Spokane to meet, interview and hang out with Austin metal heads The Sword. Prior to the removal of faces, this is how the conversation played out:
McG: So you guys drove in from Colorado Springs?
Kyle: That was a super long haul. Like 19 hours?
Bryan: It was pretty brutal, yeah.
McG: So, looking at some of the dates that you’re playing on this little tour – Is this sorta like an off date thing? You’re doing – It seems like the places you wouldn’t normally play, like Seattle or something.
J.D.: It’s on the way to Canada, which is where we are bound. So yeah, we thought it’d be a good opportunity.
McG: I agree. Alright, so, I have this question burning inside me. The Black River . . . Does it flow into the White Sea?
Kyle: Of course!
McG: Okay. I just had to know!
Kyle: Weren’t you listening? [laughs]
McG: Is it in the lyrics? Did I miss it that bad? I could’ve read along man. So, I really want to know: In the world of awesome band names, you guys kind of reign supreme on that one. Was there a brilliant moment of inspiration where you knew you wanted to be named after something you kill people with?
J.D.: I guess. Yeah. Just “The Sword”. I don’t know. It just always seemed like it was right there. Pretty obvious. There was a band called “Sword” so we can’t claim total originality on that, but we are “The Sword”.
McG: It’s one of those “duh” moments, like when Death came up with Death. It’s like 8,000 other death metal bands went, “God! Why didn’t – ARGH!”
McG: I think you guys got that. I want to ask you about the Austin scene. It’s kind of famous for live music. Do you think that that has maybe helped you in your success being from a place that was really live music friendly?
Bryan: Sure. People wanted to go out. You know it’s more of a town where everyone kind of goes out and sees bands. That’s just one of those things that you do. So, it’s a Monday through Sunday thing – it could be any day of the week. So I think that kind of helped out a lot. But you know, being kick ass didn’t hurt.
McG: [Laughs] I actually learned about you guys from my friend that moved to Austin. You had an EP that came out before Age of Winters?
Bryan: Yeah, it was an EP.
Kyle: Just some demos and songs that we had recorded and compiled.
McG: And so in those days you were doing your own recording, correct?
McG: So was that sort of a financial decision or were you just hobby recording? Like bored in your bedroom, I have some time and recording equipment?
Bryan: Yeah. Both things. I had all the recording equipment and it definitely was a lot cheaper than going in somewhere and doing something. That way you have total control and no deadlines.
Kevin: Where you could take only so much time-
Bryan: Yeah. We spend about three months working on Age of Winters off and on. Couple days here. Couple hours there. We didn’t have to book a month of studio time somewhere and pay out the ass for it.
McG: Well, at that point, I mean, I’m just taking a guess that you guys are probably living off The Sword mostly at this point but at that – whether that’s true or not, obviously it wasn’t true in the beginning.
McG: So that’s another thing, like, you’ve only got so much time to spend on it and so much money because you’ve got to be the working schlub that everybody else is.
Bryan: Yeah. Luckily I had a pretty rad job working at a sandwich place where I only had to be there about like four or five hours a day and so, you know, I was home by three while everyone else was ready to rock and roll so. . .
McG: So something – I’ve been a musician for quite a while myself and I know that bands that are trying to start out – a challenge that they face is having a place to rehearse so they aren’t getting harassed by the cops. What is your guy’s situation like? Do you guys have a studio at somebody’s house? Do you have to rent a space?
Bryan: No, we rent a space.
J.D.: No, yeah, it’s a little different. I grew up in Virginia and that sort of thing is more of a problem in other places but Austin is a music town so anywhere you practive – I mean the places that you practice are rehearsal spaces or storage spaces where a bunch of bands rehearse. It’s something that’s expected and everyone knows what goes on there – and people’s garages and stuff like that. I’m sure that that probably goes on too but most people I know have some kind of semi-legit space at least.
Bryan: Yeah, a place to go to where they keep all their gear. Where they jam.
Kyle: Places are pretty plentiful especially when you share with another band or two.
Bryan: There’s a pretty high demand for that kind of thing in Austin because they are so many bands.
J.D.: Its really hard to track down a place to rehearse.
McG: Yeah, for sure. Well, maybe that’s another reason Austin’s a good place to start a band.
McG: Alright. There’s a blog out there called “Metal Cakes” Have you guys heard of it?
Bryan: Metal Cakes?
McG: You were a feature on Metal Cakes.
Bryan: Oh, really?
McG: So this girl from Chicago is a baker that specializes in cupcakes and makes them for metal bands. So, she puts out a recipe of with all these metal instructions and talks about the band. So she did “Cupcakes for the Aurochs”.
Bryan: Oh wow. Holy shit. That’s awesome.
McG: So yeah, look it up. You guys might get a kick out of that.
Kevin: It’s better than “Lament for the Cupcake”
Kevin: It’s like, you want a cupcake so bad –
McG: That was the bad recipe. So, on the note of that song, I was playing along with it on guitar last night and I hear this chiming coming out of window – it was nice out for the first time in Moscow last night – so I had my windows open and I heard these bell chimes which is really strange because there aren’t any around in town and I stopped playing and there was pipe organ music coming from somewhere in my neighborhood – do you think it was a sign?
McG: How do you feel about pipe organs strangely eminating while I’m trying to rock out to The Sword?
Kevin: Um, I don’t man. How do you feel about it? I mean, I wasn’t there so I can’t –
McG: [laughs] I thought I was having a flashback. I was okay with it. It seemed like today had to be a good day. It was the first day of summer. The first day of great weather and lots of metal to be had. It was a sign from above or perhaps below?
J.D.: Was it in the same key? I mean, y’know, could you jam along with it?
McG: I wasn’t going to – [laughs]
J.D.: Then I would definitely say that it was an otherworldly occurrence.
McG: Maybe I was playing it loud enough that the guy down the street to get pissed off and tried to drown me out with his pipe organ.
J.D.: Or he was just looking for a buddy.
McG: Maybe, man. Maybe I anger him with my rock and roll. He was trying to tell me to pipe down. Uhm, is there a current – you guys, I would say, have some fairly obvious influences – is there a current – not like a Black Sabbath – but like a band that’s going right now that you’ve found to be inspirational, something you really like? Something maybe we should probably know about that we may not know about?
Kyle: Mount Caramel?
Bryan: Mount Caramel. Graveyard.
Kyle: Yeah, Graveyard is killing it right now.
McG: They just had a new one come out didn’t they?
Bryan: Yeah. It’s amazing.
McG: I need to check it out.
Bryan: Yeah you do.
McG: I’m slowly learning that I need to listen to this new Graveyard record.
Bryan: It’s worth it. It’s worth the hype.
McG: I have their first one too and really like it.
Bryan: That one is good too, but this one kind of smokes it.
McG: Really? Note taken. Alright. Anybody else. Mount Caramel? What’s up with them?
Bryan: Columbus, Ohio, right?
Bryan: Yeah, just some kids playing some blues. It’s good. We’re about to do some more dates in July.
McG: Oh, so you’ve played with them?
Bryan: Yes, they opened up the tour we did with Karma To Burn. When was that?
McG: Very nice. I will check them out. As well as everyone now on 89.3. I would like to somehow weasel some kind of ridiculous road story out of you guys Give me something that is just screaming rock and roll, something full of debauchery.
Kyle: Some guy brought us a skull. It’s a Skullpture. It’s a giant skull with these horns that he put on it and these two rattlesnakes that are kind of weaving in and out of its mouth and coming out of its eyes and attacking each other. One’s got sword a stuck through it and its got this Mohawk made of elk hair.
Bryan: And it has The Sword logo on it.
Kyle: Yeah. We got it today.
McG: What? He like, met you and gave you this . . . can I see it later?
Bryan: Yeah, I mean, that’s a pretty rock and roll story. Uhm. I can’t really think of anything – well, one time I got Mary-Kate Olsen’s telephone number.
McG: Okay. That’s what I’m looking for. And like broken instruments or drunken falling off things. Has anything been set on fire?
Bryan: Uhm –
Kyle: We could set Kevin on fire. [laughs]
Kevin: It’s in the works.
McG: Oh, I guess, I didn’t see that this was really beat into the ground so maybe we’ll talk about the new drummer thing. I think the departure of your original drummer is probably well covered. Are you – were you friends with the band? Did you have to go through the horrifying audition process?
Kevin: I auditioned. It wasn’t horrifying.
Bryan, Kyle & J.D.: [laughs]
Kevin: It was a little nerve-racking. I auditioned. I knew Kyle a little bit because he was in a band, Sea Of A Thousand with some friends of mine that I was in a band with so I knew him on an acquaintance level. Talked to Bryan and he was – Bryan is a super nice guy. He’s very welcoming to everyone. It was really easy to get along with these guys. But yeah. I auditioned a couple of times.
McG: You didn’t have to do the whole “hire out” process. More of a “bring in a friend” sort of thing?
Bryan: Yeah, I mean it was important to us first and foremost to get someone that our friends knew, that we could be like,”Hey man, what’s this guy like?”
J.D.: Especially when we had to do it fast so we didn’t have time to – it would have been like getting a complete stranger. Who knows? That’s a total unknown. I mean they could end up to be anything on tour once you get them on tour but if it’s a dude from around the way, that he’s friends with your friends that can vouch for him and be like, “He’s cool,” that helps a lot. I mean, not that his drumming didn’t help but you know? It helps make the whole thing a much better situation.
McG: For sure. Clutch…Metallica…Nebula. Lots of big – medium to big name bands – as big as bands can be these days, like Clutch. Is there a band that stood out as maybe your favorite to tour with?
Kyle: All of the above, man.
Bryan: You know, Metallica is one thing – that’s not like any kind of normal tour. That’s kind of an experience but Clutch is awesome to tour with. Who else? Who was fun to open for?
Kyle: Uhm. On the Metallica tour we got to open for a lot of other bands too like Down. That was a lot of fun hanging out with those guys.
Bryan: Lamb of God is fun to hang out with and tour with.
J.D.: Machine Head.
Kyle: Fear Factory. Yeah! And they were killing it when we were out with them.
McG: Fear Factory? When did you guys play with them?
Kyle: September? Yeah, in Australia. And New Zealand and Japan we played with Metallica. It was awesome.
McG: Oh, yeah, the whole Pacific thing.
Kyle: Before all the disaster.
McG: It was because of the rock. You rocked so much that you destroyed Japan, literally.
Bryan: Yeah. We dropped the hammer down on it. [In all seriousness] it was a few months later.
McG: Really took a stab at taking down Japan?
Bryan: Ohhhhh…..womp womp womp!
McG: How many times have you got that one?
Bryan: Uh, that’s a good one but yeah… you know.
McG: I decided to avoid the “cutting edge” one.
Bryan: That’s pretty good.
McG: Well, thanks for your time. I can’t wait to have my face removed later.
Bryan: Yeah, we’re going to work on that!
Thank you to The Sword for taking their time to sit down and answer some questions with us. Also thank you very much to Kemado Records and Bram from The Syndicate for getting it all set up.