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The Sword Interview

The Sword

Interview with Bryan Richie, Bassist


By: Nina McCarthy, Senior Music Journalist

Boston Rock Radio




Formed in 2003, The Sword is rock band out of Austin Texas. The Sword consists of John Cronise [vocals, guitar], Kyle Shutt [guitar], Bryan Richie [bass], and Santiago Vela III [drums]


While on a recent tour with Clutch, I was able to spend a little time chatting with Bryan Richie.  Thank you to Bryan for spending some time with me in Providence.  A special thank you to the tour manager, Brendan for finding a cool seat for me to wait and catch the Clutch sound check and to Julia Berlin of  Concord Music Group for making it possible.



BRR:  You are currently doing an East Coast tour with Lucero and Clutch.   How has it been going?


Fantastic.  We love those guys.  We've only really gotten to do a little bit of touring with Lucero.  We did an Australian Festival Tour called Sound Wave that they were on.  We've toured with Clutch countless times at this point, so they're like old omies.


BRR:  The Swords music has been described a lot of different ways, heavy metal, stoner metal to doom and even Warlock rock on the Facebook page.  How would you describe it?


We're just a rock n’ roll band.  We go places and we do things.  As far as within the term rock band, sometimes it's heavy, sometimes it's light, but it's all rock.


BRR:  And it's definitely changed over the years.




BRR:  Many of the lyrics, I know, are influenced by literature.  I know you don't write the lyrics, but but would you be able to tell me a little bit about them?


I think JD (John) has used the settings that are in books to kind of springboard lyrical content and sometimes it's just a fresh thing of something in his own mind.  Sometimes you just need to get some ideas from stuff.  Sometimes it's a book or maybe a movie.  Some things inspire you in different ways at different times.  It could not click one time and click another time.  I was in a band where I sang and wrote lyrics and it sure was sure as shit hard to come up with stuff sometimes.  I've known people who come up with what they want to say first and everything else is based around that.  That seems easier than writing a riff and then trying to figure out where the syllables are going to fit in.


BRR:  How do you guys do it now?


Right now we do a combination of both.  I imagine at times JD has something he wants to say and sound this particular way and the song comes around that.  I know when there's something Kyle and I write, we're not writing the lyrics, so it's a blank slate to him and he can put it in there however he wants.


BRR:  My next question was actually for JD but maybe you can answer it.  He was hesitant at first to convey his own thoughts and opinions in the music, but in the last album, My Country, he seemed to do so.  Why now?


He just felt more comfortable.  The time was right.  


BRR:  How is the musical style different in High Country versus previous releases?


I guess on the nose it's not as heavy, not as brutal all the time, not as voracious in the sense of triplets and the things that you would associate under the banner of heavy metal.  


BRR:  I read The Sword labeled as heavy metal but I wasn't hearing it.  I guess that was the earlier stuff?


Our early stuff is arguably way more metal, lots of ripping, wailing, shredding and pounding riffs on riffs and stuff.  It's not that we aren't still heavy, it's just that we learned to be heavy in different ways.


BRR:  Tell me about the newest release, the live album, Greetings From.



For the live album, we had a console out on the opening tour and it made it really easy to record the show every night so we said, “Fuck this.  It's a no brainer so let's record these shows.”


BRR:  So it was a combo of different shows?


Yes, and just going through it and picking out your favorite toothpicks out of a box of toothpicks.  Everything was pretty much exactly the same. We had to figure out different ways to pair down the tracks.  A lot of the places were really big places and that comes through in the microphones and I didn't really want that sound.  I wanted it to be raw, right in your face, so I started thinking about it in terms of venue size and picked some of the smaller venues to start weeding through stuff.


BRR:  I know some people were kind of critical about the live shows not being the same as the album. I don't think with any band it truly is…


It's tough for bands sometimes to do exactly what they do on a record because there's a matter of toys involved that you don't have access to live.  You are just on a stage and performing.  When you're recording you're going over it minutely and breaking down every little bit and trying to get that shit as perfect as you can so it sounds just right.  When you're live, it's raw and people just want to rock.


BRR:  Do you have any crazy fan stories or stage nightmares you'd like to share?


Not too many crazy fan stories.  Our fans are pretty relaxed and chill. None of us are the big personality kind of thing.  We're just dudes and I think our fans get that and they aren't trying to turn us into something we're not.  You might just catch us drinking a beer by the merch table and whatever.  We're not trying to be all out there or anything, just having a beer watching the band.


BRR:  Exactly.  It cracks me up when people get so star struck.  You're just regular people playing your music.


This may be a little crude, but I like to say, “Everybody shits!”  None of us are above shitting, you know what I mean? (laughing)


BRR:  I agree. I say that a lot.  I don't care how good your music is, if you're a dick people aren't going to listen to your music and follow you.


Right. You might ensnare them initially but as soon as they figure out who you are, which is really easy in this day and age, they're gone.  You can't hide behind shit anymore. People's true colors come out a lot quicker these days.  People want to know everything about you and with having social media they can Google search anything.


BRR:  If you had to do it all over again, would you pursue music as a career?




BRR:  Would you do anything different?


I don't think so, except maybe practice more.  I had a lull in practicing for awhile like when we were touring very heavily, I wasn't doing much playing on my own because we were on the road constantly.  When I was home I just wanted to be fucking home for a second.  It got to the point where I've picked it back up and I've been playing a lot and have never played better because I'm practicing.  If there was anything I'd change would be sticking to the practice schedule I had when I was 13 years old when I played the second I got off of school to the second I went to bed, just playing non-stop.


BRR:  Wow. It reminds me of Marc Rizzo from Soulfly.  He's amazing but always says he wants to be better and he just practices, practices, practices.


I'm not at all satiated with where I'm at.  I feel like there is always another level that you can maintain.


BRR: Exactly. There always is.


If at any point you decide to cut that off, you're doing yourself a disservice, because you can always be better no matter what.  Everyone can be a little bit better, can play a little bit tighter, hit those notes a little bit better.


BRR:  What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue music as a career?


Think twice!  Selling records is hard work in the sense that no one is really buying them anymore.  It's being made more and more difficult all the time to get people to buy your record because there are so many other avenues for music like streaming services and shit like that.


BRR:  Where you get like 3 cents per song?


Shit, it's like a third of a cent for every stream. It's absurd and those guys are allowed to write the rules.  These dudes that are making these rules are so inept.  Digital rights, I don't get it!!


BRR:  That's the good thing about vinyl coming back.  There's a lot of people who collect it.


That's great.  I'm into that.  New vinyl is expensive though.  It's no longer getting something for $12.99.  New vinyl is like $25-$30. Fuck, that's expensive!


BRR:  I'm still old school with the CDs because I do most of my listening in my car because I'm always commuting somewhere.


If you're always on the run, you can't be having that turn table in the car.


BRR:  That's true!  Do you have any further comments for your fans?


Thank you for listening to The Sword.  It's insane that we're about to do our sixth record  We're writing music for it.  The three of us, JD, Kyle, and myself (we've had a different drummer come in halfway through our career) have just played our thousandth show together.  If you told me that when I was booking shows at the park in Round Rock, Texas I would have laughed and said it sounded pretty cool.  Also in life, if you would have told me that at some point I would have toured with Metallica for years and half, I would have laughed because I remember skipping school to watch when MTV premiered all the Live Shit: Binge & Purge videos, they played them all in a row one morning. I remember going to school late because I wanted to finish out watching these Metallica videos.


BRR:  Life is full of surprises.  You never know what can happen.  We'll, that's all the questions I have.  I look forward to seeing the show tonight.


Thank you so much.  I really, really appreciate your time and I hope I was able to give you some good fodder.





For more info and upcoming tour dates:


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