Saturday, August 3, 2013
As THE SWORD make their way on a month long headlining tour in the US and CANADA, compromised of markets they will not be hitting on their upcoming tour opening up for CLUTCH, I had a sit down with Guitarist KYLE SHUTT backstage at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA. Here is some of our conversation:
Q: One week on the road right now?
A: Yeah, one week out. First time in Orange County. Or is Pomona considered Orange County?
Q: Different area, but it’s all Southern California, usually the most boring crowds.
A: We always have good times man! Especially San Diego!
Q: You’re avoiding LA on this tour though.
A: We have to because of a tour that’s coming up later in the year that’s playing the House of Blues on Sunset with CLUTCH. We had to due to a radius clause. That’s what they call it, it’s music business banter.
Q: You just went out in Europe with Clutch didn’t you?
A: Yeah! It went so well we decided to do it again.
Q: Get along well with those guys?
A: We’re old friends with them. They invited us to go on tour with them in 2006. And ever since then it’s been ‘best friends’ (in a singing voice). We have a lot of common interests.
Q: Such as?
A: Smoke weed, hanging out, just being cool people and we just get along really well. Those guys are a class act and someone to follow.
Q: When does that tour kickoff?
A: Don’t ask a guy whose been on tour when the next one starts (laughs). I put in the merchandise orders a couple months in advance too so by the time I see the shirts I made months ago I get to think, ‘where are we going on this tour and do I need my passport?’
Q: You need it on this tour, right?
A: I do, we’re going to Canada. We’re doing the thing where we go up to Vancouver and drive across all the way to Montreal. I wish we could go further into Halifax. Mainly because I’m a huge TRAILER PARK BOYS fan.
Q: I’ve heard the rumors, but going across the border is a pain in the ass?
A: Oh God! It’s the worst! It’s the worst in the world! I haven’t been to Bolivia or whatever (laughs).
Q: You don’t look like a Hispanic drug cartel member!
A: (laughs) The Canadians are just doing their job, they’re polite about it and they can turn you away if you don’t have your paperwork done correctly. They hold you to the nature of your crimes to the standards of their laws. They hold a DUI in the same category as a first degree murder. They treat you as a murderer trying to enter the country. It’s a whole scam. You can bribe the consulate guy for $5,000 to let you in. But if you’re a band like us, then that’s like 2 or 3 guarantees so we can’t afford that. If you have a number one record in Canada you can do that. But we have to jump through all of the hoops. The real kick in the nuts is when you get back to the US with the border cops. They’re just the worst. They treat you like a total terrorist. They don’t understand people in a band. It’s like, “how come he’s from Chicago, and how does he know the rest of you guys, and you’re from Texas?” It’s needless. We’re not stupid enough to smuggle weed across the border. There’s plenty of weed in Canada and the US for me to buy. I’m not that stupid.
Q: What’s your favorite part of Canada to play?
A: Everything I just said, I don’t want to sound like I’m shitbagging Canada. It’s just the border cops. I don’t want it to reflect negatively on the citizens up there. We have a lovely time in Canada. Vancouver’s great! Calgary is always really fun. Canada’s great dude, Toronto of course! I feel bad for Canadians because a lot of times a band will roll through with replacement members.
Q: This tour started in Austin?
A: Dallas! Austin was the release of our own beer (Iron Swan) with the Real Ale Brewing Company. It was sold out before we got there. It was a good time, I’m glad I remember some of it.
Q: Do you guys get free beer?
A: Until it runs out. We made one huge batch. We’re going to send it out to market and see what the demand is like before we make another batch. It’s pretty gratifying cracking open a can of your own beer and it’s actually good. We made the recipe, added the hops ourselves, kind of made a mini movie about it. It was fun, we’re total beer nerds.
Q: You’re a year into the album cycle now, any plans to start writing again?
A: I can’t speak for everybody. We’re just been on tour so much we haven’t had more than two weeks off at a time. We haven’t sat down to write songs or anything. Every time we have an album cycle it’s like we get together and boom, it’s like six songs come right out. Then we’ll work on those a little bit. And while we’re working on those a few more come out. We always book a little tour right before we go make a record to kind of play the songs for people and so we get to know the song better before you make an album.
Q: So many people write their albums in the studio.
A: I don’t get that but there’s no rules in this business.
Q: Given the state of the music business, what do you attribute your success to?
A: God! Man, we just worked really hard. It sound cliché but we really did just bust our fuckin asses on the road. That’s really the only way to blow a band up these days is just to tour relentlessly and just go back and back and back and prove to people that you’re not going to stop. That’s only one part of it. We had a lot of love, a lot of help from people, way more powerful than us. It’s kind of humbling when people like METALLICA take you out like that and tell you this is going to be your spot for a year. This is pretty awesome! It’s not like that tour blew us up or anything. It was a huge thing for us for like a year and a half from Perth to Istanbul. That was a hard one. We had some struggles ending that tour. We needed six months off after that tour as we killed ourselves on those first two albums. We’ve never been a radio band but we had those GUITAR HERO games. That was huge for us. That put us in a million homes and people had to listen to your whole song to get further in the game. It was genius marketing.
Q: Labels don’t know what they’re doing anymore. It’s a different climate now. Selling 50K now is like selling 500K 10 years ago.
A: It’s been a slow, steady build. We survived the fad phase. I feel like we’ve really established ourselves musically. We’re not afraid to do what we do musically.
Q: You have a multi-album deal with RAZOR & TIE. Any pressure from them to change?
A: Even if there was pressure we would tell them to go away. They’re very nice people and understood what we needed as a band and went into the contract. It’s nice to have a home for a while. The record has sold more records faster than our other records.