Austin, Texas hard rockers band, The Sword, are set to release their fifth album, High Country, via Razor & Tie on on August 21st, 2015. There’s a ton of hype surrounding this release and, before the album drops and guys kick off a a Europe/UK/Scandinavia tour on August 21st, we caught up with bassist Bryan Richie to discuss, in detail, the awesomeness that is High Country – pre-orders are up at Merchnow and Indiemerch.
Your new album, High Country, is set for release on August 21st. With this being your fifth full-length record, do you find it difficult coming up with new ideas and/or not repeating what you have done on previous releases?
Richie: I think it might be harder to try and match something we’ve done already, like trying to write a sequel to Age of Winters or Gods of the Earth. When it comes to song writing, we flow like water.
I understand there are 15 tracks on High Country, which is a lot of material by today’s standards and something that fans will truly dig. What was the reason behind including so many tracks?
Richie: They were all awesome! Haha! Joking aside, we felt we wrote a grip of great songs and we wanted to include everything. We pull from a wide range of influences and this record, more than any of our others, showcases that.
Often bands write a ton of songs and then select the best ones to include on the record. I was wondering, with fifteen songs making the final selection, how many did you end up writing that did not make the cut?
Richie: There were only a couple of ideas that didn’t get used, I know one of which we already have plans for, some of the others – maybe we’ll flesh them out more at a later date, or sell them on eBay?
What made these 15 songs make the cut?
Richie: We felt like they were all great songs, and they all contributed to making the record, as a whole, something really special.
What was your writing process like for this album? Do you all write in the traditional sense, in a room bouncing ideas off of each other, or do you take advantage of technology and email parts back and forth?
Richie: We took full advantage of technology and had a Dropbox folder where we all could upload ideas. Jimmy, Kyle and I would get together in Austin and work on ideas. JD would also send tracks which we would learn and then rehearse when he was in town.
Along those same lines, did you write these songs with the live setting in mind or are you writing songs just for the song’s sake?
Richie: This is the first album where we wrote a couple of songs that may never get played live, but maybe just not in the state that they appear on the record. Who knows!
I understand High Country was produced by Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma, a Grammy winning Latin Orchestra. That seems like an odd combination and I was wondering how that came about?
Richie: We go way back with Grupo Fantasma! They always wanted to know what it was like when we toured with Metallica and we always wanted them to tell us about being Prince’s band. Tons of mutual respect as players and as humans, love those guys. How it came to be – I was looking up bands to open for us in Austin and came across one called Golden Dawn Arkestra and was floored, it sounded spectacular, full of vibe. Who did it? Adrian Quesada. He is based out of Austin, we were old friends, so it seemed natural to work with him and see what he could bring to the table.
What it was like working with him? And how you feel it shaped the sound of the record?
Richie: It was a great experience, we were ready to approach things a little differently and he was the perfect guy to facilitate that.
You guys have ventured out into the food and beverage industry with your own line of hot sauces and beers. Can you tell me how that came about?
Richie: It usually starts like this, “You know what would be funny?” and then snowballs into a legitimate product. With the hot sauce, we linked up with Brian Rush of Tears of Joy sauces here in Austin wanting to create something that was equal parts hot and delicious. Together we created Tears of Fire, and taste buds everywhere were satiated.
Check out the song “High Country” here.