Having just dropped two career-spanning compilations in the form of Conquest of Kingdoms and Chronology: 2006-2018, Texan heavy rockers The Sword are celebrating a seventeen year career which started with them playing Metallica albums and ended with drummer Lars Ulrich providing them with album liner notes.
So, having reached such a landmark, we thought it was only fit to speak to bassist Bryan Richie about the last seventeen years, his favourite moments and what it feels like to have famous fans.
Thanks for your time guys. With the release of the compilation sets, it looks like you’re keeping busy during the lockdown. How has the current situation affected your original plans ?
Bryan: “Well we had some touring plans with Primus that were put on hold due to Covid-19 but the plans for these compilation sets were underway before then. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to support the album in the traditional sense but we’ve done some fun things to make up for it!”
So, onto the compilations, what was it like looking back over the material and how long did it take to come up with an agreed list of tracks ?
“I can’t recall it taking very long at all to come up with the tracklisting – most everything we have that was ever exclusive is on this compilation as well as a few tracks that had never been released! For all the exclusives – getting everything together was the hardest part, so many hard drives – haha! Really glad I had hung on to all of this stuff over the years.”
What was it like looking back over your career to date and where there any “wow, I’d forgotten about that” moments ?
“I guess I had forgotten how truly RAW we were in the beginning of the band – we became so much more deliberate and calculated with the execution over the years. Listening back to tracks that we had recorded around the time of our first full-length album and we were playing fast and loose but it worked!”
Looking back then, what has been your own favourite personal memory of The Sword’s career to date ?
“Shit, I might have too many – too many unbelievable moments. I will never ever forget when Lars Ulrich came out to see us in San Francisco the first time and told us Metallica was going to take us on tour – I remember thinking that was total bullshit – he also helped us load our van that night and was complaining about how heavy Trivett‘s cymbal case was! I also have this great picture of JD and I in front of an 8 foot tall neon snake from the Black Album‘s cover but that’s a different story…”
When you listen to some of the older material from back when you started and listen to more recent material, what would you say the most significant change in the band has been ?
“We learned how to be a band and play together, I know that sounds easy and cheesy but I feel like going on that Metallica tour forced us to evolve every aspect of our band. To me, you can tell that listening to our first two records then any of them after that – not that we didn’t play together – we did obviously, but we got so much better at it.”
Personally, what is your favourite track to play and why ?
“Every tour would have a different favorite track for me – “Horned Goddess” was one at one time, same for when we would do “The Black River” and “The White Sea” back to back in concert – that really set it off. “Hawks and Serpents” was a super deep cut that I always really enjoyed playing… “Mist and Shadow” got people immensely hyped. Truly hard to pick a favorite.”
Over the years you must have had some great stories from recording these albums, are there any particular stories that stick in mind ?
“Trivett brought his dog to the Warp Riders session then having that dog majorly freak out when he went to do his tracks. It broke out of the studio by barreling over me (this was a large standard poodle, by the way) and proceeded to run across multiple lanes of dense afternoon traffic at Lamar and Manchaca in Austin, TX – if you’re familiar. Great way to start that day.”
When you started, you must have looked up to bands like Metallica, now Lars Ulrich is giving quotes like “The Sword blew my mind”… how much of a trip is that ?
“It’s insane. I literally wore out my …And Justice For All tape. I can vividly recall the first time I saw the video for “One” during a late evening watching Headbangers Ball – I was pretty young, but something about it sunk its claws into me deep. Plenty of times hanging with those dudes very late at night and having that thought of ‘Damn, this is nuts.’”
You also released your cover of “She” by Kiss. What was the story behind choosing that cover ?
“I can’t really recall why that particular Kiss track other than it’s an awesome song. We used to bring in cover songs to pad out our set times when we needed them – maybe it was something like that? We recorded that cover in 2008 when we went in to record a new version of “Freya” for Guitar Hero!”
Going forward then, once life returns to relative normality, what are your plans ?
“I’m really excited to hit some sick riffs with the boys.”
Any message for fans and friends out there ?
“Thank you for being a friend, travel down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant. But seriously, thanks for being into the art that we’re putting out into the world.”
Thanks for your time. Just to finish, can you please sum up the last seventeen years in a few sentences?
“It’s insane to me to think back when I was 13, learning to play bass, I would do nothing but play along to my Rancid, Green Day, and No Doubt CDs thinking it would be pretty dang cool if one day I could be in a band that played a show.”