Riding in from Austin, Texas, The Sword will play at Zydeco tonight a 9 p.m. Their set is an inescapable fusillade of rock in its heaviest forms, employing pounding riffs and progressive interludes that are both unexpected and viscerally satisfying. It’s all on full display on their latest album, Used Future, which was produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists) at Flora Studios in Portland. The record was then mastered by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, Ghost) at Magic Garden.
While there are substantial doses of metal, doom, and stoner styling in their music, it would be a reductive disservice to pin them under any one genre. If you like any aspect of electric rock music, you’ll dig The Sword.
We spoke with bass/synth player Bryan Richie ahead of the show about their new record and the current tour:
MCB: Six albums in, did you want to do something different for Used Future?
Bryan Richie: Making rock records is pretty straight forward but for Used Future we went in a less sewn-up way than we have in the past – forcing us to be creative on the spot for certain tracks, and those ended up being some of my favorites on the record.
MCB: There’s a lot more synth this time around. What drew you to that?
BR: As of child of the 80s my love of that sound drew me in, additionally, our song writing was starting to open up to a point where it felt natural to use big pads and such to fill out the sound.
MCB: In the songwriting process, which usually came first, the music or the lyrics?
BR: It can be either one, sometimes you think up some great way to say something and later fit music to that, other times it’s the riff that comes first. For a song like “Come and Gone,” though – the music came first.
MCB: How was your experience working with Tucker Martine and the guys at Magic Garden?
BR: It was AWESOME to work with Tucker at his spot Flora Recording up in Portland. I drank delicious coffee and ate way too many donuts. Tucker is a tremendous guy with a great, laid back vibe – he was a real pleasure to work with and facilitated making this fantastic record – I felt like he really got what we were trying to do.
MCB: The instrumental interludes give the new album a progressive, cinematic feel. How did you decide to work those in? Where those tracks always meant to be instrumental?
BR: Once we got the bulk of the tracks done, Tucker picked through our Dropbox and found a couple more tracks he liked which were “Intermezzo” and “Come and Gone” — the intro and outro came out of the B section of “Come and Gone.” I never intended “Intermezzo” to even be on the record and “Come and Gone,” I definitely wrote that in a way I hoped would be easy for JD to write lyrics for, but I didn’t think that it would be considered.
MCB: Much of the music is pretty upbeat and hard-hitting. Where do the moodier compositions like “Nocturne” come from?
BR: We’re moody guys! But really, I got a piano at my house, was able to start writing music with it and “Nocturne” was one of the first things to come out. I made a pretty elaborate demo that the dudes were into and the rest is history!
MCB: “Used Future” paints a bleak setting. Where did those images come from?
BR: Sci-Fi of days gone by with a peppering of today’s current climate.
MCB: What are your most distinct memories from tours in the past (the Metallica tour and any others that come to mind)?
BR: There are so many it’s kind of ridiculous — this band has been touring for 13 years now, we should get cracking on a paperback before we forget it all.
MCB: What can we expect to see in the live show?
BR: Undeniable riffs, we’ve got six albums worth at this point – so we pick wisely as to not destroy the town we are playing – we want to come back, after all.
The band has played in the Magic City several times before, and they’re pleased to return tonight. “We love Birmingham,” says Richie, “y’all have always been good to us.” The music starts at 9 p.m. Zydeco is located at 2001 15th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205.
Media courtesy of Hauilx.