Leaving Messages In The Dust, The Warp Rider Is Unchained By Gravity - A Conversation With Kyle Shutt of The Sword
For over 15 years Kyle Shutt has been in the stage right position of the Austin, Texas Metal outfit The Sword. His effortless riffs and soaring leads seamlessly add groove and harmony to the bands ever evolving arsenal of infectious compositions. Now, after six studio albums and numerous laps touring the world with such giants of the genre as Clutch, Lamb of God, and Metallica, the band has announced an indefinite hiatus.
Instead of taking a step back to reflect or rest, Kyle has used this opportunity to stretch his wings a bit more. He has recently recorded a Kickstarter funded solo record featuring himself on every single instrument, he’s been gigging with his Pink Floyd metal project Doom Side of The Moon, and has been working with Reverend Guitars on developing and expanding his own signature model instrument.
While no old chapters have been fully closed, with an airstream trailer in tow and the future at his feet, there is a lot more in store.
GPBH: What are you most inspired by: melody, groove or riff, and why?
Kyle: I’m most inspired by the song, and what the song needs to be the best it can be. Does it need an insane 16 bar guitar solo? Do the drums need to be crazy there? The answer isn’t always yes (but when it is, fuckin’ look out!). I think I’m just the most inspired by good songs that don’t rely on tricks to succeed, writing a good song is a hard enough trick as it is.
GPBH: The Kickstarter campaign you launched recently was fully funded and now there is a solo album in the works. What do you think is going to surprise people the most about the feel of your new material?
Kyle: My solo material has a bit more of a straight dance and almost punk kind of vibe, no two songs really sound the same. Rather than trying to cater to any particular genre, it ended up being more of a personal and almost journal-like album than I thought it would be. While it’s not exactly metal, it is heavy and energetic and dynamic, kind of like me har har. It definitely has some of my favorite guitar solos I’ve ever recorded.
GPBH: The Sword has gone through many stylistic progressions as a band, from cosmic storytelling to Thin Lizzyish audio hammers. What is one of your favorite stories from the recording process of those albums, and what sort of ‘we shoved a mic inside of a bass drum to record vocals’ type scenarios resulted in just the right sound?
Kyle: We never really made an album the same way twice. The first album we made for free on an obsolete digital recording program in our bass player’s house in north Austin. That was fun and unique looking back on it, no budget, just four young and hungry dudes tired of modern rock at the time. We flew guys in to record us, traveled to other producers home town studios, brought a rig on the road to make a live record, I always wanted to get so used to being recorded that the nervous energy from having a tape rolling would dissipate to almost nothing. I enjoy not doing anything the same way twice so that at the end of my days I’ll have like thirty comfort zones. As far as weird tricks, I like when fun mistakes happen that you end up keeping, like the first note of the intro to Used Future is this massive guitar sound that came from us turning on a sub pre amp thing that was turned up to 11 before we tested it and made this ridiculously massive sound. Instead of turning it down and adjusting the other levels, we just used that huge sound and ran with it, it’s like the Maxell commercial.
GPBH: As a guitarist you are presently living a dream of many players, a signature custom instrument. Can you talk a little bit about your involvement in the design aspect of this beautiful axe? What approval or veto processes did you participate in for its production, and how does it feel having that tailored beast in your hands night after night?
Kyle: Not gonna lie, it was always a dream of mine to have a signature guitar, and getting to design one (with very few compromises) with Joe Naylor and Ken Haas from Reverend Guitars was an honor. The coolest part of it all to me is that people are actually buying it and playing it in their own bands, I honestly didn’t think anyone would buy it haha. I was just happy to have it up there next to signature models from Billy Corgan and Reeves Gabrels.
GPBH: With this current Doom Side Of The Moon tour, you are performing the classic ‘Dark Side’ album in its entirety. Will there be any other Floyd material in the pipeline for this ensemble? Was the licensing for such a project a challenging or lengthy process?
Kyle: Funny you should mention that, the licensing for the material was the easiest part of the process. I filled out the forms, for free, from Harry Fox Agency (who own the rights to Pink Floyd’s catalogue) and for every copy I sell or stream there is a certain formula for how much I owe them, so I actually don’t have to pay them anything unless I sell something, which is a very fair way to do business. I may do more material in the future, but for the time being it’s a very expensive project (from a live production standpoint) so unless a greater demand arises for it besides the yearly round of shows then I’d rather concentrate on my own solo material.
GPBH: Finally, what are three albums by other artists someone who is just learning about you should listen to in order to have a better understanding of your material, and why?
Kyle: This list is always changing for me, but I can give you the latest version of albums that inspire me at this point in my life.
Metric ‘Live It Out and Fantasies’
The Night Marchers ‘Allez Allez’
The Hives ‘Lex Hives’
Metric - ‘Live It Out and Fantasies’ - are a back to back combo like you just don’t find anymore. I grew up loving The Cardigans and Weezer and Metric brought the fire so hard with these two albums just as much as those other bands’ strongest material. Jimmy Shaw’s production on Live It Out is so in your face, I love it. We were on tour with Metallica when these albums were current (ten years ago, gulp!), and listening to them takes me right back to the Gods of the Earth world tour and subsequent Warp Riders era lineup change.
The Night Marchers - ‘Allez Allez’ - I love me some Rocket From The Crypt, but John Reis’ other band brought it hard with their second album and songs like “Loud, Dumb, and Mean” and “Big In Germany” are just about as good as it gets in my book. It’s dynamic, melodic, funny, but also tough as nails, everything I love about rock ‘n’ roll.
The Hives - ‘Lex Hives’ - These guys are a band for me that get better and better with every album, I really don’t listen to their first few albums anymore because they got SO much better with age. Their latest album, albeit six years old now, was so perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. I never skip a song on it and just love it so much and want you all to listen to it right now.