The Sword drummer Trivett Wingo sat down with us derelict stoners to talk about the musical shift of "Warp Riders," the absence of acoustic guitars on the the record, tug of war battles with "Warp Riders" producer Matt Bayles and the band's love for all things old school, oh and Lars.
So you guys just released “Warp Riders.” How has the response been to the new album?
Trivett: Its been 99% positive. Out of all the reviews Ive read there was one magazine that said we had made a mistake by putting the record out, but that's been the only bad review so far.What caused the musical shift heard on the new material?
Trivett: You know, it was not something that was premeditated or deliberate. There were no motives going into the writing process, it just sort of happened.Any specific bands or albums that influenced the new sound?
Trivett: There are definitely bands that we’ve always been into, we've all been into alot of rock’n’roll and heavy metal stuff but some of our more rock influences came through on this record. Like alot of people listen to “Warp Riders” and say we must have been listening to alot of ZZ Top and Thin Lizzy and yeah, we have for like the past 15 years but finally that came through somehow on our record. For whatever reason we've just been feeling a little more rock than we have in the past and maybe that's because were getting a little older and we all got tired of bludgeoning people and putting ourselves through that as well. So we just wrote a record that was a little less abrasive than our previous releases.
Was the writing for “Warp Riders” easier than compared to the previous two records?
Trivett: There was alot more collaboration than there was previously. For the first record [Age of Winters, 2006] JD [Cronise, Vocals] pretty much wrote everything except for a few riffs and then the second one Kyle [Shutt, Guitars] wrote about half of it. On this one, I actually wrote a couple parts which is unheard of. So this one was a little easier, things seemed to come together easier. When we did “Gods of the Earth” we were under a foolishly self imposed time constraint and we felt we had to hurry and get all of the crap done and rush into the studio to make that album. That album was more about deadlines and less about songs. This time around we did the writing first then worried about when we were going to record it. This time was easier, we allowed things to breathe more and we weren’t under the same amount of stress we had been in the past.This is the first time the band has worked with a producer. Was that difficult at all?
Trivett: It made things alot easier. We thought it was going to be alot of butting heads and it turned out to not be like that at all. It was really more of an unburdening. There were things we used to worry about but now we could just go in and play. We still got to use all of the stuff we wrote, all of the same arrangements. But as far as worrying about all the small technical things that we used to worry about being a band who has self-produced our albums before it was nice to let the producer handle all of that. We just went in and played. There was no difficult decision making either, so that was a reliefOne thing noticeably missing from “Warp Riders” are the acoustic guitars. When was the decision made to not include any of this album?
Trivett: There actually was an entirely acoustic track on this record and the record was over an hour long so we took two songs off, leaving it at around 50 minutes or something like that. One of those songs was fully acoustic and the other was like a semi-acoustic thing. It wasn’t something done on purpose really, we didn’t remove them because they were acoustic. But there are some acoustic tracks from these sessions that will be coming out at some point in the album’s cycle.Will there be a special edition version of “Warp Riders” that will have those acoustic tracks?
Trivett: I think so. The whole narrative for the album was conceived as something that would be made into a comic book. We had this idea that we were going to put the record out and then release this comic book and that the missing tracks would be included with that, adding in the missing chapters of the story. But what were discovering is that making a comic book is extremely difficult if not impossible due to what it costs. You know, getting someone to draw you a comic book that you would actually want to draw one for you. Like holy crap! Yeah so that's a big problem. Its a way bigger problem than we ever imagined.You guys have announced a ton of tour dates for the coming months and even up into 2011. What can fans expect to see on the “Warp Riders” world tour?
Trivett: What can they expect to see? Well, its going to be the same four dudes playing your favourite ‘Sword songs but playing alot of the new stuff too. Some bands either don’t play enough new stuff or they play to much, but were going to play really long sets and were gonna try to keep everyone happy with a good balance of ‘Sword tunes. Nothing out of this world, I’d hate to say that but I'm just being honest. We don’t quite have the resources to do a fancy laser show or something like that. Were actually in one of those transitional phases where bands are getting bigger but they cant afford to be the band they should be. For The Sword, we don’t make enough money that it takes to do the big stuff that other bands can afford to do. We are trying to go there though. Maybe next time around we can bring out the ‘lights guy’ or the ‘laser dude’ or whatever. To be quite honest with you what you can expect is; well hey, its going to be The Sword show you've seen before but a perfect mix of both the old and new stuff. So you're gonna get what you came to see no matter what that is.Any bands you guys have in mind to bring out on tour with you?
Trivett: Were taking this band called Karma To Burn. They haven’t really been to active in the past 10 years and were more active in the 90’s. They've come back though and just out out a new album. They have a new singer that's incredible and they are just awesome dudes. Really good friends of ours. Were bringing them out to Europe with us as well as on all the U.S. stuff.Speaking of Europe. Over the past year or so The Sword have been touring with Metallica. How was that experience?
Trivett: Awesome. We haven’t been back to those places to see the results but were hoping that it helped us. Were gonna find out though when we go back to Europe. I think were starting to see some positive effects here in the U.S though.Lars Ulrich of Metallica has been very outspoken about his love for “Gods of the Earth.” Have you spoken to him about “Warp Riders?”
Trivett: Oh yeah, he loves “Warp Riders.” Maybe even more than the last one. I’ve been sending him tracks long before the album was released so hes been flipping out over it for a while now. Its been really encouraging.So what is the difference between the American and European crowds? Having seen both on the Metallica tour.
Trivett: What are the differences? Well, the Europeans hold their alcohol better!Amongst other things ...ha..So now the band have played everything from small clubs to festivals and arenas. Which do you prefer?
Trivett: The most fun is always the small club. That's always for me the most fun show to be at and see. You know, I’d much rather see Slayer in a 500 person room than at a festival or in an arena. Preferably , because it sounds better. I’d rather play those rooms too because the audience is always more excited to be there. Once an audience reaches a certain size you cant expect to engage everyone but in a cozy room the whole crowd seems to share in the experience.The Sword are signed with Kemado which is a very indie based and very eclectic label. How has it been working with them?
Trivett: Its been great! They are really good at what they do and have been taking good care of us. Kemado has really helped to get us where we are and promoting our releases, getting them into all the little record shops. Kemado have also spent alot of money funding these big tours and have been really supportive helping us out with alot of things. We might have been able to get where we are without them, but without a doubt it would have taken much longer and would have been alot harder. Were very grateful.Do you have any more album to release under their imprint?
Trivett: No, we don't owe them anything. Were totally free now. Now lets see what happens with this new album and if it does incredible things then we can see what the future holds for us. Right now its looking very good. We could end up going back with Kemado, or going to a major label or we could end up doing a wide range of things. We’ll see over time and what we end up doing. Quite frankly at the end of the day, the sad thing is no one cares how cool your band is or how good your record is all they care about is how many records you sell. So how many records we sell will determine where we get to go and what we get to do. We hope we sell the most records because that will give us more freedom. On a side note; I always read these idiot blogger people on the internet that think Kemado is a major record label or they think its owned by a major label and they have all these stupid theories about how Kemado is owned by something and that's how we get to go on these certain tours. Alot of things they say don’t even make any sense. To Kemado’s credit they are not a major, were never owned by a major and aren’t affiliated with a major and they've done all this cool stuff through hard work. So its pretty amazing.Speaking of idiot internet bloggers. What do you think of those people who label The Sword as hipster metal?
Trivett: I just don't even care what they say. Like, its kind of flattering that they take the time to comment on what I do. It means they're listening. Especially considering the fact that I don't care what they do, I don't know they're names and I haven't taken the time to come up with a cutesy name for the type of blogging they do or whatever I'm supposed to call it, whatever it is. So its actually pretty normal. Whatever you do, no matter how awesome it may be, especially if its really good its going to upset someone. Those people are going to latch onto something like ‘hipster metal’ and throw that around and at the end of the day its all completely insignificant. Its actually true that all press is good press so the fact that people take time out of their day to blog about what I do and to perceive there to be some controversy over the legitimacy of our music, it just elevates us further.Whats your opinion on this huge influx of bands doing the whole throwback metal thing?
Trivett: I think its pretty awesome.Really?
People call it throwback metal but its like if someone made a blues record, blues hasn't really changed or a jazz record which hasn't changed in 50 years or something people don't say “oh, that's throwback jazz” they just say that's jazz. Or they say; this guy made a blues album and its just blues, its the exact same thing people have been doing for years its just how good you do it. So people are making these retro metal or rock records but really its just making those records of a certain style that used to be more prominent and now its not as up front because metal is much more abrasive these days. But there are still all these great rocking metal bands. There is this label called Rise Above from the U.K. and they have been putting out alot of really good rock bands, bands that are just really awesome rock bands. There is this band from Sweden called Graveyard that The Sword are really into. They sound like 70’s rock but they do it so well, they do it wonderfully. So its just like someone making a blues record today or a jazz album or whatever. Its nothing new but they still do it originally and creativly and the songs are awesome and the lyrics are great. So when bands come around with these fuzzy guitars and play what I consider to be classic rock music im totallu into it.On “Warp Riders” your drumming sounds much lower in the mix than it has in the past. Was that done deliberately or was the style of playing just different?
Trivett: Well, two things happened. One is that I didnt overplay as much as I used to. I used to just go in there and slam the drum kit as hard as I could all the time. I’ve gotten better. Ive actually leanred how to play the drums. I learned how to quit beating them to death. I still like to beat them to death and its a good mental hygiene for me to be able to do that but I learned to control myself and to not do that all the time. The other thing is the guy who produced our record, Matt Bayles, the guy who mixed the record as well just had different ideas on how the drums should be and he actually mixed them even lower than that and we got into some pretty major tugs of war over drum volumes. I was getting pretty angry about it for a while and it was like he didnt understand what i was saying. I thought he clearly couldn't hear what I was hearing. It came to a point where we were unable to agree. I was feeling really bummed out about it and then eventually it got to a point where I said we just have to turn these drums up, I dont want to talk about it anymore. Loud drums are how ‘Sword records should sound, you know? He was under the impression that the drums had always been to loud in the past. Ive been in the opinion that the drums sounded great. He was going for something more subtle while I was going for something more brutal just maybe not as loud as in the past. I still want people to hear the drums and feel them with the music. I still think that maybe they could be a bit louder in places at times but it is a different type of record and in the end I learned a valuable lesson. If you want things to sound a certain way, the way you want, you need to go to mixing. We had him [Matt Bayles] mix the record, he was in Seattle and we were in Texas and he would send us mixes and we would tell him to turn things up. He would turn them up a little bit. He maybe didn't even turn them up at all. Eventually I just said, it all needs to be louder. I think its loud now. The kick drum could be louder, in some parts everything could be louder. But in the end you can hear everything and that's all that matters..The Sword have played Vancouver, Canada twice before. When are you guys coming back?
Trivett: Were not coming to Canada this time around and I really don't know why. At the very last minute we had to re-route our tour in order to head over to Australia and Japan with Metallica so we had to cancel a week or so of shows , very last minute. We had to reschedule in order to make it back to Austin, Texas by a certain date and still hit all of the major markets like Los Angeles. You know, things weve already committed to. We lost alot of flexibility we had going for us into this tour when that happened. But we love Vancouver man. I actually wrote a tour diary piece for a newspaper here in Texas and I wrote about Vancouver and its one of our favorite places in the world to be. It seems like the people in Vancouver are actually real metal fans there and they just get it. These people wear denim vests and they are ready for heavy metal! It was awesome and that show there with Metallica was awesome. That was the last time we played there and that was like in December of 2008. Its been a really long time. Vancouver has all these badass sushi joints in town and tons of really great places to get fresh fish and I love the weather up there. We have no excuse for not coming because we really love it there. I think we might at some point do a trans-canada tour. Weve talked about it for years and it would start in Vancouver and end in like Quebec or Montreal or something. I think thats what we’ll end up doing at some point. The trans-canada tour is something weve talked about since the release of our first record. Our albums are out up there so its stupid of us that we haven't done that tour yet. We need to get one of those awesome Canadian metal bands like 3 Inches of Blood, go across Canada and promote the hell out of our records. No matter where you are, sit tight because The Sword are coming!