The Sword’s Kyle Shutt: Tragedy, Death + Politics Influenced My Playing on ‘Used Future’
The Sword's sixth album, Used Future, was released in March earlier this year and co-founder and guitarist Kyle Shutt spoke to Full Metal Jackie about the latest effort. He says that every record the band does is a "transitional" one and on this album, events from the outside world crept into his playing. Check out the chat below.
There's a new album from The Sword, Used Future, and it's a transitional album in terms of an instrumentation and production. Was it a conscious decision or more intuitive to add new layers to what you do?
We definitely wanted to add more. Every album that we do is a transitional album. I think we just keep taking steps forward, you know in whichever direction we choose. And I think over the years, especially at this point you can really see our musical journey of life on the road and growing up as musicians and stuff. It wasn’t like we sit down in a boardroom and say, you know, okay we’re going to do this different this time and this, that. You know we always just do what feels natural and we picked a producer that was known for creating really lush kind of soundscapes and kind of wanted to try using some of his strengths there to paint a bigger picture if you will.
This album was written in the studio where it seemed like every day there was more and more news of incomprehensible things happening in America. How did the social and political statement of the country shape the album?
I think it’s a little more morose sounding I guess you could say. When we were recording High Country we just had come off of a very successful tour, the whole cycle, you know what I mean? It was just fantastic. Then when we made High Country we were all very happy and I think that has a very bright kind of feel to it. And whenever we were making Used Future it was just, yeah this dark cloud was hanging over, just the entire country it seems like. It wasn't like a conscious decision to say like, I’m gonna use this frustration into my art or whatever, but I think it just came through into the way we played our instruments.
I’m only speaking for myself, I can’t [speak] for everybody. But it definitely affected the way I was playing and the notes I was choosing for harmonies and things like that, which got me really thinking about it hard. Because we recorded so fast, it was just like you know, spend a day on a song, move onto the next song. So, by the time we came back and listened to everything we had done over the weeks it was really apparent that I was sad. So many people being murdered in Las Vegas and Donald Trump being president and just, Tom Petty dying and just so many sad things were happening.
Pre-orders for Used Future included a cool USB drive, housed in an actual 8 track tape shell. I mean, that was really awesome. The video for this song "Used Future" looked like a vintage video game. What prompted that combination of current technology with nostalgia?
We’re all children of the '80s. We all grew up with those kinds of cool video games and 8-tracks, cassette decks and a lot of it is coming back in vogue now. I still remember from my childhood, so it’s just for us, it’s kind of fun — [we're not really] trying to make some sort of fashion statement or anything. It’s just who we are, it’s just more of a...When it came time to make the video I just kind of had that storyboard idea down and our bass player Bryan [Richie], he knew somebody that worked at Rooster Teeth that the band had been friends with for a long time.
And so it all came together naturally. The 8-track thing was also Bryan's idea. First we thought about making actual 8-tracks but then he had the idea of some archaic form of technology and fusing it together with modern technology. It just kind of felt right in the theme with the record with Used Future being as a society, you know, using the apex of technology to try as hard as we can to live in the past, [laughs] it’s kind of a recurring theme, I guess.
Musically Kyle, what's different now about the way you think about and play guitar compared to when the band started and you were younger?
I think I was just so hungry when I was young, you know, for everything. For volume, just life in general. Just wanting to travel, see everything and take it all in. I was very energetic, I was very young too. Just the older I get the more my neck hurts, and [laughs] and more stuff we've seen. I've got much more of a laid back style now and a little more relaxed and confident, not really I think trying so hard to be as intense as possible. Just letting it happen naturally and confidently. I would say, Reverend guitars - he does my signature guitar, they've been an awesome company that has backed me up 100 percent in anything I've needed. It's been really great too, actually being able to design my own guitar. That's to my exact specifications I need and stuff. They've been huge in helping me.
Both Used Future and the last album, High Country, broadened The Sword musically. Live how much of a challenge is it to integrate newer songs but still have a set that's cohesive and flows together?
Our set flows together so nicely now. We have so many different kinds of songs at this point that we can have a real dynamic set of older and newer material because some of the older material will sometimes play in a different key. Sometimes we'll play it in the same key that it was in and the newer material we deliver it a lot more aggressively live than some of them that are presented on the album. Like a song like "Don't Get Too Comfortable." They're kind of low key, you don't realize how heavy they are until you see us live. That's what I like about them. I like bands that have their albums one way and their live show is a completely different thing. A band like The Band where the albums are mostly acoustic and then live they got multiple drummers, they just go off on these epic jams. I like stuff like that.
Thanks to Kyle Shutt for the interview. The Sword's latest album, 'Used Future' is out now through Razor and Tie and can be ordered here. Follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they're doing and you can find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
The Sword, "Deadly Nightshade"