The Sword trim the fat of large-auditorium live recordings in favor of the vibe of smaller, more intimate venues on their latest, and first live, album, “Greetings From…”

The Sword have lived a lifetime in their nearly 14 years together. Starting out in Austin, TX, the four-piece has covered a lot of musical terrain. From writing sci-fi/fantasy songs on 2008’s “Gods of Earth” to blended fantasy on “Apocryphon” (2012).

The band tried its hand at a Southern Rock on 2015’s “High Country,” an album that was meet with a split reception.

“Greetings From…” is “High Country” heavy, while that may have some fans apprehensive, they need to fear not. The songs of “High Country” perfectly blend in the the style and fit with the back catalog of the band.

From how he surfed through hours and hours of live records to form “Greeting From…” to what comes next for The Sword, The Swerve Magazine learned a lot from a recent conversation with bassist Bryan Richie.

The Sword is ever evolving as can be seen this Sunday, May 14 at Mr. Small’s Theater


The Swerve Magazine: So, The Sword is back after a little bit of time off.

Bryan Richie: It stopped for like six months. Now, it feels like a completely different world. You got to knock the dust off everything. You feel like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the beginning of the “You Got Lucky” video. We’re wiping all the dust off of all the machines and trying to get everything to work.

Everything is going great. No complaints.


SM: Do you find you do have a little bit of ring rust after having time off?

BR: Absolutely. It never lasts long. There are times where, like, yesterday I was playing, and my hand is in a different position than it is normally. It just causes me to fucking forget everything. If you are not fully engaged and you start thinking about other shit like, “Oh what do I have to go get at the grocery store later?,” it can be gone immediately. It helps to be fully checked in to the songs during those first couple of rehearsals. You can really shake off that dust.

(The music) always comes back amazingly quick. You surprise yourself sometimes.

SM: About how many rehearsals in after a break does it take to get the groove back?

BR: Personally, like two.

SM: You have released your first live album, why do that now?

BR: The stars aligned in that respect. We were taking a console out on the tour to facilitate us working faster. We were opening up for Opeth on that run. We were going to come in with our console; it is a digital console, so all we need to do is hit the button and “Boom!” We didn’t have a lot of soundcheck time, because (Opeth) had a meet-and-greet. So we had to be done with the soundcheck by a particular time in order for them to have their meet-and-greet go on. We couldn’t make any noise (during the meet-and-greet). We needed to be like lightning (during the soundchecks).

Part of the wonderful thing of the console is, it has got this new thing called ‘Dante,’ which is this new networking protocol that you just hook your ethernet line from the console to the computer and you got a multi-track recording scenario, right then and there. I’m, kind of, the head geek in the band. So, immediately, I thought, “If we can turn this thing that we are going to be doing with this console into a live record that would be pretty sweet.”


We ended up recording 28 shows. I think there were eight headliner shows, most of them were the Opeth opener runs, so there are 30-35 minutes of music, or however long our set was, like 20-times over. You go through all that data at the end and pick out the best stuff. It is difficult because you essentially play (the songs) the same way every night. So, you are looking for what is the magic? Is the magic the performance, like a flawless performance? Or is the magic in other things? I went for other things.

I started thinking about room size. Which venue did we play that was the smallest? Which one was the rowdiest? I started thinking about it that way when I was listening, and I was able to find some venues that were really small. They sounded like we were playing in your living room. Some of the places we played with Opeth were huge. You could hear that space in the recording, even in the snare drum mic. There was so much air, and the sound is bouncing off of things, or it has less stuff to bounce off of, I should say. It sounded cavernous. We tried not to have that sound so much. I think most of the stuff I used came from one of the smallest venues on the tour.

SM: What venue was that?

BR: It was a place called the Urban Lounge (Salt Lake City, Utah). That show was a couple of days before Halloween and people were extra rowdy.

SM: Going through and listening for all that nuance in the material, how long did that time you to do?

BR: It was like a month or two. I wasn’t working on it 9 to 5. It got impossible to work on it like that. I could thumb through two or three shows a day, then I kind of had my fill of my own band. How many times can I listen to “Tres Brujas” and try and pick out, “Oh, we played the verse great on this, but the chorus was meh.” You are splitting hairs.


You have to take yourself out of that mode of trying to get perfection. The vibe had to be right, and that is what I started turning to more than anything. The vibe. The vibe of the room. How we fit in with that room. There is a bum note or two on the recording. I felt like that was cool, that is what made it us. I didn't go in there and fix parts. I just let it be. And that is what it is.

SM: The little mistakes, they make it real.

BR: Even in like a Led Zeppelin song where you hear, like, John Paul Jones stumbles on a note, but it is in the realm of correct notes. It might not be the note that you knew he was going for, but it is still correct. We definitely play within those bounds.

SM: The track list for the live about pulls a lot from “High Country?”

BR: Yes.

SM: Was that on purpose or is it because it was your latest album at the time?

BR: That is what we were playing mostly. The live record is a capturing of a live moment in time. And that was the time we are in right now. It is how the song sound now. This is how some of the songs are tuned up now. We play a lot of our order stuff in a different key then what it was originally presented in. We wanted to put some of that stuff out there.

SM: That is another great thing about the band is that over the years the sound has evolved and continues to evolve. Is it the evolution of the band or is plotted out that way?

BR: I think it is partly organic and partly planned. As for organic, it is just us, and we all have evolving tastes. So, the bass players that I looked up to when we started the band, but I’ve added to that list. Different people are inspiring the way I play. In the planned way, I think it would be really gross for us to look back at one of our records and go, “Let’s do that one again.” Where we go back and try to be that band again. None of us are keen on that.

We have been doing this band for 13 years now, almost coming up on 14. I’m a much different dude as far as what I was listening to then versus all the stuff that I listen to now. We have all grown. We started the band in our mid-20s, and now we are all approaching our late-30s.

SM: Did you think 14 years later, the band would still be going?

BR: Honestly, I had no idea. It was one of those things that I hoped that it would be something that had longevity. I had absolutely no idea it would have this kind of longevity.

SM: You are doing an East Coast leg of the tour in support of the live album, then a West Coast run. Then in September, you’re going back into the studio. Any ideas on what the next record is going to sound like?

BR: Yes, sir. Yeah, yeah, we were playing songs (yesterday), working through riffs. We have a dropbox where we toss riff ideas into and things that we have been working on. Everyone goes through that on their own, and when we get together, it is like, “Let’s play this one.” It is funny; we will be at this place where nothing really exists. Then a few snowflakes start falling and it snowballs. I’m fortunate that it can still happen like that six albums deep. That we are not just listening to our old stuff and being, like, “Oh, that was popular, let’s just do that.” That is not us.

SM: There are so many bands that do that though.

BR: Absolutely. We try hard not to fall into that trap. It would be very easy to go look and see which album had the best reception or people liked the most and just try and redo that. It is, kind of, cheap. I respect our audience more than that.

SM: You want to challenge them.

BR: Yes, absolutely. I think that is what we really did with this last record (“High Country”). The reception was very split. It is a one that a lot of people have come around to really liking “High Country, ” and maybe that came in the fashion of the way we did “Low Country.” I’ve seen a lot of comments online where people didn’t like “High Country” until they heard “Low Country.”

The live record, in a sense, is “High Country” heavy, I think was our push back against people thinking that we have changed so drastically that we were going to sound different live. Those songs fit in with how we play everything else. It is not like when we play a “High Country” song, like the shit, gets weird. We can play an “Apocryphon” song and “High Country” song back-to-back. Someone that might not be so familiar with what our career is might have no idea.

SM: I’ve noticed that the “High Country” songs are a little bit heavier live.

BR: Yes. Some of those songs from “High Country” that didn’t capture that heaviness on the record. There is no mistaking we are the four individuals that played those songs in addition to our older stuff. You can only change so much. There is that thread that weaves through it all.