Please Don’t Mosh to the Sword, You Disrespectful Sack of Crap

By: jeanne.fury Posted in: featured On: Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

mosh pit

In the latest issue of Decibel (#99), I interviewed J.D. Cronise of the Sword about the band’s new album, Apocryphon. All was going in a predictable manner until, toward the end of our chat, Cronise began discussing his distaste for mosh pits and moshing, and how he prefers people to keep their shit together and quit wildin’ out because it’s disrespectful to the non-moshers and disrupts his concentration; and also, you’re ruining the experience for everyone, you jerkface.

Here’s how it started: I asked what was different about the new album. Cronise responded:

“There’s a lot less aggression musically, and that was kind of calculated. It has occurred to me multiple times over the years that we’ve been playing live that when I hear ‘Battery’ by Metallica, my instinct is not to put my head down, run in a circle and shove people around me. That to me seems bizarre and kind of silly. When other people hear songs like that, that is what their instinct is to do. To me, that takes away from a musical performance when there’s accomplished, talented musicians onstage performing songs for you; to engage in this totally unrelated physical activity to me is disrespectful, in a way, to the rest of the audience that doesn’t want to do that, and to the band on stage that are trying to perform for you. We kind of wanted to dial back the thrashiness a little bit in the hopes that people would sit still (laughs) to a degree. Still rock out and bang their heads and enjoy the show, but not take it to such an extreme, adrenalized level where they kind of act like lunatics.”

Right around that time, the thought flashed through my head—is he fucking with me? It wouldn’t be the first time a band tried to get cute. But the tone of his voice implied otherwise. Dude was serious: You shouldn’t have an extreme physical reaction to his songs, because it’s disrespectful. So, I asked him, Does this behavior throw you, the performer, off?

“It can, it can. It kind of depends on the whole mood of the crowd. You know, sometimes that’s just what happens, and it all depends on the show and the audience. Sometimes it works when the audience is going crazy like that. And sometimes it’s a small element of the crowd that’s making the show unpleasant for the majority of the crowd, and in those cases it definitely is distracting and annoying. When you see people at the front of the stage trying to watch you, and they’re getting shoved and getting run into constantly, you can tell they’re annoyed and getting pissed off, and it pisses you off because they’re your fans and they’re trying to watch you.”

sword band

Right, but let me just point out the obvious: Different strokes for different folks. What makes me somber may make you rage; what makes you puke may make me party. There is no correct way to react to art, regardless of “the show and the audience.” I needed Cronise to give me an example.

Do you have an instance that sticks out in your mind that is particularly indicative of what you’re talking about?

“Yeah, the most recent one was back in the spring, we were playing in Nashville. And for some reason, a lot of people tend to start moshing at our songs during the slowest songs, which is maybe a little contrary to what I was saying about shying away from the faster material. I don’t know why that is, but we were playing our slowest song; we were playing a slow to mid-tempo song, and a mosh pit started that was obviously pissing off most of the crowd that weren’t involved in it. I kinda lost it onstage. I was like, ‘What the fuck are you doing? This is stupid.’ Berating the moshers a bit. It was totally out of place. That’s where there’s a little bit of a disconnect with me from the fans that are into that sort of thing. I just don’t enjoy music in that way, and I don’t understand it when that’s the response. That one was like, ‘You guys are being fucking idiots right now.’ I don’t remember exactly what I said. Things like that. It’s like, ‘Come on, guys. If you’re gonna mosh, at least wait till we play something fast.’”

Now’s probably a good time to mention that I have cried at Diamanda Galas shows, folk music bolstered a revolution (and has famously caused a riot), and one time I caught my then-tween brother relaxing in a bubble bath with Slayer blasting out of his boombox (for real). Which made me ask:

For Apocryphon, what would be the most appropriate fan reaction in the audience?

“Personally, I love when it’s just a sea of banging heads. That’s what I love to see more than anything. I wish I had a time machine and could go back and stop the first mosh pit from ever happening at a heavy metal show. The age before that happened that was the golden era. When people just got into the metal and were in their own little world, but still engaged with what’s happening on stage. I remember I went to see that band Nile and it was the best metal show I’ve ever been to. No one was moshing. Their music is almost too insane to mosh to. It’s too technical and everyone was just standing there banging their heads. It was a beautiful thing to me. To see people acting like civilized people, but still losing themselves in the music, but in a way that didn’t involve violence.”

Yes, he used the phrase “civilized people.” I think right about here is where Cronise picked up on my skepticism, and he took it upon himself to clarify his initial WTF-inducing statement.

So I take it a Pantera crowd would not exactly thrill you.

“No. But, I mean, if that’s what people want to do, and that’s the kind of show it is, and the majority of the audience is there to do that, who am I to say they shouldn’t do that? Like I say, it’s a matter of the mood of the room and the crowd, and if everybody there came to mosh, then so be it. Then they have the right to do that. But when there’s this division of people that want to do that, and people that don’t, that’s when the energy in the room gets weird.”

How exactly one is supposed to determine whether or not moshing is kosher at any given show is a complete mystery to me. I mean, usually, if you want to mosh, you get in the front and center of a crowd. If you don’t want to mosh, you stand to the side. Not rocket science. Sometimes the lines of demarcation get a little blurry, but if that’s gonna ruin your night out, maybe live music isn’t the best form of recreation for you to partake in.

In conclusion, if you’re going to see Sword anytime soon, please refer to this handy video and behave accordingly.

  • lenny mccall

    Personally I fucking HATE moshing and moshers. Hardcore punk show maybe, any kind of actual metal show? No, nope, never, please stop. Watch, listen, bang and enjoy but stay the fuck outta my personal space. and yes I want to get close to the stage too jackoffs. Good one J.D.!!

  • Shaun Watson

    I can understand the sentiment that metalheads could be a bit more selective about when/when not to mosh. I’ve definitely been to some shows where it wasn’t really all that welcome – typically the smaller venues.

    But taking a time machine back to stop it all together? I don’t know what is going on with The Sword. Those first two albums were, in my eyes, prime examples of what heavy metal is all about. It seems their music continues to get less aggressive and with this display of opinion I guess I can’t be surprised. Oh well.

  • David Armitage

    This could easily start a heated discussion amongst fans. I’ve had my share of aggravation when you’ve got some 17-year-old 15 feet back form the riser who is the only guy running around, bumping into people when the crowd is not feeling it and the music doesn’t seem to warrant any real aggression. I’ve wanted to trip that guy on occasion. I haven’t; only thought it. I probably won’t. Some people go to shows irrespective of genre, song tempo, or artist playing; they just want to mosh. Maybe it’s for attention, maybe it’s misdirecting energy or even emotional issues. For some it may even just be an earnest effort to get others to join. Too myriad to address. But it will be there.
    When Opeth toured the States for Heritage in Spring 2012, they played a lot of the slower/proggy material for an extended duration, and there were guys trying, really trying, to geet frenzied, and coming off foolish. Eventually one shouted “play some metal”, and Mr Akerfeldt, without a pause or even slight reaction, countered “I am playing metal; I am playing the metal I grew up with. Just be patient, I might play something you think of as ‘metal’, later.” The previous is what I can recall up to this point (I’ve had a son since then), but the intent remains: art is subjective, and so is the manner in which we “should” receive, respond, and share our reactions to art.
    Ultimately, I find myself agreeing with both parties in this interview: Yes, some behaviour is distracting and annoying. But this is also rock/metal, an area that started with outsiders doing what we “shouldn’t”. It’s a give/take/push/pull that will always be in flux, and these debates will never come to a final agreement. That’s what makes it exciting.

  • whothefuckcallsitmoshinganyway

    Fuck The Sword. That is some False Metal bullshit coming out of that dude’s mouth right there. Fucking hipster metal pussies. Obviously at an Opeth show there’s no point, but you have to be fucking kidding me. Younger metal fans have always/will always “thrash all around”; older fucks like me will stand back a bit and just nod so as not to throw out our backs. Why isn’t this douche complaining about all the Sword fans tweeting/four-squaring/tumblring/writing novels about Brooklyn during the show (which is what I assume fans of this false-ass band do for the most part).

    • TacoGrinder

      Not sure if I’m going to be feeding the troll here or not but here it goes: What exactly makes these guys false? Is it because there vocalist doesn’t sound like he’s trying to channel his inner swamp-goddess? Or is it because they aren’t constantly on about their frostbite induced depression or “black-shart” or whatever Immortal calls it.

    • TacoGrinder can you tell me if this is “True” or “False?”

  • Dylan Jones

    I take baths and blast the metal. It’s a good way to relax, and piss off the rest of the household.

  • Unbelievable

    What a joke. Nobody has a right to tell someone how to enjoy a show. If they don’t want a pit, maybe they should book venues that have seats. I just turned 40, and I don’t go crazy anymore, but I have no problem with kids, including my own, that do want to mosh. If the pit bothers you, go to the side or get in the back. And if you don’t want to play for a crowd that moshes, play another form of music than metal. Morons.

  • loutibbs

    I tend to agree with his point, but man, from a PR perspective, this was not a smart thing to say. The haters are going to go nuts on the Sword even more than they already do, which is shame, because they write and play some kickass songs.

  • cowboykillr

    This is pretty insightful considering I go to metal shows because I don’t like being judged by my appearance or actions. I’m happy The Sword is vocal about people not moshing at their show and wants to encourage people to enjoy the music the way they have intended. I’m also really glad I never gave The Sword any money and therefor feel no responsibility for supporting people who are okay with pointing out the awkward way people act at shows. I really hope those guys can play some really amazing places someday so that they can hear the true resonance of the sound of their own importance. Carnegie Hall is but a dream!

  • Dylan Jones

    The Toxic Waltz anybody? I would love for Gary Holt and Rob Dukes to shove this guy into a mosh.

  • BlotterD

    This dude should either be playing that new jazz or try and form his own cult; typical self-indulgent “oh look at me I’m a big-time musician” thing to say. If you want people to stop and stare at you in awe, that’s not about THEM enjoying the music, it’s about YOU needing that attention. Everyone’s obviously there to see you, otherwise they wouldn’t even be there, right? Let it be enough! And if you actually LOVE your own music, you get into it and NOTHING will take you out of that zone while you’re playing it.

    I never really liked the Sword but now I’m going to go to every single one of their shows just to start a moshpit.

    Ok no, just kidding.


  • cowboykillr
  • Alex

    The problem with moshing is, it’s okay if everyone involved is consensual – but so many people around them are not. Mosh pits can be dangerous, and it’s not fair to the people who just came to the show just to experience the band playing. If I go to a show and don’t want to be shoved around, no matter how awesome the experience is, don’t I have the right to be left alone? But there’s a chain reaction that happens from moshing, which gets everyone who didn’t want to be involved involved.