Kyuss Lives! & The Sword: Interviews From The Road

09/23/2011, Terminal 5, NYC
Is this exciting, or what? Seeing Queens perform their self-titled was cool, but I never, ever thought I’d get to see Kyuss…or, uh, anything like Kyuss, either. When I found out about the NY date, as Decibel’s self-appointed toke-master general, I felt it was my duty to attend. In addition, I thought I better weasel my way back stage and interview desert legend, John Garcia. I also found it absolutely necessary to blaze an interview with The Sword. It’s dedication like that which earned me my title: Decibel’s toke-master general.

Somehow, it seemed like John Garcia was as stoked about the show as I was. He began, “I’m just very lucky. I’m appreciative that Brant’s here, and Nick’s here, and Bruno’s here…and Scott Reeder blessed us with his presence up in Canada. I’m stoked to be back in the States again. Touring is a big deal for me, and it’s a big deal for all of us. It’s something that we don’t take lightly; it’s something that we take seriously. We’re just glad to be back at it again, doing what we do.

“Initially when we first started doing the European shows, the band got together for five days in Los Angeles. We ran through various versions of the set songs. But it was just five days of straight rehearsing, and that’s all we needed to get us back in the swing of things.”

Inevitably, our conversation turned to Josh Homme. Garcia explained, “I love Josh to death, and there is not one single bad word that I can say about Josh. I love him dearly. But with that guy, it’s ever forward and never backward. Me asking Josh to play in Kyuss, as one of founders of the band…I set just myself up for an immediate no.

“It’s obviously different, playing with Bruno, but Bruno shows Josh’s songs, and Brant’s songs, and Nick’s songs, and my songs, an incredible amount of respect. When looking at other guitar players, and management trying out other guitar players to replace Josh…that’s some pretty big fuckin’ shoes to fill. Huge. And there’re a lot of guitar players that can do it, but Bruno has the character, the disposition, the integrity, and the ability to feel the jams. Cause Kyuss has got the jams, and he’s really got the ability to jam. That’s hard to come by, and that’s key for this band. If you don’t know who Bruno Fevery is, by the end of the show, I promise you, you will know who Bruno Fevery is. He’s top notch, and he’s a badass.”

As far as what Garcia’s missed about Kyuss, he said, “Some songs are just fun to sing. Like ‘Supa Scoopa And Mighty Scoop.’ I had nothing to do with that song lyrically, melodically, or song-wise. That’s all Josh Homme. And I always give credit where credit is due. He deserves credit for a good part of the Kyuss songs. But you know, I’m connected to them too. I put my heart and my soul into those pieces for years, and to sing his songs again…that song is always a stand out favorite. ‘Odyssey’ is great for me, too. I wish I could do ‘Demoncleaner’ a little bit more, but believe it, that is a difficult song to sing.”

Can Kyuss Live! forever? Garcia: “We plan to do another record. We’re going to do it without Josh, obviously. We’ve got Bruno, and Brant is a huge, integral part of the writing process of Kyuss. I’m certainly going to be a participant in that process, and Nick, and I look forward to it. I think we’re all equal to the task. I’m very curious in regard to what it’s going to sound like. We’ll be keeping the standard of the music high. Kyuss had a pretty high standard, in my eyes, and we’re going to keep that standard. Keep it gold and do what we do.”

The Sword were equally as stoked to be rocking with Kyuss Lives! as I was to be seeing them. There was a lot of stoking going on. I sat down with the core of the Sword: masterforce J.D. Cronise, guiarist Kyle Shutt, and bassist Bryan Richie.

We covered Kyuss first. Cronise explained, “I wouldn’t say Kyuss was a main influence [on The Sword], but they definitely made a big impression when I first heard them. Definitely their whole sound, their tone. I dig that guitar tone: the darkness, the murkiness of their sound. That’s more of what we got from them, than in the way we write songs.”

Kyle Shutt: “And it sounds good. That dude Bruno Fevery on guitar? It sounds great.”

We noticed that the Sword has a new new drummer, which brought us to the departure of their first drummer, Trivett Wingo, a year ago.

Kyle: “He quit five days into our first tour on [Warp Riders]. We were in Australia, New Zealand, Japan with Metallica, and it was going pretty good, and then we started off with a really killer West Coast leg, and when we got to Austin he had a total meltdown.”

Richie: “He had a mini-melt down in New Zealand, in our hotel room, and then he had a major melt down in Austin. He didn’t like to fly. Even when we were in New Zealand with Metallica, he would have rather been home. J.D. and I were out, hanging with sheep and whatever else, and Trivett’s just like, ‘I fucking hate this shit. I fucking hate this.’ It was like, three-to-one for a couple years. He would distance himself. Whatever. He was a killer drummer, and he was still getting better and better, until he just finally stopped giving a shit.”

Kyle: “Internal walls, man. It was weird.”

The new guy, Jimmy Vela, is a friend of Richie’s from Austin. Cronise explained, “We didn’t really want to look too far, because if somebody’s going to move to your city to join your band, that’s a lot of pressure – it better work out. And Austin has no shortage of badass drummers.”

As far as being stoned, and we all were, Cronise had this to offer: “It’s not just ‘Stoner Rock.’ [Weed is] for people that like to escape. The music that we play is kind of an escape, too. But you don’t have to have one to enjoy the other. They call it stoner rock, but all rock is stoner rock. Kiss is just as stoner rock as we are, or Crüe or Zep.”

Richie: “Man, I love listening to Houses Of The Holy high.”

Shutt: “All rock is stoner rock! It’s more like a lifestyle thing, you know? I’m high in the studio cause I’d be high anywhere, so why not? Sure, I’ll smoke weed when we’re recording, but I’ll smoke weed and go shopping…but it doesn’t help with the shopping. I just get a bunch of extraneous bullshit.”

The interview was pretty exhaustive, and covered everything you would ever want to know about the Sword. I was going to transcribe it, until I got high.

The show itself was a total cream dream. Both bands created two of the most hessian pits I’ve ever seen. Ten or twelve different dudes grabbed onto me for intense unified headbanging sessions. And I don’t like being grabbed by dudes, but I cannot deny unified headbanging.

The Kyuss Lives! set is exactly what you’d want, give or take a personal favorite or two. The encore opened with “Spaceship Landing,” so it was like another whole set. Awesome. Oh, and the Kyuss Lives! logo is in the Sega Genesis font. Cool.

If you never got the chance to see Kyuss, do not shrug this off.

PS: Monstro, I’m sorry. It was awesome to see Juan on stage again, but I just wasn’t convinced that you rocked. Maybe next time.