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The Sword’s J.D. Cronise Interview / Apocryphon Review

Here is one of my first big interviews that I did, with J.D. Cronise from The Sword, back in 2012!

You know, The Sword and I go way back.  I remember being a really big fan of the Guitar Hero franchise back in the day when I managed a video game store.  My store held tournaments for the game and I quickly became a fan not only for the competition, but for the absolutely amazing choices Harmonix Studios made on which songs to include.  When I first heard “Freya”, by The Sword, I became instantly addicted and went out to purchase their first album, Age of Winters, without hesitation.  This magical, round disc became my best friend at the first note of “Celestial Crown”, the first track on the album. Age of Winters pierced my chest like a Viking spear, leading to a non-stop listening rotation. 

The Sword quickly became one of my close friends and I’s circle of favorite bands. Hell, even my hipster ex-girlfriend loves them.  No matter where these guys play, every time The Sword comes to Chicago my crew and I are there.  These guys are one of the few acts that sound EXACTLY like the quality on their discs live. They never disappoint.  Here is a perfect example how much I love these guys.

Friend:  Hey, you wanna get Metallica tickets for the Allstate Arena?

Doc Metal:  Not really, their ticket prices make me saint angry.  How much are they anyway?

Friend:  Eighty dollars plus ticket charges.

Doc Metal: No thank you, and kill yourself for even asking me.

Friend:  The Sword is opening.

Doc Metal:  Take my money.

I even spent $35 bucks for a tour shirt that night.

I was recently honored with being able to review The Sword’s newest release, Apocryphon as well as interview the band’s frontman, J.D. Cronise at their sold out show in Chicago at the Double Door.  First thing’s first, yes I am a complete fanboy, but I am seriously trying to write this without bias.

If you know nothing of The Sword….think of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality album with a touch of Slayer.  Add in some Lovecraftian lyrics, some Viking imagery, and top it off with haunting vocals and you have a taste of just what they even BEGIN to sound like. Apocryphon lays down 15 BRUTAL tracks that get better and better when listened to as a whole.  The first 10 tracks are original, followed by 4 live tracks and a cover of ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses.”  I cannot even begin to describe this album’s epicness and purity.  I promise you….listening to this album will make you a better person.  Doc Metal shall rate this album a perfect 10 out of 10.  Hands down. 

Album after album from Age of Winters, to Gods of the Earth, to Warp Riders, to Apocryphon, is true gold.  A band that I know I can trust to release GREAT music, a band that will rock my socks and sandals live, a band whose merchandise I will proudly wear,  ladies and gentlemen, this is THE F^%&ING SWORD!

Doc:  Tell me a little bit about Apocryphon.  What were some of your influences for this album and more importantly, your lyrical influences for the title track?

JD:  Well the influences for this record were the living that went on between now and our last record, Warp Riders.  The title track’s influence was from a book by Philip K. Dick called Valis.  Go ahead and check it out.

Doc:  I was curious about why you chose the live tracks that you did for the album?  Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth did not have any live tracks, and Warp Riders had live versions of tracks, but they were tracks that were on Warp Riders.  What made you choose to put tracks like “Chronomancer” and “Barael’s Blade” on this record?

JD:  Well, [smiles] because in this day and age, various outlets and retailers demand that you release your special version of your record with bonus tracks.  Personally, I think it is kind of bullshit because we do not write extra songs.  We do not have songs that get thrown away usually.  We kind of had to look and see what we had and luckily found some decent live tracks.  I don’t think people needed to have extra live tracks to buy the record. I think its just a stupid marketing ploy that is just a symptom of the current state of the music business.  It is annoying to me. I don’t like stuff like that.  Not that I don’t want people to listen and enjoy those tracks, but there is no specific reason we picked those tracks other than we had to.

Doc:  I really do appreciate those recordings, they sound phenomenal.

JD:  The cover song, however, is one we really wanted to get out there though.  We really like that.

Doc: I was just about to ask you about that.  Are we going to hear some other covers in the future?

JD: Oh we plan on doing more covers most definitely.

Doc:  Any specific track from the new album you just love to play live? 

JD:  I’d say it would have to be “The Hidden Masters”.

Doc:  How are the hot sauce sales coming?  (The Sword has their own hot sauce business….check it out at http://www.swordofdoom.com)

JD:  We have some on the tour, but it mostly sells by the guy who makes it.  His shop is called Tears of Joy back in Austin.  He sells it in his store. 

Doc:  Let’s say someone is so inspired by your style of music that they went out and purchased a guitar with the intent of playing like you do.  What tips would you give them to achieve your sound and become a better musician?

JD:  Ha! I’d give them tips to become a better musician, but I wouldn’t tell them how to achieve “my sound.”  I’d say develop your own sound.  I think that whole kind of line of musical equipment marketing…..signature series things, get this pedal to get this tone, and stuff like that….to me it is just marketing.  Those musicians that created those tones most likely did not use that stuff they’re trying to sell you to get the tones you are trying to get in the first place.  Just find what you like and what works for you and just play with it until it sounds like what you want it to sound like.  As far as playing guitar, if you want to play songs, play simple songs until you’re good at it.  Whatever you are interested in, whatever you think is your strong suit…stick with that.  Don’t force yourself into doing things you don’t want to do.  If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.  Trial and error.

Doc:  Are you good at Guitar Hero? 

JD: Not especially.  I’m as good as anyone else could be with the practice.  It’s more of a video game skill as opposed to a musical skill.  Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, haha!

Doc:  Is there any chance you guys can play “Lament of the Auroch” tonight?  It’s the only track of yours that I haven’t seen live that I would really love to experience.

JD:  Yeah we play that track from time to time.

And guess what? The Sword played that song that fine night.  Doc Metal, signing out.

Pick up The Sword’s latest album, Apocryphon on Amazon and iTunes, you will not be disappointed. 


Favorite Tracks:
Seven Sisters, Dying Earth

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