What rigs did you use in the studio?
Pretty much the same rig as the last
record, with the exception of the Tube Screamer
and my wah. I just bought a ’68 reissue Les Paul
Custom, which I played for most of my rhythm
tracks, and a ’61 reissue SG I used for “Lawless
Lands.” It has Rio Grande Barbeque Bucker
pickups—the same pickups I have in my Guild
S-100. J.D. was using a B.C. Rich Mockingbird
with EMGs that I played for a couple of leads.
A lot of your tones are less jagged and
metallic on this record.
I recorded through two amps
simultaneously—I plugged into an Electro-
Harmonix Metal Muff distortion and then into
an Orange OR80 reissue, and I also used a
new Orange OR50 40th Anniversary head, set
up a little bit dirty through a separate Orange
cab. I used that rig for every track. It was a
small victory for me because [producer] Matt
Bayles was telling me about all the amps he
was going to make me try before we went in,
and I was like “Oh, man . . . I’m not sure.” I
like my own stuff because I’m really comfortable
with it. So I was a bit defensive about
that. As soon as we mic’d up my rig and
played for a bit, we didn’t move a thing. I
didn’t dare say anything, though. As soon as I
would have mentioned it—“Hey, we’re using
my amp, huh?”—he probably would have
tried to talk me into a Soldano or something.
But I really like that sound. Those Oranges are
definitely my voice.
What are the tones on “Lawless Lands”?
You often can’t tell what’s guitar and what
might be a keyboard.
Shutt doubles his snarling pleasure at Waterloo Records, August 23, 2010. Photo by John Carrico
Some of those tones are a
Hammond organ. But we used a lot of Leslie
for guitar as well, which is a sound Matt is
really fond of and we liked too.
Matt definitely helped us with that
one. I’m not sure it would have turned out as
well if we’d produced it ourselves. He had the
patience to fill that track out and give it some
texture. He worked with us that way a lot.
Have your roles changed as guitarists over
It’s funny, Kyle used to never play
solos at all and I’d play most of them—but
he plays 60 to 70 percent of them now. But I
don’t miss it. I used to play solos by default,
because Kyle was really more into thrashing.
But he’s totally come into his own and is a
lot more interested in leads. Once he started
playing that way, I got really into it, like, “Here,
just take that one. And that one. And that one
too!” It made things a lot easier for me—especially
as I think more in terms of singing.
Did that free you up to develop the more
melancholy, melodic side of your sound?
Most music needs melody at some
point to make it music, I think. And I probably
feel that more strongly now. Maybe
that’s why you hear more melody and less
I think that came out of really wanting
to hear things like choruses you can sing
along to—and thinking more about how a
good rock song works.
Did you use any unconventional tunings on
We still tune down to C. But we
wrote a lot less in that key, so they sound a
little more punchy and as if they were written
in standard tuning. Playing in those higher
keys is definitely easier for my vocal range
too. It means I strain myself a lot less and the
live performances are better.
Where do you see heavy music in general
going? And where would you like to see it go?
I would like to see technology
abused less. Bands are making records entirely
from samples. That’s cool for some things and
it can sound really good, but I think it strips
the soul out of rock music. It comes across as
really artificial to me. And I think you lose your
ability to hear good tones. I’m not a Luddite
by any means, but you really need feel to
make most music—and certainly heavy rock.
To me, getting up and playing music in front
of people is the ultimate. It’s been that way
since people were living in caves, and when
we’re living in caves again we’re going to
want to have that ability [laughs]. It’s good to
know how to work outside of technology.
I just want to see more good bands.
The way things are with the music business—
how labels treat bands, how expensive
it is to tour—it seems folks are now playing
things pretty close to the vest. I don’t see
many bands getting the breaks we did just
six or seven years ago. Plus, the industry is
changing so fast and there’s so much product—
good bands just don’t always get a
fair shake. And a lot of bands that do get a
break get signed because they’ve jumped on
some genre. And that comes at the expense
of really good bands that just write great
songs and rock, even though they’re still out
there. I mean, we played with a band called
Gentlemans Pistols recently that was just
. They rock. They have tunes. And, man,
they can sing
. Everything I wish more bands
were doing now!
The Sword's Gearbox
’70s Guild S-100 with Rio Grande Barbeque Buckers,
Gibson Les Paul Custom ’68 Reissue, Gibson SG ’61 reissue
with Rio Grande Barbeque Buckers
Orange Rockerverb 100, Orange 4x12 cabs
Ibanez Tube Screamer
B.C. Rich Mockingbird with EMG pickups,
1979 Gibson Explorer II
Orange OR80 Reissue, Orange OR50 40th Anniversary,
Orange 4x12 cabs
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff