The West

Living by the Sword
Living by the Sword

If anyone were to be upset by Disney's recent acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, you'd think it'd be J.D. Cronise.

A self-confessed nerd, Cronise says going to see Luke, Han, Darth and co. at the cinema with his father was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with comics and sci-fi, which would eventually lead to the fantastical lyrical content of his hard-rock outfit, the Sword.

But, as he speaks from his home in Austin, Texas, the 36-year-old is surprisingly blase at the thought of Mickey Mouse taking control of his beloved movies.

"I feel like we've got nowhere to go but up at this point," he says down the line.

"It could ruin it even further, but as far as the last few movies go, it'd be hard to make worse ones. So I'm interested to see what they do with it."

Perhaps Cronise is merely feeling at ease with the world because of his band's recent success. The Sword are back in Australia as part of Soundwave, allowing Cronise to indulge his love of Oz pop-culture, such as the Mad Max films.

"I haven't had the chance to drive a V8 Interceptor yet," he says.

The tour comes on the back of their fourth album, Apocryphon, which made the Top 20 of the US Billboard charts upon release.

Though still a throwback to hard rock, Apocryphon sees a subtle shift for the Sword, with more personal lyrics than those found on its narrative-heavy concept album predecessor, Warp Riders.

"I think we wanted to be not so inscrutable when we first started, and be more mysterious and not really give people too much of a clue as to the personalities of the people making this music," Cronise says.

"At this point I feel like we've established ourselves to a certain degree, we're not going anywhere, we're on album number four, and it's time for people to hear what I have to say a little bit rather than just listen to my stories about planets and evil wizards or whatever."

But fear not, the Sword have hardly become purveyors of gritty realism - after all, Apocryphon's cover does depict a hot chick in a medieval looking robe standing on flames pouring out of a cracked- open planet.

And despite the album's chart success, there is little sign of any desire for the lavish debauchery of their 70s hard-rock heroes.

Cronise says the band still tour in a van rather than upgrading to a fancy-pants tour bus. "Tour buses are overrated," he says. "Unless you're, like, Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga or something and you can afford to take a tour bus and also get hotels every night, then sleeping on a tour bus for weeks at a time and getting a shower maybe once or twice a week and not being able to take a crap when you want to, that gets old fast.

"The van, you can sleep in hotels every night so you get a real bed. Between Point A and B may not be as fun, but it's more conducive to your sanity to sleep in a bed every night and take a shower every day."

The Sword play Soundwave at Claremont Showground on Monday. The event has sold out.

The West Australian

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