Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Cave Spring High School graduate J.D. Cronise is the singer, guitarist, songwriter and frontman for the popular heavy rock band.
Courtesy of Sam Holden
The Sword, led by Cave Spring High School graduate J.D. Cronise, plays at Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill on Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Coming home to play music hasn’t worked out perfectly so far for Cave Spring High School graduate J.D. Cronise. But the singer, guitarist, songwriter and frontman for popular heavy rock band The Sword is trying it again Wednesday.
The Sword headlines a three-band bill at Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill, touring behind its 2012 CD “Apocryphon,” which debuted at No. 17 in the Billboard top 200 albums chart.
The band was scheduled to play here in October 2010, behind its previous release, “Warp Riders,” but had to postpone that and many other concerts after another Cave Spring grad, drummer Trivett Wingo, suddenly left the tour. The gig was quickly rebooked for December 2010, but the turnout was slow on a terrible winter night.
Cronise said that he and the rest of the band were shocked at Wingo’s departure in the middle of a tour, but they did have fun when they finally arrived in Roanoke — despite the poor weather and low turnout — and look forward to returning.
Expect plenty of music from “Apocryphon,” The Sword’s fourth album and most commercially successful to date.
For Cronise, who writes all the lyrics, the record represents growth. In a 2012 interview with The Roanoke Times, Cronise said he departed to some degree from the science fiction and fantasy themes of his past records, injecting some of his personal views into the songs.
“With our music, I’d always approached it as more an escapist type of thing, just trying to take people on a journey a little bit and tell them entertaining stories,” Cronise said just before the label Razor & Tie released the record. “I guess what I came to realize is that a lot of the authors that I grew up reading and bands I grew up listening to did that, but at the same time they still inject their views and their opinions into those entertaining stories. That’s kind of more what I tried to do with these new songs.”
Influences such as Philip Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance and Michael Moorcock are present in “Apocryphon.” Cronise has said that the title cut was directly influenced by Dick’s book “Valis,” which dealt with a collision of physics and religion.
But in such songs as “The Hidden Masters” and “Execrator,” his intent is clearly more personal.
On the former, Cronise anticipates people ill-adapted to harsh changes on the horizon — “Your gilded houses will give no shelter/When the heavens fall/Your sacred tomes will give no answers/When the masters call.”
On the latter, he turns his pen toward the band’s critics — “Your life is insignificant/Your thoughts are of no consequence.”
“I kind of felt like it was time to be a little bit more expressive in that way,” he said. “I’m 36 now, and I kind of feel like I’m probably a couple of years older than the majority of our fans. I kind of feel like it’s time to impart my limited wisdom, to some degree.”
But musically, the album — recorded in Baltimore, with producer J. Robbins (Clutch) — is as hard-hitting and sludgy as one would expect from this old school metal-inspired band, despite some synthesizer grooving on the title track, which closes the album, and a jazzed-out twist here and there.
Cronise formed The Sword in Austin, Texas, having moved there about 13 years ago. But more than a year ago, he relocated to Asheville, N.C.
While the rest of the band is Texas born-and-bred and remains in Austin, Cronise said that Texas’ capital city came to feel less like what he had wanted when he moved there.
“I like Asheville,” he said, noting that it is significantly closer to his parents, who still live in the Roanoke Valley. “I like the mountains. I like hippie towns, liberal hippie towns.
“Austin was getting a little too crowded and a little too unrecognizable from the city I was attracted to when I first moved there. … It did most of that changing in the last five [years]. It’s insane. The skyline is unrecognizable. Most of the people that you meet have just moved there within the past couple of years.
“They love it. I kind of had to admit defeat, and realize that it was just me. It wasn’t them. It wasn’t Austin. Things just changed to the point where it was like, this really isn’t what I signed up for.”
Weather JournalNext system: Possible ice/snow Sat.