In the mid 1980s, singer Rick Hughes and his drummer/brother Dan decided to seek their rock and roll fame and fortune, and formed Sword with fellow St Bruno, Quebec natives guitarist Mike Plant (real name Michel Plante) and bassist Mike Larock (real name Michel Larocque) – not to be confused with a short-lived American metal band with the same name (or The Sword, which followed much later).
They began playing the circuit around the Montreal area and became one of the hottest tickets in the clubs, and manager Pierre Paradis soon agreed to take them under his wing. Carrying on playing throughout Quebec, they eventually caught the attention of reps at Aquarius Records, signed a deal in ’86, and released their debut album METALIZED later that same year.
“When my brother and I first started, we were huge Led Zeppelin fans, the other guys were a little heavier, into AC/DC and bands like that. But we were all being influenced by everything that was out there at the time… on the radio, who we were seeing in concert… This all fuelled our imagination on what we wanted to sound like. But it was the heavier bands like Iron Maiden that helped us mould our own sound, definitely ” Rick Hughes said.
Produced by the band and Paradis, and primarily recorded at Phase One Studios in Toronto, the record was an all-out assault on the senses that the critics loved for its straight forward brashness, and featured the tracks like the party anthem “Stoned Again, “The End of The Night,” and “Stuck In Rock.” Videos for “Stoned Again” and “FTW (Follow The Wheel)” were also made, which made their rounds on both MuchMusic and MTV.
With worldwide sales of around 80,000 units, they hitched a ride on Alice Cooper’s North American tour, then toured the UK while opening for Motorhead, and were hand-picked by Metallica to open for them on their MASTER OF PUPPETS Quebec tour. Their impact on heavy metal was so far-reaching in fact, that Metallica’s Dave Mustaine has gone on record more than once stating he was a huge Sword fan, and was heavily influenced by them, as was Megadeth’s Glen Drover.
They returned to the studio and came out with SWEET DREAMS in ’89. Produced by Jack Richardson and his son Garth, the album once again was a collaborative writing effort for the band, and featured the single, “The Trouble Is,” for which a video was also produced. Along with other tracks like the b-side “Land of the Brave,” the title track, and “State of Shock,” the album showed a maturity in the music, with more emphasis on melody and less on thrash metal, although critics and the fans still loved the heavy riffs.
But the musical environment was changing, and this led to group breaking up shortly after the album’s release. Wanting to go in a more commercial direction, Rick Hughes and Dufour formed Saints & Sinners, releasing one self-titled album in ’92. Hughes released a solo French rock album in 2006 called TRAIN D’ENFER, a few years after Aquarius re-released METALIZED on CD.
With Sword having achieved ‘cult’ status and with the music still in high demand thanks in part to the Internet, Aquarius again resurrected them in ’06 with THE BEST OF SWORD, a compilation of the two albums, but which featured no bonus material.
In 2011, the band reunited for a series of shows around the Montreal area, which in turn led the band to do some metal festivals in Europe. They wrote a few songs together again, and one thing led to another, and they decided to reform full-time, and a new album is expected in 2013.