Edmonton’s Royal Tusk will be hitting the stage at Bo’s on Feb. 28th. The guys’ debut DealBreaker was released last spring and has earned rave reviews. The band also caught the attention of Buzzfeed and Spotify Canada, who listed them as one of the their, ‘17 Artists to Watch in 2017’.
Daniel Carriere (lead vocalist) and Sandy MacKinnon (bass) spent 12 years with the Edmonton band Ten Second Epic and knew they weren’t done making great music.
They rounded up Quinn Cyrankiewicz (guitar), Calen Stuckel (drums) and Mike James (keyboard/guitars) for a jam session, and just 10 months later the band headed to New York to record Mountain with Gus Van Go.
Meanwhile, DealBreaker was produced by Eric Ratz (Big Wreck, Monster Truck, Arkells, Billy Talent) and captures the true raw energy Royal Tusk wields. The band recorded the project in a relatively short time – just five weeks – in Toronto.
Since its release, the guys have been getting rave reviews from fans about the project.
“We did not expect the response that we have gotten from everybody – it’s just been 100 per cent positive,” explained MacKinnon during a recent chat. “It’s good for our egos,” he added with a laugh.
“We had gone through so many ups and downs after Mountain came out – I really wanted (DealBreaker) to be a reflection of the feelings we had while we were writing those songs,” he said, adding the creative process also brings out the best in each member. “When someone has a great idea, everybody gets super excited.”
Melding five different musical tastes and sensibilities into a single, seamless and terrifically-crafted project may sound like a challenge, but MacKinnon said the process was quite smooth.
“We do have five strong artistic personalities all coming into this together, but the one thing I know with Royal Tusk is that everyone is working for the common good of the band. Sometimes, if your idea doesn’t work, there are no hard feelings – maybe it will work somewhere else. Everyone is just looking for the common good of the song.”
MacKinnon said Ratz also brought so much to the project. Besides his amazing list of project in the past, “He was also almost like another member. When we were kind of burned out with an idea and didn’t really know where to go, it was good to have a fresh set of ears and have him say, “What do you guys think about this?’ Sometimes that what you need to see a song progress.
“It’s really fun, but you get back from the studio after a 12-hour day and you are absolutely bagged! Of course, you feel quite satisfied about the whole thing, too.”
As to the overall feel of the CD, Carriere has also noted that every time they played live touring the last record, people would say they sounded heavier to see live then what we sounded like on the record.
“So we wanted to do a more accurate representation of our band which is influenced by classic rock and guitars,” he said.
“We’ve always been a guitar-driven band, but Mountain focused on highlighting our pop songwriting. For DealBreaker, we wanted to maintain that songwriting integrity, but make an old-fashioned heavy-guitar record.”
As to DealBreaker, it was masterfully crafted from start to finish, opening with the compelling and robust cuts Dynamo and Curse the Weather.
That attention to building on a foundation of solid guitars continues with the superb Soon. Don’t Get Me Wrong reflects the guys’ expressive talents in yet another stylistic light.
The disc ends with the exquisite So Long the Build Up which features Ian Thornley of Big Wreck’s mesmerizing guitar solo on the track.
Meanwhile, after their dates here in western Canada, they are heading to Austin, Texas to play South by Southwest in March.
“It comes down to playing every single night,” explained MacKinnon of the joys of life on the road.
“Every stage is different. It’s always a challenge and it’s just a lot of fun to be up there with your brothers. It’s really special and there is just no other feeling like it. I think that’s why musicians choose to be as broke as they are and live in squalor, because there is feeling you get on stage that you just can’t quite replicate,” he added with a laugh.
“It’s perfect – I wouldn’t have it any other way.”