Working under pressure, Royal Tusk returns to rock the gateway

Hard rock returned to the Gateway on Dec. 2 as Edmonton band Royal Tusk debuted their beefed-up new album “Tusk II,” supporting veteran Michigan rockers Pop Evil.

“Playing these songs has been so much fun. When you wait for a year and you’re really proud of this stuff, it’s really kind of a euphoric moment,” said guitarist and lead singer Daniel Carriere.

Daniel Carriere, lead vocalist of Royal Tusk, started the band with bassist Sandy MacKinnon.
Photo by Jp Pitogo

“Tusk II” represents a dynamic shift towards a much heavier sound for the band, and it comes off feeling like the band has freed itself from captivity.

“This band has been searching for its sound for a while, and we definitely felt like we found it on this album,” said Carriere.

Carriere says that collectively, they have always been influenced by more aggressive types of music, but what surprised the band was how natural the new material feels. 

Recorded in just 24 days, the band felt like this immediate approach worked because it didn’t give them time to second guess themselves.

Carriere noted that during a drawn-out recording process, there’s a tendency to save yourself and use up every bit of studio time you’ve paid for, which can lead to less spontaneity.

The album’s first single, “Aftermath”, which Carriere penned after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, seems to have hit a nerve. 

The song is a frustration-laden anthem about unnecessary tragedies becoming the new normal, and it was streamed 500,000 times before “Tusk II” hit the stores on Oct. 29.

 “We’re just trying to put the questions out there, and bring attention to areas that we think people need to think about and consider,” said Carriere. He added that the band generally stays away from being political, but “Aftermath” captures the dissonance we all feel with the current divisive political environment.

Sandy MacKinnon, bassist for Royal Tusk. (Photo by Jp Pitogo)

The video for the single, which follows mayhem caused by alienated youth with nothing to lose, premiered on Billboard, giving the band exposure to a much wider audience.

“I was taken back a bit — we had those magazines around the house as a kids,” said Carriere, adding that it’s a huge honour to be garnering that type of attention.

Even with the mainstream recognition from Billboard, the band relishes the idea of being a smaller market band trying to punch above their weight class.

Carriere believes the music scene in Edmonton is fertile soil for bands, and the supportive nature of the scene is giving many bands the proper foundation to bring their music to bigger cities.

“It puts a fire in your belly to practice, to play and to write something that’s meaningful,” when you’re an outsider travelling to bigger North American cities, said Carriere. 

Royal Tusk will be spending the next year touring in support of “Tusk II,” and is planning to bring their sound to Europe as well as an extensive tour of the U.S. 

“It makes us happy to find an audience who might feel the way we do in this time and space,” said Carriere.

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