ROYAL TUSK (from l-r): Calen Stuckel (drums), Quinn Cyrankiewicz (guitar), Dan Carriere (vocals), Sandy MacKinnon (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Armed with their own unique brand of heavy, no-frills rock n’ roll, along with brutally honest lyrical content, four-piece Royal Tusk have already gained a devoted legion of followers from both sides of the Atlantic, and the band’s stock has just kept on rising since the release of their positively-received second album, ‘Tusk II‘, last October.
With the quartet about to embark on a tour of the UK and continental Europe, supporting fellow Canadian rock collective Monster Truck, bassist Sandy MacKinnon told me about the journey he and his bandmates have been on to get to the point they’re at currently, and a host of other topics related to Royal Tusk.
How did the band initially form?
Myself and Dan have been playing in bands together for over 15 years, touring the world and writing music together. After our last band dissolved, it seemed to be a natural progression that we form a new one, focusing on music that was more to our taste.
We enlisted the musicianship of both Calen and Quinn, what with both of them being monsters on their respective instruments, and they also had the same goals, so it was a no-brainer, really.
How did the name Royal Tusk come about?
Well, the truth of the matter is, there is nothing royal about us at all! (laughs) The word “tusk” really kind of evokes the idea of being large, like larger than life, like a giant elephant with massive tusks, or a bad-ass warthog, who are sort of the kings of their lands.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
It really depends on the song itself. Some come together so quickly with everyone in our rehearsal space, and ideas will come spilling out, but then there are others that can take what feels like an eternity to get fleshed out.
At the root of it all, it either starts with a banging guitar riff, or a vocal lyric that sounds way too good to not write a song around.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Every song on ‘Tusk II‘ (the band’s second album, released last October) had its own story or message. With so much going on in our world today – good and bad – itʼs hard for us to just stand on the sidelines and not say anything about it.
Look, we’re not trying to change the world, or tell people how to think, however, we want to speak our minds.
How was the recording process for ‘Tusk II’?
As opposed to other records weʼve made in the past, where we would take about a
month in a studio, spending every day working on it, we did this record in two different sessions, where we would do five songs each.
At the time I was hoping we could do it all in one, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we were able to take time between the sessions to review the songs we had just recorded, and also fine-tune the ones we were getting ready to put down.
And how was the reaction to that, in comparison to the band’s previous releases?
I think everyone – right off the bat – were able to notice that we got substantially heavier, and that the content was angrier as well. I think the reaction has been
very positive across the board, and I think maybe people were starved for a little no bullshit rock n’ roll.
The transition was easy for us, we just wrote music, and it happened to naturally veer towards a heavier sound, and the reaction at our shows has been amazing, with people banging their heads and screaming our words right back at us, itʼs been fucking magical!
You’re just about to embark on a tour of the UK and continental Europe supporting fellow Canadian rock collective Monster Truck. For those who are yet to see the band perform, what can they expect from your live sets?
Anyone who happens to be in the crowd at one of our shows, whether we are supporting or headlining, are going to witness a true blue collar rock n’ roll band.
We are going to leave it all up there, whether it’s to a packed house or a half-full club, and itʼs going to be a real bonafide rock n’ roll show, which is the least we can do for the people in the crowd who are making it possible for us to live our dream.
And this July, the band will be performing at the Rock USA festival in Wisconsin, which is being headlined by Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Disturbed. I can imagine that’s something you’re all looking forward to.
The moment we got the offer, and I saw that we were going to be playing on the same day as Mastodon, the little fanboy in me came out, and to be mentioned alongside those kinds of artists is just surreal.
And finally, you’ve achieved much these past couple of years. Honestly, did any of you expect all of that to happen when the band initially got together?
When Iʼm on stage and I look at all the other fellas there with me, Iʼm not that surprised, as we’re a group of hungry musicians that want it more than anyone.
We still have the same goals, and we want to achieve them writing good, honest rock n’ roll music, and like I said earlier, itʼs the people who send us messages online, listen to our music, come to our shows, who are making it possible for us to live our dream, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, you all fucking rule, and we’ll see you on the road!
‘TUSK II’, THE SECOND ALBUM FROM ROYAL TUSK, IS AVAILABLE NOW VIA eONE.
THE BAND ARE ALSO JUST ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A TOUR OF UK & EUROPE, SUPPORTING MONSTER TRUCK, MORE DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
FURTHER INFO ON ROYAL TUSK CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: