After Alberta band Ten Second Epic timed out, Daniel Carriere and bassist Sandy MacKinnon formed Royal Tusk from their shared love in all things epically rock ' roll. They added Quinn Cyrankiewicz (guitar), Calen Stuckel (drums) and Mike James (keyboard/guitars) and recorded with Gus Van Go. Their EP Mountain rose through the charts and they have been tagged as a band to watch. Their debut full-length album DealBreaker, produced by Eric Ratz, is available on Cadence Music. They recently toured with Collective Soul and are making their own stops including at the Oshawa Music Hall May 14.
SlowCity sent out some questions, Sandy replied:
Q: DealBreaker has a ring of finality to it, is this album a deal breaker and if yes what is the deal?
Sandy: "2015 was a bit of a crazy year for us guys here at the Royal Tusk camp. We really didn't know what the future held for the band. So when things started looking a little bleak, I think that is when we really caught our writing stride and felt the songs start moving in the right direction."
Q: There is an old school guitar sound, what drew you back to that older sound?
Sandy: "Everybody in the band are massive fans of rock n roll, heavy metal, pretty much if it has any notion of guitar wankery, we're in. There was no intent on doing any sort of throwback to an older sound, it just sort of ended up that way."
Q: "Cold On Me" is such a great track, I have it on repeat for much of the afternoon, little chinks of Doors piano and some Pink Floyd guitar vibes, and a Hall & Oates groove - such a mash, how do create your own thing out of these elements? At what point do you say OK, that sounds like Royal Tusk now?
Sandy: I'm stoked that you like that one, personally that is my favourite one as well. That was one was fun cause while we were writing it, it didn't seem to have an end in sight. We were able to put our favourite aspects of rock n roll into it. We got to experiment with spacey grooves, and then in the same breath open er up and let er buck.
Q: Ian Thornley collaboration, how did that come about?
Sandy: "We were very fortunate to have done a national tour supporting Big Wreck. On the tour, both bands became friends. The song "So Long The Buildup" we played on the tour and features a solo section which is probably 50% of the song. One night while we were enjoying a cocktail or two and we sort of just asked if he'd be willing to play on it. He said yes, we held him to it. The old "no takesy backsys" rule had to be implemented."
Q: Growing up how did you get most of your music, was it via live shows with local and touring bands, did you get it from the radio, or from sharing records?
Sandy: "Everyone in Royal Tusk has been playing in touring bands for as long as we can remember. So being a fan of new music definitely comes with that. Going to all kinds of shows, whether it was rock, punk, metal, or folk etc. Sort of kept everyone wanting to know more. You end up sharing music with one another wanting to hear new stuff and sharing the music that currently getting yer rocks off."
Q: Edmonton had two of my fave bands, Jr Gone Wild and Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, what are some of your fave E-town acts over the years?
Sandy: While growing up, my 2 older brothers were in an Edmonton (now alumni) punk band called "The Wednesday night Heroes". When I was younger, I used what they were doing as a blueprint for my own career. I'd see them touring relentlessly, an just putting themselves out there and it just sort registered as normal to me. Also, an Edmonton band we had the privilege of doing their reunion tour, was a band called "the smalls". If you're from the west, then you know what that meant for us.