By Julia Gunst
CALGARY — Armed with punchy, soulful rock ‘n’ roll, Edmonton’s Royal Tusk has spent their last six months maintaining a strong presence in the Canadian music scene. Royal Tusk released their six-track debut EP Mountain in June on Hidden Pony Records. Since then, they’ve spent a vast amount of time on the road touring across Western Canada in the fall with off-kilter underground act the smalls and with long-time rockers Big Wreck. Edmonton music scene veteran Daniel Carriere provides experience along with vocals and guitar, so their robust schedule comes as no surprise. Carriere and Royal Tusk bassist Sandy MacKinnon played for 12 years in the multiple Juno award nominated act Ten Second Epic prior to forming Royal Tusk. Having spent the last 13 years scheduling life around music, we picked Carriere’s brain on touring essentials and what it takes to build a rising band.
BeatRoute: How has your experience in Ten Second Epic played into your new project, Royal Tusk?
Daniel Carriere: So many ways I don’t know where to start. When you are a new band you have to learn so many things that aren’t necessarily obvious. Just maintaining a vehicle, finding cheap hotels, what time to get up. All the things you don’t think about when starting a band – the logistics.
BR: That said, what tips do you have for bands looking to take their own life out on the road and in a van? What could you not leave home without (besides your instruments)?
DC: Pack lots of socks. Socks, socks, socks. You are [also] probably going to turn off your phone if going out of the country. And GPS is such a good thing to have. Back in the day we used maps and books. I don’t even know if they print those anymore.
BR: Was the songwriting and recording for EP Mountain a collaborative process?
DC: This band was kind of fun because each person definitely has their own style. They’d all write their own parts. Every guy would go create on his own. It was exciting that way, rather than everyone being heavy handed on each other’s parts… Say if I decided to write the song, and write the drum part and write the bass part, I wouldn’t even like the song because I couldn’t listen to it as a listener. If everyone gives a bit of them to the song there is an element of surprise for the players as well. That’s an important thing.
BR: Royal Tusk has been said to have an Americana soul groove. Is this a sound you’ve always wanted to explore?
DC: I’m super happy we sound the way we do. With writing our own parts, it kind of just turned out like that. We didn’t reverse engineer for any particular genre. It doesn’t fit in any genre in particular. I think a lot of us listen to that kind of stuff so it just comes out.
BR: What impact has the Edmonton music scene had on your music and could you ever see yourself based elsewhere?
DC: I have a huge amount of respect for Edmonton’s music scene. I think it’s something we learned because we saw how work ethic required. Edmonton is a blue-collar city and there is a lot of work ethic. It translated into how we did things and it affected my career as a musician for the better. My MO is just get on tour anyways so it doesn’t really matter what city you are in. Wherever you have the mental freedom to write music is the best place.
See Royal Tusk on January 9 at the Gateway (SAIT).AB, Alberta, Gateway at SAIT, Royal Tusk