Royal Tusk: Edmonton Rockers Enjoying the "Aftermath" of Success
Unless you’re Dave Grohl, the odds of hitting it big in back to back rock bands are usually stacked pretty high. Don’t tell that to Edmonton native Daniel Carriere, who has followed a great run with indie rockers 10 Second Epic with his latest role – singer/guitarist for hard-rocking Edmonton band ROYAL TUSK.
Along with fellow Tusk-ans Quinn Cyrankiewicz (guitar), former Epic member Sandy MacKinnon (bass), and Calen Stuckel (drums), Carriere and his bandmates have carved out a solid audience with help from three great releases: their 2014 debut EP, Mountain, 2016’s DealBreaker and their latest release, 2018’s Tusk II. That album’s first single, “Aftermath,” climbed into the Top 40 on Billboards rock charts, earning the band a broader audience outside of Canada and landing them an opening slot on the current Slash tour. The band heads into St. Catharines for a date August 20th at The Warehouse. Daniel took time to chat with GoBe about touring, life in Edmonton and the joys of setting crazy expectations.
GoBe: Where in the world are you today? Do you even know?
Daniel: (Laughs) Yes, we slept in Nashville last night. We’re headed to Atlanta for a show tonight.
GoBe: I didn’t realize you’re tour included U.S. dates. I thought you were just rolling through eastern Canada on your way to St. Catharines.
Daniel: No, we’re actually doing a string of shows with Slash and Myles K and The Conspirators right now.
GoBe: So how is the response to Royal Tusk on the tour.
Daniel: Man, you know what, especially at Slash shows there’s a lot of rock and roll fans. Response has been totally positive. We’ve met lots of cool people. And in general, rock and roll is kicking ass in the States just like it is in Canada.
GoBe: Royal Tusk is certainly a part of that. They keep saying rock is dead, but not when rock bands like yours are holding the torch high.
Daniel: I think people say that. You just have to look in the right place.
GoBe: You’re absolutely right. And people have had a good look your way for a while. It’s been 15 years since you were first part of an album release with your last band, 10 Second Epic. You’re like a wily veteran now. When you look back at that experience, what’s your take away.
Daniel: I’ve never actually counted the years, that’s actually quite poignant. You learn a lot. The thing I really learned over the years is to follow your instincts, and just try to be genuine at what you do. We love this to death. We’re definitely lifers. When you’ve been in it this long, it’s not for any kind of wild sense of fame or accomplishment but really because you love playing music and writing music.
GoBe: You had a great run with 10 Second Epic, earning a Juno nod, touring Japan, winding up on a Big Shiny Tunes compilation. What were your expectations with Royal Tusk going in?
Daniel: One of the killers of doing this is making crazy expectations. I wanted to start really simple and just make sure, whatever we make we’re going to be really proud of our music. We’ve kind of used that to steer the ship. Whatever success comes out of that feels great. I’ve played really huge shows in my life and plenty of shows to the sound guy at the back of the room. We’re used to all those experiences. Honestly, you can’t get thrown if you’re doing it for the love of the music.
GoBe: You hit the Billboard charts with “Aftermath” in 2018. Have you found that a lot of people on this U.S. tour recognize your music as a result of that airplay?
Daniel: I don’t know that people follow the charts, but we had strong radio support with “Aftermath.” Plus, we’ve done like 60-plus shows down here this year. With the exposure of radio, podcasts, press, and touring, it’s always surprising. We just did a festival in Milwaukee and I was surprised to see hundreds of people singing along. It’s really gratifying.
GoBe: I was skipping through the songs on the last album and with reading the lyrics to “Northern Town.” It seems to speak to that isolationist feeling that can happen in northern Canada. As a guy from Edmonton, what’s your thoughts on getting out of Edmonton and what was the scene like for you.
Daniel: It’s amazing. You mention the song “Northern Town.” It kind of has a fictional story of a dude moving up north to make money because he thinks that’s the only way he’ll find value in his life. The cool thing about living in a northern outpost like Edmonton or any northern Canadian city is you do have time to think and to get good at what you do. I find when people move to more of an urban centre to make music they kind of disappear in it. There’s a huge benefit to a musician to having time to focus.
GoBe: You’ve no doubt had many opportunities dangled in front of you from labels and managers looking to sign you or perhaps change you. What were some of the weirdest feedback you’ve received on your music.
Daniel: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. I don’t want to disparage anyone. Anyone who hears you will have an idea of what you will need to be successful. I don’t take away from that. This is a hard business. To assume that anything you hear is a slam dunk is kind of crazy. Sure, I’ve heard some wild ideas, but generally we just don’t work with those people (laughing).
GoBe: You’ve got a pretty packed tour schedule. What’s life on the road like for you? What do you do to survive and enjoy it?
Daniel: You know what, we just keep laughing. That’s what makes it a lot of fun. That’s what makes it enjoyable. We always pick a hotel with a pool so we can go for a dip. You just live it up as hard as you can.
GoBe: What’s the immediate future for Royal Tusk.
Daniel: Our immediate future is finishing up this Slash tour, head over to Ontario, do that run of shows. Then we have 15 or 15 days off. Then we go back to the States for a run with Pop Evil. Unless another tour gets announced, we’ll be hitting the studio. We’ve got a lot of unfinished songs. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on Tusk II. It’s only further cemented what we know we want to do. We really want to get music out right away. Just as much as touring and performing, we like making music. Hopefully by spring of next year.
GoBe: So for fans heading out to The Warehouse in St. Catharines, what can they expect to see from the band?
Daniel: I will say you just have to come down and see it. Albums are really fun to make, but to me, especially in rock and roll, they’re a representation of what you get live. When you listen to pop, or other kinds of music, often it’s made to be listened to in headphones. Rock and roll is meant to be heard loud, so the amplifiers got to be ripping you apart. That’s the real experience. That’s what you’re going to get.
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