Royal Tusk first formed in Edmonton in 2011, but a lot has changed since then. Currently, they are on tour for their latest album, Tusk Ⅱ, and their songs are targeting deeper issues.
Daniel Carriere, the main vocalist for Royal Tusk, says Tusk Ⅱ is quite different from their earlier releases.
“It’s a lot better,” Carriere says. “When we started the band, we just wanted to play music. It was an indie rock when we started. We’ve been finding ourselves the whole time; not to say that we don’t enjoy the other tunes, and even some songs off the first record we still play.”
Despite the changes in sound, Carriere promises that Royal Tusk is still the same band at heart. “The songwriting is actually the same, but it’s just instrumented differently and sounds heavier,” he says.
With the change in energy, a change in the audience followed. While Carriere admits that bands may gain and lose subscribers if they prefer one type of genre, he feels the band’s changes have not hurt their following.
“I don’t think we’ve alienated our fans in any way. We just keep growing our fanbase. It’s showing we can play any music we want,” says Carriere.
To Carriere, this tour is more than a business move to gain popularity.
“We’re lucky enough to have our great friends in Broken Love supporting us and also the guys in Sights and Sounds. It feels like a touring summer camp, it’s great, like everyone is friends and the music is awesome,” Carriere states.
“We’re excited for our home-town show here in Edmonton,” Carriere says, referring to their show at The Starlite Room on Feb. 21. “Last year we … missed some of these Canadian cities so we can’t wait to get over there.”
In 2018, their song “Aftermath” had 500,000 streams on Spotify. As of 2020, “Aftermath” has nearly four million streams. However, streaming services are not the only reason for their success.
“Last year we did 97 shows in 17 countries. We’re not sitting back and hoping the streams come in. We’re getting in front of people and giving them a show that they deserve,” Carriere says.
With their intense touring, they have earned some intense fans.
“This dude loved our band so much, he showed up with our name tattooed on him and got us to sign around the tattoo and then he tattooed our signatures on him,” Carriere laughs. “It’s cool to meet these super passionate fans, they really keep the gas in the tank for us, all that enthusiasm.”
Alongside a deep appreciation for their fans, Royal Tusk also values freedom of expression.
“There’s nothing worse than feeling pigeonholed, and you’re supposed to do this or that or the next thing,” Carriere states. “People get into the arts to be creative, and that’s what we maintain to do.”
Right beside freedom of expression, Carriere expresses the importance of speaking up. Their song “Control” on their latest record shows the deep thought process behind Royal Tusk’s songs.
“I’m certainly not a politician, but I’m a breathing, feeling human being. (“Control”) speaks about mechanisms of power that manipulate and control people. “Control” really just calls that shit out. When you feel something, you’ve got to say something,” Carriere says.
Carriere also had opinions regarding recent global issues, including United States politics and climate change.
“I was really following one of the democratic candidates named Andrew Yang, who had a great idea about universal basic income. Unfortunately, the media pretty much blacked him out even though he was polling high. He’s had to withdraw his candidacy and I found that really sad,” Carriere admits.
“At least there’s some progress as half of the politicians still there have copied his ideals and really took from him,” Carriere continues, looking on the bright side.
“Of course, we are all watching the climate crisis and global warming,” Carriere says, moving on. “That is such a huge problem and it’s so hard to approach. I think there’s been a concerted effort to have people policing each other to recycle and what not. Where that is absolutely effective, what we really need is a hero in government who is going to hold the big industry to task.”
Continuing on, Carriere states, “We shame each other about our bottles or our carbon footprint when you have factories just dumping billions of tons of carbon into the air per day and not paying for it. If someone litters and gets caught on the street, they pay a ticket. These people are literally contaminating the entire planet and do it freely just because it turns a buck, and I think that is so insane.”
Despite the many issues that the earth faces today, the band works to stay upbeat and authentic. Why is Royal Tusk a show to put on your bucket list?
“We’re just about playing honest fucking rock ’n’ roll. We don’t care about the trends we just want to give people good music,” Carriere promises. “Come on down to a show, you’re always welcome, and you’ll have a better time than you know.”