Since forming in 2016, Iron Tusk has been a heavy mainstay of the Alberta music scene. Drawing on their shared experiences as sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and friends, the band filters a maelstrom of modern conundrums through an electrified plain of post-punk angst and heavy metal fury. Iron Tusk is Marty Wolfleg (bass/vocals), Ty Maguire (Guitar/vocals), Carlin Black Rabbit (drums) and Craig Bear Chief (Guitar). Spring Magazine spoke with Carlin Black Rabbit of Iron Tusk.
When did you all meet? When did you fall in love and make the band?
We all grew up together in Siksika Nation, all went to the same high school together and just really hung out a bunch. Our guitarist Ty’s grandparents were super cool and let us use their garage to jam in. They even bought us equipment which really kick started the band. At the time in our teenage years, the love of our friendship was just by hanging out everyday.
What other bands or influences do you take inspiration from to make the ‘Iron Tusk’ sound?
The band as a collective has a wide range of different musical influences. There’s a lot of diversity in our musical interests, and we offer our influences through our music. I personally love black metal, industrial/new wave rock and punk rock/hardcore; bands like Cold Cave, Soft Kill, PUP, Chixdiggit, Turnstile and Black Marble. My Spotify playlist is all over the place.
Given the band’s name, would it also be fair to say that Mastodon is a band influence as well?
Mastodon is my favourite band, I have seen them at least 6-7 times over the past 10 years.
What is the live music scene in Alberta like? What are the differences between the Edmonton and Calgary scenes? Any awesome bands, venues, and late night eats that deserve a shout out?
Alberta has a positive music scene, so much support and a lot of amazing bands. I feel with our blend of different genres we can fit any bill, we have shared the stage with death metal bands, hardcore bands, indie rock bands and punk rock bands. The Palomino Smoke House in Calgary is an amazing venue, best bbq and great sound, definitely our favourite venue to play.
We don’t get to play Edmonton as much as we like, we really appreciate and love the Aviary; the owner Phill treated us so well, and made us vegan tacos the last time we played there. We recently played the Inaugural Winteruption festival back in January of this year, we had a great time, the festival director made a tobacco offering to us and welcomed us to Treaty 6 territory, that level of respect means the world to us.
Your latest release, Iron Tusk III: Dream Eaters, is a banger! Part Black Flag, part Motorhead, part plodding forest giant. Where did these tracks come from and how has this represented the next step in your sound?
We spent a little bit of time in our rehearsal space writing skeletons of songs with a few riff ideas we had. Our day to day lives individually take up most of our time, with the time we commit to writing new music is an extra effort we make since our time is limited. It was truly a collaboration of the three of us bringing in our ideas together in the summer of 2019. We knew we wanted to take a different approach, and we didn’t really see the growth of the songs until we entered the studio with Eric Andrews at Evius Studios in Calgary. Eric helped us with his input and suggested ideas to enhance the songs, we were impressed with the end product. A lot of the structures, lyrics, and tones of guitar/bass was something we wanted to do differently. We felt the difference when we got the masters back from Stu Mckilllop (Railtown Mastering/Rain City Studios) out of Vancouver.
We recruited a second guitar player at the end of 2019, he has a few demos that he showed us, it fits our vibe. The next release, again will be a different approach. Now that there is four members in the band, that means more ideas.
Iron Tusk has always been keeping physical media alive with your releases. From tapes and vinyl to digital, how important is releasing on different formats for you?
I think it’s important to always offer different forms of music. When we put out the first couple releases our supporters took interest in purchasing physical copies, for our style of music it’s suitable to do a vinyl release or cassette release. A digital release is also very important too, in this day and age when our phones are in the palm of our hands, it takes seconds to get on streaming services like iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and Bandcamp. Making it accessible in all forms is something we take seriously and just want people to hear the songs.
Given that we’re living in physically distanced times, what is the importance of music, and maybe punk more specifically, during the pandemic?
Connection: music brings people together for the greater good. At least from our perspective, we connected really well with punk rock, we face similar struggles, it’s a way of healing.
What has the impact of Covid-19 been on the Siksika nation?
The impacts of the pandemic is universal, like everyone else we are facing similar frustrations and struggles. It’s been a wake up call, we have taken the proper proactive steps to ensure everyone in the community is safe. Community gatherings are huge in our community; with cancellations it’s caused a bit of heart break but I feel there will be more appreciation for what we have not only in our community but with live music venues as a whole.
Canadian oil is now at record lows, yet Kenney is continuing to slash public services to keep his pipe dreams alive. What can you say about the fight against Kenney in Alberta?
Our focus is on our families and our community, although we are directly affected by the decisions of the province, we like to draw our attention on the good that’s happening. We are seeing families connect, people taking steps to improve their well-being. If we continue to stand as one, we will get through this.
Where can folks find out more information and support you? Any future plans in the works?
Our music is available on all music streaming platforms, you can directly purchase our EP on our bandcamp, along with our merch. You can contact us on our social media, primarily facebook or instagram for merch orders, we will do curb side deliveries for Calgary and surrounding area at no cost if you’d like to purchase a cassette or shirt.
We plan to do a music video, still sorting logistics and looking at what’s safe for everyone. As mentioned, we roughly have about 3-4 new demos, its just a matter of us restructuring and putting the songs together. Our EP “Iron Tusk III: Dream Eaters” will be released on vinyl in the summer time (we haven’t forgot about our vinyl lovers).
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