APRIL 25, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalWTimes.jpghen I first interviewed drummer CARLIN BLACKRABBIT back in early 2017 it was for his Calgary-based punk band NO MORE MOMENTS and their INDIGENOUS MUSIC AWARD nominated EP STILL GOING. The band embodied the very D.I.Y. spirit necessary for that coveted punk rock cred that isn't going to get you laughed out of the the room. Why the hell wouldn't ROCKWIRED have been on board with these guys. Unbeknownst to me at the the time, BLACKRABBIT was pulling double duty as he was also in another band called IRON TUSK which he has formed with the original  members of NO MORE MOMENTS. Yes, the rock n roll life is all about ending relationships and started them up all over again and with a 2016 EP behind them, IRON TUSK has now issued a soft release of their newest EP BAD SPIRIT. Accompanied by less than a handful of gigs thus far and pressings on both vinyl and cassette,  this band hailing from the Siksika Nation are determined  to toss their hat into the ever-shrinking ring of punk rock and make a little noise. ROCKWIRED had a chance to get reacquainted with CARLIN BLACKRABBIT regarding IRON TUSK and their new release. Here is how the interview went. 

You see vinyl making a huge resurgence in the music  industry these days but with IRON TUSK's new EP DARK SPIRIT, you guys have also released it on cassette. What was the inspiration for doing so?

Vinyl has always been a goal for me. I  have  pretty decent record collection. I have always wanted my music on vinyl, so we got the process going with this EP. It took about six months to go through the pressing plant to get it all done. It was quite the journey!  As far as cassette goes, we released our first EP on cassette and for me it was just a different way of getting the music out there. We've done very well selling this first EP on cassette. We sold out of all of our copies.  Everyone I know has an old truck or an old car with a deck inside of it. I've been involved with the music scene in Calgary for the past ten years now and working a few venues and I noticed this resurgence in both cassette and vinyl.


When I spoke to you last, it was in regard to the band NO MORE MOMENTS. Is IRON TUSK a name change or is this a whole other band?
IRON TUSK and NO MORE MOMENTS are two separate bands, but the guys in IRON TUSK now initially started NO MORE MOMENTS back in 2009. From 2011 to 2012, they went their separate ways and I got new guys to join NO MORE MOMENTS. So there was a period where I didn't speak to these guys from IRON TUSK for about four or five years. We kind of grew apart. I mean, everyone is kind of stupid in their early twenties. So after some time apart, we all started talking again. It was a really slow process  but then we realized that we play well with each other. I had known these guys for pretty much my whole teenage life. When we started IRON TUSK, it was just natural. The whole process seemed to flow very well. We went through all of that new band stuff when we started the other band all of those years ago. When we got back together as IRON TUSK, we kind of knew all of the avenues that we needed to take. We knew what to do and what not to do. We tried to do things the right way with this band.

And now that the album is out there for folks to buy either digitally or on vinyl or cassette, how do you feel about the finished work?
I'm proud of it. We took our time with it. In the past, we've recorded and got it all done really quickly but for this, it was different. We recorded the album in September and we got all of the artwork done  and then we sent it off to get pressed. We took our time doing all of the promo stuff for it. It was a great process. We didn't play that many shows. We did like one or two shows in a span of six months. We wanted to promote the album but we didn't want to over-saturate anyone, you know? We wanted people to be excited to see us in Calgary. There are a lot of bands in Calgary, but a lot of them end up playing every other week or quite frequently so we chose took a  step back and just sat on things for a couple of months but in that time we got some great show offers. One of them was opening for the band RED FAN. The shows have been great. It's probably the most money that we've ever made realising an album. We sold a lot of records and cassettes anda  lot of merch.


And who all helped you guys put this EP together? Who helped you guys out behind the recording console?
I've been working out of a studio called GHOST IRON STUDIOS. This guy named JAMES STANLEY mixed and mastered this album. I've known this guy for going on five years now. It's been really great working relationship with this guy. He knows how we sound. We rehearse at his studio so it's very natural. We recorded the album in the month of September. We rehearsed every Sunday for four weeks and then on the last weekend we recorded all day on a Saturday. We started our session at 8AM and we stayed in the studio until 9PM. With each session that we had we wrote a new song. We did it a little differently. We were kind spontaneous with it. We let the process flow with the mixing and the mastering.

And talk about the other members of the band. Tell me who they are and what it is that you think each of them brings tot he table that makes this thing work.
The guitar player is TY MACGUIRE. I grew up with him. He was my next door neighbor and we've known each other for about fifteen or twenty years. We started out together. His grandparents bought his instruments when he was a teenager. They were invested in us being in a band and wanted us to stay out of trouble and not be involved in the things that most teenagers get involved with. They had a garage on the Reserve and we spent a lot of time in that garage during our teenage years. We would jam out everyday after school. TY is like a brother to me. He's always been there for me and we're both the same age. We're both 25. Our bass player BUDDY is a little bit older. We went to school with him. He's got  lot of charisma. He's one of those go-getter types and we knew that he would fit into this band perfectly. He's been a good friend of ours for about ten years or so and he does a lot of the songwriting. He's very artistic and is an innovative young man. It all flows together. I kind of take care of the business end of the band and TY and BUDDY put together the music. We just have a really great collaboration going once we're all in the same room.

What kind of music scene are you guys surrounded by in Calgary, Alberta?
Calgary isn't a big city but we have multiple live venues. Most recently we've had music project going on here called the MAJOR MINOR MUSIC PROJECT. This collective is looking to build an all ages music venue for Calgary. They always have these really unique shows going on. They have this thing called PUNK ROCK BOWLING where they rent out a bowling alley and they have bands play. I don't know if you're familiar with axe-throwing but they've also rented out this axe throwing facility and  had bands playing there at the same time. So you've got a lot if interesting gigs that are happening here in Calgary. We have festivals happening and there is a lot of musical representation in this city. We've got  very vibrant city and we're focusing on making things more inclusive and safe for everyone.  We have a great city, and we're trying to get younger people into the music scene that we have and to keep it flowing.


And being a Native band, do you guys stand out form your scene or are there other Native bands?
With my other band NO MORE MOMENTS, I felt that we led the wave on that one. From the Siksika Nation, we have about four or five bands and they play locally. In the past five years it started out with two or three native bands to almost ten native bands in the area. I'm not going to say that we're a trailblazer or anything but when we started the band, we played everywhere and anywhere we could back in 2011 to 2012. We took it on the road to other cities and now, in the past couple of years, I think people have realized that they can do and that it's possible and all that they have to do is put the work into it. Even the local University radio show is doing whatever they can to indigenize their programming, so they've brought in elders and they've brought in bands. They have people who are Native working with them.  A lot of great things are happening here  in Calgary. Five or six years ago you didn't see that many Native bands around.

What is the big idea behind this EP? What songs off of it have you the most excited to get someone to hear and why?
This EP DARK SPIRIT is about this figure that you hear about in folktales. There is this figure on the Siksika Nation that people have claimed to see. It's a figure that haunts people. The song SANDHILLS is about a location on the Reserve that is known for being haunted. If you go there, something crazy is going to happen. We didn't really set out to make a concept album, but we definitely wanted to tell a different story.

So far, have there been any reactions to the release that have taken you by surprise or that you didn't see coming?
It fascinates us that people seem to be liking it. When we were selling out of our initial pressings of the album, that was very surprising. It's been great but we're trying to be as humble as we can. We're not looking to get rich off the band but we're just grateful that people seem to have a vested interest in us. We've been selling the music digitally and people have been buying the album and buying it on vinyl. We're still in the promotion  phase of this album. We've got a few more shows books and a few more CDs ready so we'll see how it goes. But these first couple of shows have been amazing. It was amazing to see that people supported us.

Now that the EP is behind you, what is next for the band musically?
We're going to spend the Spring and Summer promoting it. We want to hit the road and get out there to some bigger cities like Vancouver and Seattle or the Portland area. We're looking to apply for some grant funding. We're looking to be as creative as possible and spend as less money as we can. We have  a lot of support. We have our own graphic designer and we have our photographer and our own label. All of the wheels are in motion. It's just up for us to drive the vehicle. At the same time, we don't want to burn ourselves out. We're not going to be going on month long tours or anything. We just want to do it the right way.  If you're in a band with someone and you're on the road for four days or five days you end up wanting to kill each other. We want to stay away from that. We're also going to start writing this Summer for our full length album. We're going to take some time to do that and work with a bigger producer. We're going to really explore with this next record and may be go down to Vancouver or Toronto and work with a bigger studio. 


http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com