If you haven't listened to Tusky just yet, you should do so now. They won't change your life or make you rethink every choice you ever made. But they rock incredibly hard, have plenty of big melodic hooks at their disposal and seem to have a blast doing so. Plus it looks like they are going places and you don't want to be the last one among your friends who's like 'tusk-who?'. We caught up with guitarist /vocalist Alfred to ask him some questions about his history with John Coffey and Tusky's debut album 'Rated Gnar'.
PRT: Having all been involved with John Coffey in one way or another, was it hard to start writing songs that were different from what you did with John Coffey?
Alfred: Yeah, it’s different. There’s less pressure and the process is a bit more relaxed. Not that it’s a better process. I mean the fact that John Coffey songs are the way they are, partly results out of the explosive writing process we had :) With Tusky there’s more room for funny stuff. Plus, no one in Tusky wants to be in band fights anymore. We’re way past that. And a bit wiser maybe, haha!
PRT: Do you see Tusky as a sequel to John Coffey, a reboot or something else entirely?
Alfred: It’s not a sequel in any way. We started Tusky because we really wanted to make an energetic and loud album with a lot of positivity in it. It’s just great to make loud music and being able to perform. Of course it’s all connected because we come from the same group of friends, making punkrock. It’s just a different flavor.
PRT: What are the biggest advantages and downsides of having that history with John Coffey?
Alfred: It’s just something that is. I mean, sure thing, we cut some corners and got some possibilities you don’t get that easily as a starting band. But I’ve worked my ass off for John Coffey for almost 15 years. So you bet we’re gonna use all that hard work. Furthermore it brings a big risk with it. If we would have sucked, we would have sucked double-time with all the high expectations. But so far, I think we’re doing pretty good :)
PRT: Tusky has only been around for a year, yet you already have a record deal, your debut album is out, you are playing a ton of shows and some festivals. Was it the idea to hit the ground running or would you have preferred to take things a bit more relaxed?
Alfred: We are taking things a bit more relaxed. We are used to playing something around 150 shows a year, so we can handle the 50/60 shows a year we are doing right now. Except for Justin, He wanted more time to focus on making artwork, not only for us but also for other people and brands. So he gave up his position as bass player, but he’s still part of the band. Filling in when Crucial Chris isn’t able to play.
PRT: Does the band name by any chance have anything to do with the Kevin Smith movie Tusk?
Alfred: No it doesn’t. We love animals and love mammals with tusks, especially Walrusses. They’re awesome and a little tusky. So we decided to name ourselves that way. Also out of a little love for Fleetwood Mac, of course.
PRT: Speaking of your debut album… next to writing the songs, you also produced the album and came up with the artwork. How important is that DIY aesthetic for you?
Alfred: We found out in the proces of starting this band that we were able to do all these things by ourselves. One had a lot of experience in coming up with strategies, managing skills, the other was already a designer, one of us was already recording and producing in a studio. So we thought, well let’s do it and then nail it of course. Somebody really wise (and green and short) once said: “do or do not, there is no try.”
PRT: Your songs rock hard and are sure to turn every show into a party, the videos are a lot of fun to watch, but at the same time you are not afraid to address serious subjects in songs like ‘White Dress’ and ‘Smack Me With Your Bible Belt’. Is there one of those aspects that means more to you than another?
Alfred: Well, it’s not all about partying and having a good time. When we feel that a social issue needs to be addressed, we address it. There’s a bit of angriness towards preachers feeding bullshit to young people. We’re upset by the ongoing discrimintation towards people who feel “different” about their own body or gender. We’re glad to have the possibility to write songs about these subjects and making a small contribution in opening up conversation about it.
PRT: Your sound goes back to the bands you grew up with. But nowadays, all you hear on the radio is electronic music and r&b and festivals seem to be more interested in booking DJs than bands. Is there still room for guitar-based bands like yours?
Alfred: Of course there is. We think our festival schedule proves that. We think there will always be a place on festivals for guitar-based music. However underground the type of music may be.
PRT: The album is out now… what’s up next for Tusky?
Alfred: Well, after the album we had some awesome collabs. We had one with Oproer brewery in Utrecht for our own I.P.A. called the I.P.Awesome, which is available worldwide through them. We released a coffee with a coffee place called the Village Utrecht. Next to that Justin will still make great artwork for the band and for our merchandise. We’ll play shows, write some new songs later this year and maybe go on a small European run in the Fall. We take it by the day, no stress. Just keep on doing as much cool things as possible.