ArcTanGent 2022: Tuskar Interview

ArcTanGent 2022: Tuskar Interview
Interviewed by: Matt Noble

At a warm Arctangent Festival I meet up with rising sludge/hardcore/doom duo Tuskar, who have enjoyed reaping the benefits of a newfound status amongst metal circles, particularly with the release of ‘Matriarch’ on Church Road Records six or so months ago. It’s surprisingly only their first full-length effort, considering the slow-bubbling wave that they have built in the UK over the last half-decade.

My own introduction to Tuskar was at the tail end of 2021, when they joined Boss Keloid on a UK run. I tell guitarist Tom Dimmock about how I’d at least heard the name of the band beforehand and hadn’t anything bad to say about them from listening to them, per se, but only upon seeing Tuskar in the live arena did I finally ‘get’ it. He enthuses that ‘we’ve always started as a band that plays live, but it can be difficult recording and capturing it’. I feel that this is less the case now that ‘Matriarch’ is out.

This year is drummer/vocalist  Tyler Hodges’ third Arctangent, as he laughs that the weather is much better than the ‘horrendously’ rainy 2019 instalment, while Tom tells me with excitement that it’s his first ever time at the festival. ‘It feels great to be here… sweaty, but great to be here’, he grins, in the shade of the Tuskar tour van, lodged between the backs of two of the stages. Both are visibly thrilled to be part of such a strong bill, although a few clashes on the lineup - notably Covet at the same time that Tuskar are on - have them acknowledge that tough decisions have to be made and you can have too much of a good thing!

ArcTanGent 2022: Tuskar Interview

I ask them what they were hoping to come from the release of ‘Matriarch’ back in February. ‘Loads of money!’, Tom laughs - ‘a mansion with a Guinness swimming pool’, quips Tyler with a grin - though this hasn’t quite materialised for them yet, they talk about how playing Arctangent had been a band aspiration, feeling for good reason that it’s the sort of festival that suits them well. With other sludgy, proggy, spacey acts on the bill such as Conjurer or Dvne, they are far from out of place.

I note that it seems the band have gone up a step or two on the live ladder with their full-length album. ‘We just want to play live,’ nods Tom. ‘The more places we can play, the more venues we can experience, that’s the love of it. We write music, we’ve always been a band that’s thrived in the live environment. That’s all we want to do - more festivals, more shows.’

‘For me, personally, we weren’t really trying to achieve anything [with ‘Matriarch’]’, explains Tyler. ‘It was just more of a voice for f*ked up sh*t that’s happening in my family.’

They are full of praise for Church Road Records, who put ‘Matriarch’ out into the world for them. ‘Sammy and Justine [who run the label] are just the best. I couldn’t really have asked for better people to release it’, says Tyler gratefully. ‘They genuinely give a sh*t, as well.’

Previously on Riff Rock Records, the two acknowledge that it was an awkward time, with so many bands having written albums over lockdown - as they did themselves - but with Church Road pledging that ‘[Matriarch] was something that they could really get themselves behind’, Tyler is full of praise, saying that the band couldn’t have really asked for anything better.

‘I’ve known Sam for quite a long time, and he was the one who made the connection, really. We were chatting at a Pijn show, and he asked me what I was up to, and I said that I had a new record ready but didn’t know what to do with it and were just sat on our arses with it’, says Tyler. He sent over the record and impressed the label so much that they simply told him ‘‘let’s do it’, and that was it!’.

‘Playing their birthday bash was one of our favourite gigs we’ve played this year!’ Tom smiles. A sweaty, intimate party for their label at the Black Heart with Noctule, Graywave, Burner and Candescent A.D., despite touring this year with Black Label Society, the allure of a fun smaller show isn’t yet lost on Tuskar.

‘Could Tuskar ever be a three- or a four-piece?’ I ask, making both of them chuckle in response. ‘Well… We were actually talking about it…’

‘We’re always just going to use whatever the music needs. Who knows? We’ve always been like, we should have a synth player, extra guitars, a flute player, another drummer and another guitarist as a double twopiece!’ Tom says with a wry smile. ‘We’re not constrained by anything, we’ll just do it if it comes to it’. They go on to ponder the mysteriousness behind them being a two-piece, which has shocked some of their audiences given their huge sound. ‘It is kinda integral to what we’ve done’.

Tom explains his dual guitar amp setup as being ‘pretty simple when it comes down to it. A lot of people ask me what’s going on, and I’m like, it’s honestly nothing… It’s fuzz, and fuzz, and more fuzz. It’s like maximalism, and also minimalism. There’s not a lot, but what’s being used is absolutely up to eleven.’

With us being at a festival, the conversation seems to naturally conclude with talking about their drinks of choice. Tyler grins sheepishly that he’s not fussy, while Tom shrugs, saying ‘Anything! Gins, wines, a bit of beer… whatever I’ve got! Festivals are the Wild West, you’ve just got to enjoy yourself while you’re here. It’s great playing a festival, but you have to stay on your game. The minute I’m finished, I’m off!

Tyler nods with a wide smile. ‘Once we’ve done this, party time…’

Tuskar would go on to virtually decimate the PX3 stage that afternoon.


Matriarch is out now via Church Road Records

Tuskar join Conjurer on a UK run in October/November 2022

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