Siksika Nation, Alberta

The intrepid hardcore trio known as Iron Tusk traces its roots back to Calgary’s punk outfit No More Moments. It was with that raucous upstart band that guitarist/vocalist Ty Maguire, bassist/vocalist Buddy Wolfleg and drummer Carlin Black Rabbit originally came together to vent their gusto and create noisy pieces of urban artwork. Wolfleg and Maguire eventually left that group in 2013, but it wasn’t terribly long before fate and fretwork came calling at Black Rabbit’s door. 

“We all grew up together; Ty and were neighbors throughout our childhood. Buddy was the cool guy in high school we always dreamed of being friends with. Ty and Buddy were the first people I wrote music with, we learned covers together, and are all self taught musicians, ” Black Rabbit recalls.

“We went a couple years without really talking and doing our thing, then in January of 2016 Buddy contacted me with some songs he had written. So, we got a guitar player and signed up for Rockin 4 Dollar$ at Broken City.” 

The synergy the old friends felt on the stage that night lit the spark that fuelled them to sign up to perform at a music festival at the Siksika First Nation in southern Alberta the following summer. Choosing the name Iron Tusk based on a shared affection for fellow metallic doomsters Mastodon, Black Rabbit and his company of cassette-dropping droogs found themselves in high demand as they booked shows into that fall. 

“Shows were flowing, and we hit the studio to record our EP, Flooded Times (Transistor 66), which debuted in October of 2016,” says Black Rabbit.

“Ty joined as a guitar player in December of that year and eventually took over as the lead. Since then, the three of us (Ty, Buddy and me) have gone on to record our new EP, Dark Spirit (Transistor 66).

We recorded it in one day at Ghost Iron Studio in Calgary. The EP tells the story of a dark spiritual figure that has been spotted by many people, roaming our Reserve. The stories people have describing how this figure looks and so that’s what we told our graphic designer, ‘The Poster Guy’ Eric Dietrich, who brought it to life on the album cover. Our song “Sandhills” is also about a haunted location on the Reserve that has a long history of crazy ghost encounters.” 

A stunning snapshot, Dark Spirit evidences much more than the clear-sighted band’s ephemeral energy, it’s the realization of a shared vision achieved through perseverance and passion.

“Growing up on the Reserve we weren’t aware of the issues and realities that are relevant today. Truth and reconciliation wasn’t a thing at the time. Generational trauma and the residential school discussions were something that wasn’t talked about. We were aware of the addictions and death that affected our Reserve and we used music as an escape. We would lock ourselves in Ty’s grandparents garage and play music day and night. Even racking up Ty’s grandparents’ electrical bill to $1,500 once! When we were younger we only dreamed of being able to release music and play shows with bands like Red Fang and CKY. Persistence and faith in ourselves and our music is what has kept us going.” 

By Christine Leonard (BEATROUTE)