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It's a Booze-Soaked Rodeo Whenever Dusty Tucker Come to Town

If you like parties where people masturbate on stage, then you'll love these guys.

Photo courtesy of Ryley Surian

Hailing from Red Deer, Alberta, a city in the very heart of western Canada’s oil country, Dusty Tucker is a return to their home province’s cowboy past. Since 2009 the band has been bringing together rock and country influences to create a sound that reflects their blue collar surroundings. This sound—coupled with a party-hard attitude and booze-soaked lives shows which have seen fans going so far as to pleasure themselves on stage—prove that Dusty Tucker still lives in the western saloons they take inspiration from. “We live in the western world—it’s double Wild West over here,” said frontman Trav James, “There’s money floating around; [our guitarist] Ryan worked on an oilfield for a while and I worked construction. Everybody has that redneck hard attitude, so you have to play music that you want, but that will also cater to what your audience wants.”


In true prairie fashion, Dusty Tucker was founded on a winter day when Red Deer was the coldest place on earth. James and drummer Joel Johnson had previously played in a band together, but brought in Ryan Kuly and Nathan Court on guitar and Whitey Furious on bass. The band describes their sound as “northern rock,” which couples together each band member’s own musical influences. James and Kuly grew up as country music fans, while Court says he took his style and attitude from classic rock bands such as AC/DC. The result is an aggressive, hard biting sound that led Cancer Bats vocalist Liam Cormier to proclaim that “they definitely sounds like they’re from Red Deer.” “We’ve always had a big of a twang, but we’re clearly not from the south, so we called it northern rock,” said James with a laugh.

Country music has played a big role in how the band writes songs. Many of Dusty Tucker’s songs, like “The Last Stand of Snakehead Sam,” spin vivid, Cormac McCarthy-esque rural yarns of revenge and murder. James says this story telling element was largely spurred by the musicians he listened to growing up, such as Hank Williams and Johnny Horton. The band’s upcoming album, The Northstone features one continuous story. James says it’s very much a western tale and includes familiar characters from some of the band’s previous work. Currently, the new album has no set release date, the group is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund its release. While Dusty Tucker’s albums favor storytelling, their live shows are an entirely different beast. Like many Albertans, the Dusty Tucker boys like to party. Live shows see them pounding back shots, slamming beers and ultimately, starting a wild affair that doesn’t end until well after they leave the stage. “We play music for people to go out and get wasted to and just forget about their shitty lives,” said James. “It’s music for people who want to get lost in the show.”


Photo courtesy of Raised Fist Productions

Dusty Tucker’s sets are high energy affairs. With this comes an element of unpredictability. At a show in Edmonton, Alberta last year, James had an impromptu pull-up session on the venue’s low-hanging rafters before swinging his mic around on its cord like a knight’s flail and smashing an audience member’s beer out of his hand. “We like to have some drinks and say ‘I’m gonna out and do 50,000 fucking air kicks tonight,’ but that’s about as far as the planning goes,’” says James, “It’s whatever’s happening in the moment and I think that’s what appealing to people—it’s all real.”

The chaos of Dusty Tucker’s live shows means the band has its share of wild stories. At some shows, the band has been forced to leave the stage to break up fights in the crowd. Attempted bass flips by bassist Furious have had multiple bodily injuries, including one incident that left an audience member with a broken nose. “He did a bass flip and nailed a girl in the face. Twice. One time was the drummer’s girlfriend.” But the craziest event the band could recall happened at a show in Edmonton. “We had a girl, I don’t know, she was fucking wasted or on something, but she ended up on stage and she was just masturbating,” James said. “So that was pretty cool.”

The band’s signature brand of partying is not only the driving force behind their live shows, but a means of connecting with fans and creating long-term relationships with them. “You gain fans at the after party,” James said. “They come and have some drinks with you and they get to know you and then they’re the lifelong fans.” The wild atmosphere of Dusty Tucker’s live shows has also resulted in some important creative partnerships. At Toronto’s Indie Week last October, the group met Epica Pictures’ Damien Gilbert at an after party. Gilbert was impressed by the band’s music and energy and a month later, while on tour in Thunder Bay, they shot a music video for their song “Gettin’ Goonied” together.

The music video, which features the band members in a number of increasingly ridiculous stunts, might sum up the Dusty Tucker’s spontaneous style better than any words could over its four and a half minute length. “We did all kinds of crazy shit; we hit each other in the face with a catfish. Fuck, I don’t know… I pissed myself.” said James (he literally peed his pants). If words did have to be chosen to sum up Dusty Tucker, those of guitarist Kuly might do it best: “Fucking reckless.”

Scott Davidson is a writer based in Saskatoon. Follow him on Twitter - @TheEveningRed