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Tusk’s task


Photo: Geoff L. Johnson

Savannah, Ga., has proven to be something of a breeding ground for metal bands, giving rise to Kylesa, Baroness, Black Tusk and others in the past decade or so.

You might think something is in the water. It’s actually in the air.

“It’s just hot — really, really hot,” guitarist Andrew Fidler said, laughing. “You wake up just a bit angry and sweaty … makes you play a little more aggressive, a little louder, I think.”

The Southern city bore Black Tusk in 2005; Fidler and bassist Jonathan Athon just had to take a stroll down the street to ask neighbor and drummer James May to join them after all three members’ previous punk bands dissolved.

Some 72 hours of jamming later, the three vowed to devote themselves entirely to Black Tusk, which plays Monday at the brand-new venue The Chameleon Room.

“To do what we do, you have to be all in. You can’t have one foot out of the tub and one foot out,” Fidler said of the band’s work ethic, which involves ceaseless touring and writing/ recording in the few breaks between treks. “We started this band with the understanding that this is exactly what we were going to have to do. We’re going to keep doing it as long as people enjoy it.”

Instead of forming yet another punk group, the trio decided to brew its own concoction of stoner metal and punk-rock leanings that they’ve since dubbed swamp metal.

“We got older, you know? What we listened to changed, and it’s reflected in our music,” Fidler said. “We are listening to more blues right now than anything else. It’s a product of age.”

Accordingly, Black Tusk’s particular take on metal is a little more grounded and accessible than most.

“Our songs aren’t overly technical.

It’s easy to groove along to,” Fidler said. “You don’t have to have too critical of an ear to find something to like, not this wall of chaos coming at you. It’s user-friendly.”

The band’s breakout album, Taste the Sin, hit shelves in 2010, and the trio followed that with Set the Dial the following year, recording it with Nirvana and Soundgarden producer Jack Endino.

“That was a lifetime achievement for me,” Fidler said, “something to cross of the bucket list.”

With work begun on a fifth full-length album, Black Tusk has no plans to take 2013 off.

“We want to tour the U.S. twice. We want to tour Europe twice. We want to go to Japan and Australia, and I want to record a record,” Fidler said. “If half that happens, it’ll be a good year.”

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