If you haven’t heard of Deer Tick, we can probably conclude that:
- a) You are really missing out.
- b) You are not a Brian Williams fan.
- c) You were not a lucky ticket holder for their sold-out show with Jenny Lewis and Farmer Dave this summer at 930 club/Are not a ticket holder for their show @ The Cat tonight
- d) All of the above.
If you want a really in-depth account of how Deer Tick came to be, I recommend you head over to www.deertickmusic.com for the full biography complete with pictures. For the time being, I will tell you the basics. Deer Tick is John Joseph McCauley III, Christopher Dale Ryan, Dennis Michael Ryan and Andrew Grant Tobiassen. John is the man who started it all back in December of 2004. Since then, the band has fluctuated in its membership, but now it is more or less a permanent quartet featuring two guitars, bass and drums.
I was able to briefly catch up with John yesterday afternoon before their show in Boston. We talked about the band, their recent feature on Bri Tunes (ps, I realize now that my sole ambition in life is to meet Brian Williams so I can call him “Bri” and invite him to my house after school to listen to Cat Power and Camera Obscura and think deep thoughts…), and lots of other fun and awesome things like John’s upcoming birthday. That’s right, John’s birthday (and Flag Day) are coming up on this Sunday June 14th. I suggest you all wish him a happy almost-birthday like I did since he’ll be celebrating the actual day in St. Louis. Although I doubt you’ll be able to upstage my gift, which is a giant tick-shaped piñata which will hang from the St. Louis Arch. Just kidding. Kind of. Okay, now on to the interview:
What’s the dynamic between the band members like? Because it’s been pretty fluid in the past, right? And now you’ve got kind of a solid thing going?
Yeah, it’s been a rotating cast of musicians. I wanted something permanent and found three great players that could do it. So it’s kind of cool working with them, I don’t really have to worry about much, and they’re good at what they do.
So you all get along pretty well?
Yeah, it’s great.
Now as far as sound goes, you know, obviously a lot of people try to define what exactly you guys sound like. I guess from your own mouth, what would you say your sound/definition would be?
I don’t know, I think we do a lot of stuff in a lot of different genres so it’s kind of hard to say what we are. But overall I’d say we’re just kind of a rock band.
And as far as your voice goes, a lot of people have compared you to Dylan. Have you ever heard any comparisons that just seem really weird to you?
Sometimes I get comparisons to singers I’ve never heard of, and then I’ll check it out, but I don’t really understand it. I don’t even really understand the Dylan thing that much.
So Born On Flag Day is coming out the 23rd of June, right?
I guess just kind of in comparison, obviously the band members have shifted with that, but what are the biggest differences between Born On Flag Day and War Elephant that we can expect?
We kind of move into some new musical territory of course. And I think it’ll be a good record for people that maybe didn’t like War Elephant or didn’t get it.
And I think anybody that liked War Elephant is really going to like this one. It’s a cooler record…it’s kind of hard to explain how it’s different, but I mean, as soon as you put it on you’ll hear it.
Right. And I’d heard maybe just as far as the inspiration behind some of the lyrics, Born On Flag Day is just a little bit more focused on people in general.
Yeah, a lot of the songs on it weren’t written the same way I wrote the songs that went on War Elephant. I just kind of tried to step back and kind of imagine, you know, being in someone else’s shoes, trying to write more creatively.
And just kind of in between albums you obviously have done covers, like that “goddamn” Sean Kingston song ‘Beautiful Girls’. How do you decide what you’re going to cover?
We were asked to do ‘Beautiful Girls’. I don’t know if we ever would’ve chosen to cover that. But I mean, usually if I’m stuck listening to a song over and over again, if I find something really catchy I usually want to do my own version.
Cool. And then you guys will have, I think I heard it was already finished or in the works of being finished, a new album that’s due out in December maybe?
Yeah, possibly December, possibly January. I’m not really sure yet. But it’s all been recorded and it’s almost done being mixed.
Okay cool. So let’s maybe talk about Bri Tunes a little bit. That’s actually huge, and that got you a lot of exposure, right? Let’s see, it’s been something like a month since you did that interview?
And have you noticed any differences? Like people recognizing you more, or just more attention in general?
I didn’t really notice too much extra attention but it definitely did, umm…just so many people watched that thing.
Yeah, it kind of freaks me out that Brian Williams listens to some of the same music I listen to, but I mean, it’s still cool I guess…
He’s a pretty cool guy. We actually liked him a lot.
Awesome. So I guess you’ve gotten to see a lot of America over the past couple of years. Is there anything you like/don’t like? Any places in particular?
I have some pretty interesting favorite cities I guess. I’m a big fan of Baltimore and Las Vegas. They’re two of my favorite cities. And then some of my least favorite places to go to are places that are the most hyped up, like LA or New York City.
Could you describe yourself in five words?
Yeah, five words.
Hmm…alcoholic, maniacal, tender, loving, and at times smart.
Good word choices. And what are you listening to right now?
John Mellencamp’s Uh-Oh album, and I’ve been listening to Long After Dark by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
And do you have any advice for somebody who is looking to pursue a musical career?
Yeah, I don’t know, you gotta work on your sound, you know? A lot of people are making music that doesn’t stand out. I mean, you have to be your own worst critic I think as far as kind of finding your groove. And you know, there’s nothing shameful about sending out lots and lots of demos to every label under the sun. (Laughs)
And there you have it, spoken like a pro. Keep an eye out for Born On Flag Day, out June 23rd.
Check out the very detailed and very entertaining biography @ www.deertickmusic.com
and get a feel for Deer Tick’s sound @
and come early to catch them at the Black Cat tonight