THE INTERVIEW: Deer Tick
Deer Tick is a band from Rhode Island that cleverly knows how to fuse elements of folk, blues, country and rock within their music. So far the band has released two studio albums and does not appear to be stopping anytime soon. Here, I speak with John J. McCauley III about Born on Flag Day, the American spirit, and what’s in the future for Deer Tick.
Is it true you (John) recorded and wrote all of War Elephant at 19 years old? What kept you inspired to make that record, despite not initially having a solid band or record company backing you?
It’s pretty much true. I had a little help from friends. I did have a label at the time that was interested in putting it out, but if I didn’t, I would have made it anyways.
How does Born on Flag Day differ or compare to 07’/08’s War Elephant (besides the addition of band members)?
I don’t know… slicker production I suppose. The next album’s even better though. I’ve kind of grown to hate War Elephant and Flag Day knowing how much ass this new one kicks.
Indeed. Now when I listen to your music, I personally get a sense of America…the underdog, glory, defeat, rambling, the blues….all of these themes come to mind. Now that you’ve toured in and out of the country, do you still find yourself drawn back to a certain place or city? Moreover, is there any place in particular that you feel captures the American spirit at its best, or do you feel the subject of your songs is simply a state of mind that would be with you no matter where you are in the world?
I kind of feel at home wherever I am. Providence, my real home, is nice to come back to. But it’s winter right now so it kind of bums me out. I feel like a lot of Midwestern cities capture that American spirit pretty well… Vegas too.
How has touring been going? Were there any favorite, memorable or special shows for you recently? (I know you guys did the Green Manalishi Tour in October and the Sex Pistols Halloween show in Brooklyn… that one in particular must’ve been awesome! How did you get hooked up with that anyway? Are you guys big fans of the Pistols?)
Our European tour was pretty memorable. We just played a surprise show with Those Darlins in Boston. Ian and I ended up crowd surfing naked. That was cool. The Sex Pistols show was our idea. And yes, we happen to be Pistols fans.
What musicians or bands have been your favorites to play with thus far?
Those Darlins, The Felice Brothers, Dead Confederate, Dawes… there’s a lot.
Are there any artists in particular who have influenced you over the years to make music? Any prospective artists or bands you’d hope to collaborate with in the future?
Tom Petty, Kurt Cobain, Hank Williams, Paul Westerberg, John Lennon, Roy Orbison… I have to stop. I just recorded an album with a couple friends from other bands. Information about that will surface later this year. We don’t have a name yet. That should appease my collaboration bug for a little while longer.
Can’t wait to hear about it! Anything else in the future for Deer Tick?
New album should be out in May. We’ll be touring all god damn year behind that record. My collaboration album should be out in the fall. We’ll be keeping busy.
Lastly, often musicians come to a crossroads in their career, where they’re forced to choose between living as a starving yet creative artist or selling out to the record industry in order to pay the bills. From your personal experiences, do you feel there is a middle ground between the two? What advice, if any, would you give to up-and-coming bands in the midst of this dilemma?
Partisan Records is a pretty nice middle ground. Fuck the record industry.
Amen to that.