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Published on April 23rd, 2012 | by TLV News


Deer Tick – LIVE at Double Decker (by Liam Clements)

If you run into the members of Deer Tick after their Double Decker performance (Friday, April 27), they may be curious to hear about your favorite Oxford breakfast place. A weird icebreaker, but when I talked with front man John McCauley about Oxford, he expressed hopes of soaking up more of the scene—and a chance to relive nostalgic breakfast memories.

The group has performed with a revolving door of faces and in 2007, Deer Tick released their first studio effort, War Elephant, on Partisan Records. In 2009, when their sophomore effort, Born on Flag Day was released, they caught the attention of Brian Williams. (Yes, the same Brian Williams of NBC.) He developed a Deer Tick affinity from the song “Dirty Dishes” off their first release and invited the band to the first webisode of his music spotlight series Britunes.

Liam Clements: What was that experience like?
John McCauley: The whole experience was funny. We felt a little out of place. We were really hungover and probably smelled really bad.
LC: He seems to listen to some pretty cool stuff.
JMc: Yeah he’s a music fan for sure. But you look at Brian’s involvement with 30 Rock and stuff like that and you can tell he’s not a stiff guy. I’d like to have a beer with him.

Deer Tick has released several follow-up albums, and recently a full-length Divine Providence in 2011 and an EP Tim, in 2012. They are often lumped in with the “Americana scene” but their heavy distortion and staccato attack paired with McCauley’s antagonistic vocals give the group an angry, defiant punk subtlety with the occasional fine hint of cow punk like “Clownin’ Around,” and surf riffs like “Walkin’ out the Door,” both found on Divine Providence. And like any masters of the alt-country scene, they can slow and slacken their songwriting to create a dawdling saga.

Last year’s Divine Providence was considered one of the best of 2011, and received high marks from publications that included Paste Magazine, American Songwriter, and radio station KEXP at The University of Washington in Seattle. Lists like these are always a good testament of an artist’s ability to reach out to different audiences and an encouraged listen to Divine Providence before Double Decker will confirm the praise they received last year. April’s appearance will be a mastery of the influences of the alt-country scene incorporating themes like jealously, existential frustration, and just down for having a good time as well as the motifs of punk, rock, and country.

Much of the initial reaction to the band, including mine, was a scratching head sensation caused by the name “Deer Tick.” Attempting to satisfy a curiosity, I had to ask.

LC: The name came from an experience in the woods, right? Was there ever a moment where y’all thought, “maybe we could have gone with a different name?”
JMc: That happened in 2005, I think. I wouldn’t have gone with a different name. We needed something gross.

Their attitude towards their song writing mirrors their philosophy about stage performance as well. Their music, like their name, is about getting the audience curious and removing any uneasiness that hinders the sound exploding from their amp stacks. They like energy, but they also understand the diversity of the alt-country scene.

LC: Do y’all have a preference on the type of venue?
JMc: Roughly 600-sized capacity that reeks of PBR and don’t have seats are my favorite.
LC: Is there any difference between playing in Missoula, Detroit, or Aspen? Is a fan a fan everywhere?
JMc: Every place is unique in some way and we’re pretty good about adapting to our surroundings. For instance if a drunk person throws a beer we’re gonna throw one right back. If the audience is pretty still and polite, we might aim for more of a “pro” show. But we keep silly string and lighter fluid and all sorts of fun stuff in case it gets out of control. College towns and big cities have the potential to go the craziest. It’s those towns in the middle that we have to be careful with.

In a general observation about the current state of music “scenes,” it seems like we are in a period where scenes are not as concentrated as they once were, say during the explosion of hip-hop in the late 80s and into the 90s (East Coast/West Coast, Bay Area, conscious style). Now, we are finding artists established in markets that aren’t normally known as a hub of creativity. Deer Tick is a fine example of this. Hailing out of Providence, Rhode Island, there aren’t any artists from Rhode Island that can match the success Deer Tick has had, even in Deer Tick’s limited time since their first release in 2007.

LC: You’re the first group I’ve profiled coming out of Rhode Island. Were there early difficulties with exposure? I understand there were many do-it-yourself efforts early on. Does this give you and your listeners a more candid experience? If so, what’s that like?
JMc: It wasn’t that hard being only three hours away from New York City. Though I do think a lot of Rhode Islanders feel as though they can make it without ever leaving New England. Even if I had grown up in LA or New York there still would have been those first many years of being a do-it-yourself band. One major benefit of Rhode Island is that I really didn’t have a clue about the music industry, so we had a pretty nice, unadulterated beginning as a band.

Double Decker has a treat in store when Deer Tick takes the stage at 8:30pm on Friday, April 27. They have the heart of a country act traveling the back rounds of Middle America with the new wave of punk rock angst of trying to make it against the odds of ex-lovers, uncooperative roommates, and the dissatisfaction felt from concerned parents, an experience we can all relate to in some manner.

LC: What do you hope Oxford gets out of the show and what do you hope to get out of Oxford?
JMc: I just hope they want us to come back. I hope I get that breakfast in the morning I was talking about.
LC: Any last words?
JMc: It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No! It’s a Budweiser can!

Maybe by the time they leave, they’ll be traveling on full stomachs.

This article was published in The Local Voice #154 (April 19-May 3, 2012)…Click here to download the PDF of issue #154.

Charlie Mars LIVE at Double Decker (interview by Sarah Reddick)
Local Musician: Will Freeman

About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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