If it’s a little silly sometimes, you’re probably getting a more personal experience than you would with some overtly serious hype band’s album.
story by Hilary Telford
Having built a devoted following on the strength of their incessant touring, indie folk darlings Deer Tick look to bring the eccentric energy of their explosively fun live show to their newest album, Divine Providence. Guitarist Ian O’Neil takes a moment to discuss the process with Chicago Innerview.
Chicago Innerview: The new album, Divine Providence, is the first you’ve recorded in your home state of Rhode Island. Is the album an ode to your upbringing?
Ian O’Neil: There isn’t a direct theme or anything. It seemed appropriate to name our album Divine Providence after we scratched a black metal song that [drummer] Dennis [Ryan] had entitled ‘Divine, Providence’. It’s also special to call out Providence. It’s a very significant place for the band and informed some of the songwriting.
Chicago Innerview: Deer Tick was created by John McCauley when he was just 18, and has since evolved and grown to include Chris and Dennis Ryan, Ian O’Neil, and Rob Crowell. How has the latest lineup influenced Deer Tick’s sound?
Ian O’Neil: It’s evolved naturally. All of us have fairly strong, but compromising personalities. We can play to each other. We also just trust each other to be honest with each other and play what the other wants to play. That being said, our sound has turned into an amalgamation of our separate tastes.
CI: The new album is perhaps a bit more raucous with songs like, ‘Let’s All Go to the Bar’. Was there a conscious effort to make this album more rock ‘n’ roll?
IO: I think the point was to be less conscious and to play the songs exactly how we would in front of an audience. We haven’t ever been quite as tame live as we have been recorded. It was time to bridge that gap. That particular song is as much tongue-in-cheek as it is sincere.
CI: You played SXSW this past year as Deervana, a Nirvana cover band, and McCauley even dyed his hair pink for the event. How has Deer Tick’s sound been influenced by Cobain and Nirvana?
IO: We all love Nirvana. However, we aren’t obsessed with Nirvana. We did it for a friend’s birthday in Providence and really enjoyed it.
CI: Your latest album certainly shares some of Cobain’s irreverence. The song ‘Funny Word’ starts with the phrase ‘fucking douchebags’ — and you have a hidden track to the tune of ‘Working on the Railroad,’ which proclaims: ‘mister cigarrette, tar, nicotine, cancer, I die I know’…Do you feel like this album is a bit more indignant than previous albums?
IO: I think we more or less just chose to be ourselves. If it’s a little silly sometimes, you’re probably getting a more personal experience than you would with some overtly serious hype band’s album. That being said, there are some very personal moments on this record. We offered up all of ourselves on this one.
CI: Deer Tick is known to have hard-partying ways. What are some of the crazier things that have happened while on tour?
IO: We just got on tour. It’s been fairly average as far as parties have gone. We work late, it’s part of this lifestyle at this age. Last summer, however, we did some dumb stuff. We were in Edmonton, Alberta and John and Robbie were doing some very disgusting pranks so I accidentally and instinctively threw a rocks glass at John. It hit the toilet bowl and took a huge piece out of it. If you flushed the toilet it would flood the room. Luckily…we got out of it without paying to buy a new toilet.
Deer Tick :: with Guards :: Reggie’s Rock Club :: November 14.