Following their weekend residency as Newport Folk Festival's house band, Deer Tick shot down to Manhattan to perform for the Baeble crew in our backyard. The Providence locals hosted and headlined the festival's three consecutive after parties at the Newport Blues Cafe, and on the third evening, the group performed their forthcoming studio record Negativity in its entirety. The following day, frontman John McCauley told us that he couldn't wait until September 23rd, which would be the eve of the album's release. Fast forward a month and a half, and here we all are today, session video in tow, with the impending release of their superb, fifth record less than 24 hours away.
We're thrilled to share with you this exclusive session featuring McCauley, alongside guitarist Ian O'Neil, who break through the summer's haze to strum three of Negativity's stand-out tracks, "The Dream's In The Ditch", "Just Friends", and "In Our Time".
Negativity is due out tomorrow (9/24) on Partisan Records. Pre-order your copy here.
Well, the dream's in the ditch Now the kids are all pissed But it's not new to you Hate what they make you do First, they pull all your teeth Then they'll want you to eat Well, get over it, kid You don't want any part in it But it's not the way You can't afford your time Or the envy of The friends you left behind So whenever you go They can have everything you lose Is this it? This is it Well, they paid you to scream But it buried your dreams So you wait for the pain That'll sing you to sleep again Now you walk with your wounds Like you got nothin' to lose Act like you don't care While you pray for a cross to bear But it's not the way You can't afford your time Or the envy of The friends you left behind So whenever you go They can have everything you lose Is this it? This is it Is this it? Is this it? This is it But it's not the way You can't afford your time Or the envy of The friends you left behind So whenever you go They can have everything you lose Is this it? Is this it? Festival there, we work like mad dogs. It's Wednesday and I'm still exhausted. it would start to make sense to me, just because we're willing to stick around. - In one way, we kind of are the...maybe borderlining on official house band of the Newport Folk Festival. I like what we do at the Newport Folk Festival, getting a bunch of musicians involved with playing with each other. I think it goes a lot better than it does at other festivals that, like...we've played at festivals where we're, like, forced to jam with people we don't know or people that don't even want to jam with us and stuff. - Particularly, yeah. - We had to jam with Brandi Carlile once and... - Sweet lady. Really sweet lady. - She was awesome, but I really don't think she wanted to play with us. - No. At that point in… - I think we were pretty wasted… - We were kind of drunk, yeah. - ...and it was pretty early in the day, so I don't think she was very impressed with us. With "Just Friends", I wrote it on the piano, and the demo, I was like, "Man, this sounds too much like an Elvis Costello song. I can't do this," and Steve, our producer, was like, "Oh, you have to do it. " He's like, "Who cares what it sounds like? Let's do it. " And I'm really happy with it, but it's definitely kind of like a new style of songwriting for me. When you stare From across the room I can't tell if you're lookin' at me Or just lookin' through The others celebrate The end of the workweek But it's Tuesday For me and you To say that we're just friends Would never do us justice We're a couple of gems Swept into the dustbin When you pay your Respects to the past I can't tell if it's a nervous laugh And you think we coulda made it last The others fail And they'll cut off their tails Man, their dreams Dance to death in their glass We're more than just dreamers When we ourselves believe it We have the rest of our lives Just gotta reach out and steal it Ooh, ooh You're sendin' me up the river And I can't Seem to remember That you said you just Needed a friend Just a friend When you speak Are you holdin' back? It's all I've asked Between now and the past Oh, I'd love to hear You answer that They'll turn on the lights And we'll say our good nights Though they're not Good enough to last While I'm tossin' and turnin' Babe, is your love burnin'? Or have we laid it to rest? Are we really just friends? Oh, are we really just friends? - Negativity drops on September 24th, and we couldn't be more thrilled about it. In fact, I wish it was September 23rd right now, because then, tomorrow will be a really cool day. - We want everybody to hear it now. - I think on Negativity, we worked a lot harder than we were used to. I mean, in the past, Deer Tick is very much just throw and go. You know, just like, "Over here, we got a guitar. Let's fucking play and let's get the hell out of here. " - Yeah, we had all sorts of professionals helping us and... - It really changed the way that we work as a band. We're just so proud of it that we just want to be better. We just want to be able to perform it right, and we want to stick around for a while and keep doing this. And anyway, I had a lot to learn about sustainability as a band, and the past year or so has been a pretty intense learning experience. We all are going through it at our own pace and, you know, doing our own things that are personalized to just to ensure that we'll always be around and here for the band, and… - I can't wait to go to Europe. I can't wait to go across the States and… We're playing smaller venues for this first leg of "Negativity" tour, and I'm really excited to do that, just to continue having kind of a personal experience with our fans when they first hear this record live. - I'm excited to properly tour a record. I think every time we've put a record out, we do the same old songs. We just do whatever we want, you know? Cover songs or whatever, and you know, there's always a party element to the Deer Tick show. And I mean, there always will be… - Don't worry about that. - ...but I guess this is the first record we've made where we're all like, "Yeah, we want to play all 12 songs off of it every night. " So, I mean, if you come and see us on this tour, you're going to see every song on the record. - Twelve out of twenty-two songs every night will be these songs. I think it's really exciting to be able to share things personally with people even though the only personal things you're going to know about are in these 12 songs. But I think it's good that we can have a personal relationship with our fans, or with people who want to be our fans, or come to find that they like our music. - I don't mind the word personal being thrown around to describe this record. I mean, it certainly is in many ways, and I think, you know, if you want to get to know us more than just the music or maybe more what you thought we were, I mean, it's all here for you. You can take it however you want, but I did put a lot of myself into the writing I did for this record, and I'm happy to share it. Well, back in the day When we used to dance You chuckle every time That I misstep Now that we're older And our hairs get gray You never cut me slack For my mistakes You know I never meant To sink to such depths Why would I jeopardize What we built behind that fence? Stay with me Baby, when you can It's a pain to see But I'm still your man Back in our time Before the children We were all the envy Of our friends Then we were blessed With three little babies Whatever broke We built it up again You know I never meant To sink to the bottom Why would I jeopardize What I built as a father? Stay with me On some lost weekend It's a pain to see But our hearts we can mend Back in the day When we used to dance You chuckle every time That I misstep Chuckle for me, baby. Now that we're older And our hairs get gray So gray. You never cut me slack For my mistakes You know I never meant To sink to such depths Why would I jeopardize What we built behind that fence? Stay with me Baby, when you can It's a pain, you see But I'm still your man Oh, it's a pain to see But I'm still your man
Each new Deer Tick record has stood as a progressive milestone for frontman John McCauley and the Providence, Rhode Island-based band (guitarist Ian O'Neil, bassist Christopher Dale Ryan, keyboardist Rob Crowell, and drummer Dennis Ryan), but Negativity represents an epic leap forward on virtually all fronts. Recorded earlier this year in Portland, Oregon with legendary producer/musician Steve Berlin (The Blasters, Los Lobos, and last year's McCauley side project, Diamond Rugs), the album is McCauley's most personal work thus far as well as the band's most undeniable and universal, their famously freewheeling musical approach refined here into a gloriously cohesive whole.
Negativity was penned over the course of a genuinely eventful 2012, an annus horribilus in which McCauley's father pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and tax fraud, ultimately leading to a prison sentence. As if that weren't enough, McCauley's wedding engagement collapsed under the weight of his own excessive behavior and impossible lifestyle. Like any true artist, McCauley channeled his anger, sadness, and regret into his work, resulting in what can be safely declared his finest collection of songs to date, impassioned and interior and increasingly mature, both as expression of emotion as well as pure unadulterated songcraft.
Deer Tick sounding as sure-footed as one would expect from a band known for spending a couple of hundred nights each year on stage more than match the strength of the material by taking a more detailed approach than on some of the breakneck recordings of their past. From the sparkling baroque pop of "The Dream's In The Ditch" to the full-blown Memphis showstopper, "Trash," Negativity sees the Tick bridging boozy punk, AM gold, bar band blues, country soul, and whatever else catches their fancy into their own profoundly American rock 'n' roll. Additional sonic color comes courtesy of magnificently arranged brass accompaniment by Austin, Texas'sGRAMMY-winning Latin fusion collective, Grupo Fantasma.
While Deer Tick have been rightfully hailed for their raucous rave-ups and substance-fueled fervor,Negativity places considerable focus on the band's nuanced and tender side, with notable highlights including the wrenching breakup ballad, "Hey Doll," and "In Our Time," a timeless country tearjerker featuring duet vocals from McCauley's good friend, singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton. At once heartbreaking, fist-pumping, and indeed, life-affirming, Negativity stands as a genuine high water mark for Deer Tick a defining collection from a band driven by an undying faith in rock 'n' roll's evergreen power of redemption and transcendence.