There was a period of uncertainty for Deer Tick, sure. Lead singer John McCauley’s father went to prison for fraud; he struggled with his own addictions that resulted in a broken engagement. He had a death in the family. Life had presented daunting challenges.
“Now everybody’s married,” said guitarist Ian Patrick O’Neil. “After the break was over it worked out great. We made two great albums and we all have a stable home life [laughs]. But I think we needed that amount of time to face the fear of it possibly ending and weigh whether or not we should end it. And ultimately, that time is what enabled us to continue.”
O’Neil and drummer Dennis Michael Ryan were in close proximity during that time – approximately 2011 and 2012 – so the two continued to regularly play and record. There would be a one-off festival appearance. But lead singer John McCauley’s life had become a bit tumultuous, and 2013’s Negativity and the two-part 2017 followup Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2. were not implied. They didn’t have plans for a while, O’Neil acknowledges.
“There was a point that I think John didn’t see the need to pick it back up,” said O’Neil. “I think we all thought that was a possibility, and we were all off kind of recording our own things anyway. Maybe we were preparing for that possibility. But we needed the time off to get our [expletive] together.”
The rest of the band explored new ideas with the possibility that a side project may take over as a career. McCauley successfully recorded and toured as Diamond Rugs with T. Hardy Morris.
“I think we all thought that playing in Deer Tick was the most rewarding thing that we had done in our lives,” said O’Neil. “And it’s only increasingly so as time goes on. I don’t think that it reached that point. But I think we knew that if we had to, we had the skill set and the ambition to do what we had to do to stay creative.”
Weathering the storm made McCauley a new man. He’s married (to singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton) with children, and there’s new cause for optimism in creativity.
“There’s plenty of doom and gloom in these records and plenty of hard times reflected in them,” said O’Neil. “But ‘Jumpstarting’ has an uplifting sense of optimism that we were all ready to have in our music. That specific song and that specific sentiment in that songwriting is the biggest change.”
This project has a soft side and a hard side; released in two parts. Both albums were recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, which O’Neil believes had a heavy influence on their sound. The albums were produced by Divine Providence producer Adam Landry.
“We had this scheme going a long time ago,” said ONeil. “The idea was germinating for a long time, but we needed to make sure that we had the material to pull it off, which we ended up having. We stuck to our guns. We weren’t going to put them out separately; we weren’t going to put out one album with two different sides.”
Twice is Nice: An Evening with Deer Tick comes to Saturn on Sunday, September 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. Chris Crofton opens. Tickets are $22.50 in advance and $25 at the door.