Providence, Rhode Island's Deer Tick is all about John J. McCauley III. The singer/guitarist formed the band in 2004 and his warped wit and croaking vocal style define Deer Tick's sound. Speaking from a Pittsburgh restaurant and in anticipation of Saturday's show at The Loft, McCauley spoke about Deer Tick's most recent effort, Divine Providence, and the brief time he spent in Texas.
What's all that noise in the background? I am at this restaurant and I am really confused. I don't know what restaurant it is, but it is in Pittsburgh.
A lot has been written about the band's most recent album, Divine Providence, being quite different from earlier releases. Do you think so? No, not really. I just think we did a little heavier stuff. We've always played rock songs. They have been on all of our albums. We just did a few more for this new one.
One of the new songs is "Clownin' Around" which is about John Wayne Gacy. Any more serial killer songs in the works? Not that I know of. That's [drummer] Dennis Ryan's deal. I've written a lot of weird songs, but not one about a serial killer. I don't know if Dennis is planning on doing that again or not.
There's was a band from New York called Too Much Joy that had a song called "Son of Sam I Am." Sufjan Stevens has a song about John Wayne Gacy, too.
Maybe you should do a split single with him. That's a good idea, a split seven-inch.
Last year you appeared on the Late Show With Dave Letterman and performed "Baltimore Blues No. 1," a song from your 2007 debut. Why not do something new? First of all, the show is weird. They have all these cameras filming you and it was really early in the day. It's like 15 degrees in there. Playing on TV is strange. It's not nerve-racking or anything. It's just strange. I don't know why we did that song. We chose to ignore some traditional rules. We did what we wanted to do. It felt like we could do that song better. It was just four of us, as our keyboard player had a problem with his visa. He couldn't get into the country. We picked a song that we could do as the four of us and do it well. The second song came out better. It was "Main Street," and the horn section from Letterman's band played with us.
For this tour, you have all five members? Yes, it is five of us. We figure that if anyone quits or suddenly is not be able to play, then it's over.
For many years, you performed solo. What it a difficult transition to work with a band? I always tried to bring people on stage or try to convince people to join. Not too many people are willing to tour for 80% of the year. I found these guys one by one, hung onto them and made it into a real band. That was my vision from the beginning.
You are John McCauley III. If you have a son, will he be IV? Absolutely, being third is pretty cool, but being fourth, there's something to that. I don't know about having children. I would love to be a dad, but now is not the time.
Brian Williams, the anchor for NBC's Nightly News, is a big supporter of the band. Is he your most famous fan? One of them. I heard that Charlize Theron is a fan, and so is Tommy Stinson. I guess it's between Brian Williams and Charlize Theron.
Didn't you spend some time in Texas? Yes, I was in Houston for a while. I was living on my friend's couch. I liked Houston. I wrote a song called "Houston, Texas." My girlfriend at the time broke up with me over the phone on Valentine's Day while I was in Houston. That's what that song is about. It's got a pretty melody.
Deer Tick performs Saturday, April 28, at The Loft.
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