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Deer Tick and Delta Spirit tickets at The Showbox in Seattle
Fri Nov 5, 2021 - 8:00 PM

Showbox Presents

Deer Tick and Delta Spirit

The Showbox, Seattle, WA Ages: All Ages to Enter, 21 & Over to Drink

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Showbox Presents

Showbox Presents

Deer Tick and Delta Spirit

The Showbox
1426 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 628-3151
Fri Nov 5, 2021 - 8:00 PM
Ages: All Ages to Enter, 21 & Over to Drink
Doors Open: 7:00 PM
Door Price: Starting from: $38.00
Onsale: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 10:00 AM

Bio: Deer Tick

The best art often challenges widely held preconceptions about performance and beauty. We’re moved when we find the sublime in the gross, entranced when crassness collides with grace. It makes poetic sense that one of this practice’s finest current purveyors is named after a blood-sucking survivor.

Deer Tick: undercutting expectations since 2004.

“I think a lot of my favorite artists have always done stuff like that,” Deer Tick front man John McCauley says from his home in Nashville, reflecting on his band’s love of unexpected mashups: tender lyrics layered over pissed off guitars; classical music flourishes delivered nearly naked and high. Deer Tick’s perfected it all, mostly as an outlier, revered by a legion of fans, respected by peers, but not part of any one scene. With their highly anticipated new project(s), two new albums released simultaneously titled Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, the crew from Rhode Island prove that their punk-roots rock has only gotten better with age.

Ambitious and smart, the twin albums complement one another but also stand independently. Vol. 1 is classic Deer Tick: folk-rooted acoustic guitars and soft piano cushion out-front vocals. Vol. 2 commits wholly to the band’s longtime garage-rock flirtations for a triumphant foray into punk.

McCauley sees the two records as a natural progression. “I think it’s something that was bound to happen, just because I’ve always had one foot in each door,” he says. “Every album we’ve put out has had its manic moments in one way or another. I felt good enough about everything that I was writing to think that we could truly separate our two big interests: quiet and loud.”

It’s been four years since Deer Tick’s last release Negativity, and devotees have grown restless. It wasn’t that the band—made up of McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil, drummer Dennis Ryan, and bassist Christopher Ryan—was withholding information. They just weren’t sure they had anything more to share. “It wasn’t anything that we actually talked about,” McCauley says. “We never said, ‘Hey, we should take a break,’ or ‘Maybe this isn’t working anymore.’ We just took some time off. We’d just done our 10-year anniversary shows, and I had a kid like two weeks later.” He pauses before adding with a hint of a laugh, “We just kind of got comfortable away from each other.”

McCauley, O’Neil, and the two Ryans popped up solo and on others’ projects. Personal lives also underwent massive changes, especially for McCauley, who married Vanessa Carlton and became a dad. The couple’s little girl is now two years old. For the first time ever, Deer Tick—an all-consuming band known for constant touring and steady artistic output—took a backseat.

When the band came back together for their beloved after-party shows at the Newport Folk Festival, the reunion reminded them what they missed about creating with one another. “Playing that week with the guys made me really want to do it—it made everyone want to do it,” McCauley says. “So we started making some plans to go in the studio.”

 


The result, recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, is a bold double punch that reminds us not only why Deer Tick has been so missed, but why they’ve become important artists. The songwriting on both volumes is masterful. McCauley wrote most of the tunes alone, but O’Neil and Dennis Ryan also make killer contributions. Self-aware and never self-important, McCauley excels at provocative lyrics that are sometimes confessional, sometimes accusatory. His compositions capture those internal contradictions that define us, like rock-and-roll “songs of myself” delighting in the multitudes and putting them on display.

Vol. 1 opener “Sea of Clouds” is a dreamy mediation on letting go, featuring stripped down instrumentation that swells into a mini-symphony, all anchored by angelic harmonies and McCauley’s familiar melodic snarl. It’s not the only time McCauley mulls over what it takes to move on. Heart-tugging “Only Love” mixes sadness and hope for a snapshot of impending loss. “I thought, ‘Nobody writes a song about that kind of weird, ominous feeling you get in the final 24 to 48 hours of a relationship,’” McCauley says. “I wanted to capture that mood in a song.”

Sauntering “Card House” is a flamenco-soaked threat with grotesque imagery, while lounge-ready “Cocktail” is a wry, piano-fueled stroll through fond boozy memories. “I guess it’s kind of a song about my strange relationship with alcohol—I’m still learning how to deal with it,” McCauley says. “I’m not a teetotaler. I’ve tried that. It’s not for me. I’m not into the support group thing. I enjoy life with a drink. Trying to keep my life in balance can be hard, but it’s something I’m capable of doing now.”

Tricky relationships with drugs and alcohol are addressed in different ways on both volumes. Hushed Vol. 1 closer “Rejection” pulses with vulnerability. “I wrote it about trying to help somebody in some way,” McCauley says. “What was going through my mind but I didn’t say in the lyrics is just reaching your hand out to somebody who’s going through substance abuse problems.” Vol. 2’s “Jumpstarting”—a favorite track of McCauley’s—offers the same kind of lifeline: he shouts startlingly sweet promises over crunchy guitars.

“Look How Clean I Am” immediately follows. Written and sung by O’Neil, the song doesn’t poke fun at sobriety but offers a droll takedown of how some use it as a means or marketing vehicle to further celebrity. It's one of many genuinely funny moments on the project. Jumping “S.M.F.,” (aka Shitty Music Festival) written and delivered by McCauley, takes hilarious shots at a summer institution. “I thought I’d write that one for any band who’s ever had a bad time at a music festival. It’s one of my attempts at humor on the record, but then it just kind of comes off as anger,” McCauley says with a laugh.

McCauley wrote gorgeous instrumental “Pulse” thinking about the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. He lets his piano do the talking. “It’s a Whale” is punk perfection, all screams and growling guitars. “That’s probably the most political I’ll ever get in a song,” McCauley says. “I tried to put myself in the really dark headspace of maybe a men’s rights activist or something like that while trying to poke fun at it.” His chants of “Atta boy! Atta girl!” are the ideal blend of smirk-inducing and scary.

McCauley says he believes “Sea of Clouds” and “It’s a Whale” probably best capture the “extremities” of both records. He’s right, of course: it’s Vol. 1’s quiet vs. Vol. 2’s loud—Deer Tick’s dual personalities, finally channeled onto two distinct and equally brilliant records. “These albums represent a new phase of my life that I haven’t entirely figured out yet,” McCauley says. “I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but that’s part of the excitement for me.”

Bio: Delta Spirit

The whole story could’ve been written in the stars… 
 
Astrology tells us a “Saturn Return” happens when the planet Saturn revolves back to the same position it held upon our birth. It typically takes almost thirty years. However, in the case of Delta Spirit, it took a little less than fifteen. The enduring California rock quintet—Matthew Logan Vasquez [vocals], Kelly Winrich [multi-instrumentalist, vocals], Will McLaren [guitar], Jon Jameson [bass], and Brandon Young [drums]—realign on their fifth full-length and first album since 2014, What Is There [New West Records]. As much as it reflects their journey thus far, it also ushers them into new territory as both musicians and, most importantly, friends. 
 
“In 2015, we were getting along like family gets along,” admits Matthew. “That means sometimes we didn’t like each other too much. We were just growing apart. When we took a break and the band stopped, the friendships got an opportunity to come back. That was the process. Every time we hung out, we’d be like, ‘It’d be cool if we could do it again’. Over time, you can lose it and even forget it. When we played together, we found the same joy and took it deeper. We all had a ‘Saturn Return’ moment with each other. The record is deep sonically and emotionally. The band is still pursuing its endeavor in a meaningful way.” 
 
Delta Spirit started pursuing that endeavor in 2005. The five-piece amassed a catalog beloved by fans, including the I Think I’ve Found It EP [2006] and full-length albums Ode To Sunshine [2008], History From Below [2010], Delta Spirit [2012], and Into The Wide [2014]. Praising Into The Wide, Consequence of Sound predicted, “Wherever those instincts take them next, they should trust it.” Along the way, the group headlined countless shows, toured with everyone from Cold War Kids to My Morning Jacket, and performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and beyond. Launching a quiet infiltration of the mainstream, they contributed music to many notable TV shows, including their song “Devil Knows You’re Dead” being featured in the final montage of the acclaimed series Friday Night Lights. Along the way, they also became regulars on late night, performing on Letterman, Kimmel, and Jools Holland, to name a few, and taping an ACL Live episode.
 
Taking a break, their paths diverged only to continue crisscrossing. Matthew released and toured behind three solo albums, while Kelly launched a career as a producer. Jon hit the road with the LA band, Muna, Brandon accompanied long-friend, Sam Outlaw, in Europe, and Will toured and recorded with Mikky Ekko. After numerous conversations, the musicians convened again at Cave East in Brooklyn for a jam session in 2018. The momentum ramped up as they recorded at Cave West in San Clemente and in Austin, TX before eventually retreating to Sonic Ranch outside of El Paso. The album naturally materialized with the help of engineer Jason Kingsland, who also worked with the band on Into the Wide. 
 
“Along the way, we made sure to keep those precious moments and maintain a sense of discovery and joy.” He goes on, “There are vocals from demo jams, crashes in mic tracks, and all of these imperfect sounds that would only happen once. When we got to Sonic Ranch, it all came together. We’ve always recorded at destinations, but this one was the best.” 
 
Moreover, they wrote and recorded from a new place informed by maturity gained by their journey, break, and reunion. They locked into the process together and eventually found the sweet spot where they were all on the same page. 
 
Delta Spirit introduce this chapter with the first single “How Bout It.” A slow burn of drums and piano simmer as Matthew’s voice stretches into a fiery falsetto on the question, “How bout it?” The track builds towards an airy bridge before a bluesy guitar lead twists and turns through the beat. “It’s the trials of a gambler who can’t walk away from the table,” he explains. “I feel that in my own life. In some way, shape, or form, all of us struggle with when to walk away.” 
 
Originally written in an Oslo emergency room on his iPad during a ten-hour wait, album opener “The Pressure” hinges on a sunny guitar lick and buoyant groove before the hypnotic chant, “The pressure got its hooks in you.” 
 
“Living in Oslo was great, but I’d been running myself ragged in 2018, and I had a bit of a breakdown there,” he admits. “The song talks about that. Always trying to take control and manage my own destiny led to breaking down. It’s about being visibly distressed, coming around to find peace, and stepping through it.” 
 
Acoustic guitar and shimmering keys glow on “It Ain’t Easy” as the verses shuffle towards another hummable hook and a sinewy solo. 
 
“Personality-wise, our band is five contrarians trying to agree on an idea,” he continues. “When your similarity is that you’re contrarian, it’s tough. But, when things work out, it’s incredible. So, the song is really about realizing you need friends.” 
 
In addition to writing “Lover’s Heart,” Kelly took over the mic for the first time on a Delta Spirit album with the heartbreaking ballads “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and“Just the Same.” Meanwhile, the finale and title track “What Is There” hinges on soft acoustic strumming and a poetic homage to the group itself. 
 
“The song is an acrostic, so the first letter of every line in each verse spells out Brandon, Kelly, Will, and Jon,” he reveals. “It’s a love letter to those guys and what we’ve done together as a collective. The song looks back and looks forward. We’re always chasing the brass ring in terms of our hopes and dreams as a band family. We’ve done a lot of incredible things, but it’s a reminder the journey we’re on together is the most beautiful part. We always try to take things as far as we can and live in gratitude amongst that. What more can this band do? Let’s find out.”
 
 In the end, Delta Spirit not only return, but move forward together on What Is There. 
 
“When I think about Delta Spirit, we initially met each other in such an odd and serendipitous time,” Matthew leaves off. “I’m really proud of our body of work, but especially proud of where everybody has gotten to now. I have a lot of hope for us. I’m grateful for everyone in this band. There’s a lot of raw honesty in the music. Hopefully, people can have something to hold on to, so they know somebody is empathizing with their feelings. It’s a record for right now, instead of pandering to the past. It’s the next step."

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