SXSW star Deer Tick to play in IC


mp3 sample: Deer Tick


It all started when Deer Tick’s lead singer, John McCauley, got bit.

“I somehow managed to go 19 years of my life without being bit [by a deer tick],” he said. “But one day, I was out in Bloomington, Ind., I was going for a hike, and I found one on my head later that night. I was kind of sauced, and I made a big deal about it — started freaking out. The next day I thought it was pretty funny, and I thought ‘deer tick’ sounded like a badass name [for a band].”

The Rhode Island’s Deer Tick will fly into town today for a 9 p.m. performance at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Shame Train and the Tambourine Club are set to open the show; admission is $8.
McCauley claims influences from Nirvana. His raspy voice sticks out above a blend of acoustic melodies, gaining hefty comparisons with both Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

“I guess I can hear it [Dylan] in my voice when people would say that,” McCauley said. “I honestly never considered Dylan an influence because I never listened to him much. But it’s kind of nice being compared with someone like that.”

Despite the similarities, KRUI general manager Nathan Gould warns that Deer Tick is no rip-off of the folk superstar.

“McCauley has a nasal voice that is similar to Dylan,” Gould said. “Deer Tick takes the folk and country from Dylan and similar acts and throws in some straight-up indie rock … McCauley is a fantastic songwriter, and [the group is] making music that can’t be heard everywhere.”

Though Dylan-esque songwriting is in the ear of the beholder, one thing is for sure — Deer Tick has bite. The group has been on fire as of late, playing the 2009 South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas (Not only did Rolling Stone name Deer Tick one of the festival’s breakout bands, the members sat down for an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams for the anchor’s inaugural web segment of “BriTunes”).

McCauley has definitely noticed an increase in the number of fans.

“In the shows we’ve done since [South by Southwest], the crowds have been more excited,” he said.
Deer Tick will release its next album, Born on Flag Day, on June 23. The album uses numerous musicians, and, McCauley says, the songs are more refined than Deer Tick’s previous release, War Elephant (in which McCauley played the majority of the instruments).

“It’s a lot more alive — sounds like a full band,” he said. “To me, War Elephant sounds a bit less full. I like the songs, but when we do them live, it’s a lot different.”

He considers Born on Flag Day the perfect sophomore album.

“It’s got a more rock ’n’ roll feel. But it still sounds like Deer Tick, you know?” he said. “… People who liked War Elephant are going to like it, and people who didn’t like War Elephant or who haven’t heard us before will like it. At least maybe some of them.”

With Born on Flag Day on the horizon, and tonight’s show at hand, Gould said he believes Deer Tick is an act to watch.

“Deer Tick is on the cusp of being a band to remember,” he said. “It is stopping in Iowa City fresh off tour dates with Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley. It’s ready to break out to wider success and is coming to Iowa at the right time.”

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