Three questions with Deer Tick’s John McCauley

We caught up with the underground folk-rock hero from his home in Rhode Island.


Last time you played Las Vegas you performed in a magic shop. This time it’s a house show. Do you go looking for unusual venues, or is that stuff strictly out of necessity?

That stuff just kinda happens, more when I used to book my own tours. I’ve played in an ice-cream parlor. I’ve played in the back of a frame shop. I played a fashion show at a VFW post the other day. I’ll never forget the magic-shop show—I think it was the most bizarre venue I’ve ever played. I could do with forgetting the ice-cream parlor show. But nowadays Deer Tick’s mostly playing clubs. We did the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and we’re doing the Troubadour in LA in October.

So are you Deer Tick, or is it a band name for you and a revolving door of other musicians?

It used to be a revolving cast of characters—some bands were just assembled for one tour. But Dennis [Ryan], the drummer, and I decided to make it solid, so we found a bass player and a lead guitar player. So now it’s a four-piece, a real band. But Vegas will just be a solo gig with me, I think.

When your War Elephant album started generating acclaim last year, were you very aware? Did you go online and read the press you were receiving?

I did do that [laughs]—a lot at first. That was the first time I’d ever gotten that sort of treatment, and it was interesting. I kinda felt that it would happen, that it was gonna be the big-time compared to just selling CD-Rs at shows. Unfortunately, a few months ago the label [Feow! Records] closed up shop, so we’re working with a new label, Partisan Records, to get War Elephant reissued. All the actual copies of the album have been sold out for months. We start recording [the next album] in September. We’ve got our battle plan—we’re gonna go into the studio for three weeks and try to bang it out and get it out next year.

With Jacob Smigel, Joe Kendall. August 22, 9 p.m., $3 donation requested. House show, 5824 Fawn Ave.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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