Story and interview by Kirsten Ferguson
We caught up with Deer Tick keyboardist Rob Crowell “somewhere between” Tennessee and Rhode Island as he and Deer Tick founder/frontman John McCauley drove from their new hometown of Nashville to their old stomping grounds of Providence to pick up the rest of the band (Dennis Ryan, Chris Ryan and Ian O’Neil) and start a tour that kicks off in Saratoga Springs on Saturday night at the Putnam Den.
Q: You’ve played in the Capital Region several times at this point — Jillian’s in Albany last winter, the Restoration Festival, Valentine’s and a few other places before that. Any memories in particular that stand out?
A: I don’t totally remember to be honest. I think the last time we were there it was a bit of a blur. It was the last show of a long tour. I remember having a good time though.
Q: Your latest album, “Divine Providence” – which is great by the way – has some booze-soaked songs on it, from “The Bump” to “Let’s Go to the Bar.” Are those hard-partying tunes pretty true to life for the band?
A: We definitely tend to enjoy ourselves on the road. We’re getting better with age though — picking our battles.
Q: When you played at Jillian’s, you covered the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young,” and I notice you recorded a Paul Westerberg song, “Mr. Cigarette,” as a bonus track on “Divine Providence.” Would you say the members of Deer Tick have a special affinity for the music of the Replacements?
A: We’re all pretty huge fans. [Westerberg’s] manager is a friend of ours. He got the [Westerberg] tune for John. It’s on one of [Westerberg’s] Grandpaboy releases. It’s from one track that’s 25 minutes long — it’s in the middle somewhere. It’s never been released as a [stand-alone] song.
Q: Did you get any feedback from Paul Westerberg on that?
A: Not directly. We’ve heard approval through the grapevine. We’d all really like the chance to meet him. The guy who owns our label [Tim Putnam of Partisan Records] set us up with what we thought was a meeting with Paul Westerberg at a tearoom in Minneapolis at three in the morning.
We ended up rushing from a show to a vegan tearoom and sat there alone until our phones lit up with a picture from Tim of Paul Westerberg giving us the finger. It was revenge for us posting Tim’s number on the back of our van and trailer with a sign that said, ‘How’s my driving?”
We returned the favor with our new EP, Tim. We put Tim’s picture on the cover and on the back we photo-shopped his face on top of all the Beatles from their Let It Be album cover. I don’t think he saw it until it came out on iTunes. Calling the EP Tim was a tip of the hat to the Replacements, too, and they also had an album called Let It Be.
Q: Has Tim gotten you back for putting his photo on the cover of your EP yet?
A: He hasn’t done anything in response yet. We suspect Tim is just going to fire us all from the label eventually.
Q: When you last played in Albany, it was a holiday show, so there were lots of on-stage festivities and holiday-themed songs. Can you give us an inkling of what people can expect for the Saratoga show? You’ll all be rested since it’s the first night of the tour, right?
A: We’ve got the night before the show off in Providence, and we’ve still got a lot of friends there so we’ll see what happens… But the first show is always a lot of fun to get back to playing together. We usually only make up the setlist 10 minutes before the show, so I’ve got honestly no idea what we’ll play.
Deer Tick kicks off their tour on Saturday (October 13) at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs. Wild Adriatic and Barons in the Attic open the show at 9pm. Tix are $20. BUT WAIT! We’re giving away a pair of FREE TIX to the show. Just go here to enter…