On February 1st, Deer Tick will release a new compilation album entitled ‘Mayonnaise’ – an 11 song companion piece to last year’s full-length albums ‘Deer Tick Vol. 1’ and ‘Deer Tick Vol. 2’ (with two additional bonus tracks).
The band explains: “On ‘Mayonnaise,’ you’ll find alternate versions of songs from ‘Vol. 1’ & ‘Vol. 2’ that we feel have their own merit and wanted to share. We also decided to record some of the cover songs that ‘Vol. 1’ & ‘Vol. 2’ inspired us to play on our Twice Is Nice Tour. We had such a good time playing these covers live that it felt appropriate to document them here. And, lastly, if we are going into the studio, why not write a few new songs, record them, and give the fans something new to round everything out? So, here you go, this is ‘Mayonnaise.’”
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 last project(s), two albums released simultaneously titled Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, the crew from Rhode Island proved that their punk-roots rock had only gotten better with age. Ambitious and smart, the twin albums complemented one another but also stood 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 saw 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 five years since Deer Tick’s last release Negativity, and devotees had 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, was 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.