Deer Tick was started by self-taught multi-instrumentalist John McCauley as a solo songwriting endeavor in 2004. The band’s instant, ear-perk appeal is McCauley’s wiry, craggy voice narrating personal hardship and loss. When you hear Deer Tick albums, the honesty that pours out of the speakers punches your gut and tears your heart.
Originally touring with a revolving cast of supporting musicians, McCauley solidified his rhythm section with half-brothers Dennis Michael Ryan (drums) and Christopher Dale Ryan (bass) before finalizing things with Ian Patrick O’Neil on guitar in 2009. The band’s staying power and relevance is rooted in their ability to cross-stitch ringing hi-fi Americana harmonies and lo-fi alt-country vibes with melancholic Nick Drake moods and trouncing honky-tonk rumblers with tattered rockers perfect for Iggy or Kurt. That amalgamation is both timeless and contemporary. (It’s worth noting that McCauley—a self-proclaimed Nirvana nut—sang and played guitar alongside surviving members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear during Cal Jam 2018.)
Before Deer Tick’s co-headlining show with Delta Spirit at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl, McCauley (vocals/guitar) and Ian Patrick O’Neil (guitar/vocals) chatted with PG’s Chris Kies. The conversation covered Teles (and why they're the duo’s current favorites) and how Fender combos have always factored into the band’s sonic scripts for stage and studio. Plus, both pickers provided a quick-and-dirty sampling of their stomp situations.
00:00 - D’Addario XPND Pedalboard
00:15 - Deer Tick Intro
00:54 - John McCauley's 1978 Fender Telecaster Custom
03:21 - John McCauley's Parts "Mange-Master"
05:52 - John McCauley's 1970s Gibson L6-S
07:50 - John McCauley's Luna Moonbird
09:49 - John McCauley's 1970s Fender Super Reverb 4x10
10:35 - John McCauley's Pedalboard
15:04 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's Fender Vintera ’50s Telecaster Modified
17:11 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's Fender American Professional II Telecaster
18:26 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special
19:38 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's 1970s Guild D-40 Bluegrass Jubilee
20:29 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's Fender ’57 Custom Twin-Amp
22:00 - Ian Patrick O'Neil's Pedalboard