In honor of Deer Tick’s upcoming March 14 concert at Lupo’s, I sat down for a Q+A with the band’s bassist Chris Ryan, who turned out to be just as cool and funny as I imagined he would be (what else did you expect?). We are also happy to announce that we’ll be giving away a pair of free tickets to the show! Just fill out the Google form below to enter. We’ll notify you via email a week before the show (March 7th)!
BlogDH: You came to the band a little later after pursuing a degree, is that right? What drew you to Deer Tick?
Chris Ryan: At that point it was John and Dennis, and I had known them for a long time and played with them before. But I guess John was waiting until I got out of school, which I’m glad he did, because if he asked me while I was still in school I wouldn’t have graduated. [John and I met] in high school.
When did you take up the bass guitar?
Any other instruments?
Nope, just Bass Guitar.
So where did the name Deer Tick come from?
It would have just been John McCauley and the band or the John McCauley project. But John was hiking in the early days and got bit by a tick and got really scared about it, so that’s where the name came from. Music is also pretty parasitic, when you think about it.
Are you a Providence lifer? How was Providence influential to the creation of your music?
I grew up in North Providence. Because the town is so small and, therefore, the music scene is so small, everybody knows everybody else and so it kinda allows for an anything-goes attitude. [For example], the kids who are playing folk music are friends with the kids who are playing rock, so the concert bills were pretty mixed which was cool. If Providence has influenced us, it would have to be because of the mixed genres.
The band’s music has been described as rock with folk, blues, and country influences. Given these various categories, how do you describe the music you make?
Probably rock n’ roll, because it’s the most broadly encompassing genre. But so much of [genre labelling] comes from when something is made. Like the Rolling Stones could be all country, but they’re not. Because they’re the Rolling Stones (laughs).
What’s your personal favorite song that Deer Tick has produced?
On the new record, it would probably be Big House… probably because I don’t have anything to do with that song, I didn’t play on it. So i don’t have anything to make me biased. And it’s a really beautiful song.
I’ve read that Deer Tick has performed whole sets as a Nirvana cover band called Deervana. What other musical groups inspire you?
We did a set as the Sex Pistols one Halloween. Each one of us has different tastes… but we all like bad music a lot. I think that’s what inspires us most.
What do you mean by bad music?
Either trying too hard, or really corny. Just stuff that you can laugh at, I think, is what inspires us the most. Listening together and just getting a kick out of it.
What do you personally think is unique about “Negativity”? It’s getting a lot of hype!
It was more of a concentrated effort on our behalf… Having a producer was a big help. Having this paternal figure in the studio telling us what to do. “Divine Providence” was a much more casual situation, just that whole record in general was a lot more casual.
If you could have any other occupation, what would it be?
I don’t know. It’s probably too late in my life to get into this, but I’ve always thought that smokejumpers were kinda cool.
What’s a smokejumper?
They parachute into forest fires with chainsaws and cut down trees [to help put out fires].
I’ve had a hard time figuring this out. I think a meerkat or prairie dog. I kept noticing myself in photographs always looking off to the side like a prairie dog or meerkat would.
Favorite bar or eatery in Providence?
Bodega Malasaña. It’s our buddy Diego’s wine bar.
Favorite polar vortex activity?
I missed the polar vortex!
Well, fortunately for you, I think it’s coming back.
Oh great! We were on tour when it happened. I guess smoking cigarettes outside is really uncomfortable… Like why would you go outside when it’s so cold? I’ll just, like, kill myself slowly and stand out in the cold at the same time.