Arrow-right Camera
A&E >  Music

Deer Tick embraces acoustic, electric interests on “Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2”

Rhode Island’s Deer Tick were between a rock and a folk place.

They had a batch of acoustic songs and a batch of electric songs, but while they were both solid collections on their own, they weren’t playing well together when the band thought about sequencing an album.

Sure, the band – singer/guitarist John McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil, bassist Christopher Ryan and drummer Dennis Ryan – could have reworked one batch to better fit the other, or they could have scrapped one sound altogether.

But instead of letting all that hard work go to waste, the quartet decided to embrace the disparity.

In September, Deer Tick released “Deer Tick Vol. 1” and “Deer Tick Vol. 2.”

The acoustic “Vol. 1” is the Americana/folk listeners have come to expect, while the electric “Vol. 2” finds the band fully embracing the garage-rock sound that has permeated songs here and there in recent years.

The band will give both genres a turn in the spotlight, performing two sets, one acoustic and one electric, during “Twice is Nice: An Evening with Deer Tick” at the Bartlett on Thursday.

The band had the idea to release two separate albums before entering the studio. They thought about releasing mini-albums, but with 80 percent of the songs that would end up on “Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2” together before the band began to record, plus the material written in the studio, they had more than enough material for the two 10-track albums.

“We actually did cut songs off of it already, so we would have been more surgical if we had to,” O’Neil said during a day off in Madison, Wisconsin.

The band had so much material thanks, oddly enough, to spending time apart.

During the three years between 2013’s “Negativity” and last year’s Newport Folk Festival, the quartet focused most of their time on other projects.

After the band performed at the annual festival’s after-parties at the Newport Blues Cafe, O’Neil said they felt rejuvenated and decided to set some time aside for Deer Tick.

“A lot of stuff probably started to come to fruition on each songwriter’s personal basis a little bit, and we started to see where the actual motivation (was)… and what we could do with them,” he said. “After that, I think it really gave us a lot of incentive to really work really hard when we got back into the studio.”

The band took it easy when it entered the studio, recording the songs they were most familiar with first to get back into the groove.

With those songs, some of which were around two years old, out of the way, the band found room to experiment.

“We got to be able to explore and change some of the arrangements as time went on because we had gotten more comfortable with playing with each other and playing in that studio space,” O’Neil said.

While working on “Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2,” the band expected that fans might latch onto one volume more than the other.

In recent years, O’Neil said fans have been confused by the band’s louder tracks, preferring its quieter tunes. Only recently, he said, have they started to understand 2011’s “Divine Providence,” which is more raucous than the band’s earlier releases.

“I think we’re always going to be a little out of step with what our fans are expecting or wanting from us,” O’Neil said. “But that’s one of the reasons why we decided to deal in both styles, so we could please ourselves and not make any concessions for ourselves.

“But also we understand that there’s certain aspects of both of our sounds that different kinds of fans like. That’s a result of being as schizophrenic as we can be.”

If fans feel like “Deer Tick Vol. 1” and “Deer Tick Vol. 2” come from two different bands, they’re not entirely alone.

Though O’Neil said it doesn’t feel like two completely different bands to him, he does feel like he’s in two bands with the same people, noting he thinks the difference in sound is dictated by the people, not the instrumentation.

“It does feel like the same exact people, it just feels like we’re in a different line of work at the beginning of the night than we are at the end of the night,” he said.

Marking this transition, the band changes outfits between sets, which O’Neil said helps the band’s frame of mind when moving from one genre to the other.

Although the band is playing an acoustic and electric set, the quartet isn’t playing “Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2” in full, but rather mixing new material with songs from throughout its discography, some of which were reworked for a 2016 acoustic tour.

The band also learned 12 to 15 new covers to play when they feel so inspired and hopes to perform every song from its discography by the end of the “Twice is Nice” tour, an ambitious goal that marks a band that has definitely gotten back into the groove.

“We want to do everything over the next month,” O’Neil said. “We have a touring keyboard player named Gabe, but the rest of us have been doing this together for so long that we can jump into anything with each other pretty easily.”


Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day's top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!