By Matt Kelchner
Earlier this September, the guys in Deer Tick released their fifth studio album, Negativity, on Partisan Records. It was their first since 2011’s Divine Providence. Since then, they have been touring relentlessly around the country. Tonight at Union Transfer the tour comes in for it’s second to last stop on a long journey. While they were out on the road I was able to catch up with bassist Christopher Ryan to chat about the new record and the roads leading up to it.
On Negativity we hear an overarching dark, deeply personal tone (hence the name). “We had written a song called “Negativity” which was intended as the title track. It didn’t end up making the cut, though we kept the name Negativity because it felt appropriate to the work that we had made. It’s a pretty dark record.” Ryan explains. “The same thing actually happened with Divine Providence—it was another title track that didn’t get on the record”.
The personal reflection heard throughout much of the record is brought to light from an off-shoot process during the song writing. The emotional feelings that fuel the songs come internally. Ryan tells me “Well, if you’re putting truth into a song you have to face that truth – and whatever feelings go with it – to be able to write about it. Hence the catharsis. That’s not why I write. The process of creation is fascinating. The catharsis is a nice side-effect”.
Deer Tick worked with a great producer in Steve Albini on Negativity. It was the first time the two have come together for a Deer Tick album. Albini, a critically acclaimed producer, has previously worked with the likes of Nirvana, the Pixies, Robert Plant and Jawbreaker.
“Steve Albini is a beautiful human being; a pleasure to be around, smart and sweet and practical.” Ryan tells me, “It was a natural fit for us and didn’t feel like work at all”.
The band went up to Portland, Oregon to record the album. Time was spent between the Type Foundry and Audio Alchemy studios in February and March of this year.
The momentum behind the release of Negativity– Deer Tick have taken a new approach to touring. Previously, the band’s live shows were characterized with the crazy, rambunctious drunken furies. This time around, they are slowing things down a bit and taking a more subdued view.
Ryan explains that “It’s mostly about sustainability. We want to be able to make music on our own terms, not limited by our record label or our parents or our bodies. I’m not saying we don’t indulge ourselves—there is also value in that, sure—but these days we do it smarter. We drink nicer wine and have a couple beers instead of a case. We still close down the bar every night though”.
On top of closing down the bar every night, Deer Tick is also closing down their current tour. The show tonight is the second to last one. So come out tonight and help Deer Tick close things out with a bang here in Philadelphia! Doors tonight at Union Transfer open at 8PM and music starts at 8:30PM. Robert Ellis and J. Roddy Walston & The Business open.