John McCauley, once the only face of Deer Tick, is getting used to sharing stage space with two new band members. After McCauley had already written and recorded War Elephant (Feow Records), he recruited drummer Dennis Ryan and bassist Chris Ryan to join the band. He refers to it now as a “real rock band.” He continues to play solo shows, but McCauley explains, “I can’t sing any song I want to. We have a repertoire. I take the band very seriously. I don’t take myself very seriously.”
Anyone who’s seen McCauley’s solo shows would know that that the 21 year old will often share funny anecdotes and jokes with the audience. He thinks of himself more of an entertainer rather than a singer-songwriter in his solo act, the difference being that entertainers rely less on songs. “I always try to something unexpected. I do a cappella songs. A few weeks ago, I did a skit where I pretended to audition for American Idol.” McCauley admits to being a fan of the reality show, and his investment bears no irony. He would consider auditioning for the show if he was in “the right place at the right time.” After some thoughtful consideration, he says he would probably audition by performing Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine”.
McCauley had been watching Lord of the Rings when he named War Elephant. He cautions listeners not to take everything on the album literally. “It’s all either based on real experience, or it’s clever storytelling. I don’t what it is in me that makes all this stuff come out. It’s just what I feel and what I feel I should say.” Based on real experience or not, the album belies McCauley’s young years. The album covers subject matter like getting drunk (expected from someone who plays a brand of country), which seems atypical of a youth spent in Rhode Island. In some ways, McCauley says, country music was how he rebelled against the old rock and roll he grew up listening to.
Rebellion is not a concern for Deer Tick these days. The band’s MySpace page states that the band is looking to “sell out big.” McCauley would most like to see “Spend the Night” from War Elephant used to sell beer. He has some limits, though: “I’m a really big fan of Coors Original. I don’t think I’d sell that song for a Coors Light commercial.”