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Los Lobos member helps Deer Tick find fresh way to record

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013

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Deer Tick got a lot of love for its 2011 album "Divine Providence" -- from critics, from the fans, from the band members themselves.

But the players were also happy to change things up a bit on its latest outing, "Negativity."

"For 'Divine Providence' we did almost everything live, including vocals, like a live rock 'n' roll record -- fun, loose," soys guitarist Ian O'Neil. "This time we wanted to tight up and focus more."

To do that, The Americana quintet from Rhode Island teamed with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, who Deer Tick frontman John McCauley worked with in the side band Diamond Rings. Berlin, according to O'Neil, brought in a different kind of discipline but a working method the group welcomed and even sought in making "Negativity."

"We'd get in hopefully before noon each day and take the songs kind of case by case," O'Neil, 25, recalls. "We would work on one song per day, and then at the end of the session, if we had time, work on something else but mostly take it a day at a time. Steve would kind of set up a game plan for the day and tell us what direction he thought the songs would naturally go in -- and then we'd all try to skew that in a different direction a little bit.

"We tried to constantly keep surprising ourselves, and Steve encouraged that. He was really smart at getting good songs out of us even if you didn't know what he was doing."

And despite a more exacting process in the studio, O'Neil reports that the "Negativity" songs have received a decidedly positive response during Deer Tick's shows.

"We had an opportunity to rehearse them before we went out on the first leg of this tour, and they ended up working out really great," the guitarist says. "We try to do a majority of the record every night, and we know every single song and like playing every single one, and so far they seem to be working out really well."

Deer Tick and Robert Ellis perform Friday, Oct. 11, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 advance, $20 day of show. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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