John McCauley of Deer Tick

John McCauley of Deer Tick

A band named after a parasite. How and why?

The band Deer Tick is synonymous with its guitarist and singer-songwriter John McCauley, who grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, where he began his career by teaching himself to play drums, guitar, piano, and pedal steel.

When asked about the name, McCauley’s alleged answer is as off-the-wall as his Americana-like sound.

Apparently he and a friend, Brendon Massei, aka Viking Moses, were hiking in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest near Bloomington, Indiana, when McCauley found a deer tick on his scalp. Although he camped and fished as a child, he had never come in contact with a tick. Was that a sign? McCauley named band after a blood-sucking parasite, thinking sign or not, the name was cool.

And perhaps in the age of vampires, zombies and werewolves it is. For sure, Deer Tick, the band, is cool.

Find out how cool when, thanks to Denise Mongan Presents, Deer Tick performs Friday, April 5, at Telluride’s Palm Theatre. Doors are at 8:30 p.m.; show time is 9 p.m. The opening act is the Great Funktier, who also open for Ralph Dinosaur earlier that day at KOTO radio’s wild and wooly end-of-season street dance.

John McCauley, who is now 25, started recording his own compositions and touring the area while still a callow fellow in high school. After graduation, he widened his circle by touring the country.

In DIY fashion, McCauley released three cassettes and numerous CD-Rs in this time period, and the project eventually evolved into what is now known as Deer Tick. After almost one year of continuous touring, he returned to Providence with a newfound confidence and a number of songs including “Dirty Dishes”, “Art Isn’t Real (City Of Sin)” and “Ashamed.” Deer Tick would soon earn comparisons to pioneering indie and alt-country acts such as Lucinda Williams, Modest Mouse, and Uncle Tupelo.

Since its beginning, Deer Tick has varied in size from one show to another, and only had one official member (John McCauley) from its inception in 2004 through mid-2007.

Paul Marandola often drummed for Deer Tick between 2005 and 2007 and keyboardist James Falzone played with the band off and on from 2006 to 2007. Current Deer Tick bassist Christopher Dale Ryan graduated from Providence College in Spring 2007. Shortly thereafter, he and drummer Dennis Ryan became official members of Deer Tick. Lead guitarist Andrew Grant Tobiassen joined the band in August 2008. Rob B. Crowell (keyboards/saxophone) joined Deer Tick in Spring 2010.

While Deer Tick perform an eclectic mix of covers and original songs in their live shows, their recorded discography is almost exclusively made up of compositions by McCauley, whose rough, ragged, heartfelt vocals bring a wealth of rock and grunge influences to the sound. The group’s (now five strong) latest release, Divine Providence, drew inspiration from the raw power of the Stones and the Stooges.

“Deer Tick is one of my favorite young American alt-rock bands,” said Mongan. “This will be a great party for the closing Friday of the ski season.”

For a preview of the show, watch Deer Tick go at it on Letterman.

For tickets, $20,go here  or call (970) 369-5669.

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