Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
This is one of the few serendipitous sessions that though it shouldn't have happened, it did happen through no effort. It was handed to us by illness and nothing else. We'll take it. It was on this day well over a year and a half ago that Deer Tick was set to record its second session, but a long and hard tour (the only kind the band knows) was at its end and they'd just hauled from Colorado to try and get there in time for the taping. Lead singer John McCauley III was in horrendous shape and after getting set up and running through the first song, he pulled the plug, feeling taxed and sick. It was a few days before Halloween and the band was going to be getting into the van to make a straight shot back to Providence, Rhode Island. For the next three hours, McCauley laid on the coach and did some mindless piddling around on the Internet - checking e-mail and canceling a show or two to maintain health and sanity. It so happened that the Tick's tour manager at the time was a beleaguered Diego Perez - a fellow resident of Providence and friend of the band. He too was one of the walking weary, but when we heard that he was there and would be for at least an hour, we persuaded him into breaking out a guitar and playing four songs for us, refusing to let him get away. Perez crafts a world of sun-killed desert, of men stumbling around in the endless sand, with cactuses and mirages accompanying as the traveling party, seeking any drop of water as the hallucinations have just started to descend upon their heads. He takes himself into the craziest halls of depression and sadness as he relates to us the wrongs that he's felt and tries to make sense of them in his own graphic way. On "Country Ass Motherfucker," he's wallowing and destroyed, winding through a nice of major despair, singing, "As I go to work where I'll be/Time gets lost/My head fell off/My eyes don't feel a thing without you…I'm losing steam/My legs get tired/I'm living like a fool for you/But if I had a rose for every goddamn lie that I told/Maybe I wouldn't feel so full of shit/Man, it's cold/Maybe I should stay here 'til it dies." There's a powerful amount of pessimism to deal with in Perez's lyrics, but he makes it sort of dreamy, in the way that sad books and sad movies often are the cups of tea for perfectly happy readers and lookers. There's also this sense that he'd so much rather not be the way he is or act the way he does, preferring instead to have a cheerier disposition and to look ahead to brighter days, but he continually gets caught up in the ugliness that sticks around like the mere exit of a scared skunk. He thinks about the big bang theory differently too and places contemporaries or friends, potentially at the scene, asking on "Batman," "Where were you when the world was started by guns not by cookies or pizza or anything fun/And I knew how to say hello and I knew how to say goodbye and I saw her with my own two eyes." It's a line that carries with it child play and such a revealing viewpoint that it should be bronzed and hung in a haunted house with oversized bay windows that let in enough of the moon's light to diminish the ghosts somewhat.