Someday, concert-goers at the Strand might be showing up to watch five geriatric hooligans lay down a beat.

At least, that's the impression one gets from Ian O'Neil of Deer Tick, who promises the band won't lose its fun-loving edge no matter how old and settled in their ways the members get.

"There's been a lot of times when our shows teetered on the edge of total disaster. ... I guess at this point we're more rehearsed than we used to be," he says. "Our songs will definitely sound great, but we're a bunch a little boys on stage. ... No matter what, I feel like that's going to happen for the rest of our lives."

Deer Tick got its start nearly nine years ago as a solo act for singer-songwriter John McCauley. These days, the band includes McCauley as the frontman, O'Neil on guitar, Christopher Dale Ryan on bass, Rob Crowell on keyboards and Dennis Ryan on drums.

For O'Neil, who has been with the band since 2009, "four years has gone by pretty quick" and the current configuration is "very stable."

New album: The band's newest album, "Negativity," sports a mix of musing on relationships - not song after song of romantic relationships, but deep introspection on friendships and family ties, too. The album drops later this month.

"John came up with (the title) well before we recorded any of the songs," O'Neil says.


"It's such a bold and big statement, classically tongue in cheek."

The currents carry listeners through anger, despair, longing and melancholy reflection yet feel curiously upbeat and engaging.

"We aren't really interested in making an album where all the songs are in the same key and it's one tonal experience," O'Neil says, adding that the finished album came together in surprising harmony. "The more we listened to it, the more the songs fit together. ... (The songs) thematically deal with some kind of loss .

Deer Tick
Deer Tick will play at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York on Tuesday, Sept. 17. (
.. so I feel like it flows really well."

Performing: In the live show, Deer Tick pays homage to the members' musical influences, embracing cover songs alongside originals.

"People have shied away from doing cover songs because they don't want to shed light on the fact that they have influences, and they're derivative," O'Neil says. "I feel it's better to own a part of your personality than to avoid it. ... We're in a long line of traditional rock and roll and folk music and pop music."

He points to Lou Reed's "Hangin' 'Round" as a cover he'd love to put the Deer Tick stamp on. But whatever the band chooses to play, it's with a purpose.

"When we play a live show, we're there to entertain," O'Neil says. "Our goal is to make sure people are still smiling even after we play a depressing song, so we try to have fun with ourselves and fun with the audience."

This month's show is far from Deer Tick's first visit to the Strand. O'Neil recalls previous stops in York with a fond chuckle.

"Frightening and excellent and fun and a barrel of laughs," he says. "We're excited to come back to the Strand. It's a lovely place."

See the show

Deer Tick will perform in the CapLive concert series at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.

The band's sound mixes country with punk, blues and gospel for a rocking blend of Americana. The Districts will open the show.

Tickets are $21.

For more information, call (717) 846-1111 or visit

- Reach Mel Barber at