John McCauley on Deer Tick's Next Album and Deervana

Plus: The origins of his 'Captain Tipsy' nickname

August 3, 2012 5:10 PM ET
deer tick
John McCauley and Ian O'Neil of Deer Tick.
Dippin' Sauce

John McCauley, singer-guitarist of Deer Tick, is a Newport Folk Festival veteran. Last year, he even acquired a special moniker from a great influence of his. "Ramblin' Jack gave me a nickname last year: 'Captain Tipsy.' I was particularly tipsy, so we had that moment," he recalls. "I think I snuck in a bunch of liquor."

McCauley sat down with Rolling Stone backstage at Newport last weekend to discuss the future of Deer Tick. The band plans to record after they make a grand tour of Europe, which includes a visit to Portugal for the first time. "We are going to go to Europe and do some festivals there, but I'm eager to work on some new material, personally," he explained. "We want to rework stuff."

The singer noted that his writing process is mostly spontaneous. "I just kind of wait around and when I feel like writing, I'll write, but I've never forced myself to write. Different songs come from different places," he said. "The good ones, I usually get the lyrics and the music done at the same time. The not-so-good ones, I write the music and the lyrics separately. If I could just sit down and get a song done in one sitting, that's usually when I feel most accomplished."

deer tick
John McCauley shows off his California Raisins tattoo.
Dippin' Sauce

Deer Tick tend to cover the artists who have influenced them. "We have done entire sets of Nirvana songs before; that was a tribute, and we weren't trying to put our own spin on it," he explained of the group's popular 'Deervana' live act. "Nirvana is my favorite band."

Kurt and the gang have competition in McCauley's heart, though. McCauley is covered with tattoos and, when asked about them, he smiles and explained in turn, "That's Lick Broccoli. It's California Raisins' arch-nemesis. Here's Banana White. I love the California Raisins. They are my favorite band."

Ian O'Neil, Deer Tick's guitarist, blurted out, "I thought Nirvana was your favorite."

John grinned. "Well, they were my favorite."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »