An interview with Dennis Ryan of Deer Tick at SXSW 2010
by Brittany Reeber
SXSW was hectic, out of control, untamable and it was nearly impossible to track down any band, even the laid back guys of Deer Tick who took it easy this year with a few showcases and a lot of parties. At a classic Texas BBQ/ burger joint, I found them throwing a party with all their friends, fans, and family. It was late in the afternoon and a lot of eating and drinking had already been done, so it was hard to find a Tick who wanted to leave the party and talk to me- or who was in the right state of mind to do so. After I indulged in a massive veggie burger and fries, Dennis Ryan took a brief intermission from the festivities for a quick, recorded interview.
What’s your role for the band?
I play drums, sing harmonies and I’m starting to write some songs too.
How are you enjoying SXSW this year?
It’s great we have a lot more time off. We had 9 shows last year and 7 the year before, so this year we only have 3 shows and we can throw this party with our friends. There’s a lot more hanging out.
You guys got a lot of good buzz at SXSW last year. Do you feel like this year is your turn to just kind of… chill out?
We got some good exposure last year, so it is cool to hang out. This is kind of like a spring break for bands so we just come out here and play a few shows. I’m sure there’s a lot of other bands out this year that deserve the buzz and stuff.
Do you think that SXSW has helped you guys out as a band in the past?
Definitely. Every year something awesome happened.
And what, for you, is the best part about the festival
There’s a million bands that I would probably never get to check out ever, but I get to see now.
While we’re here at SXSW, it’s overwhelming to see how many bands are out there. What do you think of the current state of the music industry?
It’s really easy to make a record on your own and I really like that a lot of people are doing that and pursuing things on their own and being known that way because then you can actually have a career that you don’t have to compromise yourself for. I feel like I see a lot of bands that almost seem compromised from the gecko to get signed or to get big or something and I like the fact that there’s a lot of honesty right now in bands because of the strife of the music industry.
And are you happy with the way Deer Tick operates within the industry?
Yeah I do. I don’t feel like we’ve ever compromised our music for anything and we’ve happen to have found a group of people to work with who believe in it just as much as we do but are also really good friends. It’s a great mix of people.
Are you guys promoting an album right now?
Yeah we have one coming out June 8th and its called The Black Dirt Sessions and I’m really excited about it.
How would you describe it?
I feel like people who have liked us before will like us, but I also feel like we won’t ever be called an alt./country band ever again because there’s nothing really country on it. We’ve been doing a lot of different things lately, listening to a lot of different music, and taking in a lot of different influences and I feel like we sort of did that on Born on Flag Day but I don’t know if it got pigeon holed. I feel like this will make people realize that we’re a diverse band and do a lot of different things. Then the next album we come out with will also be different, but I think people can enjoy that and look forward to it…hopefully. Because it’s still us and if they liked our live show, it’s probably a lot more like our live show now and the next album will be even more so.
Is it nerve-racking at all- putting out this different album and wondering how fans are going to receive it?
Well I know that the whole group of us is never really satisfied with anything so we always try and do something better.
What is your idea of a solid show?
A solid show is not too tame, not too safe. I like to see people taking risks. And then sometimes it’s too out of control. But I think there needs to be spontaneity.
And what’s next?
We’ve got a big tour coming up and we’re going back to the U.K But sometime in the middle of August, were gonna try to write a new album. We’re all itching to get that chance.