If anyone knows Deer Tick, they know that the boys are proud to hail from Rhode Island. But guitarist Ian O’Neil isn’t capable of conjuring up that same kind of hometown fervor—he’s from here.
“I grew up in Western Mass. I’ve been [living in Providence] since I joined the band. But there’s a lot of cross pollination [in Providence], so bands in different genres hang out together.” When asked how his newfound city stacks up against one of the greatest cities in the world, he didn’t hold back. “New York is the best city around, absolutely. When I lived there, I was at a different bar practically every night. But for someone who is on tour all the time, it was exhausting. Here, there’s more of a small town vibe with a lot of big ideas.”
Providence makes a lovely landscape for his artistry to flourish. “It’s definitely a good place to make music, it’s creatively fertile. The scene here doesn’t demand you to be a part of it—you just naturally become friends with everyone.”
Even though Deer Tick is gearing up to hit the road with The Hold Steady this month (they’ll be at the House of Blues on April 17th), O’Neil discovered the importance of balance when they aren’t selling out venues across the country. “When I’m not on the road, I usually sit at home with my girlfriend, go to the beach, go to house parties. That’s pretty much the extent of my social life.” Towards the end of our conversation, however, he did manage to excavate a little excitement about his impending return to Boston.
“It’s such a good place for us. People really come out and support us. They’re genuine fans, which is really nice.” He becomes lost in thought for a few seconds then solidifies his stance. “I guess you could call Boston our second home.”
[Photo credit: Jess Lehrman]