Deerheart is a Long Island-based artist put together by Tom Ciorciari. Tom Has been on the music scene since the 80’s. He has been in multiple bands through the years including Bostons “The Pets” and now formed Deerheart as a solo artist. Recently Tom Picked up 3 new musicians forming the band! Dearheart’s sound incorporates many different styles creating a unique Americana-pop sound.
In this interview, we have a virtual sit down with Deerheart to discuss influences, the new project, and more.
Q&A, links, and a stream of Joey’s Girl below.
Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. Greenlawn, specifically. It was very bucolic; very “Wonder Years”.
Let’s dive a little deeper into You, the artist and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
I’ve always been a fan of rock music. Since childhood. I got my first two singles in the summer of ’65, “Help!” by the Beatles, and “I’m Henry The VII”, by Herman’s Hermits (which I apparently drive my family nuts with by playing it all summer long!), and my first album that Christmas, which was the U.S. version of “A Hard Day’s Night”. Ever since then I’ve been a very keen student of music. There’s something about the sound of two guitars, bass and drums a that hits me on a very primal level. That sound is so instinctively pleasing to my ear.
Tell us about your story, and how you began writing music?
I began “writing” music when I was nine or so. Making up songs, we called it. McCartney has said the same thing about their early days; they didn’t think about ownership, they just plucked these songs out of the ether. So, me and my buddies had a group and we’d make up songs and have little concerts in one of the guys’ basement for his mother and sisters, complete with colored light bulbs for atmosphere! But whereas the other guys were just copping bits of other songs I was really trying to make up original songs, such as they were. Of course you were influenced by whatever was on the radio — one that sounded like Creedence, perhaps, or the new Paul Revere & the Raiders single — but I knew it was kind of cheap to just rip something off. Even back then. As I got older and actually learned how to play the guitar my songwriting got to a different level. They became a bit more serious, because now I was going to play them for actual people, not just someone’s mom who thought it was cute.
How long have you been creating and sharing your music with the public?
My first legitimately written song was when I was 16, and me and two of the guys I was in a band with at the time went into this basement studio in Huntington and cut the track, one of them on guitar and bass, the other play drums, and me on vocals and maracas. And because I still didn’t know how to play guitar properly (I was writing on a Magnus chord organ! Man, that C, F, G sounds really good when you play them together!), and had written the song in a key that was really a bit too high for me. We transposed it to some completely inappropriate key for me to sing in, and I ended up doing this Iggy baritone, which had nothing to do with this simple little pop song I’d come up with. But I did fall in love with being in the studio that day.
Who or what influences your playing and/or writing? Also, what motivates you to keep going?
There are so many influences. Of course it would be impossible to be from my generation and not to have been influenced by the Beatles. But it wasn’t just the Beatles, it was the whole British Invasion. The Kinks. Man, Ray Davies can write! So under-appreciated. Then there are the Stones, of course, and Keith’s playing has probably been the heaviest influence on my own. Incredible rhythm player. But you go back too, and see who influenced those who’ve influenced you. And then you find Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry and Little Richard. And then you get to the whole glam thing: Alice Cooper, T. Rex, Mott, and, of course, Bowie. He was a big one. From Bowie you go back and find Lou and the Velvets, and Iggy and the Stooges, and all of a sudden you’re listening to Mort Shuman, because Bowie was covering “My Death” and “Amsterdam” at the height of the whole Ziggy thing. And then there were the punks: the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but you go back again and find the Dolls and the MC5, who you’d somehow missed the first time around. And a friends says, “oh, I really dig Dylan”, or “the Band”, and you go back and find out what that was all about because you only caught a glimpse of it at first. And Westerberg brings you back to Big Star. And it’s all this incredible circle of music. It all resonates with me. I can get spun in a direction by Mariah Carey or Usher, as well. Whatever’s good to my ear.
What motivates me to keep going is that I can’t not do this. There’s music playing in my head non-stop, be it something I’ve heard, or something that’s come to me and is trying to get out.
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
On the new album, a theme emerged that seemed pretty salient to me, and, I hope, is relatable to a wide audience. I was talking to my mother and she was going on about how we had such a dysfunctional household when I was growing up (my brother, from an early age, had behavioral issues which grew exponentially as we grew older and would ultimately lead to some serious legal issues). I answered that everyone had a dysfunctional household, it was just a matter of degree. Some were worse, some were better, but no one came out completely clean; that behind every door there was something, we just didn’t know what, as we had our own something to deal with. And, with that idea, came the understanding that when you’re a kid you really don’t know if you’re parents are rich or poor, or if you’re life is a mess. You know that other people’s lives and households are different, but that’s it. What you know is what you know. Until you grow out of that house and enter into the world and realize just how messed up either your life was, or other people’s lives are. So the album came together around that idea, and the songs became very focused and no-nonsense. Classic pop (in the sense that Beatle music, say, was pop) songs that catch your ear and don’t let go, whilst telling you, on occasion, something rather unpleasant.
What was the last song you listened to?
The last song I listened to was “Lazarus” from Bowie’s Blackstar album. I had a real hard time with that record when it came a out because just as I was beginning to digest what he was doing the news came that he’d passed, which, of course, put the album in a whole other context for me, so I put it away for awhile. I’ve just started going back to it recently. It really is amazing. To the very end he was exploring, heading out into previously unknown sonic territories for himself. And the sound it so clean and has such depth.
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
That’s a funny question: vinyl, cd or MP3. Because, as many people my age will tell you, there was nothing like getting to the car with your brand newly purchased album and peeling off the shrink wrap right there in the parking lot and READING the album, the production notes, the lyrics, who played what. It was absolutely brilliant! But I don’t hear at all that vinyl is warmer than cd stuff. I think CDs sound just fine, they never degrade. Perhaps some of the production over the years has been geared to the nuances of cd technology, but I think they sound just fine. MP3s are pretty handy, aren’t they? I guess my preference would be for CDs, but if try came in a nice 12″ x 12″ package they’d be a lot cooler.
How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why?
I guess Spotify is a pretty good place to hear new music. My oldest daughter’s got a band and they’ve done pretty well on Spotify, so I’d give them a good endorsement!
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what are one or two of the biggest challenges you face when trying to attract listeners to your music?
I think the biggest challenge to getting your music out to an audience IS the sheer abundance of music, and good music, out there. With the advent of GarageBand and logic and pro tools, it’s easier than ever to get your music out there in a sonically competitive form. And of course every kid with a guitar whose girlfriend has told him she loves his songs is also putting sometimes inferior stuff out, as well, so you’ve got that to contend with too. The listening public doesn’t have time to dig deep, unless their already fans, so you’ve got to hit them hard right off the bat and keep em interested. ‘Cause otherwise there’s the new Foo Fighters or whatever to grab their ear.
Do you gig, tour or perform? Do you ever live stream? Where can music lovers see you live?
I’ve gotten together a really phenomenal band and we’re just starting to get out there to promote the forthcoming album. We’ll be gigging in NYC in August 13, in an slightly stripped down, acoustic iteration, at Connolly’s Klub 45, starting at 8 pm, and we have a big record release show planned for October 1, at the Crooked Rail, in Northport, here on Long Island. We just had a really successful radio performance on WLINY, which is streaming now.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more of your music?
If you want to connect with me the best places are probably my fb page (Deerheart/Tom CiorciarI) or on our reverbnation page (Deerheart). I’m also on Twitter (@TomCiorciari), so feel free to give a shout out there! You can find all previous Deerheart releases on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, cd baby, Bandcamp. All those groovy online places.
Any last thoughts? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?
I’m really loving what I’m doing. Taking my music to this level has been a long time coming, but I feel the time is really right. The band is fantastic, a beautiful family of like-minded individuals and incredible talents. And these songs are undoubtedly the best batch of tunes I’ve had the opportunity to present thus far. Of course, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my beautiful soulmate and wife, Lyn. And as Gene Cornish (of the Rascals) told me just the other night, “Don’t take any sh*t!”