Deer Park
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Deer Park

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Americana Country

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Dec
13
Deer Park @ The Borderline

London, None, United Kingdom

London, None, United Kingdom

Dec
12
Deer Park @ The Prince Albert

Brighton, None, United Kingdom

Brighton, None, United Kingdom

Dec
10
Deer Park @ The Adelphi Club

Hull, None, United Kingdom

Hull, None, United Kingdom

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Mark Grassick is songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player for the band Deer Park. The bands first album came out last year to well-deserved critical acclaim. The band are currently gigging all over the country and are playing a couple of shows in Wales with Otis Gibbs in October. More info on the band can be found on their MySpace page and also on their website. You can, and should, buy a copy of the album there as well. There's a free download of the song 'Waiting On A Change' if you need any more help to make your mind up. Mark kindly agreed to an email interview and this is what he had to say:
1. Where are Deer Park from, how did you all meet and what would you describe as your influences?
We're from all over the place really. I grew up south of Dublin, a place called Kildare. Ian, our guitarist, is from Cork. Simon (bass) and Patrick (drums) are both from London. Lizzy, who sings and plays anything she picks up, is from Newcastle and Matt, our lap steel player, is from Southend in Essex. We all met through various musicians wanted ads, except for Ian and Simon who have been friends for years and played in numerous bands together. Lizzy plays in a great band called Troubadour Rose and Matt is the frontman of The Lucky Strikes so we don't have them as often as I'd like. Someday I'll poach them permanently. Ian has been in the band longest, apart from me, and Patrick played on the record but then moved to Scotland. He just came back for our most recent tour with Elliott BROOD and is gonna stick around. He's the best drummer I've ever worked with. In fact, everyone we have involved is thoroughly awesome as a musician and a person. You can't ask for any more than that. Our influences are fairly wide ranging although they tend to revolve mainly around country or Americana. Springsteen is omnipresent. I love bands like Richmond Fontaine, Okkervil River and Wilco, people like Gram Parsons, Tom Petty, John Prine and Neil Young and then some noisier stuff like The Replacements, Archers Of Loaf and The Hold Steady. Simon and I both adore Guided By Voices, although he comes closer to obsession than I do.

2. What are your inspirations for songwriting and how do you go about the process of writing songs?
My inspirations vary from song to song but I have some themes that regularly pop up. I was raised Catholic so the concept of redemption is one that I keep coming back to. Throughout our record, even though the songs were written over a period of five years, there is a common theme of people trying to right the wrongs they've done and reaching for something a bit better. Sometimes that's just a desire to stop self-destructing. The narrator isn't always me but he's always drunk and attracted to the wrong women. I won't claim that that's not a little autobiographical but I find my songs are usually stories, whether it's a whole tale in one song or the feeling of walking in on a snippet of a scene. The inspiration can come from anything, sometimes my own life, sometimes a film, more usually a book. I tend to be inspired more by books and films than by other music. My actual songwriting process is widely varied. Sometimes I'll come up with the music, sing the first thing that comes into my head and work from there. Other times I work out the music and the lyrics will be cobbled together from scribbles in the various notebooks I always have lying around.

3. What are your thoughts about modern digital music and the way people listen to music now?
Digital music is great in that it makes music so available but that can be a double-edged sword. I kinda miss the days when it was an event to go and buy a record. If music is too readily available then it becomes almost disposable. I lost my ipod a while ago and have reverted to using a discman and I actually love it. For one, it makes you listen to full records, not playlists or your whole library on shuffle. A lot of thought and effort goes into the running order on a record so part of me thinks you owe it to the band or musician to stick with their vision. The flipside of that is the amount of thought that my inner nerd puts into the running order of playlists and mixtapes. The other great thing about a discman is that I've started buying more CDs again, as I can listen to them immediately. Still, my preferred medium will always be vinyl. Everything about it is lovely, from the hiss to the packaging. When we were working out our album, I approached it as two sides, like vinyl. I think that's how music should be treated. If you buy too much into the idea that people are just going to listen to your work in whatever order they want, as a compressed mp3 with poor bitrate then you kill it for those that still treat it like a prized possession. Not that I don't love lo-fi too though but that's something else entirely.

4. What was the first record that made you think Wow that's amazing?
That's an easy one! Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA. I was 4 years old when Dancing In The Dark was number 1 and I was hooked immediately. I used to make my mother dance around the living room with me whenever it came on the tv. My dad bought the tape of Born In The USA and I listened to it constantly, every car journey was soundtracked with I'm On Fire, Darlington County, Working On The Highway. I was only a kid and Downbound Train was my favourite song. It probably still is. No matter how my music taste has changed in the last 27 years, I've always loved Bruce. Once I discovered the rest of his music, Born In The USA slipped down the pecking order a bit, behind Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Born To Run and Nebraska but it will always be the one I love most for what it meant to me. I can tell you this, I wouldn't be a musician today if it wasn't for that record.

5. What was the most recent record that made you think the same thing?
So many things. I don't know if I could limit it to one. I bought a few CDs on our last tour that really impressed me, the first Port O'Brien record, The Acorn's new one is really great and The John Henry's Sweet As The Grain is stunning. I think the one that got me more than any other lately was the new record from The Wooden Sky. They're an alt-country band from Toronto who aren't hugely well known over here yet but that should change. Their song Oh My God It Still Means A Lot To Me is amazing. There's not a bad song on that one. We opened for Citay last week and Ezra gave me their Little Kingdom record. It's awesome. The harmonising lead guitars just blow me away, as do Ezra and Meryl's voices. I also really love Hombre Lobo by Eels. Our old drummer Aurora gave me E's autobiography and it made me go back through all of their records. That Look You Give That Guy is one of their best songs. The consistency of their records over such an extended period of time is really remarkable. They've existed through so many different fads and subgenres and while they always sound relevant, they always sound like Eels.

6. What's next for Deer Park in terms of recorded output, collaborations and touring?
We're going to be pretty busy over the next while. I have two solo shows coming up with Otis Gibbs and we've a few other things dotted around the country. We're also talking to some other bands about tours together but nothing definite enough yet for me to be able to talk about it. I have a good friend by the name of Kyndl Brunson moving to the UK from Arkansas this month so I'll probably be playing with her band Kyndl Destroyer whenever I can. Kyndl's a fantastic songwriter and she's got a beautiful voice.
As for recordings, our record has almost been out a year now so inevitably I'm thinking about the follow-up. I think I have been since we finished mixing the first one. I've been writing a lot over the last few months and we have over 20 songs put aside already, some of which we've been playing live a lot, like The Final Fall, I'll Be Ready and They Can Kill You But They Can't Eat You. There are a lot of people we want to get involved in the next one. Paul Megna of The Oxygen Ponies and Randi Russo will almost definitely be involved again and we've met so many wonderful people on the road who I'd love to work with. I think it's pretty likely that we'll do it in New York, just because that's where everyone we want involved is. That said, by the time it comes around everything could have changed and all of this will make me look like a liar. In the meantime there might be an EP but I'd say it will be 2011 before anything new shows its head. At the moment, we're just focussed on playing as many shows as we physically can.
- The Wobbly Tourist


On Saturday night, Deer Park were welcomed back into the scuzzy – sorry, Bohemian – arms of the Windmill, Brixton, opening for Subpop band, the Fruit Bats.

This was the first time I’ve seen Deer Park as a proper grown-up band – having witnessed their birth as an acoustic solo act and subsequent evolution into a trio – and they are a powerful force for good. The sound is sui generis, but the Hold Steady and the National fit in there somewhere, and early Springsteen – but not as pastiche, more as religious conviction!

With the addition of new guitarist Dean Ramsay (tentatively feeling his way through one or two solos), the sound has been eminently fleshed out and lead singer and songwriter Mark Grassick was unleashed as a rhythm guitarist par excellence. It was all tethered together neatly by Ian Olney’s elegant bass and Simon Oldham’s spare drumming.

They bravely started the set with The Final Fall, a haunting if somewhat downbeat new song, and the rest of the numbers hailed from the debut album, a mix of fast and slow but all exploring Grassick’s Celtic obsession with drunkenness, depravity, and the notion of sin. Highlights included 1961, a love song steeped in Cold War paranoia, and Nails, an intense ballad which always scares the shit out of me.

No covers, which was a pity because in his days as a lone troubadour, Grassick did exquisite versions of Sin City and (believe it or not) Dancing in the Dark. I wonder if they take requests ... - Americana UK


I don’t know much about Deer Park. They don’t seem to have much information available (not helped by the fact that their name is rather difficult to search for online). I know that ‘they’ are Mark Christopher Grassick plus others and that their self-titled debut album, released in 2009, is a glorious amalgamation of Americana, folk, indie-rock and lyrics that could easily pass as something Craig Finn would write.

Their album can found on Spotify and can be bought here.

Deer Park are going to tour the UK with Singing Adams in April*:

Sat 9th Apr - The Haymakers, Cambridge

Sun 10th - 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff

Mon 11th Apr - The Louisiana, Bristol

Tue 12th Apr - The Musician, Leicester

Sat 16th Apr - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Sun 17th Apr - The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Tue 19th Apr - The Lexington, London.

*Judging by the patchy schedule, I’d say it’s likely more dates will be added.

- Jon -? - wakethedeaf.tumblr.com


A lovely, bitter angry piece of alt-folk Americana here from Deer Park. I quite like a bit of vitriolic alt folk time again and I particularly adore the melancholic lead vocals from Mark Christopher Grassick alongside the sweet sound of Lizzy O'Connor's voice. Deer Park recently got in touch with me and on a rare moment of down time, I listened to their music and have found myself adoring 'Something Here is Fractured'. It's just gorgeous, pensive and perfect at the same time, the vocals just oozing bitterness with sublime twinkling from the folk collective.

Something Here Is Fractured by Deer Park

Having heard their name on the London scene a few times, it gave me great pleasure to listen and love their sound. I'm adding Deer Park to my 'bands I must go see live and photograph very soon list'. And you can do that too as they have a few April tour dates across the UK:

10/4 – 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff
11/4 – Louisiana, Bristol
16/4 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
17/4 – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
19/4 – The Lexington, London

I'll be rocking up to The Lex show to see them - head over to their Facebook or SoundCloud to hear more. - The Ruckus


Brixton’s Windmill is far from buzzing. And it’s a shame because this was a real treat.

Kicked off by the surprising spectacle that was The Understudies, with a front man who sang like Morrissey and looked like Mark Kermode, the night moved on to the it’s undoubted highlight, Deer Park. The venue fills up a little for the London-based three-piece and their rich, folk rock.

With the lyrical sensibilities of Conor Oberst and the raw energy of The Hold Steady Steady, Deer Park’s infectious melodies have a kind of ‘last hit of whisky’ downbeat drama that smacks of early Springsteen. A joy. Headlining were Canadians Young Rival who, while injecting some zeal into what had now become a decent sized crowd, didn’t quite live up to expectation.
- LTD


Mark Grassick of Deer Park clearly has a good address book. The eponymous debut record by this Anglo-Irish four-piece was produced by Paul Hollingsworth and mastered by Billy Stull (Okkervil River, Centro-matic, Midlake, Shearwater). It features appearances from Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, Tom Lewis of Stagecoach and Paul Megna of The Oxygen Ponies. The album cover illustration is from artist Julie Miller (worked with Centro-matic and South San Gabriel) and the whole package was put together by ex-Sub-Pop’s art director and illustrator Jesse Le Doux (responsible for The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow). However this self-released debut is more than simply the product of good connections and second-hand inspiration.

“Sounds like: Bottled Misery” says the band’s Myspace page. This self-description and that list of contributors and collaborators hint at the world-weary, wide-screen and whisky-soaked sounds of Deer Park. But they don’t reveal the variety, depth or the quality of music on offer. Even within the first three songs, Deer Park moves with ease from the confessional misery-blues of ‘Decanonised Saints’ (think Conor Oberst) to the tense punkish roots-rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Just Because We’re Running’ (think The Hold Steady). The well-worn Americana genre is respected (if not revered) but given an injection of feisty Irish swagger or a literate, melancholic dose of Catholic guilt and despair. Or sometimes both in the same song – see ‘Your Future Is All Used Up.’ In a sprightly, but deeply satisfying 32 minutes, these ten songs touch on saints, J Edgar Hoover, Spanish movies, Elmore Leonard novels, escape, loss and redemption, fitting in along the way a last-drink-of-the evening bar-room duet with Randi Russo (‘My Drunkard, My Navigator’) and closing with the final cathartic intensity of ‘Nails’.

Self-released albums always require a degree of respect. But one of this calibre and ambition demands immediate listening attention. Highly, highly recommended. - AltSounds


London-bred indie folk purveyors (some may even equate them near "Americana", though being from the UK, it seems a stretch only in label) Deer Park have just self-released their debut record and have spent the year playing out and about and garnering opening slots for the likes of John Vanderslice and The Fruit Bats, among others. Subtle instrumentation and lamenting lyrics of forsaken love and youth and hope and pounds of feeling fill the eponymous record, and moments like the soft defeat of "Your Future Is All Used Up" are overwrought with sadness, in pockets and folds and all over the place, like the shining moments of The Pogues or early Bright Eyes. If you're even the least bit world-weary--and who isn't?--Deer Park is a voice for today an tomorrow and on until those feelings fade away. - Culture Of Me


The Okkervil River comparison that seems apparent from the beginning appears to be a conscious touchstone for the band, particularly through the adrenalin rock thrashes and lyricism of ‘The Evening Redness..’ and ‘Just Because We’re Running’. In addition, Head Deer Mark Grassick has something of Will Sheff ‘s vocal style that staggers between ‘just-woken-in-a-panic’, and emotionally wracked and tune-shy, with whiskey-hued hints of perma-hangover. His style is heavy on the knowing self-loathing, and angst with not a little self deprecating humour, served with a lump or two of artificial sweetener.

London-based Deer Park hoist a flag here for UK Americana with strong Irish links (the band name refers to a family landmark in Dublin) through its references, although Grassick’s own singing voice and accent is somewhat oddly transatlantic. Opener ‘Decanonised Saints’ is a slow shuffling lament that comes on like Conor Oberst’s wise older brother, whilst on several occasions, the informal, almost chatty and intoxicated style of the lyrics has hints of The Hold Steady to it.

Amidst the off-centre ragged rock bluster of some of the material, Mark Grassick emerges as an impressively enigmatic and raw lyricist. The gentle confessional ‘Strange’ (“It’s been three years since my last confession, Two days since my last transgression. This time I’m totally f***ed”) has a wonderful conversational tone, set against some questioning melancholy chords making the albums best complete song. ‘Spanish Movies’ with its cynical put downs and its “we’re all pricks at heart” chorus is another swaying, melodic attention-grabber.

At the close, the slow build crescendo of ‘Nails’ which starts as barely a whisper and subsequently implodes and disappears all too soon, hints at the ability of expanding the sonic palette, and a will to hear more from this intriguing band.

It doesn’t often venture to completely uncharted areas but while it is here, ‘Deer Park’ is a ragged pleasure.


Date review added: Monday, January 25, 2010
Reviewer: Ian Fildes
Reviewers Rating: 8/10
Related web link: marinated venison - Americana UK


When the Broken Family Band dissolved last year they left an unlikely and equally unfillable hole. For the more easily appeased amongst you, Deer Park could well be the solution to the sagging smiles left behind by the demise of Broken Family.

More sombre than their Cambridgeshire peers and transatlantic cousins, Deer Park purvey shop-soiled Americana – wandering from the downcast ‘Decanonised Saints’ to the sub-Thermals racket of ‘The Evening Redness in the West’.

Produced by Billy Stull, Deer Park shares the ragged aesthetics of Okkervil River, distilling the roughshod and at times, theatrical charm applied liberally throughout the record. In fact, Deer Park’s influences are openly acknowledged – from the playful Americana of Broken Family Band (‘Decanonised Saints’) and Okkervil River (‘Spanish Movies’), to the rambling visions of Mountain Goats (‘Your Future is All Used Up’) but more importantly the record justifies such assertions.

‘The Evening Redness in the West’ is a three-minute romp evoking a sense of doom, as Mark Grassick relays a tale of wild west misfortune it’s hard not to be enveloped by the brutality in the lyrics, by the time the chorus begins with “you’ll find all your answers down the barrel of my gun”, Deer Park have entered your mind and refuse to leave.

At times Grassick’s vocal shares the deadpan drawl of Bill Callahan but without the world weary edge. Beneath the deadpan façade there is a genuine ferocity throughout Deer Park’s delivery. Simplistic arrangements are played with a genuine fervour, a passion that is lacking from many of Deer Park’s contemporaries.

Deer Park take their influences and steal without mercy, yet the end product is far from plagiarism. Deer Park combines death, disaster and love with a wry smile…they may be from the same stable as the Broken Family Band, loosely speaking, but there is something refreshing about this record.

As Grassick croons “he’s still a prick, you’re still a prick…we’re all pricks at heart”, it’s clear that there is no greater message here – Deer Park are a band too caught up in the moment to be troubled with meta-narratives and you know what? They’re better for it. - Bearded


Deer Park seems like an odd name for a band to me, given that it’s also the name of the estate I live in. It is also, I am told, the name of the school Dan Mangan went to, spookily enough. Besides these intriguing coincidences, it’s also rather less surprisingly the name of the debut album by the band. Deer Park (and Deer Park) came to our attention through their connection to Paul Megna of The Oxygen Ponies, whose second album I recently declared rather good. Megna makes a guest appearance on one of the tracks, along with bandmate Randi Russo. Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon also pokes his head round the door to make a contribution, demonstrating the far-reaching connections of this London-based band.

Musically, Deer Park are definitely to be largely filed alongside both The Oxygen Ponies and Dan Mangan. This is ramshackle, folky rock. The album is divided between upbeat, rockier tracks and more melancholic numbers, complete with brushed drums and gentle guitar, but sometimes those two poles cross over each other, as on closer “Nails” which seems like an odd place to start but is undoubtedly a highlight due to the cathartic explosion which ends the record. Naturally, the upbeat rock songs are likely to be the ones which most listeners will become attuned to first, especially “Waiting on a Change”, Megna and Russo’s appearance. The song is a real adrenaline rush, a carefree flitting from location to location, like Texarkana and the “grey island” that is Britain. Other songs that will appeal quickly include “Just Because We’re Running” which has a monster of a chorus juxtaposed with a witty lyric. It’s a wonderfully written song.

As the songs get more downbeat, they become less immediately likeable, but thankfully they have enough weight and wit to them to gradually unfurl and to become potential highlights in their own right, like in the case of the sad but clever lyrics of “Strange”. There’s a real sleepy, world-weary feel to much of this album, especially in these quieter, more melancholic songs. “Spanish Movies” is a good example, with its hypnotic, looping guitar phrase and languid vocals – “just because you’ve been smashed for days / doesn’t mean everything’s stopped”. There’s a recurring theme of dope and drink as solace from the world, countered by a determination to get up and do something, to see the world without the haze of numbness. Some albums might depict the process in a linear way through tracklisting – for example, from numbness to living, or the other way round. Deer Park, however, have chosen to use a sort of cut-up technique, meaning the album lurches between its two modes freely, leaving the moral of the stories up to the listener to decide. It’s an enjoyable ride though – as rough round the edges and tumultuous as life itself. - thelineofbestfit.com


Discography

Deer Park (LP) 2009

Photos

Bio

Deer Park is a collective of sorts, a constantly shifting entity. A band, yet also a person. Sometimes two. Maybe three, if you're lucky. Occasionally it's a lot of people. It's always Mark Christopher Grassick, the man who writes and sings the songs. Deer Park started as a stage name and expanded. Now it also covers Lizzy O'Connor (vocals, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, accordion and percussion) and Matthew Boulter (lap steel, guitar, vocals). Together, they've played with The Acorn, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Simone Felice, The Fruit Bats, John Vanderslice, Luke Doucet, Dan Mangan, Common Prayer and many more. Their debut album was released in October 2009, featuring guest appearances from members of Woodpigeon, The Oxygen Ponies and Stagecoach. Lots of people said very nice things about it, including AltSounds, Americana UK, Bearded, The Line Of Best Fit, Culture Of Me and London Tour Dates. Diverse Music called it Album of the Year for 2010.

An enjoyable ride – as rough round the edges and tumultuous as life itself - The Line Of Best Fit
84% - Cream of the Crop - AltSounds
A powerful force for good - Americana UK
A sprightly but deeply satisfying 32 minutes… Highly, highly recommended - The Folly Of Youth
Deer Park’s infectious melodies have a ‘last hit of whisky’ downbeat drama that smacks of early Springsteen. A joy. - LTD
Subtle instrumentation and lamenting lyrics of forsaken love and youth… Deer Park is a voice for today and tomorrow - The Culture Of Me
Resistance is futile (and possibly damaging) - Tonight In My City