A Deer A Horse

Bathed in dim lights and fire baptized on well-trodden stages, A Deer A Horse wear the grime, grit, and gusto of hundreds of shows and countless hours in the studio like a badge of honor. Coming up out of Brooklyn, the band conjoins rock, metal, and punk in an unholy union praised by A.V. Club, Consequence of Sound, Village Voice, and Revolver who described them as “somewhere between the Melvins, Helms Alee, Red Fang, and Sleater-Kinney.” After stoking buzz underground, the group only sharpened their edges with unnerving melodies and cathartic dirges on their 2022 full-length debut album, Grind.

The group initially congregated in New York, and introduced this lineup on their 2017 EP, Backswimmer. Two years later, they recorded Everything Rots That Is Rotten with engineers Jamie Uertz and Johann Meyer at Silver Cord Studios—owned and operated by French metal band Gojira. Along the way, Big Business tapped them for a regional tour, and they quietly packed houses on their own. In 2020, they caught the ear of GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash).

Touring out to Sylvia’s Ashland, OR studio in February 2020, they tracked the bulk of Grind, absorbing the energy of their live show.

“The meat and potatoes of what you hear on Grind is the sound of the three of us trying to capture our live energy,” drummer Dylan Teggart elaborates. “Each take was slightly different in terms of feel, tempo, and orchestrations, but the energy we wanted to capture—the primal scream of a band trying to make something of themselves—is there.”
“It was a playful and fast-paced recording experience,” recalls bass player and co-lead vocalist Angela Phillips. “Sylvia was very welcoming. She went out to dinner with us every night after our sessions and told us unbelievable stories of her career. It’s an example of how singular the recording was. It was great to have Jamie with us as well, because he could communicate some of our idiosyncrasies to Sylvia.”

Those idiosyncrasies pump blood through the heart of Grind’s. The first single and album-opener “Bitter” hinges on a snappy beat and menacing distortion. The vocals ebb and flow in fits of intensity and spite as Phillips snarls, “It’s bitter to be reminded of the happiness you’ll never have.”

“‘Bitter’ is largely about being given unsolicited advice on how to ‘better’ yourself from someone who comes from a perspective of privilege,” she reveals. “This song comes from my lifelong experience as a fat person constantly being given unsolicited advice on how to lose weight from people who have always naturally been slender.”
On its heels, “Panic” slips into a haunting harmony as feedback echoes. In the words of former guitarist and co-lead vocalist, Rebecca Seatle, “‘Panic’ examines the relationship between how we feel and how we react to those feelings. There’s panic, but then there’s the fear of panic. There’s pain, but then there’s the fear of pain. Fear often wins out as the more potent feeling, and fear of failure in particular prevents us from trying, experimenting, and growing. The refrain “pleasure and the thought of pleasure are the same” offers an alternative experience. When we reminisce over something positive that has happened to us – love, friendship, a beautiful day – we are automatically transported back to it. It is a pleasurable experience to dwell in pleasure. The phrase “I don’t worry now” is a warning about self soothing: Pleasure can lead to escapism. Forget all of your problems in a binge of nostalgia, and you prevent yourself from facing your own reality. Too much fear and too much pleasure are two sides of the same coin, separating us from our own futures. 

Then there’s “Give It Up.” Seatle wrote the lyrics to “Give It Up” after watching the film Spotlight, about the Boston reporting team that uncovered rampant sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. It’s an indictment of unchecked power and privilege. “Show it to the world and the world cleans your hands” speaks to the way society perpetuates sexual violence, how the powerful are often exonerated, and how trust can blind us to truth. 
In the end, A Deer A Horse connect through this sort of honesty.

“I want people to hear us and take the road less travelled with their own music, art, or life,” concludes Teggart. “We constantly struggle with being a band nobody knows what to do with, which has made our road bumpy but also rewarding because we’re trying to break ground. Like us, you’ll likely fail multiple times, but at least you’ll carve out a place for yourself in this world instead of just following the pack. What’s cool now won’t be cool forever, but what is original and honest always will be.”

“I hope people are able to relate to the music and apply it to their own lives,” Angela leasves off. “I feel very satisfied that we achieved what we set out to do with this record.”