Interview with Darren Shearer from The New Deal

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Darren Shearer, The New Deal
Darren Shearer from The New Deal

Interview by Scott Preston

The New Deal is high energy three-piece live electronic band from Canada. With a drummer (Darren Shearer), bass guitarist (Dan Kurtz), and keyboard player (Jamie Shields), the music incorporates many elements of modern electronica, which they have branded live progressive breakbeat house. Originally billing themselves as an acid jazz group, they soon found themselves swept up into the emerging musical genre of livetronica. The drumming of Shearer often resembles the simplicity of a drum machine, while still tastefully complementing the accompanying music. Interestingly, Shields never loops a keyboard track and always plays everything live, even if a pattern is to be repeated.

At the vanguard of a new progressive style, the New Deal has become a live touring phenomenon. They have appeared at Bonnaroo, Langerado, Jazz Fest New Orleans, the Coachella Festival, Street Scene in San Diego, Berkfest, Gathering of the Vibes, Camp Bisco, and the Detroit Electronic Music Festival to name just a few. They have headlined over 400 shows in the past 4 years. the New Deal inspires audiences of all kinds, from packed dance clubs across North America, to spellbound receptions during opening tours with Herbie Hancock and Page McConnell from Phish.

Cincy Groove: So I understand this year is The New Deal’s 10 year anniversary.

Darren Shearer: I can’t believe its true, its been 10 years. We definitely have gone through a bunch of different stages and we are still ticking. We had a 10 year celebration gig back in Sept last year in Toronto and recorded it, so it should be released pretty soon.

Cincy Groove: How did the 3 of you guys get together?

Darren Shearer: We were playing in the acid jazz scene here in Toronto. Jaime played in an acid jazz band, I played in a pretty well known funk band, and Dan was doing a bunch of different things, production, producing stuff like that. We just started to play this regular Thursday night gig at this club and I started to get really bored with the club and clientele. We were kind of background noise, they were sort of paying attention to us but not really. We then booked a gig at a club called The Comfort Zone, showed up on a Wed night and played to about 10 people. That show was what actually became the record “This is Live”, which has gone on to become one of the most coveted New Deal records. From that point on we really started to expand our crowds and played New York City every couple weeks.

Cincy Groove: I assume the next project to be released is the 10 year anniversary recording?

Darren Shearer: Probably, but we are also going to be partnering up with someone, not sure who yet, to record some live demos at an upcoming show. Its kind of ridiculous that we aren’t releasing more live shows because its different every night.

Cincy Groove: What side projects are the three of you in?

Darren Shearer: Jamie and I have 2 side projects. One is called The Join, which has been a lot of fun. We have done it with Disco Biscuits, Joe Russo and Marco Benevento a bunch of times, with Tommy from Brothers Past, David Murphy from STS9. We also play in The Omega Moos which features Brendan and Ryan from Umphreys McGee. That group does a kind of tongue and cheek perspective on 70’s and 80’s classic rock songs. But we put our own spin on them. I’m also starting a new thing with Matt McDonald who used to be in Perpetual Groove and this guy Will who plays in the Seepeoples. The New Deal actually just booked the Caribbean Holidays Jamaica trip, which should be a lot of fun.

Cincy Groove: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

Darren Shearer: A lot of hip hop, classic rock, like Led Zeppelin. My mom was an avid music fan, so there was a lot of music from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s always playing around the house. I really have very diverse musical tastes.

Cincy Groove: Did you mom appreciate you picking the drums as your instrument?

Darren Shearer: My mom was incredibly patient and was able to deal with guitar, bass and keyboard players showing up to play all the time. Because when your the drummer everyone comes to your house. She’s great, she was very tolerant of all that stuff. I remember 11 years ago I was thinking about doing something else and she really told me to stick with it. So she was very supportive.

Cincy Groove: Is there any other exciting news from The New Deal?

Darren Shearer: I really think The New Deal has entered a new era. For some reason we have doubled our fan base in cities that we have been working on for years. Which is ironic, because be haven’t had a new record out for quite a few years.

Cincy Groove: Has the internet been a good thing or bad thing for The New Deal?

Darren Shearer: Its definitely been a good thing. We are not a radio band. We have always made our money from playing live.

The New Deal:
Jamie Shields – Keyboards
Darren Shearer – Drums/Beatbox
Dan Kurtz – Bass

The New Deal – Live in Philadelphia

Upcoming New Deal tour dates:
for details visit http://www.myspace.com/tndmusic
Mar 19 2009 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, North Carolina
Mar 20 2009 Sonar Baltimore, Maryland
Mar 21 2009 NORVA Norfolk, Virginia
Apr 1 2009 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, New York
Apr 2 2009 TLA Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Apr 3 2009 The Bowery Ballroom New York, New York
Apr 4 2009 Palladium Worcester, Massachusetts