The New Deal: A New Frontier

The New Deal remains the sophisticate’s choice in livetronica almost in spite of the genre’s popularity spike. As much as some newer, greener crews over-saturate the markets in hopes of rising above the pack, the Canadian trio has scaled back its operation since returning from a touring hiatus in 2004.

It’s an interesting business model for longevity and inter-band preservation—become comfortably withholding just as your popularity crests. It’s a working one, too; rarer appearances seem only to enhance their mystique, and as the New Deal’s members look to
additional projects, their increasingly sparse touring schedule means the live shows are that much more special.

This past week, keyboardist Jamie Shields, bassist Dan Kurtz, and drummer Darren Shearer embarked on a four-night run in the Northeast (12/13 in Rochester, 12/14 in Cambridge, MA, 12/15 in New York, and 12/16 in Philadelphia). Shearer checked in for a quick chat on what’s ahead for tND in 2007.

You guys returned from hiatus a year and a half ago but continue to keep a somewhat low-key touring schedule. Why the conscious move to scale back that end of your operation, especially since you’re such a powerhouse live band?

I think we all realized a while back that we love playing in the New Deal, and wish to continue to do so, but that we wanted to do other things as well. Like becoming a Dad, moving to the U.K., that sort of thing. We’ve worked very hard at building the New
Deal machine, and want to maintain it in some way, but we also want to do a lot of other things. I’d like to play a little bit more, but I think we keep a pretty good balance.

How has the interplay between the three of you shifted, developed, or otherwise changed in the past two years?

We still get along great, both musically and personally, but our relationships have definitely changed. It’s a lot easier to keep things light and inspiring when you’re not hammering
away at 120 shows a year. That’s where the real compassion and attention to everyone’s quirks comes into play. Going on the road now is like a vacation from our regular lives.

The New Deal dropped a live album some months back (Live: Late Night 8/27/05)—a cross section, to paraphrase the promotional materials, of the band with all cylinders firing. What aspects of this performance stand out most? What would you want someone who’s never, say, heard tND before to take away from this performance?

With any live performance you can never predict how well it will translate. Just because you played an awesome live show, and everyone was rocking out, does not make it a great recording. There are too many other factors to make that judgment before you hear it. I recall that being a good one live, and for some reason it also
translated on disc.

As far as material goes it also takes a very diverse show to pass muster with Jamie. He’s very concerned with our records being the full tND buffet. Which is great. I think to really get tND, you have to come to a show. The records are just souvenirs, in my opinion. Except for maybe "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Please Be Seated." Those work well
as an introduction.

Tell me a little about the Omega Moos—which combines you and Jamie with Umphrey’s McGee’s Brendan Bayliss and Ryan Stasik—as well as any other non-tND projects you’re working on.

Well, I have to say it was my idea, but that Ryan and Brendan took the bull by the horns with it. We’ve been buds with UM for a while now, and this proved to be an opportune time to jam out. It’s a mixture of covers and original stuff as well as a lot of
improv. Should be a grand time.

As far as other stuff we have going on, Jamie is being a dad and running a thriving TV and commercial music business. Aside from running a children’s performing arts company, I’m also opening a Scientology centre in Toronto that will be focusing on an amazing drug
and toxin sweat-out program, as well as Scientology counseling and life improvement courses. Dan is releasing a record with his other band, Dragonette, in the new year, which will be cool to hear.

What’s ahead for the New Deal in 2007?

Hmmm…not sure. We’re still making headway to get overseas, a large thorn in our sides for a while now. But we’re just doing what we’re doing. Hopefully making our way out west in the new year, and, oh, just released a portion of our catalog to iTunes, AOL,
etc. So I’m now just waiting for the big check to roll in.

For more information, hit up

Chad Berndtson lives in Boston. His work appears in The Patriot
Ledger, Glide, Relix,, the Providence Journal, and other
publications. Email him at
[email protected].

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