It’s been four years since Deer Tick released their last album, the appropriately titled “Negativity.” It was a gloomy record filled with lyrics that touched on drug use, failed relationships and familial discord — things lead singer John McCauley jokingly refers to as “real cool stuff.”

While “Negativity” seemed pretty bleak at times, it appears to have marked the beginning of some positive changes for the Providence, Rhode Island, rock band. Most notably, McCauley weaned himself off of some of the hard living that fueled the band’s boozy and sometimes self-destructive antics.

“I’m not nearly as much of a mess as I used to be,” he admitted in the band’s interview with opbmusic.

Although he still enjoys a drink from time to time, McCauley has settled down — he got married to singer Vanessa Carlton in 2013 and started a family.

The band’s sound has arguably changed for the better, as well. For years, Deer Tick were a sort of rock ‘n’ roll Jekyll and Hyde, as the group struggled to reconcile the wildly divergent sounds of their catalogue. On albums and at gigs, heartfelt ballads and fist-pumping bar anthems sometimes awkwardly coexisted or one side would cease to exist at all. “It’s kind of been a work in progress for years,” guitarist Ian O’Neil said of the their evolving live sound.

Deer Tick may have finally found a solution to that problem.

John J. McCauley and Deer Tick brought the grit to the beautiful open-air setting of Pickathon.

John J. McCauley and Deer Tick brought the grit to the beautiful open-air setting of Pickathon.

Mike Baden/opbmusic

In recent years, the band has been playing acoustic sets in an effort to meld the subtlety of their studio work with their hell-raising live shows. And on Sept. 15, Deer Tick is set to release 20 songs spread over two separate albums, “Deer Tick Vol. 1” and “Deer Tick Vol. 2.” “[With] these two records we specifically kind of felt like we shouldn’t try to jam all of our influences onto one album,” O’Neil said. “[We felt] that we should kind of separate them and give each sound a chance to be itself.”

The result is one louder, mostly electric record (Vol. 2) and a softer, mostly-acoustic effort (Vol. 1). And this fall, the band will be playing two separate sets at each of their gigs, representing both sounds.

After playing at Pickathon in early August, John McCauley and Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick joined us in the OPB studios and played songs from the new albums (in the acoustic configuration). Watch video from that performance above and listen to our interview with the band below.