Bill Deasy, lead singer-songwriter of Pittsburgh’s favorite sons The Gathering Field, is enamored with Jack Kerouac and other kindred spirits of post-World War II America.
Like them, he too was a lost soul. But with the rock quartet’s Atlantic debut album “Lost in America” set for release July 30 and other reaffirming events, Deasy has finally found himself.
“I don’t feel so lost now, but I’m sure we’ll be lost literally because we’ll be driving all over the country,” the 30-year-old said recently, laughing about an upcoming tour.
Deasy even initially borrowed lines from a Kerouac poem for the album’s standout track, “Midnight Ghost,” but the famed writer’s estate wouldn’t allow it. No matter, Deasy ended up writing it about himself.
“This album for me is like a coming to peace,” he said. “On ‘Midnight Ghost,’ Dave (Brown’s) guitar solo sort of sums up the whole album, that tension and that struggle and then it kind of breaks open. There’s sort of a release at the end of that solo.”
Likewise, Deasy was floundering until he got married in November 1995.
“I have disillusionment built into me, as a lot of us do,” he said. “But I’m not some angry lost soul person. I’m real in tune with my struggle, more than other people. I’m almost too sensitive to it.
“I used to drink a lot and had a lot of real empty times, sort of like Jack Kerouac, and that’s why I’m fascinated with folks like him. When you’re empty, the whole world looks empty. But I’ve come through that. I hope I always write from the perspective of having been through that, but I hope I never go through that again.”
Deasy and Brown formed The Gathering Field nearly five years ago with drummer Ray DeFade and bassist Eric Riebling. Even before “Lost in America” was issued, the title track was one of Pittsburgh’s most requested songs last year; Atlantic snapped the band up quickly.
The true test is how the rest of the country will receive them.
“Bill and I have sort of a tradition of sitting down on New Year’s Day and saying, ‘Well, what do you want to do this year?’ ” Brown said. “One year we said we were going to form a band, put out a CD and get some airplay. We just joke about it, but it seems to come true, so I think we’ll keep that tradition going.”