Anna Webber
Ray Rahman
September 17, 2013 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Just because Deer Tick‘s John McCauley teamed up up with his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton, doesn’t mean their new duet is necessarily sweet.

“For over a year I watched my family deal with my dad’s looming sentencing date [on federal charges of conspiracy and tax fraud],” McCauley says of “In Our Time,” which will be featured on the Providence indie-folk band’s upcoming album Negativity.  “My parents have had a long and seemingly healthy marriage since before I was born. This was the first time I ever saw them really struggle. Lots of silence and lots of yelling.”

“I wrote this song from my father’s perspective and adapted it to a male/female duet,” he continues. “I play the part of my father and my girlfriend Vanessa Carlton joins me and plays the part of my mother.”

Oh, and McCauley has one more thing for the record: “Despite what some journalists have written, my parents are still married.”

Give a listen to “In Our Time” below:

Negativity comes out Sept. 24 on Partisan Records; you can preorder it here.

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