Greg Saunier / Deerhoof Interview

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Deerhoof got a lot of new material on the way (split with Physical Forms and a track on “Alternative Congtronics” compilations, just to name a few).

New album is also in the works – any more details on the album?

Yeah! The split will be out soon and the comp track as well. Doing that cover song for the compilation was really a big thing for us this year. We took a song by Kasai Allstars, a band from the Congo, and tried to figure out how to play it on guitars and drumset, even though the original was thumb pianos and hand drums. Something about working on that really sent us into a new direction. The same day we recorded that cover, in our practice space at that time, in Oakland California, we also started recording some of our new songs for the upcoming album Deerhoof vs. Evil. We did the basic tracks for part of “Super Duper Rescue Heads !” and most of “The Merry Barracks” that same day. The rest of the album was recorded in that same practice space a month later after a tour, or in Ed’s new basement in Portland Oregon.

In which ways, do you think, the new album would be different from its predecessor (2008 “Offend Maggie”)?

I don’t know yet… It is done but it’s still so new I don’t know how to describe it yet. Maybe I never will. I’m not good at describing Deerhoof. That’s the job of music journalists like yourself! But it is very different…

This year, you played with Sean Lennon (as Consortium Musicum) and you were also a part of the collective that performed György Ligeti’s “Chamber Concerto”.

How were those experiences different from playing with Deerhoof?

It’s strange, for me, writing the chamber music piece was more like being in Deerhoof than jamming with Sean. Deerhoof has four “composers” in the band and we are really a “composition” kind of band – terrible at jamming. It’s like when we start to improvise we don’t speak the same language. Only when one of us writes a song then we start to speak the language, the language of that one song. Playing with Sean was totally different, we spoke the same language from the moment we started playing. It’s really easy with him, he can just write songs right on the spot, things just flow when we play together. We’ve recorded an album actually, but it still need to be mixed.

Deerhoof’s music was featured on two soundtracks so far – one is “Dedication” (2007) and the other one is “Kids Are All Right” (2010) (plus, you also collaborated with Jon Brion and Nels Cline on a soundtrack to “Step Brother”).

Can we expect more soundtrack work from the band in the future?

And Deerhoof’s music has also been in a lot of smaller films too. And we also created a live soundtrack to a silent animated film Heaven And Earth Magic by Harry Smith for a film festival once. That piece went on to become “Look Away” which was a track on our album Friend Opportunity. And on November 3 a new film will be opening at an art gallery called the Kitchen in New York. The film is called BAND (by Adam Pedleton) and it shows us working on and recording one of our new songs “I Did Crimes For You”. Definitely we hope this collaboration with filmmakers can continue. Not only continue, but expand. We’re very interested in how sound and image can go together.

More recently, Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu performed Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” in its entirety at Donaufestival in Austria.

What was the experience like? And why, specifically, that album rather than “Closer”?

Yes, this was all Jamie Stewart’s idea! He wanted to cover Unknown Pleasures and asked us to back him up. It was great fun! We also did the same album at a free concert in Brooklyn this summer. Jamie is such a loud singer compared to Satomi, and the musical style is so much different from the way we usually play, it was like a totally new experience for us. I especially felt like I should play very loudly through the whole concert, which is something I don’t do normally.


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