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Deerhoof on stage.jpg
Background information
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Noise pop,[1] noise,[2] art rock,[3][4] indie rock,[3] experimental[2]
Years active 1994–present
Members Satomi Matsuzaki
John Dieterich
Ed Rodriguez
Greg Saunier
Past members Rob Fisk
Kelly Goode
Chris Cohen

Deerhoof is a noise pop band formed in San Francisco in 1994. Known for being high-energy, unpredictable and difficult to classify, Deerhoof has maintained that they have never known what kind of music they would create next, nor that they even had any idea what they were doing when they created it.[5] Deerhoof has released 11 self-produced albums and continues to tour the world frequently. The current members of Deerhoof are Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez and Greg Saunier.


The Man, The King, The Girl; Holdypaws; Halfbird[edit]

Rob Fisk and Greg Saunier founded Deerhoof in San Francisco in 1994. Their first releases were self-produced singles, combining punk, grunge, noise improvisation, and ballads, played on bass and drums. Satomi Matsuzaki, having moved to San Francisco in May 1995, joined Deerhoof within a week of arrival, with no prior band experience, and went on tour as Deerhoof's singer another week later.[6] The trio was not heard on record until Deerhoof released their self-produced debut album The Man, the King, the Girl on Kill Rock Stars in 1997. The songs were built upon the wild and stripped-down sound of the early singles with jingle-like melodies and a colorful sound palette including Casio organs, Optigan, Korg synthesizer, and electric banjo.[7] The album was self-produced and the cover art of a magical cow and a rabbit on a unicycle, as well as the zine reproduced in the booklet, were drawn by Fisk.[8]

In 1997 they started to record Halfbird,[6] but abondoned it in favor of a drastic change in style. They added Kelly Goode on keyboard (the monophonic Casio VL-1) and Matsuzaki taught herself to play the bass.[8] From 1997 to 1999, Deerhoof toured the U.S. with Sleater-Kinney, Lightning Bolt and Sonic Youth, among others.[8] Their 1999 album Holdypaws contained no elements of noise, improvisation, or unusual instrumentation.[6] The unpredictable change in style between albums has remained a Deerhoof hallmark. In fall 1999, Fisk and Goode left the band. Halfbird was completed by Saunier and Matsuzaki and released in 2001.[6] The artwork was by Fisk.[6]

Reveille; Apple O'[edit]

In late 1999, they asked Gorge Trio[9] guitarist John Dieterich to join the band. He brought a new guitar dexterity and a new interest in electronic music. Deerhoof's fourth album, Reveille, was released in 2002 on Kill Rock Stars to critical acclaim. Reveille was included in best-of lists published by both The New York Times and Pitchfork Media,[10] among others.

In 2001, Chris Cohen joined on guitar.[6] Over the next three years, this lineup of Deerhoof captured more attention from critics, musicians, and the public alike.[11] They opened shows for a wide variety of established artists including Wilco, TV on the Radio, The Roots, Stephen Malkmus, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Legendary radio DJ John Peel invited the band twice to record sessions for BBC Radio 1, and were selected by both Sonic Youth and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening to perform at All Tomorrow's Parties festivals, marking their first two of many appearances at the festival.[7]

Deerhoof released their fifth album, Apple O', in 2003 on Kill Rock Stars. The idea behind the recording of the album came to Saunier as he was reading a positive review of Reveille in Thrasher, but was then disappointed when he turned the page to find an interview with musician Kim Deal where she criticized the use of Pro Tools, computer recording tricks, and sampling, all of which featured prominently on Reveille.[7] Therefore Apple O' was produced in a simpler, live manner, without overdubs. Most of the album was recorded in one nine-hour session with Jay Pellicci engineering.[6] Exceptions were "Sealed With A Kiss", which was created exclusively from samples from songs about apples, and the final two tracks which were recorded at home on acoustic guitar.[6] The album received critical praise, notably in The New York Times and Jane. It was later listed by Pitchfork Media as one of the top albums of the 2000s.[12]

Milk Man; Green Cosmos[edit]

In 2003 Matsuzaki was editing a Bay Area Japanese magazine, Cohen was a waiter at a Thai restaurant, and Dieterich and Saunier were doing data entry for legal and consulting firms.[6] They all decided to quit their jobs at once in order to tour full-time.

Deerhoof performing in 2004

Deerhoof released their sixth album, Milk Man, in 2004 on Kill Rock Stars to critical acclaim. Inspired by a cartoon character created by Tokyo artist Ken Kagami,[6] the album featured a lavish, Broadway-inspired sound.[6] In 2006 this album was adapted to a children's ballet.[13]

The band's 2005 EP Green Cosmos was the first Deerhoof release to be sung in Matsuzaki's native language of Japanese. Green Cosmos took the aesthetic of Milk Man a step further by combining an orchestral sound with dance music styles of various eras. Artwork was created from original tarot cards designed by music video director Dawn Garcia.[6]

The Runners Four[edit]

In the fall of 2005, Deerhoof released The Runners Four on Kill Rock Stars. This double album was the result of several months of recording in their rented practice space in Oakland. Matsuzaki and Cohen reversed instrumental roles, with Matsuzaki playing guitar and Cohen bass, and each member was featured as vocalist at various points.[8] Certain motifs – time travel, sports, smuggling, allusions to Noah's Ark – recurred throughout the unusually wordy lyrics. Critical praise came notably from The New York Times and Pitchfork, which named the album as No. 6 in the best albums of 2005.[14] The album was selected as Sufjan Stevens's "Album of the Decade" in Uncut Magazine.[7]

In 2006, Danielson released the critically acclaimed Ships, which featured the four then-members of Deerhoof as the backing band for many of the tracks.[15]

In spring 2006, after an extensive world tour, Deerhoof composed and performed a live soundtrack to Harry Smith's hour-long animation masterpiece Heaven and Earth Magic at the San Francisco International Film Festival.[16] This was to be Cohen's last activity with Deerhoof.[17] The split was amicable and, to commemorate Cohen, Deerhoof posted a free EP on their website, one of several they have posted over the years.[6]

Friend Opportunity[edit]

Matsuzaki, Saunier, and Dieterich began recording a new album in summer 2006. Ignoring their onstage roles, each contributed percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards and production.[7] Despite being recorded mostly in Dieterich's bedroom and being mixed on the band's laptop on tours with Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, and Beck,[6] Friend Opportunity (January 2007, Kill Rock Stars) had a slick, cinematic sound.[8] Some material was from the "Heaven and Earth Magic" soundtrack, some was entirely orchestral without drums or guitars, and one song ("Matchbook Seeks Maniac") was created specifically for the end credits of writer/director Justin Theroux's romantic comedy Dedication.[18] The album's 12 interchangeable cover paintings were by British artist David Shrigley. The album was highly praised in Pitchfork and Rolling Stone,[19] and nominated for a PLUG Award by Ric Ocasek.[7]

During the world tour that followed Friend Opportunity's release, Deerhoof was invited by David Bowie to play New York's Highline Festival. They also opened for Gnarls Barkley, The Roots, and Bloc Party.[7]

Offend Maggie[edit]

Deerhoof playing at Prospect Park in Brooklyn in 2008

In January 2008, Deerhoof began recording a new album with guitarist Ed Rodriguez.[7] During the summer, before anyone had heard any of the new music, the new quartet released the song "Fresh Born" online as sheet music, and many fans recorded and uploaded their own versions of the song before hearing Deerhoof's version.[20]

Offend Maggie (October 2008, Kill Rock Stars) highlighted the rough and relaxed interplay of guitarists Dieterich and Rodriguez. Mainstream press outlets began to focus more on the staunchly indie Deerhoof: Offend Maggie received critical praise from VH1, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press,, The UK Guardian, and Mojo.[21] Artwork was by Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita.

During the tour that followed, Deerhoof played onstage with several of their musical heroes. In August 2009 in Los Angeles, avant-garde jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith played most of the set with them.[7] In December in Luzerne, Switzerland, Marlene Marder, the guitarist from legendary Swiss band LiLiPUT performed on stage with the band.[7] In February 2010 in Oakland California, they performed onstage with Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Band.[7] In April 2010 they curated the Belgian music festival Sonic City, inviting a wide variety of European musicians including The Go! Team, Italian viola da gamba virtuoso Paolo Pandolfo, and sitting in with Belgian punk legends The Kids.[7]

Deerhoof vs. Evil[edit]

In summer 2009 Deerhoof was invited by the Toronto International Film Festival to record an original song for Adam Pendleton's film BAND, a quasi-remake of Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil in which Deerhoof was cast in the role of the band they claim as their main musical influence, The Rolling Stones.[22]

The song they recorded ("I Did Crimes For You") became part of their January 2011 album Deerhoof vs. Evil on Polyvinyl Records. The release was preceded by a "Global Album Leak" during which 12 blogs from different countries premiered a song from the album one week at a time.[23] It was debuted in full on KCRW by Henry Rollins. With its musical influences of electrified Congolese music, new romanticism, and tropicalia, Deerhoof vs. Evil received critical acclaim with publications such as MOJO calling it "an absolute joy" and Entertainment Weekly declaring it "as beautifully bizarre as ever."

Deerhoof immediately began a 7" series wherein guest vocalists (such as Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal, singer-songwriter David Bazan, and rapper Busdriver) sing new lyrics over an instrumental of a song from Deerhoof vs. Evil.

In April 2010 they performed on stage at the Donaufestival in Austria with the members of Xiu Xiu, playing the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures in its entirety.[7]

Throughout the summer of 2011, Deerhoof toured in an international supergroup alongside Konono N°1, Juana Molina, and others, called Congotronics Vs. Rockers.[24]

In April 2012 Deerhoof collaborated with Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Sasha Grey, Reggie Watts, and The Metropolis Ensemble, in a conceptual concert called Shuffle Culture at Brooklyn Academy of Music.[25] In June 2012 at a Deerhoof performance in Millennium Park Chicago, new music group Ensemble Dal Niente performed a new arrangement of Deerhoof's "Eaguru Guru".[26] The same month, Deerhoof and The Flaming Lips performed onstage together playing songs by King Crimson, Canned Heat, and Deerhoof.[27]

Breakup Song[edit]

On September 4, 2012, Deerhoof released their 11th studio album, Breakup Song, on Polyvinyl Records to generally favorable reviews.[28] Joyful Noise Recordings released the album in an unprecedented "flexi-book" format, allowing the listener to flip from song to song as if each track were a page in a storybook.[29]


Deerhoof's songs are covered often by other artists (notably Phil Lesh,[30] Marco Benevento,[31] David Bazan, and classical composer Marcos Balter[26]) and they are an oft-cited musical influence on other artists, notably TV on the Radio,[7] The Flaming Lips,[7] St. Vincent,[32] Grizzly Bear,[7] Dirty Projectors,[33] Sufjan Stevens,[7] Stereolab,[34] Sleigh Bells,[35] and of Montreal.[36]

Other projects[edit]

Deerhoof is sought after often for their remixes, having done Maroon 5,[37] Asobi Seksu, Xiu Xiu, The Givers, Shugo Tokumaru,[38] Starfucker, Delta 5,[39] Shy Hunters,[40] Royal Bangs, People Get Ready, Megaphonic Thrift, Raleigh Moncrieff, Emily Wells, Lucas Santtana, Wildbirds & Peacedrums,[41] A.U., Parenthetical Girls,[42] Mantra Percussion Ensemble, E.D. Sedgwick, Ed Pastorini, Woom, Sam Mickens, Baaba, In One Wind, Maribel, and others.

Saunier has done production and mixing for Xiu Xiu,[43] People Get Ready,[44] Marc Ribot, So Cow,[45] Busdriver,[46] Celestial Shore,[47] Moon Honey,[48] Maher Shalal Hash Baz,[49] Hoquets,[50] Sholi,[51] 31 Knots,[52] OneOne, Father Murphy,[53] Hawnay Troof,[54] EDS, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, and Formica Man.

Saunier plays in many groups including Mystical Weapons (with Sean Lennon), Les Bon Hommes (featuring Saunier on guitar and vocals), Big Walnuts Yonder (with Mike Watt, Nels Cline and Nick Reinhart) and various free improvisation groups that have included Anthony Braxton, Arto Lindsay, Nels Cline, Doug Wieselman, Brian Chippendale, Andrea Parkins and many others. He and drummer Zach Hill formed Nervous Cop, releasing one album in 2003 which featured harpist Joanna Newsom.[55] He played drums on the soundtrack to the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers.[56] He has also played onstage with Plastic Ono Band, Laurie Anderson, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Jherek Bischoff,[57] David Byrne, and Amanda Palmer, and on record with Caetano Veloso, Lushlife and many others.

Saunier's compositions have been performed by Brooklyn Rider, Y Music, Ecstatic Percussion,[58] Daan Vandewalle, Ensemble Dal Niente,[59] Spektral Quartet[60] and many others.

Dieterich has done production and mixing for Half Japanese,[61] A Hawk And A Hacksaw, Sufjan Stevens, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Cüneyt Sepetçi, The Weird Weeds, Powerdove and XBXRX.

Dieterich has released albums with Mike Watt and Thollem McDonas. He has guested on albums by Xiu Xiu and Nels Cline,[43][62] and Busdriver[46] He, Chris Cohen, and Jay Pellicci formed an instrumental trio called Natural Dreamers that released one album in 2004.[63]

In 2008 Matsuzaki formed OneOne with Saya of Japanese band Tenniscoats.[64] She contributed lead vocal on The Go! Team's "Secretary Song".


Deerhoof has also released a large number of 7" singles, split releases with other artists, tracks on compilations, and free downloadable EPs.


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  2. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Deerhorf". Allmusic. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
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External links[edit]