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Deerhoof on stage.jpg
Background information
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Years active 1994–present
Members Satomi Matsuzaki
John Dieterich
Ed Rodriguez
Greg Saunier
Past members Chris Cohen
Rob Fisk
Kelly Goode

Deerhoof is a punk band whose erratic style veers between pop, noise, and classic rock and roll. They emerged from the Bay Area punk scene in 1994 and remain committed to their original DIY principles, self-managing their career and self-producing their records. Their live shows are known for their minimal gear, maximal volume, and surrealist banter. The band includes Americans John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez and Greg Saunier and Japanese Satomi Matsuzaki.


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

Rob Fisk and Greg Saunier founded Deerhoof as an improvisation duo of bass and drums. Their early singles, recorded on four-track cassette, combined punk, grunge, noise, and ballads. Satomi Matsuzaki joined Deerhoof within a week of arriving in the United States in May 1995, with no prior band experience, and went on tour as Deerhoof's singer another week later, opening for Caroliner.[1] Deerhoof's 1997 debut album The Man, the King, the Girl built on the wild and stripped-down sound of the early singles by adding jingle-like melodies and colorful instrumentation including broken Casios and a borrowed synthesizer.[2] 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.[3]

In 1997 they started recording new songs for Halfbird,[1] but abandoned it in favor of a drastic change in style. Kelly Goode joined on Casio VL-1 and Matsuzaki taught herself to play the bass.[3] From 1997 to 1999, Deerhoof toured the U.S. with Sleater-Kinney, Lightning Bolt, Unwound, and Sonic Youth.[3] Their 1999 album Holdypaws removed all traces of noise, improvisation, or unusual instrumentation from their sound.[1] The unpredictable change in style between albums remains a Deerhoof hallmark. In fall 1999, Fisk and Goode quit the band. Halfbird was completed by Saunier and Matsuzaki and released in 2001,[1] with artwork by Fisk.[1]

Reveille; Apple O'[edit]

In late 1999, they asked Gorge Trio[4] guitarist John Dieterich to join the band. His interest in electronic music can be heard on 2002's Reveille, the first Deerhoof record to enjoy critical acclaim, being included in best-of lists published by both The New York Times and Pitchfork Media,.[5]

Before Reveille was released Chris Cohen joined Deerhoof on guitar,[1] and over the next three years, this lineup 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 Deerhoof was 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.[2]

The idea for Deerhoof's next album came to Saunier as he was reading a review of Reveille in Thrasher, but was then disappointed when he turned the page to find an interview with one of his favorite musicians Kim Deal criticizing the use of computer recording tricks.[2] Thus most of 2003's Apple O' was recorded live in one nine-hour session with Jay Pellicci engineering.[1] 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.[6]

Milk Man; Green Cosmos[edit]

In 2003, with Matsuzaki editing a Bay Area Japanese magazine, Cohen waiting tables at a Thai restaurant, and Dieterich and Saunier doing data entry for legal and consulting firms,[1] the members of Deerhoof all decided to quit their jobs at the same time to focus on touring.

Deerhoof performing in 2004

Saunier, drummer Zach Hill, and harpist Joanna Newsom released Nervous Cop in 2003.[7] Dieterich, Cohen, and Jay Pellicci formed an instrumental trio called Natural Dreamers that released one album in 2004.[8]

For Deerhoof's next record they took their inspiration a Japanese cartoon character created by artist Ken Kagami.[1] 2004's critically acclaimed Milk Man the album featured a lavish, Broadway-inspired sound.[1] In 2006 this album was adapted to a children's ballet.[9]

Deerhoof's next release was their first to be sung in Matsuzaki's native language. 2005's Green Cosmos combined an orchestral sound with dance music styles of various eras. Artwork was created from original tarot cards designed by music video director Dawn Garcia.[1]

The Runners Four[edit]

For several months in 2005 Deerhoof wrote and recorded in their rented rehearsal space in Oakland. When it was released that fall, the double album The Runners Four featured each band member as vocalist at various points, reversed instrumental roles for Matsuzaki (now on guitar) and Cohen (now on bass), and 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.[10] The album was selected as Sufjan Stevens's "Album of the Decade" in Uncut Magazine.[2]

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.[11]

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.[12] This was to be Cohen's last activity with Deerhoof.[13] 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.[1]

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.[2] Despite being recorded mostly in Dieterich's bedroom and being mixed on the band's laptop during tours with Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, and Beck,[1] 2007's Friend Opportunity had a slick, cinematic sound.[3] 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 a Hollywood film.[14] The album's 12 interchangeable cover paintings were by British artist David Shrigley. The album was highly praised in Pitchfork and Rolling Stone,[15] and nominated for a PLUG Award by Ric Ocasek.[2]

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 played shows with Gnarls Barkley, The Roots, Beirut and Bloc Party.[2] In collaboration with Ed Shearmur they created the film score for Justin Theroux's romantic comedy Dedication.[16]

Offend Maggie[edit]

Deerhoof playing at Prospect Park in Brooklyn in 2008

In January 2008 Deerhoof became a quartet once again, and began writing a new album with Gorge Trio guitarist and longtime friend Ed Rodriguez.[2] That summer Deerhoof released the song "Fresh Born" online as sheet music only, anticipating similar experiments by Beck and Blur by several years. Fans recorded and uploaded their own versions of the song to a special site, before anyone outside the band had heard Deerhoof's own version.[17]

When Offend Maggie was released in October, the mainstream press began to focus more on the staunchly indie Deerhoof. It received critical praise from VH1, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press,, The UK Guardian, and Mojo.[18] Artwork was by Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita.

In 2008 they were chosen by Owen Pallett to play the travelling Maximum Black Festival in various cities in Europe, with Dirty Projectors opening.[19] During the touring 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 the set with them.[2] In December in Luzerne, Switzerland, Marlene Marder of the legendary Swiss band LiLiPUT performed on stage with the band.[2] In February 2010 they performed onstage in Oakland with the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band.[2] 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.[2]

Deerhoof vs. Evil[edit]

In summer 2009 Deerhoof was invited by the Toronto International Film Festival to record an original song ("I Did Crimes For You") 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.[20]

The rest of their next record was recorded in Deerhoof's rented rehearsal space in Oakland just before the members of the band moved away to various cities around the world. 2011's Deerhoof vs. Evil, with its combined musical influences from The Beach Boys, new romanticism, tropicalia, and the Congotronics series, received critical acclaim notably from Entertainment Weekly and MOJO. Deerhoof immediately initiated a 7" series wherein guest vocalists (such as Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal, singer-songwriter David Bazan, and rapper Busdriver) sang new lyrics over an instrumental of a Deerhoof vs. Evil song of their choice.

In April and July 2010, along with Xiu Xiu they performed the entire Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures live at the Donaufestival in Austria, and at Brooklyn's Williamsburg Waterfront.[2] Throughout the summer of 2011, Deerhoof toured in an international supergroup alongside Konono N°1, Juana Molina, Kasai Allstars and others, called Congotronics Vs. Rockers.[21] In April 2012 Deerhoof collaborated with Questlove, Reggie Watts, Sasha Grey and others in a conceptual concert event called Shuffle Culture at Brooklyn Academy of Music.[22] In June 2012 at a Deerhoof performance in Chicago's Millennium Park, Ensemble Dal Niente performed Marcos Balter's classical arrangement of Deerhoof's "Eaguru Guru".[23] The same month, Deerhoof and The Flaming Lips performed onstage together playing songs by King Crimson, Canned Heat, and Deerhoof.[24]

Breakup Song[edit]

In 2012 Deerhoof began home-recording their next record Breakup Song through email while they lived in four different cities. After a long final mixing session at Saunier's apartment, they took the front cover photo of the garbage truck in the early morning hours.[25] Joyful Noise Recordings released the album in "flexi-book" format, allowing the listener to flip from song to song as if each track were a page in a storybook.[26] Revealing some of Deerhoof's working methods and group chemistry, a rare full-band interview with former MTV VJ John Norris, appeared in the fall 2012 Interview Magazine.[27]

In March 2013 they played New York's Ecstatic Music Festival, which also included the premier (by Ensemble Dal Niente) of Saunier's "Deerhoof Chamber Variations", a classical piece based on several Deerhoof songs.[28] The piece has been performed two more times and will receive its European premier in September 2014.

Since moving to different cities, the members of Deerhoof have become highly sought-after for their remixing, production, playing, and writing. They've done remixes for Maroon 5,[29] Sufjan Stevens, Starfucker, Delta 5,[30] Asobi Seksu, Xiu Xiu, The Givers, Shugo Tokumaru,[31] Shy Hunters,[32] Royal Bangs, People Get Ready, Megaphonic Thrift, Raleigh Moncrieff, Emily Wells, Lucas Santtana, Wildbirds & Peacedrums,[33] A.U., Parenthetical Girls,[34] Mantra Percussion Ensemble, E.D. Sedgwick, Ed Pastorini, Woom, Sam Mickens, Baaba, In One Wind, Maribel, and others.

Saunier has produced or mixed albums by Xiu Xiu,[35] Marc Ribot, So Cow,[36] Busdriver,[37] Celestial Shore,[38] People Get Ready,[39] Moon Honey,[40] Maher Shalal Hash Baz,[41] Hoquets,[42] Sholi,[43] 31 Knots,[44] OneOne, Father Murphy,[45] Hawnay Troof,[46] EDS, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, and Formica Man.

Dieterich has produced or mixed albums by Half Japanese,[47] A Hawk And A Hacksaw, Sufjan Stevens, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Cüneyt Sepetçi, The Weird Weeds, Powerdove and XBXRX.

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 has played on stage with artists such as Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Jherek Bischoff,[48] David Byrne, and Amanda Palmer, and on recordings with artists such as Caetano Veloso, Jon Brion, Lushlife and many others.

Dieterich has released albums with Mike Watt and Thollem McDonas. He has guested on albums by Xiu Xiu, Nels Cline,[35][49] and Busdriver[37]

In 2008 Matsuzaki formed OneOne with Saya of Japanese band Tenniscoats.[50] She contributed lead vocal on The Go! Team's "Secretary Song".

Saunier's compositions have been performed by Brooklyn Rider, Y Music, Ecstatic Percussion,[51] Daan Vandewalle, Ensemble Dal Niente,[52] Spektral Quartet,[53] and he has composed film soundtracks for Martha Colburn, Becky James, and worked on soundtrack to the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers.[54] He wrote a music review of The Rolling Stones for The Talkhouse in 2013.[55]

Deerhoof's Influence[edit]

Deerhoof are an oft-cited musical influence on other artists, notably The Flaming Lips,[2] St. Vincent,[56] The Foo Fighters,[57] Dirty Projectors,[58] TV on the Radio,[2] Grizzly Bear,[2] Sufjan Stevens,[2] Stereolab,[59] Sleigh Bells,[60] and of Montreal.[61] Deerhoof's songs are covered often by other artists (notably Phil Lesh,[62] Marco Benevento,[63] David Bazan, and classical composer Marcos Balter[23]).


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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  23. ^ a b "Ensemble Dal Niente - "Eaguru Guru" (Deerhoof cover)". YouTube. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
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External links[edit]