Deerhoof: Interview with John Dieterich

DeerhoofI had a strange revelation the other day—I’ve probably interviewed Deerhoof more often than any other band. It’s not a bad thing, but I found it curious, as usually writers will tire of talking to the same band year after year, and editors (like myself) encourage different writers to interview one band for unique perspectives.

As it happened, this, specifically, was my second time talking to John Dieterich and it didn’t take long to remember why I keep talking to creators of Milk Man, The Runners Four, Friend Opportunity, and most recently, Offend Maggie. It’s always an interesting interview.

Now again a quartet with the addition of Ed Rodriguez, the band has been spending the majority of the year writing, recording, and gearing up for last week’s release, playing a few shows (including a well-publicized event at Prospect Park in Brooklyn where they performed six of the new songs) and devising off-the-wall promotional strategies like distributing the sheet music for the lead single, “Fresh Born,” in advance of the album’s release to be interpreted by their wide-ranging fan base.

I chatted to guitarist John Dieterich early California time about the new album and the band’s approach to it.

Ready to take off on a long tour?

Yeah, yeah, sort of. No (laughs). We’re getting there. We’re actually leaving tomorrow for L.A. and then we’ll be down there for a few days and then we’ll come back up here for a day and then we’ll leave from here I guess on Sunday. So yeah, sort of.

If I recall correctly the last album was basically written on tour and recorded in your bedroom?

Yeah, kind of. We actually sort of mixed it on tour. Some of it was written on tour. Basically what we did was we wrote a lot of it in my bedroom or people had worked individually on things on their own and introduced them to each other and just kind of recorded it piecemeal at my place. And then we ended up basically mixing a lot of it on tour with us.

I don’t think you did that this time around.

We did not, no. For Offend Maggie we decided that it might be nice to actually just play the material and learn it and play some of it live before we actually had a chance to record it. So we spent a lot more time for the recording on actually refining the arrangements and things. It’s not a weird thing to do, but we didn’t do that for Friend Opportunity and we haven’t done that for a lot of albums and it’s kind of nice to refine it as a group playing the music as opposed to in a computer.

I know for Runners Four you guys had taken a lot of time, basically sat and hashed out songs for a month or two.

Couple months, yeah. Three, actually.

Was this sort of a hybrid experience?

Well, it was a different experience but hard to explain exactly why. There were aspects that were similar. As people we’re different people. Also Ed joined in January and he joined basically right when we were starting to work on the album, so he just jumped in immediately, and we were like, ‘Got any songs?’ (laughs). Sort of trial by fire thing for Ed.