Deerhoof is here to stay: An interview with Greg Sauniers

Labelled under the list of most progressive and influential bands of the 1990’s and you’ll find Deerhoof among there. With propulsions of guitar riffs, electronics, spectred by innovative drum patterns, the San-Francisco based band has been the front-runner for influencing profound bands such as TV on the Radio and the Dirty Projectors.

We speak to head honcho and drum wizard Greg Sauniers on how it feels to be on the road, innovative drumming and their previous tour in Singapore.

Hey Greg! You guys have just finished touring Bangkok and Japan as part of your Asian tour. How’s it been so far?
The Bangkok part isn’t finished yet, unless we played it last night and I have forgotten but actually I doubt it. Usually I am very good at remembering a show we just played. I can even remember very old shows, like when we played Singapore 2 1/2 years ago. The fried rice backstage. The craft fair. The red t-shirts of the student security. The frowning Australian couple who said our soundcheck was disturbing their sleep. The soft rock band playing covers in the restaurant right next to the stage. The offers of marriage from beautiful audience members. In other words, the tour is going great.

Deerhoof has an impressive record, having released 11 studio albums throughout your career. How important do you think it is to stay relevant to the original direction you started out from?
For Deerhoof it’s more important to try to be irrelevant. Our fans like to be surprised, which is why we love them. Every new thing tells another part of the story, so it’s relevant automatically.

It’s been two years since the release of Breakup Song. Any plans on releasing new material soon?
We have finished a new album, last night at 2am, which is why I am a little bit tired and maybe my answers are a little funny. It is about the death of financialization and it will be coming out November 4th.

Thats quite a piece of news! You’ve been labeled as quite a sizeable influence on artists such as TV On The Radio and Dirty Projectors. How does it feel to be cited as an influence to these bands?
It is not our main goal to influence other musicians, but I do remember how important some music has been to me in my life, ever since I was a kid, and still today. I remember the first time I heard the Rolling Stones, the first time I heard Stravinsky. Everything changed for me at huge moments like that. I’m so happy if there are musicians who have moments like that with Deerhoof.

Let’s talk a bit about drumming. Your drumming is an off-kilted, off timing sense of rhythm – it’s almost like a lead instrument in its own sort. What are the limitations and advantages of playing in an “unorthodox” way?
The advantage is I love playing the drums. To me it’s not so unorthodox. Sometimes when I play drums for other people, like in an orchestra for example, it’s so much weirder having to play without ever changing the rhythm, to play like a machine. It’s like I have to keep reminding myself not to be musical.

So I think you’re right that in Deerhoof we all play like we are the lead instrument, or at least we want each other to be free and wild and squeeze the most out of the song and have a musical conversation. We have been playing for years and it is more exciting than it has ever been. We feel like we’re just starting to understand how to play together.

Any heads up for the gig happening in Singapore? We’re excited to have you back!
I am always telling people back home how much I loved Singapore, the music fans, the incredible mix of people, the palm trees, how easy it was to chat to people and make jokes and laugh. It’s going to be a great concert.

By Evan Woon

Deerhoof will perform at *SCAPE The Ground Theatre with The Trees And The Wild on 19 June.

Tickets can be purchased here.