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All Music Guide:
By turns cuddly and chaotic, San Francisco's Deerhoof mix noise, sugary melodies, and an experimental spirit into sweetly challenging and utterly distinctive music. The group began as the brainchild of guitarist Rob Fisk and drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier in 1994; early releases, such as the 1995 7"s Return of the Woods M'Lady and For Those of Us on Foot, had a more traditionally harsh, no wave-inspired sound, though they also included the quirky tendencies that dominated their later efforts. Vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki joined the group in time for 1996's self-titled double 7" on Menlo Park, but other members passed through Deerhoof, including Chris Cooper of Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase. The following year they released their full-length debut, The Man, the King, the Girl, on Kill Rock Stars and the Come See the Duck 7" on Banano a year later.
Fisk left Deerhoof after 1999's Holdy Paws, an experiment that saw the band trying to write songs that favored composition over individual sounds, and pursued similar ideas in his solo work and in Badgerlore. Halfbird, which was recorded before Fisk departed, was released in 2001, after John Dieterich was recruited as Deerhoof's new guitarist. That year the group also released the My Pal Foot Foot 7", a cover of the legendary Shaggs song that also appeared on the Better Than the Beatles tribute. In 2002, the group released the critically acclaimed Reveille; 2003's Apple O' followed soon after, and also featured auxiliary guitarist Chris Cohen. Their fifth album, the much more cohesive and focused Milk Man, appeared in spring 2004. The following year was another busy one for the band: not only did they embark on tours of the U.S., Europe, and Japan, but they released the Green Cosmos EP, the full-length Runners Four, and a Deerhoof tribute album that was only available on the band's website.
In 2006, the group toured with the Flaming Lips, the Fiery Furnaces, and Mary Timony, among others. That spring, Cohen left Deerhoof to concentrate on the Curtains, and that fall, a ballet based on Milk Man was performed in North Haven, ME. During that time, the band recorded its own songs and collaborated with composer Ed Shearmur on the music for Dedication, a film directed by Justin Theroux. The concise yet eclectic Friend Opportunity arrived in early 2007. Guitarist Ed Rodriguez joined the band in early 2008, and played on that year's Offend Maggie; prior to the album's release that fall, the band gave away one of its songs, "Fresh Born," as sheet music so fans could make their own versions of the song. Starting in 2010, Deerhoof began leaking songs from their next album on different media outlets, creating a kind of musical scavenger hunt for fans leading up to the 2011 release of their tenth studio album, Deerhoof Vs. Evil. The band's eleventh album Breakup Song, another short-and-sweet set of songs like Friend Opportunity, appeared in September 2012.
Deerhoof is a noise band originally from San Francisco. Since it formed in 1994, Deerhoof has expanded their musical range beyond noise. Known for being high-energy, unpredictable and difficult to classify, Deerhoof has maintained that they never knew what kind of music they would create next, nor that they even had any idea what they were doing when they created it. Deerhoof has released 11 self-produced albums and continues to tour the world frequently. The members of Deerhoof are Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez and Greg Saunier.
Early years 
Deerhoof was the title of a two-song cassette of bass and harmonica solos, recorded in late 1993 by Rob Fisk. Limited to five copies, it featured fallen leaves glued to recycled Billy Squier promo tapes, spray-painted black and gold.
In March 1994 Fisk was joined by drummer Greg Saunier. Budget-less, they recorded themselves on Saunier's four-track and in 1995 caught the interest of Olympia independent record label Kill Rock Stars. Their first single, "Return of the Wood M'lady" featured a heavy, histrionic style, separate songs in the left and right speakers, hand-drawn artwork, and etched vinyl. Deerhoof's do-it-yourself ethic turned out to be an apt match with Kill Rock Stars, and Deerhoof remained on the label for the next 14 years, ultimately becoming the longest-running artist on the label's roster. KRS Founder Slim Moon has described them as the "seminal classic KRS band".
In May 1996, through mutual friends in pioneering San Francisco noise band Caroliner, Deerhoof met Satomi Matsuzaki, who had just arrived in San Francisco from her native Tokyo. She was studying film and had no musical experience, but Fisk and Saunier agreed that her deadpan singing style was exactly what they wanted. Having just lost their practice studio, they rehearsed in Saunier and Fisk's kitchen, Fisk plucking the bass with his dog's chew toy, a smoked cow hoof, Saunier playing the drums with chopsticks, and Matsuzaki singing into a pair of Walkman headphones through a Rat distortion pedal covered in paper machê. Within just one week of her joining, Deerhoof went on their first tour as a trio. Deerhoof live was unpredictable, involving the superimposition of multiple songs, the switching of onstage roles, various chance procedures, and broken equipment.
The Man, The King, The Girl through Halfbird 
The trio of Matsuzaki, Saunier and Fisk was not heard on record until Deerhoof released their self-produced first CD The Man, the King, the Girl on Kill Rock Stars in 1997. The swirling noise and wild improvisation, set against Matsuzaki's very singable and often cheerful melodies, created a musical tension that remains one of Deerhoof's hallmarks. The production combined the harsh noise of their first single with a broad sound palette, including Casio keyboards, Optigan, Korg synthesizer, and electric banjo. The cover art of a magical cow and a rabbit on a unicycle, as well as the zine reproduced in the booklet, were painted and drawn by Fisk.
In 1998, Deerhoof added Kelly Goode on keyboard (the monophonic Casio VL-1) and Matsuzaki taught herself to play the bass. Neither Matsuzaki nor Goode had any prior instrumental experience. Their 1999 album Holdypaws revealed a very different Deerhoof from the one heard on the first album. Songs were drastically simplified and performances were strict, with no element of noise, improvisation, or unusual instrumentation. The unpredictable change in style between albums has remained a Deerhoof hallmark. The cover artwork was by Fisk.
From 1997 to 1999 Deerhoof toured the U.S. with Sleater-Kinney, Lightning Bolt and Sonic Youth among others. In fall 1999 Fisk and Goode quit. Another self-recorded album, Halfbird, was completed by Saunier and Matsuzaki and released in 2001 on Menlo Park Recordings, four years after it was begun. The artwork was by Fisk.
In late 1999 guitarist John Dieterich was asked to join. His playing had added a new element of guitar virtuosity, allowing for a broad stylistic range that included 20th-century classical music, garage rock, and musical improvisation. He also brought a new interest in electronic music and Deerhoof started to record themselves on computer. Reveille was released in 2002 on Kill Rock Stars. The album artwork was by Matsuzaki, and its grandiose tone and religious connotations echoed the musical bombast (often compared to The Who), as well as the lyrical theme of resurrection. For the first time, Deerhoof began receiving critical praise, notably in a best-of-2002 list in The New York Times. Several years after its release Reveille was named in Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004.
Apple O' 
In 2001 Chris Cohen joined on guitar. For the next three years Deerhoof toured as a quartet, and released Apple O', Milk Man, Green Cosmos, and The Runners Four in quick succession. Over this time period they captured more attention from critics, college radio, fellow musicians, and the listening public. They were chosen to open for a wide variety of well-known acts including Wilco, TV on the Radio, The Roots, Stephen Malkmus, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They were also invited twice to record BBC sessions for John Peel, and selected by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and to play one of the many All Tomorrows Parties festivals at which they have performed.
The idea for Apple O' (2003, Kill Rock Stars) 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 Kim Deal where she criticized the use of Pro Tools, computer recording tricks, and sampling, all of which featured prominently on Reveille.
Therefore Apple O' abandoned the multi-layered and often electronic sounds of Reveille in favor of simple, live-sounding production without overdubs. Most of Apple O' was recorded in one nine-hour session with Jay Pellicci engineering. 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. The lyrics centered around mythic themes of love and war, featuring repeated allusions to Adam and Eve, forbidden fruit, the atom bomb, and extinction. It received critical praise, notably in The New York Times and Jane. It was later named in Pitchfork Media's top albums of the decade list from 2009.
Milk Man and Green Cosmos 
In 2003 the quartet decided to leave their jobs to tour and record full-time. Matsuzaki had been editing a San Francisco-based Japanese magazine, Dieterich and Saunier had been doing data entry for legal and consulting firms, and Cohen had been a waiter at a Thai restaurant.
Their next album was inspired by a cartoon character created by Tokyo artist Ken Kagami. In contrast to the earnest guitar rock on Apple O', Milk Man (2004, Kill Rock Stars) featured a broad palette of orchestral colors, echoes of musical theatre, polished and gaudy arrangements, Stravinskian harmonies, and a more stylized, anonymous playing style. The low-budget DIY recording process for Milk Man was described in detail in an interview for Tape Op Magazine. Critical praise for Milk Man came notably from NME and Spin. The song "Milk Man" was chosen in 2009 as one of Pitchfork's top tracks of the decade.
Milk Man's connection to musical theatre was embodied later in a version created by Courtney Naliboff and performed by children of the North Haven Community School in North Haven, Maine in fall 2006. The Milk Man Ballet was later released on DVD.
The EP Green Cosmos (2005, Menlo Park Recordings) 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.
The Runners Four 
In the fall, Deerhoof released The Runners Four (2005, 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. 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. The album was selected as Sufjan Stevens's "Album of the Decade" in Uncut Magazine.
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. This was to be Cohen's last activity with Deerhoof. 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.
Friend Opportunity 
Matsuzaki, Saunier, and Dieterich began recording a new album in summer 2006. Ignoring their onstage roles, each contributed percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards and production. 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, Friend Opportunity (January 2007, Kill Rock Stars) had a large cinematic sound. 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. The album's 12 interchangeable cover paintings were by British artist David Shrigley. The album was highly praised in Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and nominated for a PLUG Award by Ric Ocasek.
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, The Flaming Lips, and Bloc Party.
Offend Maggie 
In January 2008, Deerhoof began recording a new album with guitarist Ed Rodriguez. 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.
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, yahoo.com, The UK Guardian, and Mojo. 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. In December in Luzerne, Switzerland, Marlene Marder, the guitarist from legendary Swiss band LiLiPUT performed on stage with the band. In February 2010 in Oakland California, they performed onstage with Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Band. 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.
Deerhoof vs. Evil 
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.
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. 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.
Recent News 
Throughout the summer of 2011, Deerhoof toured in an international supergroup alongside Konono N°1, Juana Molina, and others, called Congotronics Vs. Rockers.
In September 2011 Deerhoof performed at SFMOMA at an event with Adam Pendleton and former Black Panther Party chief of staff David Hilliard.
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.
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". The same month Deerhoof and The Flaming Lips performed onstage together playing songs by King Crimson, Canned Heat, and Deerhoof.
In July 2012 Deerhoof announced that they would release a new album called Breakup Song on September 4.
Deerhoof's songs are covered often by other artists and they are an oft-cited musical influence on other artists, notably TV on the Radio, The Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Sleigh Bells, and of Montreal.
Other projects 
The members of Deerhoof have played with a wide variety of other artists. 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. 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. Saunier played drums on the soundtrack to the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers. He has played drums, percussion, and bass in Plastic Ono Band several times. Along with composer Jherek Bischoff he has played onstage with David Byrne and on record on a song sung by Caetano Veloso, and has performed live with Byrne, Bischoff, and Amanda Palmer. Satomi contributed lead vocal on The Go! Team's 'Secretary Song'. Saunier and Dieterich have guested on albums by Xiu Xiu and Nels Cline, as well as on albums by rappers Busdriver and Lushlife.
Deerhoof has done extensive remixing for other artists, including Maroon 5, Asobi Seksu, Xiu Xiu, The Givers, Shugo Tokumaru, Starfucker, Delta 5, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, A.U., Parenthetical Girls, Royal Bangs, People Get Ready, Megaphonic Thrift, E.D. Sedgwick, Woom, Sam Mickens, Baaba, Raleigh Moncrieff, Lucas Santtana, In One Wind, and others.
Saunier has done production and mixing for Marc Ribot, Xiu Xiu, Busdriver, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Hoquets, Sholi, 31 Knots, EDS, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Father Murphy, and Hawnay Troof. Dieterich has done mixing and production work for A Hawk And A Hacksaw, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Cüneyt Sepetçi, The Weird Weeds, Powerdove and XBXRX.
Saunier plays often in New York in various groups including Mystical Weapons (with multi-instrumentalist Sean Lennon and animator/projectionist Martha Colburn), Les Bon Hommes (featuring Saunier on guitar and vocals), and various free improvisation groups. He and drummer Zach Hill formed Nervous Cop, releasing one album in 2003 which featured harpist Joanna Newsom.
In 2008 Matsuzaki formed OneOne, a collaboration with Saya, singer and songwriter with the Japanese band Tenniscoats. This group often includes Saunier and Takashi Ueno. Their one CD was mixed by Saunier.
Since before joining Deerhoof, Dieterich and Rodriguez have played in the instrumental group Gorge Trio. Dieterich has released albums with Mike Watt and Thollem McDonas. Dieterich, Chris Cohen, and Jay Pellicci formed an instrumental trio called Natural Dreamers that released one album in 2004.