Deerhoof still going strong with tenth album

BMS talks with longtime guitarist John Dieterich

, Staff Writer

Veteran indie rockers Deerhoof are back on the road behind a brand new release, Deerhoof vs. Evil. The album, their tenth studio effort, is at times blaringly loud and heavy, while at others it is almost cartoonish in its playfulness. Its a veritable forest of hooks and rhythms and finds the band yet again defying expectations, producing a work that stands alone from their many previous efforts. With a stop at the Middle East in Cambridge scheduled for tonight, we caught with longtime guitarist John Dieterich to discuss the tour and the new album.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): So, how’s the tour going?

John Dieterich (JD): So far, so good! We played outside in Austin in twenty degree weather, which was fun. Our Dallas show was almost canceled, then not, but then the dome fell in that night! I swear, we had nothing to do with it…

BMS: How have audiences been reacting to the new songs in a live setting?

JD: That depends on how well we play them! We’re still working out lots of kinks in both the new and the old material, so it goes back and forth. People seem to like the new songs when we play them well, though, which is rare up to this point.

BMS: To one who has never seen Deerhoof live, what’s to be expected?

JD: I don’t want the audience to expect anything. If there’s one consistent thing so far on this and all tours, it’s that the audience is often the glue that holds the shows together. Every night is quite different, and a lot of the difference comes from the way the audience reacts to and interacts with the band. The 5th band member.

BMS: Is there much variation on stage from how songs sound on disc?

JD: Yes and no. Part of what we’re working on is discovering how this music is going to find its voice live, and that process includes finding out where there is freedom in the music. The music tends to be different every night, but not in any predictable way…

BMS: Does having hit ten albums feel particularly like a milestone for Deerhoof as a band?

JD: No, we’re not aiming for any milestone other than continuing to play and evolve.

BMS: What was the impetus for the album’s “global leak”?

JD : We just thought it would be fun to leak it ourselves rather than have somebody else leak it! And releasing it to different places seemed like the best way to do it.

BMS: You guys have developed a reputation as having a fairly transient sound. People have been saying Deerhoof has continually grown more “accessible”, especially when compared to, say, Reveille. How have personnel changes influenced this shift, and was there a really conscious decision to move in this direction, musically?

JD : To be honest, I think any change in accessibility has more to do with the fact that we’re slowly learning how to record and mix ourselves. When we recorded Reveille, we made so many mistakes, which is part of the fun, of course. We recorded the guitar in such a way that when you listened to the music in mono, the guitar disappeared. Oops. So we had to find a solution to that. There were a lot of mistakes along those lines, and we continue to make them, though we are slowly learning.

BMS: Similarly, I would imagine your influences to be constantly in flux, as well. Was there anything that particularly influenced the band while recording Deerhoof vs. Evil?

JD: Maybe the biggest influence was the bands who were practicing in the rooms around us in the practice space we recorded it in. They were so loud! The band right next door to us was this really psychedelic jam band that would come in three times a week and play these super long songs with tons of soloing on them. They influenced us to go get lunch.

BMS: Your band has reached a point where people who grew up listening to your music are now citing you as a major influence (Sleigh Bells and Ponytail come to mind). How does it feel to have had a part in the current musical climate?

JD : It’s cool, of course, especially if you respect the bands who can relate to what you’re doing, as I do in the case of both bands you mentioned.

Deerhoof will be performing at the Middle East Downstairs on Thursday, February 10. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

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