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Greg Saunier of Deerhoof

Greg Saunier: yet another drumming legend to mark off our ‘interview bucket list’. Center stage and behind a rather small kick drum is where he calls home with one of the most influential bands of all time, Deerhoof. These guys have been around since ’94 and aren’t showing any signs of going anywhere. In fact, they have recently announced a new album: Deerhoof vs. Evil. Saunier is a genius when it comes to making order out of choas. Even if you can’t seem to understand, you also can’t seem to stop listening to anything Deerhoof has put out there. We are proud to present our latest interview with one of our favorites: Greg Saunier.

BA: Some people say that your music is hard to understand or follow (personally, I love it). Does this ever sway you in your writing?

GS: Ha ha, well, I’d like it to sway me but I don’t know how to be swayed I guess… I cant really write ‘on demand’ very well, stuff comes to me. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand too, you know?

BA: Who primarily writes Deerhoof’s stuff? Is it a pretty equal collaboration?

GS: Neither – we all write songs, but mostly separately. I guess the collaboration comes in when the other 3 (Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez) get their hands on it – sometimes stuff will turn out very differently from the original idea.

BA: How long have you been a musician? How long on the drums?

GS: Musician all my life – longer than i can remember – just like everybody, no? I Started playing snare drum in 3rd grade, which was only a few years ago…

BA: What is Deerhoof’s method of song writing? Do jam sessions produce any songs?

GS: Not so far – we ‘try’ to ‘jam’ now and again and it is always a ‘disaster’. I honestly don’t think we play very well together naturally – it takes a lot of work and really well written songs before the ‘magic’ starts happening. But anyway, about the songwriting – everybody writes them differently. Even one person writes them differently, no two songs have ever been born the same way. You’d think we’d have some kind of method down pat by now but alas… there are no rules…

BA: You have a pretty simple drum set. Does this restrict you from making certain sounds you’d like to play? Or does it force you to be more creative?

GS: It forces me to be creative BECAUSE it restricts me from making certain sounds I’d like to play.

BA: Have you always had a smaller set? Is this the reason you are the drummer you are today?

GS: Ha ha, I like that… ‘the drummer i am today’! Well, I guess if I think it through, probably not. I don’t really play so differently if I’m playing on something with more drums. Mostly I’m struggling to be a quieter drummer, someone in my band who sings is always telling me I’m too loud. So I just use a few odds and ends, a tiny aluminum snare, a tiny little bass drum, a flat ride cymbal that wont ‘crash’, kid-sized drumsticks…

BA: Who are your drumming heros?

GS: Martha Colburn springs to mind…

BA: After graduating from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, was it always easy to keep high hopes of starting something that would get so big?

GS: Well that implies that I had high hopes when i was at Oberlin Conservatory, not the case. It would be hard to find a more useless/hopeless/futurless field to major in in college than music composition. I think all of us pretentious budding composers knew that graduation was going to be the end of line. 22 years of age and already the golden era is over. No such thing as a composer in the USA in the 21st century, the job doesn’t exist, unless you’re good at grant-writing, which I could have done I suppose. I chose the capitalist route, shamefully. Although, let’s be honest, it’s hard to say one is a capitalist with a straight face if one’s business is doing nothing but lose money, which is what all of my post-college bands did for about 10 years… Deerhoof included. As far as getting big, Deerhoof has certainly gotten a lot bigger than I ever thought we would, and I still feel that way!

BA: I’ve heard many interesting band names before and I know you must get asked this question often but…How did the name Deerhoof come to be?

GS: Can’t remember – it was Rob Fisk’s idea, he was the original bass player. If it had struck me as a strange band name at the time I probably would have vetoed it, but I thought it was a great name, nice and simple and cute. I guess I never understood what was odd or interesting about it, so I never know how to answer that question! Forgive me…

Deerhoof vs. Evil Tracklist:

1. Qui Dorm, Només Somia
2. Behold a Marvel in the Darkness
3. The Merry Barracks
4. No One Asked to Dance
5. Let’s Dance the Jet
6. Super Duper Rescue Heads !
7. Must Fight Current
8. Secret Mobilization
9. Hey I Can
10. C’Moon
11. I Did Crimes for You
12. Almost Everyone, Almost Always

Deerhoof vs. Evil drops January 25th, 2011 on Polyvinyl Record Co.!

Download the first single, “The Merry Barracks,” for free here.

Deerhoof Promo

F L U X by Candas Sisman

Daily dose of awesome.

F L U X from candas sisman on Vimeo.

Thomas Pridgen Feature

Thomas Pridgen can undoubtedly be described as the best young drummer of today. At the age of 9, he won the Guitar Center drum off competition, was fully endorsed by Zildjian Cymbals at 10, and received a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music at 15 (being the youngest person ever to receive such a grand offer). Thomas Pridgen has already had a prolific career at the young age of 26, drumming for the likes of Christian Scott, Keyshia Cole, The Mars Volta, and more recently, his new band, party-rock outfit The Memorials. Bear Annihilator is proud to feature an interview that we conducted with the young drumming god.

BA: Your drumming is ridiculous (and we mean that in a good way)! Before
you achieved the fame and status that you have now, what was your
practice regimen like as a young drummer?

TP: In the summers, I know I practiced all day. In the fall I’d practice after school. I’d sometimes play to CD’s, then other days just soloing. I’d even solo over many of the CD’s I played along to, but just disregard what the song was actually doing, because I was the only person there.

: Can you tell us how you guys decided on the band name ‘The Memorials?’

TP: Yeah! Nick came up with it, it’s everything you do to celebrate or remember days or people are memorials of the time, birthdays, and 1st steps, etc…  it’s a memorial of the times…most times great events are implanted in your mind as some kind of memorial.

BA: The Memorials, your new band, includes talented singer Viveca Hawkins
and the eccentric guitarist Nick Brewer. I also read that you guys met
while attending Berklee. Were there always future plans for the three
of you to start this band?

TP: No, but I always knew there would be a band with the three of us. I’ve known Viv forever, we hung out a lot but never did much music together .Me and Nick lost contact, but I always thought he was amazing. Me and Nick had an all black metal band in Boston named Sabaii, I’ve always thought he was a great songwriter and guitar player.

BA: Who has influenced you lately, as a drummer?

TP: Derek Roddy, Sonny Emory, Buddy Rich, Jojo Mayer, and Trilok Gurtu.

BA: What bands/artists have you been really into lately?

TP: I don’t know…I’ve been getting pretty bored lately! Lots of one trick one song ponies really. I’ve just benn listening to an array of different dub, afrobeat and prog rock, punk metal records mostly too.

BA: Are there any main influences on this new and upcoming self-titled
Memorials record?

TP: Just life, the heartaches, the loves, the pain, the happiness, the emotions of the times.

BA: Did you guys produce your upcoming self-titled album yourselves? Or
did you bring in somebody else?

TP: Yeah, I kind of steam plowed this whole project without a producer. We’re really good at being honest and everyone involved has pretty good taste.

BA: Do you have any sort of self-rituals you do to get you “in the zone”
before you go into recording? What about performing live?

: Not really…I stretch, practice, pray… people know what I do, haha.

BA: There’s an awesome youtube video of you and Tony Royster Jr. having
a drum-off or “shred” session from gospel chops I believe, what was
that like? Did you have a hard time playing with him, or rather, did
he seem to have a hard time keeping up with you?

TP: No, I like to do me know matter who’s in the room. Me and Tony have known each other well over 10 years, and we’ve played together a lot. He does the Tony thing, and he does it well. I like to treat drumming like iron chef; I get my ingredients, then I’m off cooking on something, and if it turns out great, cool, if it fails, whatever, try it again. I really get bored playing licks and beats. I know I can play in situations like that and with spontaneous chops.

BA: You’re no longer with the Mars Volta, but will you be featured on any
more Omar-Rodriguez solo albums in the future?

TP: Nope, not for a while.

Check out the Memorials “West Coast.” Their new album drops January 18th!