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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

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