nterview with John Dieterich.

by Mikkel Brandt

 Prior to their gig at Northern Winter Beat ’24 we’ve sent a few questions for Deerhoof – and here are the answers from guitarist John Dieterich. 

When Deerhoof first started out in 1994, what kind of music, and which artists, sparked your desire to create music? 

“I wasn’t in the band in 1994, but I know they were all involved in the noise music scene in San Francisco at that time, in particular a band called Caroliner Rainbow. Satomi was friends with Grux from Caroliner Rainbow and was living with him when she joined Deerhoof. She was studying film at the time in San Francisco. I still really sense a kinship with that music, a sense of humor, deciding to turn garbage into music/art. Strangely enough, Ed and I met in that same year, in Minneapolis, and we were obsessed with people like Anthony Braxton, Keiji Haino, US Maple, etc., all people/bands that Greg and Satomi would have been fans of that time, as well.” 

 Who has that effect on you these days? 

“I’m still inspired by a lot of the things I was listening to back then. One of the great things about touring and playing with lots of bands around the country is we get introduced to all sorts of things. One of my favorites is that thing where you see a band, and you’re sure you don’t like it, by the show ends you’re in love with the people/the music. I don’t pretend to understand that process, but I love it when I fall in love with music all over again at concerts, and often it’s music that is so far from anything I would do myself, so it makes it especially cool.” 

Which Deerhoof song should more people know about? And why? 

“’The Devil and His Anarchic Surrealistic Retinue’ is a personal fave. Ed and Greg wrote that together, and I just love the vibe, we’ve never actually been able to perform it live as it would be very difficult, but I hope we can someday . . .”  

 Deerhoof – “The Devil and his Anarchic Surrealist Retinue”  

Do you remember how that song came alive? 

“I have fond memories of recording our album the ‘Magic’, because it was all done in New Mexico, where I was living at the time, in my friend’s dad’s warehouse. We rented an office space there for like a week, and it was just a great time, really productive, and we had a blast together. I’m pretty sure the intro guitar to that is a contact mic on this janky half-broken Silvertone guitar I have. Such a good sound.” 

I’ve read that all members of the band write and bring in ideas for songs. Can you take us into that space? How do you bring it all together? What kind of alchemy happens there? 

“Well, there is no one answer to that, for better or worse. It’s always different. We’re very rarely on the same page, and it’s a constant source of negotiation. It’s also what being in a band is all about, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m lucky in that my bandmates are some of my favorite composers/musicians/thinkers in the world.“ 

A former colleague of mine told me about a gig you played in Aalborg (at 1000Fryd) in 2004. He said that you blew off the roof, and he remembers that Greg was playing barefoot, sitting on a milk crate and that you had fruit-shaped teddies on stage. I love that mental picture! What are the most significant differences between the band that played in Aalborg in 2004 and the one that will play there in 2024? 

“Haha, I think I remember that tour, I remember there were a lot of mosquitoes! I also remember that we had a show on the day we flew in, and we needed to rehearse so we did our acoustic practice backstage at the venue. We were all falling asleep during the rehearsal, it was really crazy. The obvious difference between that band and now is that Ed’s in the band! Greg’s milk crate is gone as he was sick of being a prima donna and asking people to provide milk crates all over the place. We’re more DIY now.” 

What has stayed the same since then? 

“My sense of humor is exactly as bad as it was back then.” 

Listen to albums from Deerhoof here.

How do you go about rehearsing prior to touring? 

“We usually don’t have time together before tours, so we try to at least get some time together in the hotel or backstage before the first show of the tour, and we always take advantage of every second of every soundcheck, because that’s precious time together . . .” 

Have you already chosen some of the material you will bring to the festival? How do you put your setlists together? 

“Not exactly, but we have a pretty good idea. Our setlists get pretty refined over the course of a tour, but we often discover when we start a new tour that certain things aren’t working and may need to be switched out, etc.” 

Any rituals before a show? 

“I haven’t had any ritual that I have kept up with. I have had periods where I was sure that practicing before I played was necessary, but then I’ve had periods where I was convinced it made the show worse. Now I have no idea and don’t worry about it too much.” 

Experience Deerhoof at Northern Winter Beat 2024 February 3rd at Studenterhuset.