Here's my interview with Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich. Well, most of it; I cut out the part where I asked him about being a messy eater. Deerhoof will be at Mercy Lounge tomorrow night (2/22). Click on the period at the end of this sentence if you want more.
Scene: What was the songwriting process like for the new album?
John Dieterich: As far as us working individually, developing songs we bring into the group, it was the same. People worked on their music. Every album we make, we try to approach things differently; we think about the album differently. We're in different places in our lives or whatever. I think when we actually got together, it's not that the process was completely different, we worked the same way we often work, basically getting together, spending all day every day working on stuff, going through ideas, just trying to get to where everyone is happy with everything and trying to find out what the core of everything is.
Part of the idea of this band is that anybody in the band has the right and the ability to basically say, "this isn't done yet" or "this isn't right, we have to fix it," so with The Runners Four, I'd say much more than Milk Man that process was taken to a new level. We turned it into part of the concept of the album in a way
Scene: The recording of your albums seems extremely democratic. Do you find that other bands hate your freedom?
Dieterich: [Laughs] Well put. It's funny, it's...in a way, it's not freeing at all—in another way when you have a situation where three fourths of the group is 100% satisfied and feels like this is perfect and you have one person who feels like, "No, it's not right." And they feel like this overdub needs to be 3 decibels louder, it's just...our hope is that the results make it worth it.
Scene: I read where you referred to the process of recording and mixing Milk Man as "microsurgery"—in terms of all the sampling, tweaking, pitch-shifting of individual notes, etc. What is your medical opinion of Friend Opportunity?
Dieterich: Part of the difference is I think we approached—okay, sound-wise, the way we got sounds for Milk Man we had to find them and fit them into a context. [On Friend Opportunity] Greg was using an electronic drum set that he was playing and we could change the sounds on it at any time, so we could write with those sounds in mind. It was slightly less torturous.
Scene: Are you bringing along another instrumentalist on tour, or are you re-working arrangements?
Dieterich: No, we're doing it as a trio. We'll see how that goes [laughs].
Scene: You did some recording for Friend Opportunity at Tiny Telephone [John Vanderslice's studio in San Francisco]—did you still do most of the recording at home?
Dieterich: We did all the basic tracking at my house in my bedroom, then we did most of the mixing, "finished" it, then went into Tiny Telephone for a day and a half, did vocals and some sound experiments. Satomi and I recorded things direct, and ran some of those tracks out into amplifiers to get new sounds—nothing fancy. Then Greg did a couple of real drum overdubs.
Scene: So you still did almost everything at home?
Scene: You recorded and mixed on a computer, right?
Scene: Using ProTools?
Dieterich: Yes, but not as any kind of statement. It's just what we know how to use.
Scene: And you've graduated from the free version?
Dieterich: Yes, unfortunately. The free version was for OS9 and you could just put that on your computer without needing any kind of hardware interface. That isn't true of the pay versions, which is just.... Do I sound bitter?
Scene: No, not at all. You've played in Nashville a few times. Anything you look forward to in particular when you're here?
Dieterich: I really like that park with the Parthenon in it. We've never seen any of the Nashville sites. We've managed to never have more than 36 minutes free when we're there.
Note: I got the photo of John here.