Mixing bits of rock ‘n’ roll ammunition with nursery-rhyme vocals, San Francisco quartet Deerhoof taps into something explosive yet comforting, a sonic grenade thrown into the field of all things cliché in music today. With their seventh release, 2005’s The Runners Four (KRS/5rc), fans met a newer, fresher, and more mature version of the band.
Recorded in six months at their Oakland, CA, practice space, The Runners Four is Deerhoof’s longest full-length, clocking in at roughly 56 minutes (Milk Man came in at 33, and Apple O’ just over 31). On this album, the band transitioned from epic communal blasts of sound to each instrument having its own autobiography. On the phone from vacation in Santa Fe, NM, drummer and vocalist Greg Saunier explains how Deerhoof changed up their recording methods for this album.
“There had been a couple times, like on Milk Man, where I’d written a song and I had every detail completely figured out and there was no room,” he says. “It basically was like ‘Who is the guitar player in my band? Okay, you come here and you’re going to be my robot now.’”
“We don’t vote on things,” Saunier continues. “If three people like something and one person doesn’t like something then we don’t do it. It’s very time consuming and really takes a lot of effort from everybody, but it’s also really rewarding because you finish the album and everybody totally feels like they really like it.”
That’s not to say Saunier is entirely happy; though critics and fans have praised the album, he still gets pretty heated when asked about record reviews. He pauses. Then chuckles. Then sighs deeply. “I tend to read [reviews] as much as I can to find any feedback on our music from any source,” he finally reveals. “You know, it’s just sort of my nature. I’m sort of obsessive and panic-stricken all the time."