2014 Artist Survey: Deerhoof

Ed Rodriquez on Loving Liberace, His Parents, U2’s Free Album, and Being So Damn Attractive

Feb 12, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

 Here are some answers from Ed Rodriquez of Deerhoof.

 [A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.]

Top 10 Albums of 2014

 You're going to hate me, but I still haven't listened to a single album this year. I'm a person who listens to one record I love for six months or more. As you can imagine, I'm way behind catching up to my 2014 pile. Some of the best live acts I've seen this year have been White Reaper, Priests, Palberta, Father Murphy, and Celestial Shore. 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

I think it definitely was a strange and somewhat egomaniacal act, thinking the world would rejoice when your songs suddenly started playing out of the blue. Like a gift from heaven. Maybe they thought it would be like Santa Claus sneaking in and leaving that present no one else knew you wanted. I think it ended up being more like the ex-boyfriend who broke in and left a bunch of Photoshopped pictures of the two of you together and a book of baby names with his favorites circled. If you want to give it away, at least put a button that you can push that says, "Hey! You want this?" The only thing I might appreciate being automatically added is if an artist comes up with a song that somehow deletes spam from your inbox.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

I wasn't at that Mark Kozelek show, but I guess it depends on the tone that he said it. When I read what happened, it's hard to tell. He might have meant for the word hillbillies to be taken affectionately. Like how you might call a baby a "cute li'l f'n hillbilly." I think the setting is probably why it was a story at all, otherwise our news would be clogged with reports of "Don Rickles Mocks Foreigner" and "Henry Rollins Yells Back at Audience Member Who Yelled At Him." It really is annoying when you play a festival and sound is bleeding from everywhere, but that is more about the way the festival is organized than the artists who play it. I wouldn't blame the other band, that's ridiculous. The only way it could be quiet is if each band took turns playing songs, which would drag the day on way too long. And who wants to hang out with all those hillbillies all day? I'm always kind and respectful to everyone, but sometimes someone at a show kicks another person in the head or some band is obnoxious to the other bands and then you have to speak up. It's like my good friend Dalton would tell me, "I want you to be nice...until it's time to not be nice."

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

 I would agree when people say they have a problem focusing on our music at shows because of how attractive we all are. That's why no one talks about Gisele's political hardcore band.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

 I hope that everyone who has ever wronged me or ignored me sees how happy and successful I am, because that has been the main driving force behind my choice to play music. That and the potential for free jeans.

What was your first concert experience like (who did you see and who did you go with)?

 The first concert I saw was Liberace and the Dancing Waters. I bugged my mom to take me. I'm not even sure how I became aware of him, since he wasn't exactly in heavy rotation on MTV. I loved his costumes more than the music. Mr. Showmanship. I never had a record of his, but I did have a book of his outfits. There's something I admired about an entertainer who would throw on over 200 pounds of extravagance just to make a crowd smile. I always loved extremes-those who had a show wardrobe covered in rhinestones and those who made an instrument from something they found in a trash pit.

What has most surprised you about getting to know your parents as an adult?

 I think I was most surprised finding out how much my parents did to try and protect me from the racism they grew up with. America is a melting pot, but in a sense the way you're supposed to melt without conflict is by forgetting where you came from. I'm 100% Mexican, and my dad went through ordeals like getting grease sprayed on him at work and having to fight people who would threaten him for just walking down the street. When I was young, I never thought about the fact my parents lived through a period that they couldn't just walk into any restaurant and eat. Kids don't know that this wasn't that long ago. My dad was born in the U.S. and was incredibly proud to be an American. He served in the 101st in WWII, spent 30 years in the military but would still be judged because he was brown. For a while, I was mad that they didn't teach me Spanish, that I was named after my dad but they changed it from Eduardo Reynaldo to Edward Rodney. But it was all done with love and hopes to protect me from what they went through. They eventually opened up about it all so I could be aware and be proud of who I am, no matter what anyone else might ever say, which is good advice to everyone.

www.deerhoof.net

 

 



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