Deerhoof on “Future Teenage Cave Artists” - The Dying of the Light | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Deerhoof on “Future Teenage Cave Artists”

The Dying of the Light

May 18, 2020 Deerhoof
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When I talked to Deerhoof multi-instrumentalist Greg Saunier about Deerhoof’s next album in early March, the world was on the verge of changing. The indie rock legends, now 26 years into their highly experimental career, were just starting the press campaign for their 15th full-length release, Future Teenage Cave Artists, a record that ranks among the most challenging in their sprawling catalog. But Saunier already had a creeping feeling that things were about to fall apart.

“I think the world is really unpredictable at the moment,” he says, a few days before most of the country started to go into lockdown. “I can tell you right now, we have a release date. We’ve been planning tours. We have a West Coast loop and an East Coast loop. We have a European thing coming together. It’s all getting planned. It’s mostly confirmed for the summer. And our Nashville venue [The Basement East] was just destroyed by a tornado. The Italian festival that is anchoring our European tour might get cancelled because of a travel quarantine. From day to day, you really do not know. For all I know, we won’t be able to do any of these tours. Or for all I know, everything will be fine. There’s just no telling.”

Though they couldn’t have known that a pandemic was about to be unleashed on the world when they were writing and recording the songs that would become Future Teenage Cave Artists, Deerhoof still ended up capturing a world that wouldn’t be fine. Nothing is predictable. Saunier’s drums crash and fade unpredictably. John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez’s guitars wobble and sink into blurry undertows. Satomi Matsuzaki’s vocals float through the haze, describing scenes of environmental degradation and imminent collapse. If their previous release, 2017’s Mountain Moves, was a kaleidoscopic rallying cry after the disappointments of the 2016 U.S. election, Future Teenage Cave Artists presents the moment when catharsis crashes into confusion. In short, it’s a snapshot of a band deconstructing itself as the world devolves around them.

Future Teenage Cave Artists is due out May 29 via Joyful Noise.

Greg Saunier: You’re the first person I’ve ever talked to about [the new album] other than an a few friends and my bandmates and the label.

Matt Fink (Under the Radar): Yeah, it’s interesting to listen a record where there isn’t even a one-sheet. I only had the music.

I’m curious how it sounded to you. The CliffsNotes…

Right, right. I definitely think it’s a different kind of Deerhoof record. It’s certainly different from the last 10 or 15 years of Deerhoof records, I would say.

Hmm. Really?

Yeah, would you say so?

Well, hey. I think they’re all different. I’m not the journalist. I’m the last person you should trust with an opinion about what Deerhoof records sound like. [Laughs] We get so tangled up in the process of making it, the personal interaction that is involved in making the record, that, for me, all of our records are a lot of personal memories, basically. It’s really hard. Sometimes if I take five or 10 years before I hear them again, then I can sort of hear it fresh and be like, “Ohhh, that’s what it sounds like.” But until then I’m hearing the memories of making it more than anything. It’s hard to judge it fairly. I’ll have to take your word for it. You think it sounds different from the last 10 or 15 years?

Yeah, I think it sounded in some ways more like the pre-Milk Man era.

Oh, cool. We did just re-release those, and I put a lot of work…I mean, nothing could get remixed. We didn’t have any of the files anymore or cassette tapes to mix anything again, and that would have been ridiculous anyway. It would have been psychologically impossible. But there was stuff that I could tinker with in terms of remastering the finished stereo files. I hadn’t really listened to those three records [1997’s The Man, The King, The Girl, 1999’s Holdypaws, 2001’s Halfbird] for years—a really long time—so it was funny to hear them again and study them again after such a long time. I realized that in some ways the band hasn’t really changed that much, and I think a lot of what was described as “noise” on the first three records doesn’t necessarily disappear on the other ones. It’s just that our way of recording was very limited at first and became less limited once one of us had a computer.

I think this time we went back to something very limited. A lot of the recording was done like on the first record, The Man, The King, The Girl. The entire drum set would be recorded with one microphone, instead of four or five on a lot of the songs. [Laughs] A lot of it was recorded with just the built-in microphone on the laptop, like, “Put the laptop a foot away from the drums,” or something like that. And then “Point the laptop at the guitar mic,” and “Point the laptop at the bass amp” and do it really rough like that. In that way, it was very similar to The Man, The King, The Girl. And then the decision to keep stuff where you can hear the seams, and if things get edited it’s really audible that there’s a splice somewhere. Or there’s one drum sound or guitar sound for a minute, and then it switches radically to a totally different drum sound or guitar sound, from a different distance, from a different microphone or whatever. To have the process be audible instead of trying to hide the making of it so it seems effortless in the end, to hear all of that—the human effort that goes into making it—be audible. There are a lot of records from the past that I take a lot of inspiration from that I think sound like that a lot. Let It Be by The Beatles is a really famous one. Or parts of The White Album. “Revolution”—when you hear it, you feel like you hear human beings making it. I was thinking a lot about Sister Lovers, the Big Star record, or St. Anger by Metallica—stuff where the making of or the warts-and-all [approach] reveals some kind of personal thing that is very easy to erase working in the computer. But we chose to try and not erase it this time.

Is that something you discussed in the first conversations about the record, that this would be how you would approach it?

[Laughs] Not exactly. The way we work a lot of times is that we will talk about things at first, and we’ve got big plans. Then once we start working on it, someone will make a demo, like “Here’s a rough idea,” and everyone likes the rough idea and we end up not wanting to replace it or redo it. There’s some kind of magic. Sometimes it’s like you’ll read interviews with bigger stars in the pop world, and they’ll talk about how “It was sad to lose the original magic that we had in the demos, but we had to make it radio friendly or palatable.” Since we don’t have that problem [laughs]…I mean, we get played on commercial radio occasionally, but not that much, and obviously we’ve never had a hit on any kind of radio. Actually, I think our records have done really well on college radio, and we’ve been number one several times, but it’s not like we have hit songs that take over the airwaves, at least not to the extent that we feel pressure. Even when it has done well on CMJ, I’ve never felt in this band that we were punished for having the record sound a bit weird or not professional. If anything, I feel like we’ve been rewarded for that. I’m really thankful for the support that we’ve gotten in that way.

So, yes, we have the big conversation before making each record, and then it always goes awry in the process of making it. We never reach our goal. The goal ends up changing en route, and the goal always gets, in one way, kind of abandoned and compromised, and we have to become more modest and scale down what we are able to actually can do in terms of slickness. But then at the same time, the goal often really expands in terms of the lyrics and the concept of the record. We often have no idea, or just a really small idea, of what a record should be about when we’re starting, but it’s the process of making it that tells you what it’s about. The songs seem to tell you what they’re about as you’re discovering them and as you’re trying to put them together. And there’s always zillions of outtakes and stuff. So it’s like which songs end up being the ones that we don’t get tired of after week after week and month after month of listening to them and constantly tinkering with them and remixing them [that end up on the album]. We’re not doing them in a studio ever, so when you’re doing everything yourselves you’ve got unlimited time to tinker. Whichever ones seem to last, and that all four of us really love, even after all of that process, we know are the ones that we should be [on the record]. Those songs are the ones that we should be consulting to be like, “Okay, what is this song really about? What is it trying to tell us? What’s the vibe of the song?”

And so many of the ones we ended up keeping, even before they had lyrics…things kept chopping off. There were so many chop-off points in the middle of songs. Or some magic would start in a song and then just stop short or get cut off in midstream. Drum fills would start and then peter out for no reason or be abandoned in mid fill. A lot of little accidents like that would happen. Or things would break in the middle of the take. Things stopping in midstream seemed to be a theme that kept coming up again and again, even before we had very many words. Then, as we started coming up with lyrics for stuff, we realized how much that was exactly what was on our minds, as well, about the future and the feeling of things going extinct or things that were still in progress being abandoned and hope being lost for what seemed like it could have been a potential historical trajectory. But, no, I guess not. You had to give up on something. I don’t want to talk about it! [Laughs] I want to hear what you thought about it.

My first impression was that it seemed more raw than the last couple, which makes a lot of sense from how you’re talking about how it was produced. It seemed a lot more unpredictable to me. It was difficult for me to tell where songs were going.

Yeah, it was like fragments. I think a lot of our music is like that, but maybe we wanted to make it even more kind of dream logic on this one. Or patchy memories. Kind of imagining a person in the future, and maybe the not too distant future, who is living in a time where a lot of what we consider normal has broken down. Institutions have broken done. Animals, certain species, have gone extinct. Perhaps the energy grid is no longer working. Food and water may be difficult to find. You may not be able to travel or contact friends and family as easily. There could be diseases; there could be war. Natural disasters—all of the things that every year seem to be happening more, and that we’re constantly in the midst of and being threatened by, only getting worse.

That person in the future, who has survived through a lot of it, is remembering a past world and the memories are sort of disjointed. It’s memories of loved ones, it’s memories of people who maybe have been at fault for this catastrophe occurring, or different regrets they might have of attempts they may have made to save the future that may have failed. They have managed to outlast it and are kind of thinking about that. So I think we’re talking more about memories and stuff, so that’s why there’s an especially disjointed quality to the songs compared to the other ones, and the feeling of things being half-remembered or losses that you can’t remedy anymore. Humpty dumpty stuff. You can’t make it flow. You can’t put it back together. You can’t make it make sense anymore. That’s all there is left—just fragments and broken things. Like archeology, kind of. You just have archeology, and you try to piece together a new way of thinking or a new mythology that will help you make it through some desertified world or under water situation where survival is going to be very difficult, but you’re trying to piece together hints or clues from the past that you remember to try and help you survive.

And it’s funny because I’m talking about it in some sort of speculative post-apocalyptic future, but the fact is that it already feels like that for most of us. All of us are trying to piece together what fragments we can in just a chaotic barrage of information, so much of which is lies, to try to piece together any bits of this that go together and make any kind of sense and will help me endure everything that is happening with a shred of mental health. Is there any way that I can save the people that I care about and their mental health as they’re being bombarded 24/7 with constant threats from every direction?

Given all of that, do you think this is a bleak record thematically?

[Laughs] I really hesitate to answer that because…although you’re the first person that I don’t know who I’ve had any conversation about it, I have shared it with a few friends and obviously the label was heard it, and everyone has a different take on that question. I think the context is somewhat bleak. The world that it is in is somewhat bleak. But as to the singer’s point of view, I think that’s open to interpretation. Do you think it is?

No. I didn’t find it bleak. I found it to be disorienting but not bleak.


And certainly it’s not heavy-handed. I didn’t feel like there was any preachiness in it.


I found it to be more disorienting, which is something that I really like as a listener, to not know where it is going from song to song or even within a song.

The record is definitely about that feeling of really not knowing what’s coming at all and how do you prepare for that? Is there any way to prepare for that? I feel like mentally and emotionally and spiritually, the way you prepare for it is…I don’t know how people do it. I’m not religious at all. I feel like my religion is music, in a lot of cases. Just having music in my head or singing is a sanity tool, and I see it that way. And I see our music, and music in general, as a potentially useful way to focus and to keep energy and stay loose and not too attached to things that might disappear in an hour, and a way to keep your spirits up and just a source of pleasure, if nothing else.

I think we did not think in our hearts that it felt right to make comfort zone music. What we felt like we wanted to do was practice unpredictability and agility, having an agile heart and an agile mind. It has a lot to do with improvisation, which is something that comes up a lot with musicians, and it’s something we love in Deerhoof and do at every show. Things always go wrong. Things always go awry. We’re a very loose, rough band, and every night if we play exactly the same setlist it turns out totally different every time. Improvisation is a kind of human practice. Not to get too pompous sounding about it, but I know in my life that music improvisation has been a way that has helped teach me how to have life improvisation, to be more adaptable to very randomly shifting situations. Touring, of course, is like that too, because you’re in a new city every day. In Europe you’re in a new country every day, with a new language, and trying to adapt to the constantly changing surroundings felt more like the kind of record that felt right, something that wasn’t very settled into one groove or was about stability or predictability or comfort or pure sweetness. I’m trying to list other qualities, aesthetic qualities that you hear in a lot of music now. Or nostalgia. Smoothness. The feeling of everything being okay. We were kind of moving away from that and testing how rough and DIY and technically limited and disjointed can we make this record and still have it be something that gives you strength?

I can see that. It’s the sort of album that has its own inner logic and language, and it takes a couple listens to tune into it.

As always!

But it’s a thrilling thing when you actually tune into that language.

Well, I’m happy to hear you say that. That’s really nice.

At what point in the writing or recording process did you realize that this was the kind of album that you were making? That it would be a little fuzzy around the edges?

The thing is still alive. It’s at the pressing plant. It’s at the vinyl pressing plant. It’s still alive. I think still, the record is quote “done,” but it’s not done until people hear it. And we’ve always considered the listener to be a collaborator and interpreter that has a large role in the making of the music. I’m not just saying that. I’m also a music fan; I’m not only a musician. I occasionally listen to other music, too, and I always feel that way as a listener. I have a lot of power, and I can make connections in the music that I listen to that maybe the originator—the composer, the performer—that they didn’t make and that they didn’t intend and they weren’t aware of. I feel like this kind of thing happens al of the time, and I like the idea that music can still be alive.

You feel it a lot, at least potentially, in classical music and jazz. In classical music, the piece is just a written score, not a recording. So every performance of the piece is going to be different. I think that the performers nowadays maybe don’t take full advantage of that open-endedness and tend to repeat the same sounding kind of performances constantly, based on recordings that sold well, which I think is a real tragedy of classical music and is leading to its demise. With jazz, obviously, where the bulk of it is improvised, it’s considered very much alive, and songs that we consider standards are 100 years old at this point [and] are still up for reinterpretation and can sound totally different with a jazz player in 2020 than they’d sounded at any other time. But with this pop music, it’s way harder, because it’s based so much on the recording. And so you think, “Okay, it’s done.” And then the music journalism world has become such a thing. Music writers are such a thing that the word comes down from Rolling Stone or Pitchfork or Under the Radar, about what this thing means, and then that’s it.

And I love the idea of not really being able to say for sure, you know? We are empowering the listener to help finish an unfinished record. I think on this record we went a little further than usual to make it sound kind of sketchy and unfinished. That’s what I meant by things dropping off and ideas that kind of break off midstream. We leave a lot of open space, whether it’s silences or the harmony is missing or there’s missing notes or there’s just some weird cloudy sound where there should have been some music there—stuff like that where the listener’s imagination has to work a little harder to fill in the gaps. And the process of doing that is the process of learning to love the record. Maybe it doesn’t hit you the first time as the sweetest candy in the world, but once your imagination is engaged with it and you’re filling in the holes, then it becomes yours. It becomes your record, too.

The reference point that kept coming back to me as I was listening to it was [The Rolling Stones’] Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Oh, yeah! Exactly.

I remember picking up that record as a kid and being, like, “What is this?”

Yeah, totally. That’s definitely one where Sgt. Pepper was psychedelia brought to this level of refinement and perfection, and although Satanic Majesties is maligned as being The Stones’ worst record, to me it’s cool that it’s a much more imperfect version of psychedelia. It’s a much more imperfect and unfinished sounding version of the psychedelic masterpiece or a response to this psychedelic masterpiece of Sgt. Pepper. You hear them struggling, and you hear them way out of the comfort zone on a lot of things. I’ll be honest, I think the record that I listened to more—and this is not my bandmates, but just me—while we were making this record was the one right before Satanic Majesties, which would have been Between the Buttons. It has “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and stuff, and it has a lot of similarities to Satanic Majesties. One of the things that happens on these [records] is that there’s a lot of hard panning in the mix, so that it’s like the entire band is coming out of the left speaker, and then on the right speaker is the voice and tambourine or something. And it sounds really weirdly negative and empty, and that overexposed sound is something that I was really inspired by. I always have been, but we tried to do it more on this one. A little less sweetening and little more of things being more exposed.

It really has an underwater quality, especially in the guitars.

Either under water or deep in a cave.

Is that what inspired the title?

Well, I don’t know. It all came together. That’s what I’m saying. It generated itself. It seems like there’s no way to separate the artwork from the lyrics from the music from current events from what we’ve been reading from what is going on in our personal lives. They are all conspiring to create some activity, and at some point in all of this activity the four of us say, “You know what? I think this is done. We’re all happy with it, right? Alright, let’s send it to Joyful Noise.” It’s not like the activity ceases, but there’s a point where we say we’re all happy with it and we send it off. We don’t know why that point arrived, but all of these processes are inseparable. Definitely, a lot of the music came first, before the lyrics. And both of them came before the artwork. However, the lyrics are very much to do with what we’ve been feeling and thinking about while making the music, and the artwork, Satomi drew it, but it’s things that have been on everyone’s minds, and it’s images that we can’t get out of our heads, basically. I would describe it that way. It’s not like “Oh, the music influenced the lyrics.” These were burning things that have been haunting us that we’ve been trying to reconcile ourselves to. I think music is like that a lot of times. I don’t think that’s specific to Deerhoof.

It’s the melody that you can’t get out of your head or the worry that you can’t stop thinking about or the problem that you’re trying to solve, even in your sleep, of which section should come first in the song? And how many times does it repeat, and what’s wrong for that one chord? And one note is missing there, and what should the bass line be? All of the infinite number of details when you’re making a record. For us, they’re just like obsessions—things that we can’t not think about.

It sounds like it must have been a pretty intuitive process.

Yeah, it always is. The music tells you what to do.

That’s interesting, because I would assume that some artists do stifle that to a certain extent. Like, “I feel like the record is going this way, but we should be making that kind of record.”

Yeah, exactly.

Was it easy to get everyone on the same page creatively?

No, definitely not. And it’s not like there was an effort to do so. It’s very, very difficult to get us on the same page. We live in four different cities. Often we’re on tour, so we’re together a lot, but it’s not like we get a lot of work done on an album when we’re on tour. It’s like a different brain. So sometimes long periods of time would go by where we weren’t seeing each other, and we were just in touch by phone or email. Short answer, no, and that’s not unique to this record. It’s never easy to get the four members of Deerhoof on the same page about anything. It never has been. We’re very different people with different backgrounds and personalities and music tastes. It is intuitive, like you say. I will say that it isn’t always necessary. I wouldn’t call album completion getting everyone on the same page. It’s when everybody loves it. I don’t know if we’re on the same page. I don’t know if we hear the same record. We just had this conference call, and it’s very apparent how different everybody’s take on everything is—even within the band. Even now that it’s done, I don’t think we’re on the same page. But we all agree that it’s good and that we love it and want to put it out, but that’s as far as it goes.

Perhaps that’s part of the genius of Deerhoof, that there are four musicians who all see it differently but can still make it into something.

Exactly. Not “exactly” about the genius part, but I think that’s very sweet of you to say. [Laughs]

At this point, since you’ve been playing together for so long, are there unique challenges that come along with being a band for this long?

Every year of the band has been unique and challenging. What’s unique about now? I don’t think this is unique to Deerhoof—but I think it’s unique to 2020: How do you write a record that you want to have meaning for people more than just for a 24-hour news cycle? November [and the election] rolls around, and you really don’t know. It could go like, “Okay, that’s it. Human civilization is going to be over in 20 years.” It’s more or less guaranteed if Trump gets another four years. If you put two and two together, it would appear that the most likely outcome is that human civilization will collapse. Or suddenly you have this situation with Bernie Sanders, and there’s hope that you could save it, but only through the entire human race putting aside traditional stumbling blocks and rallying together against the forces that control the world now, whether they are corporate or corporate-owned, and rallying together to take that on, which is unprecedented and has never been tried, and there is no guarantee of success.

How do you make a record when the global mood is so impossible to predict? How do we make a record and plan out this album cycle, like “Let’s do two months of a PR campaign, and we’ll put the record out. We’ll put out a single and do a video. We’ll go on tour this place this time.” But you don’t know. I think that’s happening for every band. I talk to musicians all of the time, my friends. I’m working on another new Xiu Xiu record with Jamie Stewart, and it will be coming out after the fall, after election day, and it’s so wild to try and project into the future when the future is so unknown. Are we wanting to make a “Okay, well, it’s been a fun ride, human race, but I guess that’s it” record? Or are you making an “Let’s everybody rally together” record. How do you know? There’s no way to know. It’s so neck and neck between those different forces that would save or destroy human civilization.

You talk about coronavirus or natural disasters, even Bernie Sanders can’t snap his fingers and make those go away. He’s trying to dismantle the systems that make them more likely over time, but it’s not like over night they’re all going to disappear. We’re threatened with cataclysm constantly. I would say the unique challenge now, and something that we really struggled with on this record, is when you really don’t know what the future is going to be, how do you make a futurist sci-fi record? When you don’t understand what the future will be, what feels right? Is there any music that feels right? One of the easy feelings to feel as an artist is to feel extremely discouraged. In the face of a pandemic or nuclear escalation, who cares that such and such indie rock band put out their 14th CD or whatever? Is there any music that we could come up with that felt in tune with what we felt in our souls? That was very challenging. A lot of the music we were writing felt false. It felt like it didn’t touch that chord. It pretended it wasn’t happening; it was in denial. And we wanted to make music that wasn’t in denial—in denial of the future and in denial of our feelings.

I think this album captures that in the sort of dreamlike, hypnotic, disorienting feeling that describes that way that a lot of people are feeling right now.

Right. Cool.

You talked about this a little, but how difficult is it for a band that has been around as long as Deerhoof has to continue to find ways to market yourself and say “Here’s another thing. Listen to it.”

When we first started approaching it this way, it was kind of an accident, but we’ve ended up keeping it. The mistake has, just out of pure good luck, turned into a kind of guiding principle. We put out our first record, and then we put out a second record that sounded completely different from the first record. The first one was super chaotic, kitchen sink instrumentation, every song in a different style, tons of improv, tons of noise, very messy, very sloppy. Then the second record, every song was the same four instruments with the same tone, the same setting, recorded exactly the same way, all of the songs played really tight, no improvisation, no noise, no chaos. And I think every record since then, we’ve tried to do the same thing, which is change up what we were doing and disorient the listener who may have thought that they understood what we were doing.

Like I’ve been saying, that goes for the members of the band, as well. [Laughs] Even if the members of the band think they know what they’re doing, the process of making the next record will always unburden them of that illusion, and the result will be something that surprises everybody. Whereas I think super successful bands are encouraged to keep some kind of consistency in order to retain fans and to not abandon them by doing some kind of stylistic about-face. I think from the beginning, the kind of listeners who Deerhoof’s music seemed to catch the ears of were more into surprises, in general. And I think it started to feel a bit like Deerhoof’s fans would be more disappointed if we made something that sounded too much like the last record, so it’s like the opposite incentive. And all of this I consider to be unbelievably lucky. I feel like we’re the luckiest band in the history of bands, because our own fans are asking us to change, asking us to surprise them, asking us to do something that we haven’t done before, which is the most rewarding thing for us. And we never feel like it’s a grind or a machine where you have to churn out more hits or more of the same kind of stuff for them to buy. It’s more like they give us courage to try and be brave and do something that we’ve never done before. It felt the same on this. I think the feeling of risk taking goes up over the years instead of down.

Is that why the band has survived for as long as it has?

Well, that’s my theory.

Considering all of the changes in the music industry over the past 20 years or so, have you had to change a lot of how you approach things or are you doing it more or less the same way that you started?

I think we’re lucky because we are older. That sounds weird, but if we were trying to establish ourselves in 2020 as a new band, and our way of doing it was to put out Future Teenage Cave Artists and hope to get lots of plays on Spotify, I think that our chances would be much less due to the fact that we already exist and have a reputation that was formed in a different era. For a brief period—maybe not that brief—Deerhoof was critics’ darlings, and that helped us a lot. There was a long period before we were critics’ darlings, where we still toured a lot and we had fans, and then we became critics’ darlings, and a lot more people had heard of us. And then that obviously became a challenge of its own. But I feel 26 years in, we got over a kind of hump. There were a lot of years where I think it would have been very easy to take one wrong step and it’s career suicide. I feel like I saw friends’ bands around me have exactly that problem. They were doing very well, but once perfection is what’s expected of you, then the tiniest flaw destroys the image, and your champions no longer have any reason to keep championing you. It doesn’t make them let cool anymore.

When I say we were critics’ darlings, we were never number one on anything. But I think there was a period where we intrigued a lot of music writers, and we got written about a lot. And whatever albums we were putting out and tours we were going on and shows we were playing continued to intrigue them, and, in our case, I think that had a lot to do with keeping the thrill going, keeping the surprises coming, keeping the conversations going. And after that had happened for a while, we felt more established. That’s why I say if this were Deerhoof’s debut, it would be a lot more difficult.

I feel lucky by how much of our life is consumed by playing live. I would say that that’s an even bigger thing than being unpredictable, that you tour a lot and that we treat each show as a chance to have a lot of fun. And we’re still trying to figure out who we are and what we sound like. We struggle with it every day. A typical Deerhoof night after a show is over, and we’ve packed up the merch and the amps and stuff, and we all pile in the van, it’s like “Oh, my God, that was such a terrible show. I played horrible.” And then someone else will say, “What are you talking about? I thought that was our best show of the tour!” Just total utter disagreement about everything. About what was good, what was bad, about what we should be shooting for, even the memory of what happened. There is total disagreement. So being on tour and playing live has been a beautiful life practice.

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