Non-stop noise: Deerhoof may or may not buzz on new release

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By MATT MEDVED

What will Deerhoof’s new album, “The Runners Four,” sound like?

Guitarist Chris Cohen doesn’t want to tell you.

“Actually, I’m going to tell you what it’s going to sound like, and it’s going to be completely different. You’ll be totally surprised,” says Cohen. “It sounds like you’re listening inside a cardboard box just sort of full of buzzing bees, just kind of whistling.”

Fans can listen for themselves when Deerhoof plays Sunday, Sept. 25 at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave.

But given the stylistic range of Deerhoof’s catalog, buzzing bees may not be so farfetched.

Deerhoof’s hypnotic marriage of noise rock and dream pop has been as erratic as its lineup, which has seen numerous members come and go since drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier and guitarist Rob Fisk founded it in 1994. The lineup coalesced around Saunier, bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki and guitarist John Dieterich after Fisk left in 1999.

The band released the critically acclaimed “Reveille” in 2002 before Cohen joined in 2003 for “Apple O,” which was recorded in just one day, and 2004’s concept album “Milk Man.”

Unlike “Apple O,” “The Runners Four’s” recording process took several months and followed a more rigid schedule.

“It was like practice. We would learn a song, and then we would record it and start on a new song, record it and forget it,” says Cohen. “Then we started mixing, and we arranged pieces of it and chopped it all up. We’d start at 9 a.m. and go until 5 p.m. It was a daily routine.”

Cohen asks that listeners take special care in confronting “The Runners Four.”

“When you listen to the record, try and listen to one instrument at a time,” says Cohen. “We wanted to make this record something where if you listen to it, you can pick things apart and move around like what’s in a room. Hear all the different subtleties of each individual instrument, which is meant to be the subject matter of the music.”

The album follows a series of downloadable releases, including online live release “Bibidi Babidi Boo” in 2004 and the “Green Cosmos” EP in 2005.

“Filesharing has contributed a lot to people hearing us,” says Cohen. “Our attitude about it is pretty much that we like to share and we share as much as we can without giving up our ability to earn a living.”

Cohen defends filesharers despite the fact that “The Runners Four” has already been leaked onto peer-to-peer programs such as Limewire and Kazaa.

“You can download it, people are trading it online and it’s not even released yet. We take it as a compliment that people want to hear it,” Cohen says. “It was only a matter of time anyways; you can’t stop people from sharing it. We’re not like Metallica or something.”

Cohen also says that Deerhoof appreciates that its fans circulate bootleg live shows on the Internet.

“We’re more like the Grateful Dead than Metallica, by the way,” says Cohen. “One thing I always thought was cool about the Grateful Dead was the tapers. The fact that anyone would want to relive our shows is a compliment.”

Cohen doesn’t limit the band’s influences to just music. “We’re influenced by everything we’ve ever heard. Things that we like, things that we didn’t like. Things that our friends liked,” says Cohen.

“Not just music, I guess, the way that our parents talked, the color of the wall in our practice space, the horrible smell in the hallway. We’re influenced by the dreams that we have at night. The music that we make ties into us as people. Everything.”

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~ by Matt Medved on September 22, 2005.

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