The first thing you notice about The Runners Four is its simplicity – an unadorned recording of the acclaimed quartet in their Oakland practice room. Without the layers of production heard on Milk Man and Green Cosmos, you start to understand the mania that follows their live shows: Deerhoof is a shockingly good rock band. They play with a primal abandon and molten group chemistry that remains untamed since the band’s early days.
Still, at nearly twice the length of any of their previous albums, The Runners Four is more complex and challenging than anything they’ve ever recorded. After a few listens it dawns on you: This is more than rock, this is a wholesale rewrite of the rock and roll dictionary, a massive, sweeping totality, the product of a seemingly endless collective imagination.
The Runners Four: a quartet of racers, chasers, messengers, even smugglers, gleefully smashing through outmoded boundaries, bearing gifts of sonic contraband. Deerhoof is poised yet again to surprise their fans and divide the critics. Historians of the future who will want to investigate music of the early 21st century may find that Deerhoof was the most iconoclastic band of this generation.
For six insomnious months Deerhoof wrote, rewrote, recorded, rerecorded, mixed and remixed, seeking to synthesize into a unified statement the four entirely different musical personalities within the band. The Runners Four is an expression of teamwork, a record of the marvelous and restless journey of an improbable band. This is Deerhoof’s own autobiography, and it’s magnificent.
There’s something warmly human and approachable about it, Deerhoof hosting an intimate conversation in their secret workshop. There are unmistakable love songs, introspective soliloquies, and heated outbursts. In every earthy, beautifully dangerous song, Deerhoof tells their story with an almost religious devotion, recalling such rough-hewn classics as There’s A Riot Goin’ On or Exile on Main Street.
More than anyone, Deerhoof defines the musical ethic of our generation: calling for an end to traditional/experimental arguments; heralding the era of the defiant DIY album, every bit the artistic equal of any inflated major label production; and creating a non-disposable popular music that grows more inspiring the more it is heard. The Runners Four is a celebration of chance mysteries and the fleetingly wondrous moments of life, an olive branch from a bright future.
March 1994: GREG SAUNIER and ROB FISK form Deerhoof.
February 1998: KELLY GOODE joins Deerhoof.
July 1999: Deerhoof releases HOLDYPAWS.
November 1999: Rob and Kelly quit Deerhoof, and are replaced by JOHN DIETERICH.
July 2001: Deerhoof releases HALFBIRD.
December 2001: CHRIS COHEN joins Deerhoof.
March 2002: SONIC YOUTH invites Deerhoof to play at All Tomorrow’s Parties in Los Angeles. Deerhoof plays three other ATP festivals in US and UK, and plays many more shows with Sonic Youth.
June 2002: Deerhoof releases REVEILLE, their first album to feature John.
2003: Deerhoof becomes Kill Rock Stars’ longest-running band.
March 2003: Deerhoof releases APPLE O’, their first album to feature Chris.
November 2003: BECK invites Greg to play drums on his new album, although scheduling prevents this.
February 2004: KAREN O chooses Apple O’ in ROLLING STONE 2003 MUSIC AWARDS, Artists’ Top Albums.
March 2004: Deerhoof releases MILK MAN.
March-April 2004: Milk Man stays at #1 on the DUSTED RADIO CHART for six straight weeks, and reaches #1 on the CMJ Core Chart.
May 2004: Milk Man nominated for “Outstanding Alternative Album” in the CALIFORNIA MUSIC AWARDS.
September 2004: Deerhoof receives Editor’s Choice Award from 7X7 MAGAZINE.
November 2004: Deerhoof tours with WILCO.
December 2004: Deerhoof voted “Best Local Rock Band” by readers of SF WEEKLY.
March 2005: Deerhoof releases GREEN COSMOS EP, their first Japanese- language release, on Toad Records in Japan.
January–July 2005: Deerhoof records THE RUNNERS FOUR.
July 2005: THE ROOTS invite Deerhoof to play with them in their hometown of Philadelphia.
1995–Present: Deerhoof tours Europe, Japan, UK, Scandanavia, Canada and US.