Freedom Singers

Mountain Moves, the latest album from San Francisco art-rockers Deerhoof, features guest appearances and collaborations from artists like Argentine songwriter Juana Molina, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier and many more. 

But when Deerhoof hits the road this fall, founding member Greg Saunier tells me, “we’re a Deerhoof cover band.” He’s explaining how Deerhoof strips back Mountain Moves’ particularly complex and nuanced production for a band that got its start playing experimental noise-punk. 

“Once we pile in the minivan,” Saunier says, “it’s just the basics. Stripped down guitar rock with Satomi [Matsuzaki, bassist] doing the vocals.”

Saunier jokes that guitarist John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez have to “stretch their fingers into some pretty weird shapes to get all those stray notes from the record but a little pain is ok.” 

The decision to collaborate was a conscious choice by the band, responding to the insular turn in world politics and current affairs with music. The record reaches out through sound and a few unlikely cover songs, like a surprisingly swinging and effective take on The Staple Singers’ “Freedom Highway.” 

I ask Saunier if collaboration took the new release in any unexpected directions. He mentions working with Molina. “I sent her a scratch vocal of myself singing what I thought was the melody,” he says. 

“A couple weeks later,” he continues, “here comes Juana Molina’s name in my inbox. I open this thing up and I couldn’t believe it. She was not shy about taking wild, irreverent liberties with what I sent. I was in tears it was so beautiful.”

Deerhoof plays with Mayya & The Revolutionary Hell Yeah and Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant 9 pm Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Hi Fi Music Hall Lounge; $15 advance, $18 door, 21-Plus.