Blame it on the Ramones. After Deerhoof finished recording demos for La Isla Bonita this past February, they began rehearsing for an upcoming tour. Halfway through a run-through of a long-time Deerhoof live favorite, their cover of the Ramones classic "Pinhead," someone offhandedly asked, "Why don't we ever write a song like this?" So Greg quickly dashed off a song on a scrap of paper, showed it to the band, and they recorded the breakneck stomper "Exit Only" in one take.
La Isla Bonita was recorded in guitarist Ed Rodriguez's basement. Situated next to a parking garage, it was perfect for making noise till the wee hours. They recorded live, DIY style, "a weeklong sleepover arguing over whether to try and sound like Joan Jett or Janet Jackson, cracking each other up, one guitarist whose name starts with J always putting too much red chile into the rations," says Greg. But more than that La Isla Bonita is about the eclectic worldwide community that has supported them.
You'll hear them pay musical tributes to their improbable list of heroes-turned-fans: David Bowie, Ric Ocasek, The Roots, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Beck. Of course their intent is never reverence, but provocation. They are always on the hunt for that perfect union of the hilarious and the terrifying that one hears in other bands of their generation like Bikini Kill and Lightning Bolt. 2014 has been a killer year for young, aggressive female-fronted bands (St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, Perfect Pussy, Karen O, Speedy Ortiz) and La Isla Bonita is also partly a discourse with them.
To produce the vocals they tapped former journalist-turned-label owner and producer Nick Sylvester, and that's where the album's pop side comes out: Satomi's singing is front and center, and if it sounds like she's commanding the band, it's because she was. "Satomi determined the direction the music would go," says Greg. As the inevitable temptation to sweeten the mix and edit down the takes crept in, Satomi kept everything focused on repeating grooves and simple arrangements. This is the glorious sound of four musicians owning their own hard-won and richly deserved legacy.