Sick Riffs: Deerhoof teach you the hypnotic indie-rock stylings of Damaged Eyes...

Sick Riffs #39: It seems incredible to think, but beloved San Francisco experimental outfit Deerhoof have been moulding pop and indie-rock in their own psychedelic six-string image for more than a quarter of a century, and this month sees the release of their 15th(!) album, Future Teenage Cave Artists.

Guitar savants John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez have kindly let us into the playing secrets behind Damaged Eyes Squinting into the Beautiful Overhot Sun, a cyclical, mesmeric highlight from the new release.

“Damaged Eyes… started out as John's attempt to figure out how a Blake Mills song went,” the pair recall.

“He failed and got bored and started writing riffs on top of it and sent it to the rest of the band, who gave him the thumbs up. Satomi [Matsuzaki, vocals/bass] sang into her telephone.

“Inspired, Greg [Saunier, drums/vocals] sang into the microphone on his laptop. With no ending to the song in sight, one of Ed's demos magically appeared and found its home as the beautiful and terrible conclusion of the song. As the Earth melts, so too does the song. Greg implores sadly, quoting Bach: ‘I call on thee.’”

Conjuring such an epic tale requires similarly epic tones, and for his part of the lesson, John Dieterich plays a 1961 Gibson Melody Maker through Fairfield Barbershop, Klon KTR with a touch of EarthQuaker Disaster Transport SR.

To teach his closing wigout, Ed Rodriguez turns to a 1981 Gibson Firebrand ‘The Paul’ Deluxe through a Vox NT15H Night Train head into a Polytone single 12 cabinet, with a Mantic Conceptual Proverb reverb in between.

Deerhoof has been making our records pretty DIY for a long time, so in that sense we have been preparing for something like this

John Dieterich

“Deerhoof has been making our records pretty DIY for a long time, so in that sense we have been preparing for something like this,” says Dieterich. “Creativity continues and evolves. I sometimes wake up and feel like a different person, and there's something liberating in that.

“The struggle for everyone to hold it together mentally while attempting to put food on the table is very real. Like many others, I have started having virtual get togethers with out of town friends and family, and that has been really great. I see them more than I did before all this nonsense.

“I hope we can learn from it all. It feels profound, and I hope we can remember.

“The main way we can survive as musicians is by touring so like a lot of people from all walks of life, we're trying to adapt and figure out how we're going to make it, day by day,” Rodriguez reflects.

“It's even more clear now how we all need each other - that's been a positive side of all this. It's uplifting to be connecting with our fans and feel that we're all in this together and see how much this back and forth of support means.”

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

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Sick Riffs is a Guitar World video series designed to help guitarists affected by the coronavirus. Self-isolating players around the world have each filmed a lesson where they teach you one of their own guitar riffs, up close and personal. If you dig the lesson, we encourage you to buy music and merch from the artist or stream their music.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as more than 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.