Deerhoof will start the new year with three dates in Japan with avant-garde Japanese group OOIOO, hitting Osaka January 17, Nakogoya January 19 and Tokyo January 20. Then it’s back to the States to release the new album, Friend Opportunity, on January 23 and kick off a U.S. tour January 24 in Los Angeles. The tour winds its way around the country hitting 29 cities in six weeks before wrapping March 3 in Houston. Deerhoof have tapped a variety of acts to fill the supporting slot along the way including Hella, Busdriver, , blackblack, Leti Angel, Harlem Shakes, Flying, Macromantics, and Experimental Dental School.

Deerhoof began in 1994 as a side project of Rob Fisk and Greg Saunier who were both in Nitre Pit at the time. When Nitre Pit ended suddenly, Fisk and Saunier found that they had several booked shows and no band, so Deerhoof became a full time gig.

The band, still a duo at the time, was spotted at an early appearance by Kill Rock Stars founder Slim Moon, who signed the band immediately. Fisk and Saunier soon met Satomi Matsuzaki, who had no musical experience at the time, but won a spot in the band by telling them she couldn’t possibly make Deerhoof any worse.

This incarnation of the band released a pair of albums before Fisk quit in 1999, and Saunier reinvented the band by adding guitarist John Dieterich. Bassist Chris Cohen, who left the group amicably earlier this year, joined the lineup following the release of the group’s 2002 album, Reveille.

Opportunity is the followup to the band’s critically acclaimed 2005 album, The Runner’s Four. Buzz around Four earned the group opening spots on tours by The Flaming Lips and Radiohead. Deerhoof’s music is also featured prominently in the upcoming film, “Dedication,” due out in 2007.

The most surreal indicator of Deerhoof’s renown, however, may be the decision by an elementary school in Maine to stage the band’s album Milk Man as a ballet last October.