The Breeders


Back To The Splash

The Breeders perform their Last Splash album in full at the Astor Theatre next Thursday, October 31 presented by X-Press Magazine. BOB GORDON speaks with guitarist, Kelley Deal.

Kelley Deal’s having a rare moment in Dayton, Ohio. The last six months or so have been all about The Breeders, performing their 1993 album, Last Splash, at the invitation of Deerhunter for All Tomorrow’s Parties and following that gesture around the world.

But, for now, it’s about home. The kettle has boiled and her knitting – she’s a world-class knitter at that – is on the table.

“It is a little strange but it’s good,” she says of 2013’s momentary stops at home. “My mom and dad are older and I have a cat so it’s really nice to be able to touch down and spend a couple weeks here. ‘Is everybody alive? Does everybody have a pulse? Okay, good. Does the cat have four legs? Okay, excellent. See you guys later.’

“Then I’ll leave for a couple more weeks or however long then come back and do the same thing.”

Rejoining as The Breeders (1992-’94 line-up) with sister Kim Deal, bassist Josephine Wiggs, drummer Jim McPherson and guest violinist, Carrie Bradley, began with a show in Brooklyn in April and has continued in a merry way.

“Everything still seems to be going really well,” Deal notes. “We’re all still getting along; we’re all still enjoying ourselves.

In London – and I blame Josephine for this, it’s her fault – she thought it would be a good idea if we played Last Splash and then, for the encore, instead of coming on and doing whatever songs we were gonna do, go on and play all of Pod (1990). From start to finish. So that was fun, but it was nerve-wracking learning all these idiosyncratic leads. It was just super fun.”

If getting a band back together is a surreal feeling, then playing the album where it all came together – then eventually fell apart – must be even more so.

“It does bring you back,” Deal confirms. “As you’re going from song to song,  you do have memories. It is a period of time. It’s not just going from this song to another song; not that you’re thinking this while you’re playing it, but there is the idea of it.

“We didn’t have cell phones in ‘94. So you couldn’t text. If somebody had a question on whether or not you went to a B or an Am or something. ‘Hey, does that go to an F there or what?’ Just those little things, little time bubbles.

“But not really,” she adds, by way of qualification. “It’s not like I’m standing there thinking of a specific event or anything, but there’s just a similar patina from song to song. That’s the way I think I would describe that, instead of a different hue to each one… if albums were colours (laughs).”

While Kim Deal’s departure from The Pixies seems as complicated as that band’s dynamic always was, it seems The Breeders is a much more casual association.

“No, it’s not like everybody left being mad at each other and were never speaking to each other again,” Deal explains. “Jim McPherson lives like 20 minutes outside of Dayton and we’d see him at shows and clubs and we’d see his wife around town.  With Josephine, we’d actually played with her a couple times. She played bass with us for a 4AD anniversary thing and then when Mando (Lopez), our other bassist, when his wife had a baby, we had some shows scheduled and had to leave the tour and Josephine joined us to play the Last Splash songs. So we were all talking and stuff like that.

“It was more like, ‘are you guys not important enough in your jobs where you can  actually leave your job and come and do this with us for a year?’.  And luckily, that’s the case (laughs).”

If there were any doubts upon the re-grouping – and it seems there definitely weren’t

– Wiggs’ bass intro to Cannonball at the band’s first rehearsal was just the tonic.

“Oh my God,” Deal exclaims, still sounding moved. “It was so weird. I’ve heard that bass part played by other people before. By fine musicians. They’re great musicians. But it never sounds like when Josephine plays it. It’s bizarre. I’m sure it’s the way she plays it. It’s her bass. Her decisions that she makes on the amps. It’s just like, ‘oh my God. It’s that song’.

“And also, we’ve realised we can’t play it wrong.  We cannot play the song wrong. It’s not possible.”

Of course, not only does the Last Splash album and era mean a lot to the band, it means just as much, if not more, to the fans. It speaks of a different time in music and indeed in life. Memories, as they say, are made of this.

“We talk about this,” Deal says. “Sometimes you do a show and you just feel there is so much love and excitement for the record and what it means to this particular group of  people, that I don’t know if I can do the songs service. I don’t know if I could possibly play them as good to help with their memory.

“But I’m signed up. I’m completely into doing that for now. I’m happy to do that for them if it gives them joy. Just like I would like to see the Rolling Stones just play Some Girls again. That album… that was so good. My memories of that are fantastic. I have such distinct memories for myself. “So I know how that is. I respect it; it doesn’t matter who you are, you have that.”

In celebrating such memories, Deal is aware that the prospect of creating more is a distinct possibility. There’s plenty to draw upon song-wise, but it’s also important to take one step at a time.

“I would love to do that,” she says. “Have you seen Kim’s website, She has beautiful songs. It’s a series of six or seven singles and they each have an A and a B side. I don’t know why we don’t do Likkle More. We could do Dirty Hessians, which is an instrumental. There’s another called Ranch On Castle, which isn’t out yet.

“I wanna know why we’re not doing those songs? But, as you say… first thing’s first.”