Posted April 30, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

Here’s the Deal with The Breeders 20 years later


How time flies. It’s been 20 years since the Breeders made a huge splash with Last Splash; the noise-pop group formed when the Pixies Dayton, Ohio-born Kim Deal started writing songs while the Pixies were on a European tour. Deal originally hooked up with Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, but eventually also brought her sister Kelley into the fold for Last Splash, the album that featured the band’s most popular single, “Cannonball.” To mark the album’s twentieth anniversary, the group is reissuing the disc as a three-CD package (and seven-disc vinyl box set) and has reconvened the original Last Splash line-up for a U.S. tour. We caught up with Kelley and she spoke about the reissue and the upcoming tour in this phone interview.

You still live in Dayton, Ohio?
Oh yeah. My whole family does. My mom and dad live about two miles and my sister lives a mile from them and my brother lives just blocks away from them. We’re all very close.

You played your first show as the Breeders on June 19, 1992 in a snooker hall in England. What was that show like?
I was just as nervous for that small show as I was for the show the next night. Once you get past a certain number of people, it doesn’t matter. I can’t comprehend that many people, at least my brain can’t.

How’d you end up opening for Nirvana two days later?
They had invited us to open for them and we did. Kurt [Cobain] was a fan of the band. It was a great show. I think it was a strange venue. It wasn’t a hockey arena but it was something like that. It was that kind of feel. It wasn’t a club and it wasn’t a theater. It I remember thinking, “What is this place?”

At that point, you hadn’t released an album but you had written plenty of songs.
I think we were probably playing a few of them. We came back after and started touring the states. We traveled the northeast and did a run of shows on and off for a year in my dad’s RV.

To what extent did the Pixies influence the songs you were writing?
I don’t think so. I think if anything, this is how I operate and I’m sure Jim [Macpherson ] operates like this. If I am doing something and it sounds too much like a Kim [Deal] song, I tell myself to stop. It influences you by what you don’t do as much as by what you do do.

We were all kind of not looking for an identity through music and that can be such an important part of music and genres.

You say you weren’t grunge and you weren’t riot grrrl. How would you describe the middle ground that you occupied?
We were all kind of not looking for an identity through music and that can be such an important part of music and genres. I just read something about somebody that mentioned what she wore. I was like, “Why on earth would you mention something that somebody wore?” I just don’t think like that. I don’t process rock through clothes and the hairstyles. It’s as if you’re talking about a painter in the studio and you talk about his hair. I think that’s made us different. We were very Midwest.

What’s it been like to revisit Last Splash?
It’s been fun listening to the stories. I’ll say something and it will remind them of something. It’s melding our memories as we go back through it.

I love Vaughan Oliver’s original artwork for the album. What’s the story behind it?
From what I remember, Kim wanted something with a heart, but she didn’t want it to be a cartoon heart. She wanted it to be gory and a realistic, crazy heart. We ended up with that with that, I don’t know how. Now, it’s called a strawberry heart, which I think is really cute. I like that.

“Divine Hammer” has such great energy behind it.
Kim and I started working on that when we were 17. We had a different version of that was not called “Divine Hammer.” I think it was called “You Always Hang Around.” Then, Kim had changed the lyrics and rearranged it a little. It probably would have been pretty decent at any of those stages.

Reading through the liner notes to the Last Splash reissue, I’m struck by the camaraderie that existed between different bands. Do you ever get nostalgic for that time?
I think what really made a difference was two things. One was Lollapalooza. It really truly was like band camp for three months in the summer. You traveled with and met all these cool bands. You’d see them at the hotel and have a coffee or booze, inevitably. That helped with that feeling. The other thing that made a difference was that we always picked our openers. Now sometimes the label or bookers pick them. We always had the feeling that we were providing an evening of music, so it was important to us to have someone like Luscious Jackson or Unrest or Urge Overkill or The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. When you ask a band if they want to go on tour, you get to know them through those four or five weeks. That makes a big difference. They were always really cool and never assholes.

Michael Azerrad says your music was “sprinkled with fairy dust.” Is that accurate?
I don’t know. Do you think it’s a reference to the Pixies? It could be a reference to the fact that our bassist is gay.

You’re okay with it?
Totally. That’s a nice thing to say. It’s hard to talk about music and using words about how chords work together and the silences within music. It’s like telling somebody what it’s like to eat a banana. How do you do that? I appreciate somebody using a big term like fairy dust. It’s like throwing your hands in the air and saying, “Fairy dust — whatever.”

Upcoming 2013 Tour Dates 

May 2

May 3

May 4

May 5

May 6

May 9

May 11

May 12

May 14

May 15

May 24

May 27

May 28

June 1

June 2

June 3

June 14

June 18

June 19

June 21

Dionysus – Oberlin, OH

Mr. Smalls Theatre—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

9:30 Club—Washington, DC

The Trocadero—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Webster Hall—New York, New York

Royale Nightclub—Boston, Massachusetts

Danforth Music Hall—Toronto, Ontario

Majestic Theatre—Detroit, Michigan

Mercy Lounge—Nashville, Tennessee

Variety Playhouse—Atlanta, Georgia

Primavera—Barcelona, Spain

Le Bikini—Toulouse, France

Le Rocher De Palmer—Bordeaux, France

Trianon—Paris, France

Ancienne Belgique—Brussels, Belgium

Paradiso—Amsterdam, Holland

Vicar Street—Dublin, IrelandJune 17—ABC—Glasgow, Scotland

Ritz—Manchester, England

Forum—London, England

ATP Festival—Camber Sands, United Kingdom



Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].