“Look,” she said, “I’m not an idiot. I am a huge fan of Kim. Anytime you have an opportunity to play with somebody like Kim, you do it.”
In 1993, you could not help but hear the song “Cannonball”; it was everywhere. The Breeders—aka, the Deal Sisters, twins Kelley and Kim—was the hot “new” band with its second release, Last Splash. The band went on the first of many hiatuses when, in their early 20s, Kelley took a more mainstream job outside of music while her sister went off to Boston and answered a “musician wanted” ad that landed her in the Pixies. In the early ’90s, Kim, searching for an artistic outlet outside of the Frank Black–controlled Pixies, reformed the Breeders with Tonya Donelly of Throwing Muses. The duo’s first release, Pod, was both well received and influential.
An EP—Safari—and the departure of Donelly (to form Belly) followed that first album, after which Kim asked her sister to rejoin the band (despite a lack of guitar know-how). With Kim’s departure from the Pixies in early 1993, the Breeders could concentrate on a proper follow-up to Pod. Last Splash’s thundering success took most everyone by surprise. Over the next 20 years, the band suffered through fits and starts caused by addiction problems, rehab time for both Deal sisters, and Kim rejoining the Pixies, yet the Breeders still released several albums.
Fast forward to 2013 and Kim Deal once again left the Pixies, the Breeders reunite to tour the world celebrating the 20th anniversary of Last Splash and the band (with original members Jim Macpherson and Josephine Wiggs filling out the foursome) begin working on a new album. With a simple, “Things were going great and we were enjoying each other’s company,” they started songwriting together and talking of a tour. Said Kelley, “We got several songs together and thought it would be really nice to play those songs live.” As the idea of the tour developed the band was offered a slot with Neutral Milk Hotel at the Hollywood Bowl. The tour was set, beginning in early September 2014 in St. Louis.
Taking the new songs on the road to test them out is hardly new for the Breeders. What concerned the Deals are the changes in technology in the years since Last Splash. “Before, you would play a song on the road and never have to hear that version of it again,” Kelley explained. Nowadays, we are able to see every bad iteration of a song on YouTube the day after we play it. It is forever.” She paused for a second and then cheerily added, “They have to be good before we play them in public.”
As the interview progressed, I couldn’t help but interject about other siblings in rock ’n’ roll and how often the combination ended in blood (yes, I’m thinking about you, Gallagher brothers). I mentioned to her about having seen the documentary Do It Again about one journalist’s (Geoff Edgers) effort to reunite the Kinks. He doggedly pursued the Davies brothers, only to find Ray unwilling to even talk to him, much less reunite with his brother. Dave Davies seemed to genuinely want to rekindle the band and his relationship with Ray.
It led me to ask Deal about being in a band with her more famous sister. “Look,” she said, “I’m not an idiot. I am a huge fan of Kim. Anytime you have an opportunity to play with somebody like Kim, you do it.” While sounding at times like Kim’s biggest fan, she gave a laugh and responded “No” when I ask her if being in a band with her sister is the best thing ever. “Some days it is the best thing ever and some days it is the worst. “ The sisters have certainly had their outs over the years, but always seem to come back together. Kelley even joked that they would love to “get into a fist fight on stage. We think that would be super fun; however, we would end up cracking up and laughing mid-fight.” In the end, I pointed out that put them leagues ahead of the Kinks, as those punches were mostly not followed by giggling.
Kelley Deal has a very Zen appeal when you talk to her, like someone who has found balance. I asked her what she has learned over the years and she laughed, saying, “I decided that I’m just going to do me. Not try to be somebody else. This always gets me thinking right when I have to make decisions—either in music or in my personal life.” Perhaps this is, in part, due to the fact that she has substituted some of her addictions for knitting. She became extra excited when I brought up the subject, saying, “I love it!” Deal has been knitting for years and even has an online store to sell her creations. “It soothes me,” she said. “The clicking and repetition, the wool…”
Whether it is the knitting or the rejuvenated Breeders, Kelley Deal sounds excited and happy. When I asked if there was anything she wanted to add, she mentioned the most exciting thing to happen to her in some time: She was a guest on the Lil Bub show. “Sometimes people don’t care about anything I’ve done, but they love that I sang with Lil’ Bub.” Though there is no word out that Lil Bub will be joining the Breeders, the band will be coming to select towns and bringing with them a whole new set of songs. That alone is worth a purr or two. | Jim Dunn
The Deal sisters, along with the rest of the Breeders, start their tour in St. Louis on 9/2 and hit 11 venues along the way to the Hollywood Bowl on 9/18. They play Denver this Friday at the Summit Music Hall, where they will be testing out some new Breeders songs—and perhaps knitting a few new scarves.
The Breeders Tour Dates:
09.02 | Off Broadway, St. Louis (Sold Out)
09.03 | The Record Bar, Kansas City (Sold Out)
09.05 | Summit Music Hall, Denver (Ticket Info)
09.07 | Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City (Ticket Info)
09.08 | Visual Arts Collective, Garden City, ID (Ticket Info)
09.10 | The Showbox, Seattle (Ticket Info)
09.11 | Wonder Ballroom, Portland (Ticket Info)
09.13 | C2SV, San Jose (Ticket Info)
09.16 | The Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix (Ticket Info)
09.17 | Casbah, San Diego (Ticket Info)
09.18 | Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood