Having been almost totally quiet since 2009's self-released Fate to Fatal EP, the Breeders return playing songs from their now two-decades old breakout Last Splash LP. To celebrate, the band reformed with its most known lineup - twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Jim Macpherson, and Josephine Wiggs - to perform the album in its entirety along with ephemera from the lineup's golden era, including potential covers of Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Pete Townshend, and more. I caught up with Kelley Deal at her home in Dayton, OH to discuss the LSXX rehearsals, the importance of not jamming with assholes, and where the band stands with longtime label 4AD.
You guys are touring in support of LSXX, the 20-year reissue of Last Splash -
We're actually not touring in support of the reissue of the record. We're actually touring to celebrate that Last Splash is 20-years old. The reissue kind of happened after the fact. We're not on 4AD now, but we told them we were doing this tour and were like, "Do you want to re-release something?" and they said, "[gasp], yeah." I think they really only said "No" to us twice [during the reissue process] for all of the stuff we wanted, so they've still been really, really good to us.
But again, we're touring because it's been 20-years and we really want to play this record from start to finish and we really want to play together. It's just interesting to me that, at it's core, that statement - it's so rare when that happens now. There are so few bands that can actually tour in support of a record, that is like out on a label. Isn't that weird?
That's definitely interesting. It flips the whole relationship of the album versus the tour and playing live together.
Yeah, it was more like we were playing again and [4AD] put a record out with our involvement.
Is the lineup of the Breeders reformed?
Oh yeah! That's why we're doing it. It's Josephine [Wiggs], Jim Macpherson, Kim [Deal], and myself.
And Mando [Lopez] and Jose [Medeles], who have been in the band since Title TK are not involved?
No. The last time we toured with them was the ATP in New York in the fall of 2010. And Kim has been playing out with the Pixies and everything, so that's the last of what we've done. So before we got together to do this, Kim and I reached out to Jim and Joe just to see if they'd even be interested in doing this, and we got such great responses. They were like, "Hell yeah! Let's do this." So we called up Mando and Jose, which is just kind of a dickish move, you know? Like, to call them up and be like, [deepens voice] "Hey guys, we're going to get together with these old guys and do this one record, cool?" It felt really weird, but they were really cool about it. Like so supportive. We don't play with assholes anyway. Everybody we play with is friends, and they're on our team.
Have you already begun rehearsals with Josephine and Jim?
We've been rehearsing since last summer. Josephine actually lives in Brooklyn and Jim actually still lives here [in Dayton], so she started driving down once a month and the four of us would get together between our day jobs. We would take like seven to ten days off at a time. We were also spending this time working on [LSXX].
So you guys have been hard at work on this for quite some time now.
Oh yeah, well there are songs we've never done live. I'd have to look back at the tracklist, but I know we've never played "Mad Lucas" live.
What songs do you look forward to playing again?
Definitely "Mad Lucas." There's a tiny practice amp that's battery-operated and I have that up on stage. It's been really fun finding these tones again and finding the sonics of this record. And trying to reproduce it and really celebrate it live. The little things have been really neat. It was important for us to bring the actual wind chimes that we took to San Francisco that go from "Invisible Man" to "No Aloha." So Jim like hits those in-between those songs.
Also, we are joined by Carrie Bradley who played violin on "Drivin' on 9" and "Invisible Man." But if there's a cello part like on "Roi" that Josephine plays, Carrie actually puts her violin through an octave pedal to get this lovely pulsing figure throughout the song. We'll be keeping her busy throughout the set, like with keyboards on "Flipside."
Have there been any challenges in performing the old material?
Well on the song "Roi" there's a mini Moog and they have this thing where they don't travel well. Like, you can get the sounds you want out of it and pack it up, then take it out again and it's out of tune. You can't maintain it. And you could break or damage it. We knew we couldn't travel with it. So Kim decided to take the mini Moog, find the sounds we wanted and tape it. So she sampled it on something, maybe an eight track. Then she went to a studio in town and played it through a Leslie speaker, which is an organ speaker that spins, taped that and put it in a sampler. Then Jim hits the samples when we play it live. But that's actually kind of the fun part of this too.
Have the rehearsals led to any new Breeders material or are you just focusing on these songs?
We haven't even started the tour yet, but oddly enough, Jim was over last night in the basement and he, Kim, and I were working on this really cool new song.
In terms of new material, are you guys still signed to 4AD? It seems like a ton of their roster is newer stuff that's branched out into new territories. Is there anything going on with 4AD past LSXX?
Well, I don't know. I mean it's fine, but I just haven't talked to those guys in so long. It's very amicable. I was never signed to 4AD - Kim was because of a "leaving members" clause that the Pixies signed. When the Pixies signed with 4AD, her and Charles [Frank Black] decided to sign a leaving members clause so that if either one of them left the band they would still owe whatever albums happened to be left on the contract. So the Breeders worked off of that for a while, and then for Mountain Battles we did a one-off thing with them.
The Fate to Fatal EP was self-released two years after Mountain Battles. Did it change anything with your writing, recording and releasing process?
Nope, not really. Kim is actually already releasing singles on her own through KimDealMusic.com. They're beautiful. All of her stuff is on tape, and it's all expensively done. It's all thought out. Sometimes it's recorded in a basement with some dude. I'm on a track playing keyboards in her studio. I frankly don't know that a record company would or could do that now. And the songs are gorgeous.
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