Thursday 22 February 2018

Q&A: Rock goddess Kim Deal on the end of Pixies, the making of The Breeders' Last Splash and touring with Kurt Cobain

Ed Power

Ed Power

Hello, indie legend Kim Deal. So you are putting back together the 'definitive' 1993 line-up of The Breeders. I thought you all hated one another?

There was no big falling out. I had always felt we parted on good terms. Of course you never know. Maybe you've got vaseline on the lens. One day you wipe it away and see the ugly truth. Thankfully, when I reached out, it was all good.

You are performing your cult album Last Splash in its entirety by way of marking its 20th anniversary. Back in '93, did you have any sense you were writing a classic?

It was fun but hard work. My memories are of the logistical difficulties. We'd gone all the way out to San Francisco and booked a studio. When we got there it turned out it was what they called a 'jazz' studio. Boxy with little ambiance. So we ended up recording in two studios. With the Pixies I didn't have to worry about stuff like that. It was someone else's job. Suddenly I was taking all of this responsibility on myself.

You and your sister Kelly (Breeders' guitarist) have a reputation for hard partying. Did you cut loose making Last Splash?

We were known to take a sip of something. I enjoyed the 'erb. It was never over the top. There was a lot of work. Honestly, unless a musician has a huge staff of managers and producers and assistants, it is hard to be fully in the throes of 'using'. That's a misconception. Bands who are good in the studio don't get overrun with drugs. You can't get anything done.

Your first band, Pixies, had just broken up. Did that dent your confidence?

Actually, Pixies hadn't split at that point. It happened during Last Splash. I was in the studio recording when Kelly came in and said 'Pixies broke up' ...

At the risk of understatement, that must have been a shock.

[Good humour evaporating] That's how you might have responded. You are bringing your own perspective. That's not how I felt. It [the end of Pixies] wasn't like a TV movie of the week sort of scenario. It wasn't a drama.

Okay, but it was generally understood you were not receiving the creative freedom in Pixies that you craved. Black Francis wrote the songs and, with very few exceptions, you chimed in on bass and backing vocals.

Lemme ask you something. If you wanted to write fiction, would you ever say that the newspaper was stopping you writing fiction? Nobody can stop you writing songs. As I said, people think there is a TV movie aspect to all that. It's not realistic. And yet, I always get the question. So maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand. I don't know. Everybody likes melodrama.

Speaking of melodrama, the Last Splash incarnation of The Breeders came to an end when Kelly was busted for drug possession . . .

Now there's your drama. It was a bummer. My mom and dad were really bummed. Dad was disappointed. Was I angry? At that point it wasn't the strongest emotion. You do your best to hold your head up and treat her with with love and patience.

The Breeders went on the road with Nirvana not long before Kurt Cobain took his life. Was there a lot of darkness around the tour?

Nirvana were always very sweet to us. My dad drove us around in an RV to all the venues. One time, we lost Kelly – drove off without her. So Nirvana gave her a ride. My memories of that tour are very positive.

Ed Power

The Breeders play Last Splash at Vicar Street, Dublin, tonight

Irish Independent

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