Ethnomusicologists of the next century will look back on 2010-2013 as the Retrospective Album Tour era. This past year alone, I’ve witnessed GZA rework Liquid Swords with a Latin funk orchestra, Erykah Badu hold a sweet sixteen celebration for Baduizm, and Danzig peter through a handful of Misfits covers.
The Breeders have entered a comparably nostalgic period, pumping out a global tour in support of Last Splash and re-releasing the now 20-year-old album with bonus demos and live versions. During a recent break in the trek, guitarist Kelley Deal took the time to speak with the Dig. “Making scarfs and other things has me really busy,” she laments from her Dayton, Ohio home. “But I can’t wait to get back on tour.”
Aside from knitting, Deal has been making full use of her time before the last month of LSXX anniversary shows: scoring a film being shot in Dayton, collaborating with guitarist friend Mike Montgomery as R. Ring, and producing a song with Lil Bub (yes, the bug-eyed, tongue-dangling, internet-famous feline; Google it). There’s a folksy charm to how she describes her life in Ohio, crafting custom packaging for R. Ring CDs, making music in the kitchen, and hanging out with The Breeders’ drummer Jim Macpherson.
Even with all that action, it’s understandable that Deal wants to be back playing shows. Putting aside the fact that the tour has taken her to destinations as far and exotic as Europe and Australia, The Breeders have always been a live band. After the critical success of 1990′s Pod and the exit of original guitarist Tanya Donelly, Kim Deal recruited her twin sister to fill in. Opening slots for Nirvana pushed the band to work out new material, perhaps most notably a song called “Grungé.” That song’s infectious opening bass riff would later become The Breeders’ most recognizable hit, “Cannonball.”
On the re-released LSXX, the additional tracks demonstrate this evolution from the more visceral punk production of Steve Albini into the solipsistic psychedelic distortion that propelled Last Splash from every radio in 1993. “This is the last time we’re doing this,” proclaims Deal emphatically. “Last chance for Last Splash, baby.” As such, they’re giving it the front-to-back treatment. As for whether there will be any any surprises: “Sebadoh … a cover of “The Freed Pig.” I think we’ll try and learn it; we’ll do a slower version.”
Hearkening back on 20-plus years of The Breeders, I ask Deal how she sees her work with Kim, Josephine, and Carrie as an inspiration for future female musicians. “What younger girls see is a person in costume, on stage with the full makeup, with the hair, with the moves,” she worries. “That’s not music. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s performance, and that’s fine. But that is not what we do.”
She continues: “If I had a girl’s rock camp, what I would do is teach them how to tune their guitar, how to carry your amp without hurting your back, fix a cord. That’s really what it’s about, carrying gear and making sure that you have batteries. It’s not romantic. You need to think about buying a car that can hold your gear. It’s not about hair.”
THE BREEDERS W/ SPEEDY ORTIZ
PARADISE ROCK CLUB
967 COMM AVE, BOSTON