Kim Deal has plenty to do before the Breeders’ sold-out Last Splash 20th anniversary tour, but instead, she’s calling in — four minutes early — for an interview with MTV News. Why?
“Well, the suspense was killing me,” she laughed. “I was sitting here with the phone in my hand and I couldn’t take it anymore.”
We suspect she was kidding; after all, in recent months, Deal has turned her Dayton, Ohio home into Breeders central, gathering the band’s Last Splash-era lineup — her, sister Kelley, bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim MacPherson, plus violinist Carrie Bradley — to rehearse for the tour (which kicks off Wednesday night with a warm-up show in Kentucky) and cull through the ample amount of material she’s kept from the iconic album’s recording sessions for a deluxe twentieth-anniversary reissue, set to hit stores on April 23. Needless to say, she’s been busy, which is pretty impressive, considering she wasn’t even aware Last Splash was turning 20 until fairly recently.
“I was sitting on the couch with my sister Kelley in Dayton last spring, and she’s the one who said to me ‘Kim, did you know next year is 2013, it’s 20 years for Last Splash,‘ and I was like ‘Oh my God!’” Deal sighed. “So we started imagining what we could do for the anniversary; it certainly wasn’t ‘Let’s get down to business. Let’s do this thing.’ It was like ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do some shows?’ And then we asked everyone if they would be into it, and it was nice of them to say ‘Yes.’ I mean, imagine what would have happened if they said ‘No!‘”
And while the band worked through the songs on Last Splash (they’ll play the record in its entirety on the tour), Deal pulled double duty, serving as de facto engineer for the sessions — “I have a nice TASCAM 16-track recorder, so I snaked it down to the basement, from my bathroom, down through the laundry chute,” she laughed — and chief archivist for the band. And she’s done an admirable job of collecting everything from that period in the Breeders’ career, pulling together a reissue that contains the original album, four EPs (Safari and Head To Toe, plus the singles “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer,”) a full live album and a disc that features a BBC live session and demos.
And though she’s continually working on new material (she’s been releasing a series of7″ solo singles in her spare time), Deal couldn’t help but get nostalgic for the Last Splash era, when, thanks to the success of “Cannonball,” the Breeders became one of the standard bearers of Alternative Nation … whether they wanted to or not.
“We didn’t think it would be on the radio, that’s for sure. I didn’t even listen to the radio. I wasn’t trying to make it on the charts, because the charts sucked; I was just trying to make good music,” Deal said. “So the fact that it got on the charts was weird, and the fact that people thought Nirvana broke open the seal for people like Mudhoney and the Butthole Surfers or us to get on the charts, that’s crazy thinking. I think the charts eventually came to the underground, the underground wasn’t trying to push their way onto the charts. The charts were a bunch of bullsh–. Back in the day, underground bands could pay their rent, they could sell enough CDs and play shows and make a living. And that’s all we were trying to do.
“But it was really fun. You know, it was so different, because there was a lot of money in the music business then … I used to think ‘What are all these people doing?’ People would, like, go to shows and get drunk, and that was their job” she continued. “I can’t believe how much I miss it. Think of all the things that don’t exist anymore; there are no promo posters, there is no shelf space to fight over, there are no record stores anymore, man. I really do feel like I’m Pittsburgh, like a steel mill, I’ve been through the decimation of an entire industry. Hell, I live in f—ing Ohio, the whole f—ing state is decimated, so I’m fine with it. It’s funny, like, ‘Oh wow, the one thing I was super-involved with is also decimated now!’”
And though she’s spent much of the past year re-visiting Last Splash, Deal said she’s never paid attention to the album’s legacy as one of the 1990s best; in fact, she’s pretty shocked all of the Breeders’ anniversary shows sold out in minutes (“I guess that means people care,” she laughed). But does all of this mean that she’ll continue to mine the archives, and thrill fans with even more reissues in the years to come? Say, for example, a 20th anniversary edition of the Amps’ Pacer? Don’t count on it.
“Oh, that would be nice, but I don’t know,” she said. “There would be, like, you and two other guys who would buy it.”
Share your memories of the Breeders’ Last Splash in the comments below.