Cool Kim still the real deal

Alt-rocker lives up to her rep­u­ta­tion on the Breed­ers’ first al­bum for 10 years, writes Si­mon Collins

The West Australian - - TODAY -

Port­land hip­sters the Dandy Warhols once sang about want­ing a girl as cool as Kim Deal. And why not? As she does in­ter­views with Aus­tralian jour­nal­ists, the for­mer mem­ber of Pix­ies and cur­rent leader of the Breed­ers — both unim­peach­able alt-rock pi­o­neers — strums her Gib­son Les Paul Gold­top gui­tar.

Deal is ex­plain­ing that while the bassline and tempo of Breed­ers’ break­through 1993 hit Can­non­ball are much-talked about, the choppy yet propul­sive gui­tar riff is also pretty damn kick-arse.

“(The song) was built on the gui­tar,” the 56-year-old says from home in Day­ton, Ohio. “Who wouldn’t want to sit around and play that all day, it’s just fun.”

The Breed­ers’ new al­bum All Nerve, their first since 2008’s Moun­tain Bat­tles, is also chock-a-block with the tasty riffs, off-kil­ter rhythms and oblique lyri­cism that made them 90s icons.

Their fifth al­bum spun out of the band’s 20th an­niver­sary tour for land­mark al­bum, Last Splash, and fea­tured the line-up which recorded the 1993 clas­sic — Deal and her sis­ter Kel­ley, English bassist Josephine Wiggs and drum­mer Jim Macpher­son.

As the tour — which in­cluded a mem­o­rable gig at Perth’s As­tor The­atre in Oc­to­ber 2013 — stretched into 2014, Deal de­cided to ex­pand the set list be­yond Last Splash to in­clude fan favourites and a few new num­bers.

So, they swapped out slow al­bum track Mad Lu­cas for Walk­ing with a Killer, a rock­ing new song Deal wrote for a solo project nearly a decade ago. Then Skin­head #2, one of two songs on the new al­bum Deal wrote with Wiggs, was added and then al­bum closer Blues at the Acrop­o­lis.

Soon they had enough songs to head into the stu­dio, record­ing in Chicago with Steve Al­bini, whose as­so­ci­a­tion with Deal goes all the way back to Pix­ies’ 1988 de­but al­bum Surfer Rosa. “He’s fam­ily,” she says.

While the Breed­ers leader recorded Moun­tain Bat­tles with her east-LA line-up, she has since moved back to Ohio to take care of her el­derly mother. Kel­ley and Macpher­son also live in Day­ton, while Wiggs could make the long drive down from New York City, so it made sense to write and record All Nerve with the Last Splash line-up. The Breed­ers, who should tour here on the new al­bum, were record­ing across the Ohio River in Ken­tucky when Court­ney Bar­nett and her band stopped by the stu­dio. They were soon singing back­ing vo­cals — well, chants — on the dark Howl at the Sum­mit. Deal first heard the Mel­bourne garage rocker when Bar­nett cov­ered Can­non­ball for a US web­site in 2014. “It’s a hard song to cover,” she says. “You play it too in-time, there’s too much spit and pol­ish to it and it sounds kind of dorky.

“They were very ram­shackle and it sounded re­ally groovy . . . They did a re­ally good job.”

Back when Can­non­ball shot Last Splash to plat­inum sales, the Deal sis­ters were not deal­ing with the at­ten­tion. Kel­ley en­tered re­hab for heroin ad­dic­tion in 1994, while Kim stum­bled along with her demons un­til also get­ting help in 2002.

“I’m en­joy­ing it all,” Deal says of the Breed­ers circa 2018. “I en­joyed it back then too but seemed to be ca­reen­ing around a lot. Maybe be­cause I’m not drink­ing and I’m not high all the time. “I don’t know if I’m in con­trol, but at least I can en­joy the mo­ment. Which is nice.”

‘I’m en­joy­ing it all. I en­joyed it back then too but seemed to be ca­reen­ing around a lot.’ Kim Deal

All Nerve is out now.

US alt-rock icons the Breed­ers, with Kim Deal sec­ond from left.

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