Interview

Q&A: Kim Deal On Her Solo 7″ Series, Making New Breeders Music, And Her Lifelong Obsession With Gear

STEREOGUM: But I think putting them out as singles is cool. It makes it more special somehow. For those of us who came of age and were/are totally nerdist record-buyers, I think there’s a sweetness to these special objects. You don’t get to have that experience much anymore with people’s music.

DEAL: Right, and I know that it’s like a vinyl toy. Still, I can’t help but think if I don’t release it in a physical product then it’s like I just emailed my sister my release. If I just make a download of it doesn’t feel like it ever got released. I need a place to write down the name of the song, or it else it doesn’t even feel like that. Even though there’s only a couple thousand pressed up and they probably won’t sell, if it was just available for download it wouldn’t feel like I did anything. Other people can do things that way, I’m not saying it’s not doing something. I’m just saying for me because I’m so used to this process. I like putting everything together and saying “this is what it would look like.”

STEREOGUM: So you have another one already in the wings, right? With Britt Walford?

DEAL: Yes. I just back from Chicago and we were working on that. Brit’s really busy. He’s doing the Spiderland thing with Slint now. I guess Lance Bangs did the documentary, Breadcrumb Trail. Have you seen it?

STEREOGUM: I haven’t. But I really want to.

DEAL: Me too! Brit’s supposed to be a real weirdo in the movie. [laughs] I bet he is, too. I saw him last summer and I texted him, “Would you ever want to come up and play? I’m doing a solo series. Would you ever want to come up and play with me one of these songs?” He said he’d love to do that. So he came up, we did a demo recording, then drove up to Chicago to Albini’s studio and we just got back. It sounds really good, I think. The other half, the B-side, is sitting at Sterling Masters in New York. That’s been mastered. So when I get this one, I’ll send it to Sterling and get it mastered and that will be the fifth 7″. But you know, the pressing plants have a three month wait and not all of them do 7-inches, so it still takes a little while. I really enjoy figuring out all the production. The way I was even able to do it was that I called up Bob Weston and picked his brain back in 2009. How do you even get a 7″ made? He gave me a lot of good advice back then. Luckily everything is on Google and YouTube now and they’ll show you how to do it.

STEREOGUM: YouTube University.

DEAL: [laughs] That’s good. I’ve never heard of that.

STEREOGUM: What’s funny with listening to all these tracks assembled in one playlist is the range of moods. “Are You Mine” is just such a beautiful song.

DEAL: Thanks.

STEREOGUM: You’ve been making music for a long time now. Do you feel like think your way of working — your way of writing — has changed radically over the years? Do you have the same general process that you follow?

DEAL: I’m sure it has changed. I guess I started playing the guitar at 13. So I’m sure it’s changed a lot. I’m sure it was better then. [laughs] Now I suck. I don’t know. I enjoy playing different instruments. I enjoy playing bass. I really love to play drums. Before I would’ve only started on guitar. I would pick up my acoustic and put something together and go, “Okay this is the song,” but now I’m just as likely to come up with the drum beat and think “This is going to be a great song!” So yeah … it probably has changed a lot.

STEREOGUM: So I know Josephine lives here in Brooklyn, where does Jim live?

DEAL: Jim lives here, too. He lives like six minutes away.

STEREOGUM: You and Kelley and Jim and Josephine are all recording together right now. How’s it going?

DEAL: I don’t know. Today we’re working on Josephine’s song and it’s sounding really good. I’ve got a good melody line for it and got some lyrics. So that’s what we’re going to be recording today, one of her songs. Then I’ve got two that have lyrics and a melody line but I don’t like the drum part on one of them. The other one sounds pretty cool. We’ll probably get those three going. And I have other songs. There’s one song that I really like but I don’t think Josephine likes so much, but I really like it.

STEREOGUM: Did you find that playing all of those Last Splash shows together sort or reignited this great dynamic between the four of you?

DEAL: I don’t know. Kelly was sitting on the couch in late Spring 2012 and she said next year is the 20th year anniversary of Last Splash. We should play some shows with Josephine and Jim. I think I texted one of them and Kelly texted the other. But you never really know how everything got left. Like, was anybody mad at me? We had played with Josephine in 2005 over in Los Angeles at 4AD’s 20th anniversary. Also when Mondo, the bass player in Breeders, had a baby and it came early, Josephine came in and learned all these songs from Mountain Battles and finished up the tour for him. But I don’t know, Jim might’ve been mad at me. But he’s super sweet and it is so nice to be playing with him again. I’m really loving it.

STEREOGUM: That’s so funny. Do you guys feel like you’ve mellowed? I feel like as I get older, I learn not to stress over the same shit that drove you crazy in your twenties. Do you feel like the dynamic is easier?

DEAL: It does, actually. Although sometimes when Josephine looks at me and says [talks in a British accent], “I’ve gone off of the chord C. I don’t really like it.” I sometimes look at her and just go, “I want to cut your throat, bitch.” [laughs] I’ve told her this — she kind of reminds me of that Emma Thompson movie, Saving Mr Banks. You know, the woman who wrote Mary Poppins will say things like, “I’ve gone off the color red. I no longer like it.” Josephine will say things like that. I’m showing her a song, and there are C’s in it. I’m like, oh my god. And I tell her this and she’s like, “No, no! I don’t mean all the time! I just mean right then.”

STEREOGUM: For what it’s worth, seeing you guys play those Last Splash songs was meaningful. You see bands get back together and it’s not always like that.

DEAL: We really had a good time this year.

STEREOGUM: What do you think the rest of this year will be like for you?

DEAL: Well, Josephine is staying here now. I mean, we can’t get rid of her! [laughs] No, I think we’re going to keep trying. We’re down in the basement recording and the songs are sounding good. And honestly, I don’t know what else to do. This is what I like to do. I like to record and play songs. I don’t think there’s much of an industry for it these days, but that’s just what I do, you know?

STEREOGUM: Do you find that you do badly with downtime? Do you need to have a project to be working on?

DEAL: I kind of always do have something to be working on because there’s always going to be a microphone I’m going to be obsessed by. I love my recording setup. It is nice. I’ve had a studio since my teens. It’s all I do. It’s like working on cars. You know how some people just like to work on cars? Music is like that for me. I don’t do it every single day, but there’s always something to work on.

STEREOGUM: Do you enjoy being on tour? I know Kelley said the tour was really fun but she was also glad to be back home.

DEAL: We were ready for her to go away. [laughs] Yeah, sometimes … you know, the traveling get old. Another early flight and you’re wondering, “why can’t I just be in my bed, binging on something?” But then of course when I’m off of tour I’m wondering why I can’t be overseas. Why can’t I be in Paris right now? Not doing anything in Paris instead of not doing anything in Dayton.

STEREOGUM: You’ve spent some time living in other places. Could you imagine going back to LA to live for a while?

DEAL: I’ve stayed there in the ’90s at the Oakwood apartments. Then I lived in East LA from 2000 to 2002. I liked that okay. But I never considered that part of LA. I’ve visited LA many times and I never really loved it, but I really, really loved it this past time when I went out there and stayed for a year, half of 2011 into 2012. My house was fucking beautiful. I rented a house. It had a wine cellar with flagstone floors and the sheetrock wall. Everything sounded beautiful. I had my studio setup down there. People would come over and play and there were so many good players. It was so fun.

STEREOGUM: I’m excited to see what happens with you guys recording.

DEAL: The Breeders stuff? Yeah. And the next 7″ should be cool. It’s funny, we were working in Albini’s studio and I think Steve had just seen that band Mayhem with his wife — I think it was Mayhem — and he was saying that in between songs, like, while somebody is tuning or something the singer would step up to the microphone and go, “More frost!” or “More kingdoms!” [laughs] So the song we did with Brit is pretty heavy. We were inspired by that. I was going to tell you that the next song will definitely have “More frost!”

STEREOGUM: That sounds like a funny thing to yell out at the sound guys. The next time you are doing sound check before a show. “I need more frost in my monitors.”

DEAL: [laughs] Then next show I do I’m definitely yelling that at the sound guys. “Check, Check, One, Two … I’m sorry, but I’m gonna need a LOT more frost up here.”

More info about Kim Deal’s solo 7″ series can be found here

[Photo by Chris Glass, courtesy of Kim Deal.]