As the Dandy Warhols once suggested, it isn’t easy being “as cool as Kim Deal.” The former Mrs. John Murphy—her stage name for the first two Pixies albums—has been even busier than usual: After rejoining the Pixies for one of the most successful reunions in rock history, Deal returned to the Breeders, the band she co-founded with identical twin sister Kelley as high school students in Dayton, Ohio. The group’s new album, Mountain Battles (4AD), is their first since 2002 and as wildly varied a collection of songs as she has ever written.
Paste: You went straight from 2002’s Title TK into the Pixies reunion, so it’s been nearly six years since the last Breeders album. Is the material for Mountain Battles mostly new or a collection of odds and ends?
Deal: I used to frequent a bar in East Los Angeles across the street from the police station there, where all the detectives would hang out. They had a jukebox with some songs in Spanish—it was the barrio, you know?—and we found a song called “[Regalame] Esta Noche” and played it over and over and over again. That was in 2001; we even went [into the studio] the year Title TK was released and did a demo of it. In 2002, I started “No Way” on my four track; “Walk It Off” started in 2004—in the R.V., which would have been during a Pixies tour. But “Bang On” happened last spring, in the basement in Dayton; “Night of Joy” was from last spring as well.
Paste: This may be one of your strongest collections of songs, but it’s super varied; they don’t necessarily fit together in any logical way.
Deal: I kind of liked the idea that if we were going to record a song in Spanish, I didn’t want it to be us covering the Spanish song, I wanted to capture the qualities of sadness and depression that oozed from that bar in East L.A., but also project some of the vulnerability, too. When I first played [the CD] for Ivo Watts-Russell, the owner of 4AD, some of the songs were still demos, some were a little more mixed and mastered. The first I heard from him was [imitates British accent] “This doesn’t sound at all like a band making a record. It’s just someone’s songs—it won’t do at all.” He’s since come around on it—but the first time I heard that I thought “oh my god, he’s right!” It’s not like an AC/DC album or something.
Paste: I’ve read some interviews you and Black Francis have done suggesting that the Pixies reunion simply started as a couple of one-off shows, but kind of spiraled from there.
Deal: When we first started playing, it was so nice that everybody was so happy to see us. Then the offers came in: “Hey, you wanna come to Spain? We’d love to have you here.” And we were like, “Oh god, that would be great!” It wasn’t about us getting back together as a band, at least not for me, anyway—it was about doing some shows. Sadly, it eventually becomes “over,” and that’s where we’re at now. But maybe someday China will want us to play.
Paste: “Kim, Madagascar’s on line one, can you and the guys come down?”
Deal: Exactly. [laughs] Morocco—Egypt—that’d be so cool.