The Breeders in 2008. Left to right: Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, and Mando Lopez
|Origin||Boston, Massachusetts; Dayton, Ohio; East Los Angeles, California; London, England|
|Years active||1989–1995, 1996-2003, 2008-present|
|Associated acts||Pixies, Throwing Muses, Belly, The Amps, The Perfect Disaster, The Josephine Wiggs Experience, Dusty Trails, Kelley Deal 6000, Last Hard Men, Guided by Voices, Fear|
The Breeders are an American alternative rock band formed in 1989 by Kim Deal of Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses. The band has experienced a number of lineup changes; Kim Deal has been the band's sole continual member. Their first album, 1990's Pod, though not commercially successful, received wide critical acclaim. The Breeders' most successful album, 1993's Last Splash, is best known for the hit single "Cannonball".
The Breeders' history began when Kim Deal, not fulfilled in her subordinate role as bassist of Pixies, began writing new material while Pixies were touring Surfer Rosa in Europe with Throwing Muses. As neither band had plans in the immediate future, Deal discussed possible side projects with Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. They recruited Carrie Bradley, violinist and vocalist in Boston band Ed's Redeeming Qualities, and recorded a short demo tape. Tracks on the demo tape included early versions of "Lime House", "Doe", and "Only in 3's".
With the help of three different drummers – David Narcizo, Mickey Bones, and Carl Haarer – and bassist Ray Halliday, Deal and Donelly completed their demo tape and subsequently played one show at The Rathskeller in Boston. They were not called The Breeders at this point, but were billed as "Boston Girl Super-Group". The band sent the tape to the English independent record label 4AD because both Pixies and Throwing Muses were signed to the label. Upon hearing the tape, 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell remarked, "This is absolutely magical, beautiful stuff." The name "Breeders" had previously been used for a band Deal led with her twin sister Kelley.
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4AD gave Deal and Donelly a budget of $11,000 to make an album. Deal asked The Perfect Disaster's Josephine Wiggs to play bass. The two had first met when Perfect Disaster supported Pixies in London in 1988. Deal asked Steve Albini, who had worked on Pixies' 1988 album Surfer Rosa, to record the album. The Breeders did not have a drummer, so Albini suggested Britt Walford of Slint. Walford agreed to play on the album under the pseudonym "Shannon Doughton".
A week of rehearsal took place at Wiggs's house in Bedfordshire, England, and Pod was recorded in ten days in Edinburgh, Scotland. They used the remaining time to record a Peel Session and a video for "Hellbound." Returning to London, they played two shows, the only time that this lineup ever appeared onstage together. Released on 28 May 1990, Pod, although not commercially successful, received positive reviews from alternative and mainstream critics alike; The New York Times' Karen Schoemer wrote: "The angular melodies, shattered tempos, and screeching dynamics recall elements of each of the women's full-time bands, but Pod has a smart, innovative edge all its own." The album was also famously cited by Kurt Cobain as one of his favorite records ever: "The main reason I like [the Breeders] is for their songs, for the way they structure them, which is totally unique, very atmospheric. I wish Kim was allowed to write more songs for the Pixies, because 'Gigantic' is the best Pixies song, and Kim wrote it." He listed Pod as one of the 50 albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound in his journal in 1993. In July 2007, in a chat forum interview, Pod's engineer Steve Albini revealed that he considered the album to be among his best works.
Safari and Last Splash (1992–94)
Following Pod, the members of The Breeders returned to their original bands. Pixies released Bossanova in 1990 and Trompe le Monde in 1991, but by the end of 1991 were becoming less active. Deal, with time off from Pixies, visited Wiggs in Brighton, and they went into a London studio with Spacemen 3/Spiritualized drummer Jon Mattock to record a new song called "Safari." The other three tracks on what became the Safari EP were recorded in New York with Walford and Donelly, who was by then planning to form Belly. Deal then asked her sister Kelley to take over on guitar, even though, famously, Kelley did not know how to play guitar. Pixies became inactive in mid-1992, at which time drummer Jim Macpherson was recruited and The Breeders became a full-time band, opening for Nirvana on their 1992 European tour.
In January 1993, The Breeders went to Coast Recorders in San Francisco to record their second album. Last Splash appeared in August 1993 to widespread acclaim and commercial success. Three singles were released from the album, including "Cannonball", which made it to no. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The band contributed a live recording of the song "Iris" to the 1993 AIDS-Benefit Album No Alternative produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 1993, they toured supporting Nirvana on their In Utero tour, and in 1994, Last Splash received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. Also in 1994, the band secured a prime spot on the Lollapalooza tour. This lineup played their last show together on September 5, 1994, at Lollapalooza in Los Angeles, California.
In 1995, Kelley was involved in a drug bust, which put The Breeders on an indefinite hiatus. Kim formed a side project, The Amps, with Macpherson, Dayton locals bassist Luis Lerma (member of The Tasties) and guitarist Nate Farley, who later joined Guided by Voices. In October 1995, The Amps released the album Pacer.
Following drug rehab, Kelley started The Kelley Deal 6000, also forming The Last Hard Men with Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and Jimmy Flemion of The Frogs.
Meanwhile, in New York, Wiggs recorded and co-produced the Kostars' album Klassics with a K, a Luscious Jackson side-project (also touring with them playing drums), released a solo album on the Beastie Boys Grand Royal label, and released an album on Atlantic Records under the name Dusty Trails with Luscious Jackson keyboardist Vivian Trimble.
In 1996, Kim reclaimed The Breeders moniker, but with essentially The Amps' lineup plus violinist Carrie Bradley, and played a few California dates. They made an unsuccessful attempt at recording a third studio album in 1997. Kelley Deal rejoined the band the following year and wrote and recorded songs with her sister, although the only material released during this period was a cover of The Three Degrees' take on James Gang's "Collage", recorded for The Mod Squad soundtrack in 1999.
Title TK (2001–02)
The Deal sisters recruited new personnel to play several live shows in 2001, and returned to the studio with guitarist Richard Presley, bass player Mando Lopez, and drummer Jose Medeles to record the third Breeders studio album, Title TK, with Steve Albini. This lineup was profiled in a short documentary film entitled The Breeders: The Real Deal (Netherlands, 2002).
The Breeders also performed in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in early 2002. They were approached by the production staff after they had been playing the show's theme, written by Nerf Herder, as a regular part of their concert set. The episode is entitled "Him", and aired November 5, 2002; they sang their song "Little Fury" at the Bronze. They also contributed the track "Wicked Little Town: Hedwig Version" to the 2003 Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute album, "Wig in a Box".
Mountain Battles and Fate to Fatal (2008–10)
Mountain Battles was released in April 2008 on 4AD. It features Kim and Kelley, Jose Medeles, and Mando Lopez. They went to Refraze Recording Studio in Dayton, Ohio to record and mix the majority of the tracks.
The Breeders' third EP, Fate to Fatal was released on April 21, 2009. It contains a Bob Marley cover ("Chances Are") and a song with vocals by Mark Lanegan. The title track was recorded at The Fortress Studios, London, by The Go! Team producer Gareth Parton. The music video featured the Arch Rival Roller Girls, a St. Louis roller derby league.
LSXX and All Nerve (2012–present)
In 2012, the reunited Last Splash lineup of Kim and Kelley, Macpherson, and Wiggs announced a tour to coincide with a 20th anniversary reissue by 4AD of Last Splash, entitled LSXX. The tour began in the US, continued in Europe, Australia, and South America, and included the Deerhunter-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival. A teaser video was made by the band showing the reunited lineup in rehearsal.
In a June 2016 article, Stereogum reported that the band was in their Ohio studio recording a follow up to Mountain Battles, and that Courtney Barnett, who was in town for the Nelsonville Music Festival, recorded some backup vocals for one of the album's songs.
A new single, "Wait in the Car", was released on October 3, 2017, and is part of an upcoming seven-inch series to be issued by 4AD. The song will be available on three different seven-inch records, limited to only 1,500 copies. Rolling Stone described the song as "a classic Breeders bruiser, clocking it at two minutes, and packed with punchy drums, sugar-rush power chords, and lead riffs". During a BBC interview with Lauren Laverne on October 13, 2017, Kim revealed that the band expected to release a new album in 2018, possibly on the 4AD label. The 4AD Label announced on January 9, 2018, that the new album, All Nerve, would be released on March 2, 2018. The title track was released as the album's second single on the same day. All Nerve, was released as planned on March 2, 2018.
- Kim Deal – lead vocals, guitar (1989–1995, 1996–2003, 2008–present)
- Josephine Wiggs – bass, vocals (1989–1995, 2012–present)
- Jim Macpherson – drums, percussion (1992–1995, 1996–1997, 2012–present)
- Kelley Deal – lead guitar, vocals (1992–1995, 1998–2003, 2008–present)
- Tanya Donelly – guitar, vocals (1989–1992)
- Carrie Bradley – violin (1989–1991, 1996–1997)
- Britt Walford – drums (1989–1992)
- Nate Farley – guitar (1996–1997)
- Luis Lerma – bass (1996–1997)
- Richard Presley – guitar (2001–2003)
- Mando Lopez – bass (2001–2003, 2008–2012)
- Jose Medeles – drums (2001–2003, 2008–2012)
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