Feel It: An Interview With Kim Deal of the Pixies and the Breeders

If it seems like Deal has too much going on right now, you're just not keeping up. Her work with the hugely influential Pixies and indie icons the Breeders and the Amps has made her a legend.

Is it hard to shift into Pixies mode?

Is it hard to shift into Pixies mode?

No! Because it’s all just amplifiers and gear! One thing that’s kind of irritating is that [Breeders bassist] Mando Lopez plays my bass, and he’s left-handed, so he actually took the strap/hooker thing, I don’t know what you call it, there’s a bolt on your guitar where the strap goes around to hold it up, so he fucked with it so the bolt is on the bottom of the guitar, so he can spin it around because he plays like a poor man. He wasn’t rich enough to get a left handed bass, so he spins a right handed guitar so all the low strings are at the bottom of the fretboard. And the bolt has to be on the bottom of the bass ... it’s confusing. So now I have to go in and undo the bolt, which I haven’t done yet. I’m cussing at him ... it’s fun. I don’t care. I like cussing at him. Goddam Mando, you left-handed bastard! (laughs)

What was the selection process like for the ATP party? That must have been fun to do.

Yeah, it was fun. You know, it’s weird, because when you’re not asked the question, you can think a million bands who would be great. It’s like when somebody asks, "What’s your all time favorite movie?"and I absolutely freeze up. Same thing with ATP. I couldn’t think of anybody. Because literally, no band came to mind at all. I froze. Because I could sorta pick anybody. So I had no place to start. But when I saw other people’s lists coming in, the gears began to turn. I was like, "That’s not who I would have picked, blah blah blah."

Teenage Fanclub and The Frogs. Were those your picks?

The Frogs was Kelley’s. Fanclub’s mine.

Nice! I love Fanclub.

Yeah! Me too.

And then you’ve got the Isle of Wight with the Pixies.

Yeah, that’s going to be exciting. Breeders played Bestival last year, which was on the island of the Isle of Wight, but it was a different concert. It was like a war scene though. It was pouring rain, and it was like crab fishing style rain, and I felt like I was on a boat, that’s what it felt like being on that island. With the wind, I swear the island was rocking.

Deadliest Catch style?

Exactly. That’s what it felt like. It rained the entire time. But they say the weather is usually really nice on the island, and that’s why they have these festivals because the weather tends to hold out. But what’s really cool this year is that it’s going to be band, band, band, band and then Pixies and then right after -- boom! Neil Young!


I’ve never played on a festival where he’s been in the state or in the area. I mean I’m sure I won’t be able to get on stage or anything, because they probably don’t like that. But, oh, man ... I hope.

Is Neil one of your idols?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. I was listening to a lot of Harvestlast year, now that you mention it. Because my Volvo only has a cassette player, so I listened to that tape constantly. And I was listening to that a lot when I was writing Fate to Fatal. And Cheryl started making fun of me. She heard an early version of “Pinnacle Hollow”, a song on the EP, and started going, "Oh, there you go. There’s the Neil influence!" And I was like shit!

It crept in there somehow?

I know. I was like, "What, you think I listened to Neil and fucking tried to make a song like him? Fuck you!" (laughs)

What about the Bob Marley cover of “Chances Are” on the EP? Who’s idea was that?

I’d had a cassette of that, that I’d bought someplace. It’s on Mellow Moods? I don’t even know if it was on a record that was an official release. You know because Marley is like the Frank Sinatra of reggae. There’s so many different reissues and re-releases. But it was our cassette called Mellow Moods and that song always ended up on my mixtape. I love that song, “Chances Are” by Bob Marley and also “For All We Know”, a Billie Holiday song, and some songs by the band Free always ended up on there. And a Hank Williams song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” always ended up on the mixtape. And what else ... all sorts of stuff. And that Marley song always ended up on the tape.

I dig the way it turned out ... very stripped down.

Yeah, yeah! Me and Kelly drove up to Chicago in the Volvo and drove to Albini’s studio to record it.

Here is a serious question. You’ve said that you’d never do a Pixies reunion album. Does sobriety act as a barrier to that? Like you were a different person when you were recording and creating with them?

Well, you would be thinking that I was always high when I was in the Pixies and that I was only high when I was with the Pixies. Because that’s not true. At first I didn’t do anything, and I certainly have used drugs outside of the Pixies, and that would mean that I couldn’t do any music at all. That question is very, very suspect. I mean, I know what you’re trying to get at, an idea of...

I didn’t mean for that to be insulting.

Oh, God, no, it’s fine. I’m trying to think of somebody who used and then reunited clean, like Sammy Hagar, he’s straight now, but was he always straight in Van Halen? Was he drinking when he was a solo act?

We can move on... With Mando’s upcoming documentary, and the loudQUIETloud documentary, your life is a pretty open book. Is it hard to watch this stuff documented?

You know, that’s funny. Some scenes, I might be like, "Oh, I said something funny there." or "Oh, I like the shape of my shirt there." But other scenes, I think, "Oh God, I didn’t look that bad in that shot. Why are they showing that?" Just stupid stuff that you think I’d be over now. You know like whenever somebody is filming you and you think, "I look like an asshole," and sometimes you say funny things and you’re glad they caught it on camera. And sometimes your sister has a fucking picture of you and you look like a fucking idiot and you’re like, "God, why does she fucking show people that picture?” Of course, she thinks it's cute.

In this Facebook age, no one has a private life anymore.

Yeah, I guess so. Exactly.

Does life get more interesting being sober?

When I first got sober, one thing I noticed was how fucking long the day is man! Oh, my God, it was incredible. The first year I would just sit there and go, "Oh my God, this day lasts for fucking ever. It’s still not over!" And of course I could barely move out of the room, not because I was sick or anything, but because I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I used to think I have to drink and I have to smoke this pot and take these pills or I won’t be able to sleep. I really did think I had a sleeping problem (laughs). And then I quit using and I would take these long, luxurious naps and I was exhausted by the time the day would end after doing nothing. Oh, I remember that. But around after two years it does get better, like you never know what’s going to happen. Right at the two year point. I mean sometimes I think, "Man, it would be great if I was drinking," but then I play it through and go, "Oh, no, because I’d be on the same barstool for like eight hours, like it was my job." The same stool.

Was it always the same haunts and bars and in Dayton?

At the very end I was in East L.A., and then towards the end I wouldn’t even go the bar anymore, I would just drink at home.

What is happiness to you, and have you found it at this stage in your life?

What is happiness? Oh that’s a good question. Um, I think I read it in some book that happiness is contment, or happiness is the desire for nothing. Isn’t that Buddhist? I think that’s the goal is to have no desires, and that’s where happiness lies.

Are you religious?

Well, I’m watching Battlestar Galactica a lot right now, so I want to believe in the Gods. All of them. (laughs)

I love it. It’s been great talking to you.

Oh, it was great talking to you. Hold on, before you go, when you asked me about music and getting sober, I remember somebody telling me that just because you smoke pot, doesn’t mean you can write reggae. And it’s like, yeah, that’s true. Just because somebody smokes pot doesn’t mean that they’re good at being a reggae person. The two have nothing to do with each other. You just have to feel it.

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