The Breeders are an American alternative rock band formed in 1990 by Kim Deal of Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses. The band has experienced a number of line-up changes; Kim Deal has been the band's sole continual member. Their first album, Pod (1990), 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, then bassist of the Pixies, began writing new material while the 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 four different drummers and bassist Ray Halliday, Kim and Tanya 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 the 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".
4AD gave Kim and Tanya a budget of $11,000 to make an album. Kim asked The Perfect Disaster's Josephine Wiggs to play bass. The two had first met when Perfect Disaster supported the Pixies in London in 1988. Kim asked Steve Albini, who had worked on the Pixies' 1988 album Surfer Rosa, to record the album. The Breeders were without 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. Returning to London, they played two shows, the only time that this line up 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 also was 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." In July 2007, in a chat forum interview, Pod's engineer Steve Albini revealed that he considered the album to be amongst his best works.
Kurt Cobain listed Pod as number 3 of the top 50 albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound in his journal in 1993.
Safari and Last Splash
Following Pod, the members of the Breeders returned to their original bands. The 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 the Pixies, visited Wiggs in Brighton, and they went into a London studio with Spacemen3/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 Britt Walford and Tanya Donelly, who was by now planning to form Belly and Kim asked her sister Kelley Deal to take over on guitar, even though, famously, Kelley did not know how to play guitar. The 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 line-up played their last show together on September 5, 1994, at Lollapalooza, in Los Angeles.
In 1995, Kelley Deal was involved in a drug bust, which put the Breeders on indefinite hiatus. Kim Deal formed a side project The Amps with Jim Macpherson, and Dayton locals bassist Luis Lerma (member of The Tasties) and guitarist Nate Farley, who later joined Guided by Voices. The Amps released the album Pacer in October 1995. 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, Josephine 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 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 Deal reclaimed the Breeders name, 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.
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, and contributed the track "Wicked Little Town: Hedwig Version" to the 2003 Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute album, "Wig in a Box".
Mountain Battles was released in April 2008 on 4AD. It features Kim and Kelley Deal, Jose Medeles and Mando Lopez. They went to Refraze Recording Studio in Dayton, Ohio to record and mix the majority of the tracks.
Fate to Fatal
The Breeders' fifth 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.
They curated an edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in May 2009 in Minehead, England. They played the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York, in September 2010.
In 2013, the reunited Last Splash lineup of Kim & Kelley Deal, Jim Macpherson, and Josephine Wiggs announced a tour to coincide with a 20th anniversary reissue by 4AD of Last Splash, entitled LSXX. The tour begins in the US, continues in Europe and Australia, and includes the Deerhunter-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival. A teaser video was made by the band showing the reunited lineup in rehearsal.
- Pod (1990)
- Safari EP (1992)
- Last Splash (1993)
- Head to Toe EP (1994)
- Title TK (2002)
- Mountain Battles (2008)
- Fate to Fatal EP (2009)
- Frank, Josh; Ganz, Caryn. Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies. Virgin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-312-34007-9.
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Image from Discogs