In a charmingly scatterbrained sort of way, the Breeders’ Kim Deal has veered off the question-answer-question interview path to debate which pronunciation of the Los Angeles neighborhood Los Feliz is technically correct — the commonly used (by non-Spanish-speaking folks, anyway) “los fee-less” or “los fa-leez.”
“We just talked about this yesterday or the day before yesterday,” Deal says to both the interviewer on the phone and guitarist Richard Presley, who is sitting nearby. “You know, when you say ‘Feliz Navidad,’ it’s ‘fa-leez.’ It should be ‘los fa-leez,’ not ‘los fee-less,’ ” she says, sounding satisfied.
“Fa-leez” or “fee-less,” the neighborhood is being discussed because it’s home to drummer Jose Medeles. Yet it’s really another area of town, East Los Angeles, that is of more importance, at least in Breeders lore, anyway. It’s there that the remainder of the band — Deal, sister Kelley Deal, Presley, and bassist Mando Lopez — call home, and it’s there, two years ago, that the seeds of the Breeders’ long-overdue return to the studio and stage were planted.
After a frustrating stay in New York, Kim moved to East L.A. in summer 2000 with hopes of mounting a Breeders resurrection — which is completed May 21, when 4AD/Elektra issues “Title TK,” the act’s first set since its 1993 alt-rock smash “Last Splash.”
She moved west after meeting Medeles and Presley — members of the L.A. punk band Fear — one night in New York. The chance encounter — which came as Kim was becoming increasingly annoyed with New York musicians who wanted to be paid to practice — led to an all-night jam session that spilled into the morning.
Presley recalls, “Afterwards, she said, ‘I’d like to come to L.A., and maybe we could jam together and see what happens.’ And, we were like, ‘Yeah, whatever, sure.’ It’s Kim Deal, you know?” — leader of the Breeders and former bassist/vocalist of revered alt-rockers the Pixies — “But, sure enough, we kept up correspondence over the next few months, and she came out here in June 2000 and we started jamming.”
The move came after the Breeders had dissolved into side projects (most notably the Amps and the Kelley Deal 6000), the eventual departures of “Last Splash” rhythm section Josephine Wiggs and Jim McPherson, and, to put it simply, too much alcohol, too many drugs, and a little rehab.
Although Kim says she played a few shows as the Breeders in the late ’90s, it wasn’t until Kelley rejoined her in Los Angeles with Presley and Medeles that the act was officially reborn.
With the band jelling and momentum finally building, Kim and company resurfaced with a free show in late 2000 at Mr. T’s Bowl, a former bowling alley in L.A.’s Highland Park neighborhood. The gig, a chance for the group to scratch its building performance itch before the Deal sisters headed home for Christmas, was booked at nearly the last minute by a band friend.
Starting at Mr. T’s, momentum has continued to build around the Breeders, as the band has trekked the States and Europe previewing the Steve Albini-engineered “Title TK,” an often quirky, sometimes moody, and always exciting alt-rock romp that proves unpredictable and fun while sticking to the band’s style.
In April, the group played the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the U.K. along with a one-off gig at London’s tiny Water Rats club in the King’s Cross district. The tour continues with a spate of shows in the region through June 2, then treks across Europe before restarting in North America July 7 with a show in Irvine, Calif.
Excerpted from the May 25, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
For information on ordering a copy of the issue, click here.