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Kim Deal

KIM DEAL (1961 - )

Bassist. Vocalist. Pixies. The Breeders.


Growing up post-Sesame Street meant that by the time I got to Sonic Youth and the Pixies, the fact that Kim Gordon and Kim Deal were girls on bass didn't even register. I mean it registered that they were badass, and it was much more interesting that their bands looked like our circle of friends, but there was never any sexist crap around that. I think Patti Smith and Marianne Faithfull - fuck that - Moe Tucker and Janis Joplin, had exploded the whole old boys club bullshit around rock-n-roll.

And you can't beat classic Pixies. When Kim left and the band broke up, Black Francis' first solo record made you think "Oh, so it was him." But then you heard Kim's Breeders and you thought, "No, no wait... it was her!" The truth is, before the music industry winnowed down to six albums a year, lots of medium sized bands existed. They were a small(ish) investment on the label's side, and their 100,000-500,000 fans made money for the artists and the label.

I don't know if the Pixies would still have the kind of major label support they did in the 80's and 90's. Hell, neither would John Cale, or Tom Waits or even Lou Reed for that matter. The idea of an artist giving a label cred is now so quaint as to be laughable. But for a time, if you could get the college kids excited - and the Breeders did - you could go for it.

When the GarageDogs were playing the Boston scene (1997-2001) the Phoenix was the (rightfully or not) final word on the music scene. And it was hard for us. We released five albums, and packed every bar from the Midway Cafe to the Middle East (no mean feat), and the Phoenix never gave us a single review. Not one column inch. But nearly every week, there were stories about Boston Bands: the Pixies, the Breeders, the Cars, the Lemonheads - all bands that spent no more time in Boston than they did in Timbuktu, and many of whom were out of commission by then. And every year, the Boston Rock Awards gave the Best Band award to the Pixies - who at that point were long gone. I had a chance to chat with Kim Deal once, backstage at a show in Northampton and I mentioned this to her. She laughed and said the Boston press had been no better to the Pixies when they were a struggling band, than they were to any of us. That the Pixies had left town to break, and only then did they get all the coverage they no longer needed.

I fucking love Kim Deal for a million reasons, but I chose to go on the record for Title TK. This was the second album with the Breeders (featuring her sister Kelly) and her third Breeders record overall. (Fourth if you count the EP and you should.) But after the huge success of Last Splash which I saw them play, opening for Nirvana in New Orleans with Shonen Knife, just five months before Kurt died, they had college radio in the palm of their hands. So what to do? After an unexpected delay due to some personal problems in the band, they came back with one of the most unapologetically avant garde albums of the 21st Century. There are a couple of rockers, but so far into the record, that if that’s what you wanted from them, you'd have given up by then.

Radiohead hadn't made going arty a cool career move, and even so, Radiohead were in a much more lucrative and less-risky spot than the Deal sisters were. But they said fuck it, and pushed on ahead. And left us with a record that never sounds any less fresh or challenging to me that it did that first night!

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