Song of the day – 627: Kim Deal
Kim Deal has a new single out. God damn, but it’s beautiful.
Fucking Kim Deal, man. She was meant to be coming to my leaving party for Plan B Magazine – her and Kelley. They never showed, but Laurence Bell (boss of Domino Records) did. She’s the same age as me, you know.
The following is reprinted from Careless Talk Costs Lives #9, 2002
Kim Deal. All I know is that she made a great drinking buddy.
I lost count of the times she would join me after shows, determined to see who could last the pace till dawn. It was usually a raucous draw. We’d sing Bee Gees covers and songs from Oliver! in a corner with her twin sister Kelley, knock back triple Pernods with Alex from Blur in a hotel bar, partake of the lethal Mississippi Mudslide. I would go off home or back to the hotel and recuperate. She’d repeat the feat night after night. At one stage, she and Kelley were said to be drinking half-a-bottle of whisky each before hitting the stage with The Breeders. Some occasions I don’t recall, others I do all too vividly. Once, the first time I met her after Kurt’s death, she yelled at me until tears ran down our faces. People stepped over us as we fought in the corridor: what else could they do?
Taken from Live Through This: American Rock Music In The 90s (Virgin)
Camber Sands (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
3.30 pm, Sunday: We’ve set up the Careless Talk Costs Lives stand at the back of the main hall, myself and photographer Greg Neale – magazines and drinks precariously balanced on a small table. Greg’s looking forward to meeting Steve Gullick. Kim Deal and I are having a quiet conversation in the corner.
Suddenly, here’s Steve. He lurches forward, and announces blearily, “Fuck, I think I’ve just pissed myself.” He sees the table, grins at me, picks it up and throws it across the hall. Issues go everywhere, so he starts hurling them into the crowd.
“Don’t do that Steve,” I admonish him, as we right the table.
Steve gives me a little smile and does it again.
Third time, Greg rugby-tackles Steve to the ground and starts wrestling him.
Suddenly, it occurs to me: “Er, Greg… meet Steve.”
Kim turns to me and whispers: “We were never like that, were we Everett?”
She laughs, and corrects herself: “We were, weren’t we?”
Yes Kim: all the time.
As you join the Careless Talk Breeders interview (after-show dressing room, 40 bottles of water, no beer), Kim and myself have been jousting for a while…
So. You all got straight, didn’t you?
“Yeah,” the singer replies. “Did you?”
“And then what?”
Steve started the magazine so he could get drunk with me again.
“So you guys aren’t straight now. Do I still drink and stuff? Hell, yeah.”
You don’t have to tell me.
“It’s not a problem. I’ll blank it out… What’s the question? Did I get straight? Hell yeah, I do drugs. You gotta do a lot of drugs to get straight.”
OK. What’s your motivation?
No, it’s not. Why do you still get on stage?
“I was 17 years old I had a studio in my mum’s and dad’s house, we made chords, we had a roll of cable, we sorted the tips, screwed on the caps, Cascam 38, eight-track, half-inch tape, MX… [becomes quieter and quieter]… sorry Kelley, I’m so sorry about that. I think I regret doing that more because it was a piece of good equipment then because it was yours. I sold Echoplex for coke. So…? Why do I do it? Because I always have…”
Yeah I know that. But you didn’t do it for a while.
“When did I not do it? Never. Not that I know of. I always have. Before the eight-track Cascam 38, I had a Fostex four-track quarter inch…”
“I think he was talking about the late 90s,” interrupts drummer Jose.
“Oh! I was working in the late 90s. I released an Amps record and shit, you’ve probably never heard of them.”
I believe I was the only English journalist to interview you for that one…
And the tape didn’t come out.
Kim dressed like a mechanic and sang like a drowsy angel. Her voice oozed lasciviousness and smouldered, while her hedonistic bent rivalled Keith Richards. Breeders songs sounded delirious in their pop magnificence – a perfect mix of 60s girl group harmonies and mid-80s Middle American rock power.
When I interviewed Kim for her post-Breeders group, the Amps, we spent an entire evening rowing and making up: objects were hurled across the room, in anger. Voices were raised and lowered conspiratorially. One long stream of invective followed another: junkies and, in particular, Kelley, assholes who use the word “sexism” gratuitously. Topics became too personal for public consumption. Afterwards, Kim went down to the hotel lobby and got the mother of all bruises on her forearm. It was a cracking interview, an interview to end all interviews. So, wouldn’t you know it? Not for the first time, the tape failed to come out.
(Taken from Live Through This)
Last time we met, neither of us was very happy.
“You know unhappy I was? I can’t even remember when I met you.”
It was ’96, in London.
“Yeah, I bet. During an Amps thing? I liked you in that.”
We got in a big argument. I can’t remember. I lost the tape. Then we met again in Brighton.
“Did we suss it out, what it was we got in an argument about?”
Probably. I don’t know. We were both unhappy. Are you happier now?
“No. Well, actually…”
I figured not. Otherwise, why would you still be on stage?
“Yeah, it’s nice to be hanging out with the guys. I hope I’m not miserable like…”
You’re not miserable, Jesus.
“We’ve been unhappy since we were 17.”
If you’re contented you don’t play.
“You don’t have any choice, duke, you have to. I’ve got to control the sound around me otherwise it’ll piss me off. It’s fucking true, man.”
It’s earlier. Much earlier.
The Breeders have finished their rambunctious, chaotic set: the drab grey of life removed momentarily by the strains of “Cannonball”, a hilarious “I Just Wanna Get Along” (don’t ask), “Divine Hammer”, breathtaking new single “Off You” and also “The She” with its definitive stop-start Breeders rhythms, “Doe” probably… God, why don’t you ask someone who wasn’t drunk? The new Breeders album “Title TK” rocks live. Rocks like it hasn’t been nine years since the last, and even if it is, those nine years have been filled with barbecues and good times. From my vantage point, it’s not possible to see if the new members (half of LA punks Fear) gel with Kim and Kelley as naturally as Jim and Josephine used to: probably. How couldn’t they? Amplifiers are made for enjoyment. Everyone is smiling.
I can’t see Kim from where I’m waltzing, but large plumes of cigarette smoke still mark the spot: there’s the noise of a guitar being shaken into submission, the gaps between the notes is still wicked. Nothing is safe. All is comfort. Never venture out without your Breeders security blanket.
Why didn’t you give up rock’n’roll?
“You can still play music and not release a record,” Kim explains patiently. “It was the late 90s, so I didn’t have a band. It was after The Amps, and Kelley and Josephine weren’t coming back so I went to New York City to try and find some people… what was happening was mainly white label vinyl, hip-hop, independent music. The studios had a load of Pro-Tools and that was cool because I’d played on Ensoniq ARS10 before and they’re fun. So, one time, I went to Big Monster…
Her voice grows quieter. I’ll paraphrase the next part because we’re both rambling and drunk.
“…so my friends from Ohio came over and said, Kim, they’re spinning the analogue machine but they took the first two measures of your drums, and looped the first and third notes of your bass, and that’s why you can’t get the sound you want. It’s because those guys sampled it…
“So they’re sampling me from a digital computer monitor. That’s a problem. I’ve worked on an Ensoniq ARS10. Do you know what the first fucking page on that thing is? ‘This is not a recorder.’ Digital music never can record sound. It’s like plugging a bass guitar into a calculator. You keep getting a value of two dollars 95 cents: two dollars 95 cents doesn’t exist in the dimension of sound. Two dollars and 95 cents takes about three seconds for me to say in time to you, but that’s because we exist in the dimension of time. You can’t record your sound wave on a digital instrument because the wave physically doesn’t exist…”
Camber Sands (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
3.30 am, Monday: We’re scurrying along a balcony, trying to find the party in chalet #75. A crush of obnoxiously drunk 19-year-old boys spots us: “Hey, it’s Everett True – with Kim Deal! What are you doing here Everett?”
“Have you ever seen ‘Almost Famous’?” I sweetly enquire.
Everybody holds you up as a paragon of rock’n’roll: why?
“I don’t know. I got a cool shirt. I got an Italian shirt in Berlin, in 1990.”
Is it because you smoke a lot? Are you corrupting the nation’s youth?
“Getting them involved with The Man? Don’t get involved with The Man, you’ll never get out of it. No, I’m not.”
It’s later: several days later.
We’re hanging out at a White Stripes/Dirtbombs show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, front of balcony. Everyone, the stench of corporate branding is in evidence: “New To Q” scream the video screens. New? Jesus. Even The Sun gave The White Stripes a full-page review eight months back. How fucking sad is that, that Q – ostensibly, a specialist music publication – is almost a year behind The Sun? I’m jerking and leaping around, punching the air, during The Dirtbombs’ fiery set. “Everyone’s pointing at you, look,” instructs my fiancée. No they’re not. It’s because Kelley Deal is slumped on the rail next me, trashed. “No,” she insists. “It’s you.” Oh… yeah. You’re right.
Afterwards, I find myself arguing with security for admittance to the after-show. “But my fiancée’s in there,” I plead pitifully. “Please let me just have a look. I’ll come out immediately after.” So I saunter in, where Charlotte’s talking to the Deal sisters in the corner. 15 minutes pass. Security guy comes up to me, and we’re like “Oh-uh,” much frantic swapping of passes takes place.
He ignores the passes. “You lied to me,” he complains. “If you’d just told the truth I probably would have let you through…”
He departs, leaving our little company in stunned silence.
“Duke,” says a silenced Kim. “You completely shattered his illusions of the music business.”
Do you make music to make sense of your life?
“No,” Kim states fervently. “I’ve got to control the sound, or somebody will piss me off and I’ll have to leave the building! And I don’t want to leave the building… You can’t let those fucking dirty white boys go into the corners of your room. They’re like cockroaches… [mock sobs]… and you’ll have to leave, embarrassed for them, embarrassed for yourself, embarrassed for anybody who’s rocking out to them. You have to control the sound. You HAVE to control the sound.”
That’s what Yoko says.
“Yes. At all points. You have to rock.”
So it’s got nothing to do with your life…
“No. That’s not true.”
It has everything to do with your life?
“Yeah, because I’m controlling the sound – it’s obviously my sound, my idea of what sounds cool, and I have to protect the room from any bad words or bad fucking evil drummer snares or…”
Camber Sands (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
6.30 pm: Three lads come along clutching a miniature guitar and a bottle of Tipp-Ex. “Could you sign this for us, Everett?” I look around for Kim, but she’s gone. I write, “Keep rockin’ – ET”, as light bulbs flash. “Great,” the lad says. “Now to find Steve Albini…”
So Kim. Kelley corrupted you, right?
“Yes, she came back from the Led Zeppelin movie, she walked into the backyard, she was on acid, we were what… 15, 16? She walked into the backyard where I was smoking secretly from my parents, it was a Saturday night, and she said, ‘I’m on acid, oh my God I’ve just seen this movie, that’s what I want to do’ and since she was my older sister, I was like ‘OK, that’s what I want to do too’. I just followed Kelley.”
“And then,” her sister interrupts from the coach where she’s been listening to us ranting, “she corrupted me and then I corrupted her and then she corrupted me a couple of times, yeah, and then I re-corrupted her, and then…”
“We really need to get in separate bands,” laughs Kim. “So, Kelley, what’s your motivation?”
“Oh god,” Kelley whines. “I can’t answer these questions. I have no motivation.”
“Then why are you up on the fucking stage?” her sister demands.
“Because I can be.”