Monday, December 7, 2009


 Saturday, April 05, 2008 

Anyone who hasn’t been following The Breeders since their Cannonball days better look sharp and catch up. Following this spectacular indie dancefloor filler, The Breeders endured drug busts and rehab (Kelley Deal), reinvention (Kim and Kelley with The Amps and Kelley Deal 6000 respectively), band members leaving (Josephine Wiggs, currently working with Massive Attack, and Jim MacPherson to Guided By Voices) and, finally, reformation. Since their last album 2002’s Title TK The Breeders have consisted of Kim, Kelley, Jose Mendeles on drums and Mando Lopez on bass, the latter of whom is chatting down the line in an enthusiastic - more mile-a-minute New York than laid-back Californian - way. Given that they’re such a well-respected band, why is it that we’ve had to wait six years for another record? "Everybody has their own little projects going on; Kim got back together with The Pixies on their reunion tour, Kelley wrote a book about knitting (Bags That Rock: Knitting on the Road with Kelley Deal), Jose is doing session work, and I do production work. That, plus Jose is in Portland, I’m in L.A and the girls are still in Dayton; it’s a little complicated but we all meet out in Dayton."

The last album Title TK seemed to pass many people by, given that it didn’t have a radio friendly single to throw around. What it did have though, was slow-burning quality few associated with the author of classic bursts of glee as Gigantic, Tipp City and Divine Hammer. "I don’t know if everybody got it, I heard some people say it’s like a demo but then I heard some people say it’s a classic. I don’t listen too much to the critics or the fans, I know we were happy with it, but you’re just not sure what people think. I guess I feel like this one is kind of the same thing but so far people aren’t saying it’s a demo anymore. Definitely it’s a new thing, it’s a come-out-of-nowhere kind of a record, it’s not Last Splash it’s not Pod, it’s definitely it’s own little entity which I love."

Mountain Battles is already garnering a great response, which must help with the pressure he and Mendeles must feel to live up to earlier incarnations. "It’s own thing at this point, those albums are so different, maybe Pod you could probably compare us a little bit to. The response to Last Splash was a surprise I’m sure for even Kim. I don’t know that there is anything we have to live up to; it’s not something we feel we need to live up to anymore. I totally enjoy playing all the old songs. The only pressure I feel is that I don’t want to fuck the songs up live. These are classic songs, you don’t want to blow it," he says laughing.

Though Lopez is best known for playing in The Breeders, he’s also a member of notorious punk legends Fear. "Kim was telling me when we met her that one of The Pixies tours was called the ’Fuck Or Fight Tour’ named after a Fear lyric; ’Oh my God we named our tour after one of your songs!’ he laughs. "With The Breeders, it’s a way different experience. The crowds are way different. [Fear singer and founder] Lee Ving doesn’t enjoy touring as much anymore, we do shows scattered here and there and the last time we wrote was years ago. The Breeders are a working band and Fear more play satellite shows around our area. Again, it’s more like I want to play well, I know the songs - they’re classics - and you just want to play them right and play them good."

Being such a consummate professional, Lopez is happy to cater to the Deal’s careful writing practices. "Kim usually comes up with the basic idea, then ideas get thrown around. German Studies started with a little lick, and from there it took on maybe eight different drum beats - Kim played drums, I played drums and Jose obviously - a disco beat, a hardcore beat...all these different beats, throughout the course of two or three years. The songs take on various inclinations before the final recording, so maybe they seem spontaneous but we work on them. The initial writing started when she was still in LA recording Title TK, I remember working on No Way with her in her apartment, but we only started demoing a few years ago in LA." Despite six recording locales and five producer credits Mountain Battles sounds remarkably cohesive, Lopez is quick to explain: "They’re not exactly producers, they’re more engineers that sort of helped us put stuff together. Kim and Kelley produced it, they spent a lot of hours at that board man, they know exactly what they want, and sometimes it’s really hard to get there. I remember the mastering session man, one time they took three days just mastering one song. One song! It’s hellish when you’re going through it...quite hellish. They definitely have an ear for what they want. They know it."

Though it is a producer’s wet dream to listen to, much in the way that Cannonball was ("’exactly a dozen different aural effects in the first 57 seconds!" squealed audiophiles on it’s release) it’s sounds like it would be a thrill to play live. "It is fun," enthuses Lopez. "But it’s really nerve-wracking, we’re extremely nervous about it...they’re brand new, the other songs are fairly easy, we’ve played them for years already. Is there a lull in the set because a lot of the new songs are slow? Are people going to like Spanish Song or will people will be: ’get the fuck out of here or give me Cannonball ten times in a row’? We just don’t know. We probably have too many new songs from the set, seven or eight of them which might be a little too much, but I think we’ll keep them and siphon them off as we go along."

Due to reach Australia around October, Lopez expounds on his Australian experiences with glee. "Man we love touring. We’re all tour dogs. We went to Australia with Title TK - just our own proper tour - we had a lot of fun with that. Our sound guy did say something funny about it, he said ’Australia’s like California in the 70s’ and I know exactly what he means because I grew up in California in the 70s by the beach and I love it." Expect that love to be reciprocated by several thousand times when they do get here.

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