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Friday August 22nd 2014

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Hangout ’13: One Last Splash

By Hana Frenette

What originally started as Kim Deal’s side project from the Pixies turned into one of the most important and iconic bands of the early ‘90s. After several lineup changes and the release of their first album, the Breeders consisted of Kim Deal, her twin sister Kelly Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson. The band recorded the album “Last Splash” in 1993 on label 4AD and is now doing a reunion tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the record. Bassist Josephine Wiggs caught up with the IN to discuss love notes from fans and touring with Nirvana.

IN: So it’s the 20th anniversary of “Lash Splash.” How did the idea to do the anniversary tour come up and what did you think of the idea when it first came around?
WIGGS: My understanding is that it came up because 4AD, the record label Lash Splash is on, wanted to release it as a 20th anniversary package. They got in touch with Kim and Kelly and were trying to see about playing some shows. Kim sent me a text, saying they were thinking about doing a tour and wanting to see what I thought—and literally as soon as I saw it, I got so excited. And I just said that I’d love to do it.

IN: What was it like to get back together with all these people you played with and spent so much time with before?
WIGGS: It was a lot of fun just to be hanging out with them as people. Just being in the same room, playing in the same room. Last September we were together, and we thought, ‘Let’s call up Jim and see if he wants to come over.’ I’d only seen him once in 20 years. The last time was in the late ‘90s and we were just passing through New York. He came over, and it was just such a pleasure. He was exactly the same.

IN: Did it take awhile for everything to fit back into place with the practicing and playing?
WIGGS: Actually, when we played together recently, it was actually kind of magical to be in a room with everybody playing those parts. It was as though no time had passed.

IN: The bass rift opening of “Cannonball” has become quite iconic. What were you thinking about when you played it for the first time and had you been anticipating that sound?
WIGGS: We were in rehearsals in San Francisco in pre-production. During the rehearsals, it’d been a few months since I’d played and I’d become a little bit rusty. I was basically playing the wrong note. I didn’t realize I was playing it wrong until Kim and Kelly’s parts came in and I quickly adjusted. The rift had set up this false expectation; it creates a moment of tension because of that. And they all liked it, so we decided to keep it.

IN: The Breeders toured with Nirvana on their In Utero Tour. What do you remember most about that time?
WIGGS: The thing I remember most about it was that it was very intense. The audience was just always at a fever pitch. There was a real kind of electricity at the shows. Everyone was just so excited and out of their minds—on substances or otherwise—night after night. The early ‘90s kind of played a huge part in music, literally, like it was time out. People really got into it back then. People are too cool to emote like they used to.

IN: I saw in the LSXX booklet that they are releasing with the album for the anniversary that there are several excerpts from your tour diary. Did you always keep a tour diary?
WIGGS: Pretty much I did, in that period of time, just for my own amusement. Last summer I was in England, looking through all my archival stuff of the band, looking through photos, going through everything to make the LSXX booklet, and I did find a notebook that I’d completely forgot about. And I kept thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god this is hilarious.’ It was full of things I hadn’t thought about in years. I was surprised at how few pictures I had actually taken before. I’ve probably taken more now than I ever did before.

IN: The song “Head to Toe” was inspired by a note from a fan. Do you still remember the person who gave it to you?
WIGGS: It was interesting because this particular woman lived in San Francisco and always managed to get backstage. She was very skilled. We didn’t have any special relationship with her or anything—she would just always get back there. One time when we were there, she handed me this note that said, ‘You’re face looks good to me.’ There’s just something so poignant about that line. I can’t remember if she knows the song is about her or not. I like to think she knows. And I do name her in the credits.

IN: What was it like the first time you met Kim Deal?
WIGGS: It was at a venue called the Mean Fiddler. I remember seeing the Pixies play that night and was just blown away. I really, really liked Kim’s bass playing. I admired her. A friend of mine from Germany who was also a big fan and was not able to make it to the show had asked me to please get her autograph. So afterward, I went up to her and I said, ‘Would you mind signing this for a friend?’ and I kept thinking, I bet she thinks this is for me and I must just be too cool to ask for it for myself. It really was for my friend. She was very charming. We didn’t talk for too long. We had said, ‘I really enjoy your bass playing,’ and, ‘Oh, I really enjoy your bass playing too,’ to one another, and a few other things and that was it. Then I got a call for 4AD a few weeks later, saying that Kim wanted to do a side project, and wanted me to play bass. And I was kind of mystified. I was thinking, ‘Well why isn’t Kim playing bass?’ But apparently she wanted to play guitar. And of course I said yes.

IN: The first show of the anniversary tour opened in Brooklyn. How was it?
WIGGS: It went very well indeed. It was a lot of fun. It was actually really interesting because I live in Brooklyn, and it was cool to see friends of mine that had bought tickets. There was definitely division in the show of people who knew the record from 20 years before, and people who were just discovering it. But everyone knew all the words and were all singing along.

THE BREEDERS
Friday, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Hangout Stage

Back to IN’s Guide to Hangout Fest ’13