THE BREEDERS at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday and Wednesday (July 23 and 24). $17.50. 416-532-1598.
The Breeders' twisted history is a rock star cliché.Think about it: cult band with identical twin sisters, formed in the ashes of another just-below-mainstream alt-rock fave (the Pixies) and plagued by a constantly changing lineup, make it big on college radio. Felled by hedonistic debauchery and infighting, they're sent through the rehab wringer. After almost a decade, they get their shit together, round up a new band of fresh young things and return with a record that sounds like no time has passed.
Drinking beer with twins Kim and Kelley Deal and their boy wonder drummer, Jose Medeles, on a hotel patio, you get the sense that they don't realize nine years have gone by since they last chatted about a new disc. All the Breeders know is that they're back in the saddle again, and it feels great.
"All of the fans have been totally loyal!" effuses Kim about the tour.
"Dave Foley said something I liked in a radio interview," says Kelley Deal (the rehab veteran). Talking about the Kids in the Hall, he said, "It's not a reunion -- it's a slow-moving career.' Like a glacier."
"The one that took down the Titanic," chimes in Medeles.
The Titanic is an apt metaphor. For a while it seemed like 1993's Last Splash really would be, well, the Breeders' last splash. Kelley messed up and landed in rehab, which left the group in limbo. Kim smoked pot and recorded some tunes with her new band, the Amps, before trying to revive a Kelley-less Breeders. It didn't work so well.
Post-rehab, Kelley toured in Europe with her new Kelley Deal 6000 project. The sisters finally patched it up in 98, hoping to get the Breeders back off the ground.
Then Kim hooked up with former Fear members Richard Presley and Mando Lopez in March 2000, and something clicked. Kelley officially rejoined the team that summer, and drummer Medeles followed in the fall.
At some point, the promise of a new Breeders album turned into an indie rock Waiting For Godot. The disc was set to drop in 99, then 2000, then 2001, but the band never delivered.
Kim can't explain why things finally gelled. "We finally found the five people who click. I honestly don't believe there could've been anyone else. This feels better than (former bassist) Josephine (Wiggs) and (drummer) Jim (MacPherson) even. I feel comfortable with these guys. Everything flows better and feels better."
Title TK was a bitch to record. Kim claims it's because nobody would give her what she wanted.
"In the late 90s I wanted to go straight to tape, but the studios were getting down with the ProTools gear, which was like toys to the engineers. They'd tell me I could record on tape; then I'd leave the room to play something and later discover that they'd done everything digitally. I didn't want a digital sound on this record."
Somewhere in her convoluted No Wave (the name the Deals chose for their Dogme 95-esque all-analog recording philosophy) manifesto lies genius. Title TK is weathered, gritty, girly garage rock with an amazing immediacy. The title track is a grungy jump-up-and-down shout-along, and the gorgeous Off You is perfect post-breakup music stripped down to its weepy essentials.
Sometimes you wonder whether the Deal sisters have cultivated the Breeders mythology because it makes for a good story. At 40, they still fight like bratty pre-teens. They seem completely unpretentious and earthily intelligent. Kelley's even obsessed with her newfound knitting talents. (She sells woolly bags through her Web site.) But when they launch into stories about their drunken, drugged-out escapades, it seems a bit forced.
Kelley insists the addictive behaviour is a genuine personality trait, not a rock 'n' roll affectation.
"Man, I was a drug addict, alcoholic, whatever way before any of this. I was drinkin' prescription cough syrup in my closet when I was eight years old. One thing about the drugs and the rock -- it gives you more time to do them. If you show up to your job drunk, you're not gonna get fired."email@example.com