On Valentine's Day, Ohio rockers the Breeders made the city of St. Louis its valentine: The band shot a video for its new song, "Fate to Fatal," with local roller derby team the Arch Rival Roller Girls at the Skatium. (View it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJAYQ2rrkdQ.) The song appears on the Breeders' new four-song EP of the same name, which was released a month before this weekend's band-curated All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in England. B-Sides caught up with Kelley Deal from her hometown of Dayton and talked about the shoot and new tunes.
B-Sides: We're all very excited that you filmed the video in St. Louis. What was the most fun about it?
Kelley Deal: Just seeing the league, how big it was, how many girls were involved, how cool the girls are. Each one of them I could go out and hang out with. For some reason, derby seems to draw exactly the people that I like. You know what I mean?
Yeah — it attracts a certain personality type.
Exactly! Whatever that personality type is, I'm right there. It's really great, too, the socialization that it provides for people. When you're in high school, you have all of these high school friends, and you go to college and you have your college friends. And then you kind of drift away, and you end up having work friends — which is really great, but they're work friends. But this derby thing, it exposes you to so many people of a like lifestyle, and it's a huge other group of friends that are not work friends.
Making a video, it's three minutes, but there's so much that goes into it.
[The roller girls] were there for eight hours, skating like dogs for eight hours! And they didn't complain, and skated with as much enthusiasm at the very beginning as they did at the end. I really don't understand how they did that. It was hard for me to walk around, I was tired just walking around that long. I was talking to Amy [Whited, who planned and coordinated the shoot with the band] about this...I drove from Dayton to St. Louis. Mando [Lopez, Breeders bassist/video director] and [James] Ford, the other camera guy, he was going to come out, they were going to fly.
I had never seen the Skatium, and I didn't know how many girls [were there], I didn't know exactly what was going on. When we got there — it was like magic. Amy is like magic. She had contacted all the girls, told them what to wear, told them what time to get there. And then poof! There was catering! It was left over from the opening-night party that they had had Friday. Thank God she brought some food! [Laughs]
Tell me about the EP, Fate to Fatal. What was your favorite place to work?
My favorite place would probably be, yet again, [Steve] Albini's. It's a really cool studio, everything you get sounds perfect there. That was for "Chances Are," which is that Bob Marley cover.
What's the genesis of deciding to cover that song?
Kim [Deal, Kelley's sister and Breeders co-vocalist/guitarist] had made herself a mixtape years ago, and it had that song. Doo-wop was really popular, this was back in the '60s. So [the song does have a] reggae feel, but you can also hear this doo-wop feel on it. She found that, put it on a mixtape and kept listening to it, and just loved the song and thought, "God, I'd really love to cover it, but no way could we cover it in reggae style." That would just be gross. We'd done it a couple different ways, with the whole band, making it a bar-band feel. [But] the best way to do it was just to really simplify the beauty of it, and get that across.
I like Mark Lanegan's voice, too...
Which song did he do?
That's called "The Last Time." That's one we did in the [Dayton] basement. Kim was singing it and stuff and it had this really cool, very '80s, Joy Divison-y vibe to it. She thought to herself, "You know, somebody like Mark Lanegan would be really great on this." She actually thought about him. The guy who was here [in Dayton] helping us with this — he actually knows Mark Lanegan! We had him call. Kim and Mark started talking, and we sent him the song and he added a vocal.
He got it back, like, the next day, and it was just perfect. It's really haunting, he kind of sounds like a serial killer in a really great way. [Laughs] [It's like] you're weirdly attracted to what I think a serial killer must be like, [even though] there's something inside that's saying, "No, you probably shouldn't go near the trunk of that car."
That's the best description of his voice. He sound like he's on the brink of something.
Exactly! Of madness. Yeah. It sounds cool, it sounds really good.
— Annie Zaleski
From the Music Blog
My weekly local music column, A to Z, migrated online to the blog of the same name (blogs.riverfronttimes.com/atoz) a few years ago. The interactive format (and unlimited space) lets me post more news than I ever could in print — along with MP3s, videos and show reviews. Here's a sampling of the content A to Z has featured in the past week or so. If you have any local music tips, tunes or raves, by all means please e-mail me at email@example.com.
• The St. Louis trio Living Things — which recently released a new album, Habeas Corpus — attracted controversy at SXSW by burning dollar bills on stage. Roy Kasten went to the band's Off Broadway show on Monday, May 11, and reported back about any potential shenanigans, while I chatted with singer Lillian Berlin (née Jason Rothman) about making Corpus in Germany in an exclusive online interview. Plus, I unearthed and posted a song from Berlin's Y2K-era Chicago band, Atrixo.
• Speaking of MP3s, A to Z posted downloadable tunes from artists playing shows in St. Louis. Honorees this week included Toronto keytar-and-drum duo Woodhands (specifically, its Eddy Grant and Katy Perry covers), Low-goes-country Austin rockers Monahans, Springfield, Missouri, twang-rockers Ha Ha Tonka and Lou ex-pat KRISTEENYOUNG. We also previewed bands coming to town — such as Mae's May 19 headlining show at Off Broadway — that we didn't have room to cover in print.
• Target Market released its new album, Up On the Moon, digitally on May 5. Physical copies will be available in June, says the band's Minneapolis label, Afternoon Records. Other local acts receiving reviews (and/or MP3 treatment) in recent weeks include electropop quartet the Pragmatic, politicos May Day Orchestra, punk-a-billy stalwarts Trip Daddys and eclectic jam-heads Messy Jiverson (which released a new album under its alter ego Blown Speakers).
• In terms of show reviews, Christian Schaeffer went his own way at Fleetwood Mac's May 5 Scottrade Center show. "In the end, it's hard to know what to say about a show like this, other than Fleetwood Mac delivered exactly what they promised and exactly what could reasonably be expected from them 35 years after its heyday. The songs still sound good, and so do the musicians playing them."
• And finally, I trekked up to Chicago to see legendary songbird Leonard Cohen. (His first tour in fifteen years isn't stopping in St. Louis.) It was, as to be expected, a fantastic show: "Cohen's strongest instrument is his voice, a wearied-by-life low rumble that he's grown into perfectly. The subtle inflections, the quick turns of phrase, the naked emotion, the poetic descriptions — his words dart and crackle, vibrant in their loneliness and lust, curled by romantic longing and burned by love lost."— Annie Zaleski