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‘I blamed everyone else but I was the problem’: The Breeders on fallouts, reunions and 30 years of Last Splash

Despite decades of drugs and estrangements, the playful pop-grungers are back with new clarity and purpose. They discuss how a mutual appreciation of their 1993 opus made them put aside their differences

In any successful band, the proof that they’ve crossed from cultish acclaim to overground recognition hits each member differently. For the Breeders’ English bass player, Josephine Wiggs, it was when her sister and mother were visiting her in New York. The three were at the top of the Empire State Building and somebody tapped Wiggs on the shoulder to confirm her identity. It struck drummer Jim MacPherson suddenly at a sold-out show in Paris. “I was just totally blown away by being in a band that had catering following us around, because we actually had a crew now,” he recalls, a note of wonder in his voice three decades on. “I was so green compared to Kim and Kelley and Josephine – it was all so new to me. And when I saw the video for Cannonball on TV, that’s when I thought: ‘This is really special, this song is affecting people’.”

The infectiously gleeful Cannonball, released exactly 30 years before the day of our Zoom call, was the first single from the Breeders’ second album, Last Splash. The Dayton, Ohio band – fronted by singer, songwriter and guitarist Kim Deal (formerly Pixies’ bass player) and featuring her twin sister Kelley, also a guitarist – are in Nevada, on tour supporting Foo Fighters. September sees the second reissue of Last Splash and the start of a headlining US tour during which they’ll again play through the album in its entirety. It’s won the status of a modern classic marked by eccentricity: a disarming mix of art rock, grunge, guileless pop and punk noise, where opaque, often dark lyrics are cut with sardonic humour and both melodic and vocal sweetness. The sound of Kelley’s mic’d-up sewing machine features, while some of Kim’s vocals were recorded in the studio toilet. None of which sounds much like the makings of a UK Top 5 and US Top 40, platinum-certified hit.

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