Feminist icon: Kim Deal
Dear Kim Deal,
We made you our icon of the week because The Pixies and The Breeders are two of the best bands ever.
While we've nothing against Black Francis of The Pixies, your old frontman and sparring partner, we do think he has a large ego (refusing to do interviews, etc.) and you have always been very warm with the crowds at your gigs, joshing with them as much as you sang, which suggests a down-to-earthiness - always good to see in an everlastingly cool rock godess.
We also love how you're an unstoppable musical force, playing in about three bands at once if you can get away with it, as well as singing and producing...
Oh, and we've only seen you play once, sadly. When the Pixies did a UK tour a couple of years ago. You played 30 songs back-to-back, and it was amazing.
So will you please, please sign our beanie hat?
Let's face it, there's not a single person on this planet who doesn't think you're cool.
Love, Mookychick xxx
Kim Deal Best Known For:
Being in The Pixies and The Breeders, singing on 'Gigantic', being cool, wearing beanie hats while playing some damn fine bass. Influencing people like Kurt Cobain.
Kim Deal Least Known For:
Getting married on Memorial Day. Rock'n'roll! Also, in the video for 'The Special One', she cheerfully knocked Ultra Vivid Scene's singer Kurt Ralske off a bar stool.
Kim Deal quotes:
"I got like a hundred songs when I was like 16, 17. I look at 'em and think, "Oh, you poor..." The music is pretty good, but the lyrics are just like, OH MY GOD. We were just trying to figure out how blues rhymes with you. When I was writing 'em, they didn't have anything to do with who I was."
"I'm no longer a virgin!" (Shouted after signing one adoring fan's breasts. What a gal.)
"Well, I don't know. Later on I found out he used to suck the snot out of people's noses, and I thought that pretty much ruled." (when asked if she was against the famous sado-masochist Marquis de Sade)
Pretty damn high. She's stood by her identical twin sister through band-related and personal highs and lows. She's been talented and self-effacing all her musical career, and she's influenced most everyone.
Kim Deal Links:
Kim Deal background
It's rare that you get a woman who's integral to not 1 but 2 of the most influential indie bands ever (we're talking about The Pixies and The Breeders). Uber-splendid bassist and all-round goody, Kim Deal is the coolest, most iconic lady-bassist of our times, and one of the most heavy-hitting musical godesses we've got.
Hell, even boys want to play like Kim Deal.
So why does Kim Deal stand out? Why does the musical industry continue to give her snaps when other female musical talents have been left by the wayside and dropped in the bargain bin? Is it just because she could hold her guitar the right way up? Well - luck is part of any good rock'n'roll story. But there's always more to good rock'n'roll than meets the eye...
Starting at the beginning, Kim Deal and her twin sister Kelley (aha! A twin! Deal's story is special already!) were born in Ohio in 1961. Kim grew up refusing to tick all the boxes - yup, she was a cheerleader, but she often clashed with authority. She was a BAD cheerleader.
While still at school, Kim and Kelley formed a band called The Breeders. Except, at this stage, it wasn't the indie driving force of the Breeders we know and love - mais non, it was a teenage folk band! The twins' bedroom was a full-on studio and they went so far as to buy a drum machine "so it would feel like we were more in a band." Kim Deal wrote two million songs, almost, for the early version of The Breeders but believed they were more proto-lyrics than songs about anything real.
January 1985 was a major-Deal month for Kim. She wedded an air force defense contractor (unusual choice of husband for a rock chick, perhaps) called John Murphy. She also became bassist / backing vocalist for the Pixies after answering an ad for a bassist who was equally into hardcore punkers Hüsker Dü and folk icons Peter, Paul and Mary. Kim Deal was the only person to respond and arrived at the audition without a bass guitar; she'd never played the instrument before. She claimed her twin sister had a bass back in Dayton and that she had no money to get it. Thompson lent her $50 for the airfare and Deal returned with a bass guitar. And then she learned to play it.
Deal knew she was a woman in a man's world. She initially adopted the stage name 'Mrs. John Murphy' as an ironic feminist joke, after chatting with a lady who'd wanted to be called by her husband's name. Her husband was impressed: "I know she was doing it as a goof on feminism, but it made me proud."
The Pixies came and went - always producing great songs (Surfer Rosa and Doolittle being stand-out albums), but splitting up whenever there was too much friction and bickering between frontman Black Francis (ego as big as the sun) and Kim Deal (never backed down). The Pixies were too tired to attend their own end-of-tour party on the US "Fuck or Fight" tour so they had a holiday from being a band, and a year later they decided to call it a day, although the Pixies did later reform without Deal.
Meanwhile, Deal formed an all-girl band called The Breeders (a nice feminist name and a bit icky when you think about it). The band was initially a side-project with Throwing Muses' Tanya Donelly, but they increased the line-up to include drummer Mickey Bones, violinist Carrie Bradley and bassist Josephine Wiggs. Their debut album, Pod, contained mostly Deal-written songs.
The Breeders were most popular in the mid-1990s when MTV loved them and they scored the main stage on Lollapalooza. But the Breeders were grafters, not flash-in-the-pan hype-types. Even when Kim's twin sister Kelley Deal entered rehab for heroin addiction they never split up but kept releasing material.
So why does Kim Deal rawk so hard?
Because The Pixies rawked. Because the Breeders are still going strong. Because Kim Deal never stops working and influencing others, whether it's voice contributions on the Sonic Youth album Washing Machine or recording with the Breeders or the Amps (another band she formed) or producing music, most notably for Guided by Voices.
Kim Deal has made music and energy her life's work. Cool-as-fork bands always namecheck her as an influence (Japanese rock group The Pillows released a tribute song, "Kim Deal", on 1999's Happy Bivouac). Jim DeRogatis' book Staring At Sound states that The Flaming Lips song "Kim's Watermelon Gun" is a "song that paints an impressionistic portrait of [...] Kim Deal". And when the Dandy Warhols also wrote a song called 'as cool as Kim Deal' they damn well knew what they were talking about.