By Mabel Suen
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Let's Make a Deal
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