Back in the 1980's Kim Deal was the quintessential cool alt-rock chick. She was a female bassist in one of the best, smartest bands around -- the Pixies -- but she always seemed accessible. You could imagine sitting around with her in a bar drinking pitchers of beer, being goofy, singing along to the bad songs that came up on the jukebox.
After the Pixies disbanded, Deal became a real star in her own right in the early 90's when she launched her own band, The Breeders. Seeing The Breeders play live at the height of their popularity in the mid 90's was a transcendent experience.
From a musical perspective, the band's talent was undeniable, but they also had an ace up their sleeve that no other band had -- Deal's identical twin sister, Kelley, was also in the band. There's always a strange fascination in general when it comes to twins, but seeing hot identical twin sisters play rock and roll right next to each other? That's something you don't see everyday.
Breeders shows became legendary for many things, but most of the fun was watching the onstage bickering, teasing and general fun between the two sisters. "Oh look everyone! Kelly's tuning her guitar, isn’t that cute?"
Besides her musical talent, Deal also possessed another admirable quality. Unlike most rockers, she's always copped to her addictions and has always spoken openly about her many vices during broadcast and print interviews. Which made it all the more surprising when we learned that hard drinking, hard rocking, hard toking Kim Deal had gotten completely clean and sober?
First, you think, "Oh that won't last," but that was 2003, and five years later, Kim Deal is not just clean and sober, she even just gave up smoking.
When fans learn their favorite rock stars have gotten sober, the usual reaction is, "Uh-oh, party over. The music's going to suck and they're going to be boring." It does happen to some artists, but it certainly hasn’t happened to Deal. The Breeders latest CD, "Mountain Battles" was released to rave reviews, and the band has been successfully touring the US and abroad for the past six months to sold out venues. The band rocks harder than ever, and the Deal twins still have that onstage flair. There's certainly nothing "soberly dull" this time out.
Still, despite all that, I have to admit that right before I interviewed Deal, I was nervous that I'd be bummed out afterwards. What if the hyper rock chick who used to talk-a-million-miles-a-minute-about-anything-that-popped-into-her-head-and-it-was-always-hilarious-and-entertaining was now…slow-talking and boring? Would this interview ruin all of my memories of Kim Deal forever?
Luckily, I was wrong. "Mellow" is definitely not a word to use in conjunction with a sober Kim Deal. She's not just enthusiastic about every topic you throw her way, she's downright exuberant – and always entertaining. We ran out of time way too soon, and the questions I didn't have time to ask will have to wait for another time.
Hi Kim, how are you?
Hello! I'm on your Web site right now. I wanted to look around and check it out, but I think I have to be a member to get in.
Which of our sites are you on?
I'm on Gay.com. But I think I have to be a member to like, see everything. You have other sites?
Yes, you can also go to PlanetOut.com and our blog network to find out about us. We're a lot of sites and we have millions of gay members. But you don't have to be a member to get on Gay.com.
Wow, that's a lot of gay people!
It is! So it's Halloween. What are your Halloween plans in Dayton?
Well our Halloween happened last night here. I went to Kelley's house to give away candy to the kids, right? But then we got mad at each other. So I left and went to a friend's house. But then I went back to Kelley's house and then I got mad at her again, and I left again.
Wait! You have to tell me why you got mad at Kelley?
[Laughs]. Oh my God! Ok so here's what happened. I went over there, and I thought it was going to be this super casual thing, right? I was a little under the weather but I thought she wanted me to go and help her pass out candy. So I went over, right?
And then she…forced this bowl of candy in my hand and like…grunts and makes a motion to her neighbors next door. By the way, her neighbors are a gay couple. But then they left because they went to this voting thing, this rally. It was the Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow and Ben Harper for Obama – right?
So the lesbians like, take off, right? And, oh! Oh! That's what it was! And she gives me the bowl. I look at Kelley then Kelley walks inside to her dog and then these people start coming down, it was just…I was treated too rough.
But I'm curious – why did your town do Halloween the night before Halloween?
I have a feeling a lot of communities did Halloween the night before because it might be too rough for a Friday night. They don’t want to have their babies out. [Quietly] Also, Kelley lives in a pretty rough part of town...
You got clean and sober five years ago – which we'll get to later – but now I heard you quit smoking. How did you quit?
I used Chantix.
Is that like a pill?
Yes, and it's not a nicotine replacement. You have to go to your doctor and you have to have it prescribed. It's a three month program, and it sort of plays around with your brain chemistry.
See, that kind of thing scares me, where it messes with your brain. It seems so weird, you know?
Oh it's sooo super weird. I turned into like, a sociopath – but it was awesome! The drug reaction is that it blocks the ability for the neurotransmitters in your brain to actually bind to the actual nicotine in your blood. So this how is you use the product: So you're smoking, and then you keep smoking, and you keep taking the pills. You take it one day, and the next day, and you're still smoking, right? And then on this one day – day eight -- you smoke and you look at your cigarette and you think, 'You know what? This just isn’t doing anything for me.'
No way, really?
Yeah! You realize the cigarette is just not satisfying the craving. It's not satisfying anything, really, and you feel a little nauseous. But see what is happening is that the nicotine in your blood is not being picked up by anything because it's all being blocked. Oh! And all of a sudden, I had no empathy for people.
[Laughing] Oh my God! That's a pretty big side effect!
I know! But that was so cool with me because I didn’t care if I didn't feel empathy for people, right, because I had no empathy! I had no empathy for anything and frankly, liked it – it was a nice break if you ask me.
Anyway, I was on it for like three months and it was really good and I would highly recommend it to any smoker. And as far as those side effects go? Like I said, I didn’t mind them at all and now I definitely feel like I'm back. That was a year ago, so I've been you know… bulking up a bit. I'm at a fighting weight.
Are you eating a lot more now? What kinds of foods are you into at the moment?
A lot! Oh – that Cadbury fruit-nut bar? Love that. Oh I could just go and on with this -- what else am I into? And Truffles! Oh wait, not Truffles, Turtles. You know those Turtles?
The chocolate things shaped like Turtles, right?
Yeah, I just got into them and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, these are good.' I'm just really, really decadent right now. Well I just figure, you know – I quit smoking and I think that's really great that I quit smoking.
Well you're totally sober now, right? So see, that freaks me out because now you've got no vices what-so-ever?
Well no – I still have the chocolates and the Turtles. And the sleeping all day.
No, the first time I toured sober was with the Breeders in the spring of 2003 and I remember it vividly. It was really scary at first, but in the end, it was really exciting. You know, I don’t have a lot of the friends that I used to hang out with before. But I do know some people who still use and of course our paths don’t cross that much, because why would I want to be spat at by somebody who's doing a Columbian re-wind saying the same thing over and over? I'm just not going to put myself in that position because it's tiring and it's boring.
But it's funny because I gotta tell ya, it's a way more exciting life. And I never thought it would be!
I can barely talk to someone who's drinking. Now, if someone has a beer in their hand and their just talking, I don’t have any sort of problem with that. But if someone is drunk? I can barely stand it. Barely.
You know that Breeders documentary on the Internet?
Oh my God, yes!
Can you go back and watch that now that you're sober?
I haven’t watched it in a while but I have seen it before. I loved that documentary. That was done by some Dutch people and I thought they had – hold on a second! [Editor's note -- Kim stops the interview to talk to her Dad. This is what I heard: "I'm doing an interview, Dad. Ok. Yes. Ok. K. Bye!"]
So -- I thought the Dutch people who made it had a really nice filmmaking quality to them, I thought it was really sweet. And it was a real documentary, it wasn't like, "reality show" documentary. Like the "Loud, Quiet Loud" documentary we did -- that was pretty fake and stuff. But this was real -- they didn’t edit to create drama, they'd just edit to put it together.
It's a fascinating documentary, and they also they captured so many private moments between you and Kelley. You two should have your own reality show. But you guys were definitely on stuff which made it even more interesting. What were you on?
Let's see. I was probably drinking beer and smoking pot. Kelly was probably high on Vicodin. She was probably off the wagon.
Dude, I know! Isn't that weird? Well like with my Dad, his drug of choice is food. I mean, he's really into food. Mine's always been beer, and Kelley? It's the opiates.
Is Kelley clean and sober now too?
Yeah – right now she is and she's doing really good. The other thing I find really interesting about being sober is that I find that each day can be really different. Like I have no idea what I'm doing day to day.
So what about today?
Well today I sort of knew what I'd be doing. I knew I'd be emailing a lot today because we're getting ready for the West coast tour, so I have to handle all that. I also knew I'd be talking to you. Oh -- and there's still all this chocolate and the Turtles I'll be eating. Now, later on tonight, I'm getting together with a few friends and we're going to the 10:30 showing of "Quarantine" at a theater.
Oh but one more thing about the days being different in a great way. Another thing that I didn’t realize before was you know, being in a room and hiding from awkward situations, and from boring moments? But like, now, I have them? I get so awkward and so embarrassed every day from one thing or another and I feel so uncomfortable and my point is that it's a really interesting feeling and I really enjoy it.
I can actually undertand that being a good feeling.
I know! But see, if all you do is get high all the time, it becomes boring so living without getting high is extremely interesting.
One of the most infamous moments in Pixies history is the intro to "I'm Amazed," where you're talking about the "rumors that he was into field hockey players." Once and for all -- what is the end of that story?
Ok! That was a story I was telling Charles as we were waiting for (producer) Steve Albini to get everything together. Meanwhile, Steve's rolling tape and we didn’t know it at the time, right? So I was telling Charles about Wayne High School, which is here in Ohio, and it's where I went to school. And I was telling him the story about how there was some sort of…sexual problem going on with a...certain teacher. And I shouldn’t name names but he was a biology teacher. And there were rumors. There were rumors. There were some rumors goin' around that he was um, having certain associations with some of the girls on the field hockey team. Like... he was having inappropriate contact with them.
Yes – but then on the original tape, you tell the story and then you say, "They were so...quiet about it. And the next thing you know ---" and boom – "I'm Amazed" starts. What was the "the next thing you know?!"
[Laughs]. Oh! Well I think what I was probably about to say was that he was fired or something. But see, Albini pieced that all together and when we first heard it, it was just like, hilarious because we didn’t know he'd done it! Dude, we didn’t hear it until he played the whole record. We were sitting there and listening to all the songs in sequence! So you know, we're all sitting there. And you know, the first song comes on, and then the second, and all the rest and then the talking comes on and we were just, laughing so hard! We thought it was just great!
Do you know there's a video clip on the Internet of some guy acting out both yours and Charles' parts by himself in bed? And he's cute!
Oh my God, no way!
Yes! Just go on Google and do a search for " Intro I'm Amazed YouTube" and it will come up as the first result. [Editor's note: You can view this clip at the end of this interview].
That's so adorable I'm going to check it out and you know what? Charles' ex-wife had this great idea that when we do "I'm Amazed" live, we should do the skit live right before and then break into the song, which I thought would have been so great! But we just, never got around to it I guess.
Oh man – that would have been great, because it's like part of the actual song now. And everyone quotes that line all the time.
That's so funny, and it really is like a part of the song now!
By the way, is it true you saw the Van Halen reunion tour and when David Lee Roth walked on stage, you started crying cos you were so happy?
[Screams] OH MY GOD! When they all came out it was so AWESOME!! It was incredible, I had chills! Oh my God it was just incredible. And even though the original bass player wasn’t there so it wasn't really the original lineup, it's still Eddie's son, so seeing that is so sweet and so cute. And they were both smiling and it was so cute.
Ok shit, Kim! We're running out of time! But I wanted to know if you wanted to play the "Make Out" game.
Ok go for it!
The scenario is that you pretend you're in some sort of romantic situation where you're making out with someone, right?
And then I'll name two really mellow, wuss-like songs, and you have to choose which of the two songs you'd want to get rid of. Is this something you'd want to play?
Let's totally do it. I think I could be really good at this. I'm totally opinionated when it comes to songs.
Ok here we go. "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks or "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand?
Ok, so let me make sure I'm doing this right. I'm now supposed to tell you which song I would not want on while I'm making out, right?
Oh my God, you know "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" is going to be it! I mean -- please! That song would totally ruin the moment. In fact, not only would I stop making out, I would open the car door and I would get out of the car until the song was over. And you know what else? I'd probably even act it out from the outside of the car! I would make the other person go to the other side of the car and one of us would be Neil and one would be Barbra and we'd just make those movements like it was ballet.
[Laughing]. Ok – "Please Come to Boston" or "Aubrey."
Wait, how does "Aubrey" go again?
[Sings] "And Aubrey was her name, a --"
[Sings] "A not so very ordinary girl or name, but who's to blame." Ok got it. [Thinks]. Ok – I would get rid of "Please Come to Boston." It's too intimate, you know? Man, I just want something in the back that's like, not that! But that guy, "Please come to Boston in the springtime?" Please! I don't know, maybe it's cuz it's a guy begging this girl, getting all desperate. Oh! And he like, wants her to go everywhere, not just Boston. It's just not cool at all.
Now you're saying which song would actually cause me to want to stop kissing, right?
In that case, I'd go with "Muskrat Love."
So you'd rather make out to "Bridge Over Troubled Water?"
Well I guess I'd have to given the choice! I mean, come on – "Muskrat Sally and Muskrat Sam? Do the jitterbug in Muskrat LAND? I mean, no way! I'm not going to kiss to that, are you kidding me? No way! I mean, I'll...laugh to it, and maybe I'd think it was funny, but the making out would definitely stop! [Laughing].
"Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin, or "She's Always a Woman to Me" by Billy Joel.
Oh dude! [Long pause]. Oh my God. I'd have to stop on both for that one.
"At Seventeen" or "Our House" by Crosby Stills Nash and Young.
Ok so again, which one would I totally stop making out to, right?
In that case, "At Seventeen." I mean, no way. "I learned to cry at seventeen?" How could you kiss to that song?
I've got many more song pairings, but we're out of time. Thanks, Kim!
Originally Published PlanetOut/Gay.com Read the original interview -- and reader comments -- by clicking here.
Below: Fan does intro to "I'm Amazed"
All Images courtesy Getty