The Breeders on Sexism, Drugs, and Rock and Roll | WBEZ
Skip to main content

The New Yorker Radio Hour

The Breeders on Sexism, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

This year, the original members of the Breeders—indie-rock royalty—are back together, twenty-five years after “Last Splash,” an album that fans regard as a classic. Kim Deal, Kelly Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim MacPherson joined David Remnick in the studio to play songs off their new record, “All Nerve.” They also talk about the toll of drugs and alcohol, about playing together after decades, and about the persistence of sexism in rock. Kim Deal once said that “misogyny is the backbone of the music industry,” and she remains bitter about how badly female musicians are treated—even by their friends. She recalls a remark that Charles Thompson, who led the Pixies under the name Black Francis, once made about her.  “I’m paraphrasing … he said, ‘Kim, all she would have to do was smile and the crowd would erupt in cheers.’ Of course that’s going to bother me.” For Deal, this comment minimized her work as a musician: “I’m sweating, I’m almost going to pass out with the heat, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth, the misogynist tour driver did not get sanitary napkins so I’m probably bleeding a little down my leg right then. I’m doing downstrokes, really fast, exhausting music … at the same time I have to find the pitch of the song because I’m singing a melodic harmony on top of everything … All that is happening, [but] all I did was just sit there and smile, and the crowd was clapping because I smiled?”

The Breeders performed “Off You” live at WNYC Studios.  

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.