Kelley Deal looks back on 2011
By Kyle Melton
Hibernation isn’t always a bad thing. After a five-year silence since their previous album, Title TK, Dayton-based twins Kelley and Kim Deal emerged once again in 2008 with their internationally renowned outfit the Breeders and a new album, Mountain Battles. The following year, Kelley issued a knitting book entitled “Bags That Rock.” By late 2010, however, sister Kim was touring heavily with the Pixies, leaving the Breeders plans on hold. With so much time on her hands, Kelley Deal began to say, “yes” to more projects and adopting a higher public profile, which found her out and about in Dayton and beyond much more than in previous years. We talked with Kelley about her adventures in 2011 and here’s what she had to say…
There was this Dayton Does Dayton that they do at Canal Street. The Motel Beds asked me if I would do a song with them and I said, “Yes, if you learn a song called ‘Dammit.’” They said OK. I went over there and practiced with them and it sounded great, and we learned “Dammit.” We also did a Tasties song, which is a Dayton band, called “It’s the Love.” We did those two songs. Jump to April, and they invited me to do a song with them called “Tropics of the Sand.” It’s such a beautiful song.
I was working with this guy Juan Son. He’s a Mexican pop star. He’s like a Mexican gay Bjork. He’s really creative and has an amazingly unique and quirky voice. I met him through John Cameron Mitchell, the guy who did Hedwig, and they’re friends. So Juan Son and I started collaborating over the Internet with a guy named Simone Pace, the drummer from Blonde Redhead. I learned a lot about ProTools and working with music via the Internet, which is a wonderful workshopping tool. It’s a great way to workshop stuff.
The next thing that I did that was really fun and cool was the South Park Tavern residency. I met this guy named Mike Montgomery and we started playing together [in R. Ring] as kind of like a duo with guitars, and vocals and things. We played every Tuesday night [in April 2011] at South Park and I had a really good time creating an evening. It was really fun to ask friends (talented friends) that I knew to come up with things that were in the spirit of the community; things like having the South Park Neighborhood Association president up there or having the community garden lady come up from MetroParks — having her come and speak about lasagna beds. It was springtime too, so a lot of people were talking about that … I really enjoyed that, a feeling of sharing music and beer. It was really fun.
In April, I did the Record Store Day at Omega Records. I was a part of Record Store Day because I contributed a song to the Guided By Voices tribute record called “Sing for Your Meat.” A lady through Facebook, she’s called Misty Dawn [Briggs of Chapel Hill-based No More Fake Labels], she had asked me if I wanted to do a song for the tribute record. At the time I was like, “I’m not doing anything. I need to do something.” At first I just ignored it, then I thought, “Where is that lady?” I said, “Yeah, what are you thinking? What are the parameters or whatever?” She said, “Whatever you want!” I started investigating and heard a song called “Scalding Creek,” which is like a minute long. It’s almost just like a song idea and you could do whatever you wanted to it. So that was enough of a spark to let me go have some fun. So I thought about the Buffalo Killers. I asked them to do it with me and they said yes and we recorded it at a place called Candyland Studios in Cincinnati, which is where I met Mike Montgomery, the guy I play with now [in R. Ring]. For Record Store Day, myself and the Buffalo Killers decided to do this song, and since there’s two lead guitars on there, it would be awesome to have Mitch come up and join us. So Mitch Mitchell from Guided By Voices played that song with us, which was really nice.
I did something called the Holland Festival and it’s in Amsterdam, but it’s a countrywide festival. It’s very interesting. It’s a month long for the month of June. I did this thing called the Long Count, which is this project with the National twins, Aaron and Bryce Dessner. It’s a piece of music about a Mayan creation myth that has to do with twins and the 1976 World Series [Cincinnati] Reds, the Big Red Machine. The [Dessners] are from Cincinnati. It was really interesting working with an ensemble and stuff, but I was really nervous. I had done it before, but it had been a couple of years. The last time we did it was in 2009.
Somebody had asked me to do a knitting seminar. A lot of these [things] that I’m talking about … these are things that people have asked me to do before; to either play with them or go play out or come and do a knitting seminar or whatever it is. I’m always really too busy because of the Breeders or I’m not in town to do any of this stuff or just in a funk or something. I just kind of started saying “yes” to things. Someone asked me to do this before where I go and do a knitting seminar, and then play a couple shows. There was a cool music store across the street. The place is in Chicago and it’s called Sifu. I did two classes on Saturday, two classes on Sunday, on Saturday night we played at the music store across the street and Sunday night we played at the Hideaway. We drove up there in my daddy’s Cadillac and it was really fun. I learned a lot and I had a nice outline. I taught them how to make the road bag. I’d like to do that again.
In August I was invited to speak at the University of Dayton. I was thinking, “How do I do it?” At the South Park residency, I had a friend Chris Glass who was one of my guests. He did a little blurb on taking a picture every day. When I was asked to give a presentation, I can’t just go on stage for an hour and just talk about me. I learned how to use Kino [for the presentation]. I learned how to edit videos through QuickTime Pro. It was really awesome to learn how to do that. So I gave my presentation in November. It was really weird that with everything that you learn to do, you learn something about yourself almost.
We did this thing in October. It was the first annual Ohio Film & Music Festival and Mike and I were invited to play. We went to Columbus and we played that. They were looking for videos of people that were playing the festival covering Ohio bands. So what Ohio band was I going to cover? I got turned on to this one guy — I dug this guy’s perspective and his point of view. It’s this guy named Jerry DiCicca, he’s from Columbus and he’s in this band from Columbus called Black Swans. I really enjoyed that and he was doing something really interesting with Adam [Remnant] from Southeast Engine. It was that living room thing that Shelley Hulce had hosted and I went down there and saw those two do it. Jerry did a song called “Slide On Down.” I didn’t know it was called that at the time, but I remember thinking it was a great song. It’s something that I could do pared down without drums and things like that, and that was important to me too … to make new different sounds. There’s a band called Jasper the Colossal, who also played my South Park residency, we also did a show with [them] at Omega. So I invited Paige [Bellar] to sing it with me and play guitar. Then I invited my neighbor Christy to play accordion on it. Now Christy doesn’t play accordion.
But the texture was just right. So I know [Shelley Hulce] did some video stuff, so I asked her if she would come and do this and she did and it was great.
I was really intrigued by this idea of doing smaller tours. Jerry DiCicca, Mike, and I hopped in a car and went to Kentucky for the weekend. We did four shows in Kentucky. My friend Christian Svitek (skateboard dude) also got in the car with us. So we did four shows in Kentucky and had a really great time. Jerry had an Econoline van, which was just a pleasure to cruise in. We ended up driving toward the city, stopping at a skate park, watched Mike and Christian skate, and then get back in the van and played a show that night and stayed at a friend’s house or a hotel one night. [Then got] up in the morning, went to a coffee shop and figured out where the next skate park was. It was really interesting and just really relaxing and fun. We are actually planning on doing a February trip [to] redo that and head down to the South.
During this time I also started playing with a friend of mine who’s a neighbor actually, Nick Eddy, who was in a band called Mink. He’s a really talented guy and a great songwriter and funny as hell. What he ended up doing [at the South Park residency] … he just karaoked to his songs, which is so dorky and so incredibly badass at the same time. Of course he asked me to sing harmonies with him. And he got away with it, and I don’t know anybody else that can get away with that. So we decided to do some stuff with the drummer from the Motel Beds [Ian Kaplan]. It’s very incestuous … is it? Or is it just taking advantage of the talent pool around you. You know, Dayton has a lot going for it. So, Nick Eddy is singing and playing the guitar. I’m singing and playing the guitar. A guy named Chris Green is playing the bass. He was in Dementia Precox. Then Ian is playing drums.
As Kelley Deal looks forward to 2012, plans are being made for another short tour with R. Ring and Jerry DiCicca to the South, another performance of the Long Count in January/February at the Barbican in England, a release with Misra Records, and possibly more opportunities to say “yes.”
For more information, visit kelleydeal.net.
Reach DCP music editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit his blog at thebuddhaden.net.