The Breeders: It's a drag to play "Cannonball" second in the set

Categories: Interview
Chris Glass

All apologies to the folks that cringe at the thought, but for kids my age, Last Splash by the Breeders was like a wonderful alt-rock version of the Muppets. From the technicolor album cover featuring delicious strawberries, to the easily accessible melodies delivered by Kim Deal's sweet, breathy voice, Last Splash must've felt like a gift to cool parents of Millenials around the world.

As we've grown up, the appeal has only deepened, as has our appreciation for the subversive songwriting and seminal music produced by a group that many initially wrote off as a side-project. Last Splash turned 20 this year, and it's a testament to the quality of the record, that the five members of the Breeders that created it were able to reunite and do a wildly successful world tour. Gimme Noise spoke to bassist Josephine Wiggs about the album's legacy, and why she thinks they ought to have been a little more like Metallica.

Gimme Noise: So, how does it feel to have the whole Last Splash team back together again?

Josephine Wiggs: It's really nice, I have to say. Both personally and musically, it's worked out better than I think anyone could have expected, going into it. Because we hadn't played together in such a long time, abut when we were playing together it was a very intense time. We were together, more or less, for about two and a half years. Before making the album for about eight months, and then making it we toured all over the place pretty intensely, so we were together a lot. It's an interesting and unexpected thing to be playing with them again, and to be spending time with them and hanging out with them. It's a lot of fun.

Is there a chemistry unique to this lineup, to the five people that make up this tour?

I think so, I'm sure a lot of people think that about groups of people that they know [laughs]. But I do think that, I personally feel that there is a special chemistry between that particular group of people.

Minneapolis is the first show in a string of dates that you added to this tour to close out 2013. With so many dates already, this has been pretty much a whole year's worth of Last Splash for you.

We started at the beginning of May, we did a couple of warm-up shows and then our first official tour date was the 2nd of May, and we've been pretty much on the road since then. Alltogether, we will have played 60 shows this year, by the time we do our New Year's Eve show in Austin, Texas, that will be something like 59 shows.

As a musician and performer, How do you keep 20 year-old songs fresh after this many shows?

You know, it's funny, people have asked me that. Because ordinarily when you're touring you can change up the set, and bring in different songs, do things in a different order, and make it a little different every night. So this is for sure a different kind of a thing. You know what the set's going to be every night for sure, except for the six or seven songs we do every night as an encore, we change those around as much as we can.

But, I haven't got tired of it, to be honest. Every night that we come to do it, I still really enjoy the whole thing. When we first were running through the songs and thinking about this as a show, we realized the fact that we were going to have to play them in the order of the record, and play every single song on there, which you often don't do. You know, there's often songs on the album that don't work well live so you just don't do them. I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised by how well that sequence works as a live show, and I think it's a testament to Kim in sequencing the record, in that it actually has a really good flow as a live show.

Yeah, I could see that. You start out with the big hit, "Cannonball," up front so that people aren't waiting for it.

Yes, although I have to tell you, that of all things is slightly perturbing about it. It's sometimes a drag to have to play that song as the second song. Because, you know, sometimes the sound hasn't been tweaked enough yet, or the room is suddenly full of people, however well-tuned it is during sound check, it's always going to be different when people arrive. Sometimes it's a little bit of a shame that we have to play that song as the second song in the set, because the sound isn't necessarily as good as it will be later on.

So, we did talk about it. When Metallica were doing a show behind their album [1991's Metallica], and their big hit was the first song on the first side, they decided to play it backwards, in reverse order so they would be able to end with the hit. I had suggested doing that, pick one of these shows and do it in reverse order just to see what it would be like. Wouldn't that be funny? We should have done that in Australia, we just came back from there.

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