The album Kim Deal has been working on since 2002 is nearly ready for release: The Breeders' fourth full-length, titled Mountain Battles, will hit stores April 8th, 2008 on 4AD, the label she started out on as a member of Pixies. In an exclusive interview with Rock Daily, Deal revealed the band -- which now consists of herself, twin sister Kelley, drummer Jose Medeles and bassist Mando Lopez -- has been recording on and off for the past five years with Steve Albini in Chicago as well as Erika Sharkey and Manny Nieto in Los Angeles and her Dayton, Ohio, hometown (Lopez's Fear bandmate, guitarist Richard Presley, has left the band to "sell Porches in L.A. -- he loves his job, by the way").
Deal says the new album doesn't deviate far from the Breeders' classic sound, though there were more moments of experimentation. "We did a little bit more overdubs," she says. "Title TK is the five of us playing basically. That's how the practices sounded, that's what we played. But I found I didn't want to do that this time. I was okay with, oh, let's have a guitar part that obviously nobody in the band can be playing right now." Kelley sings a cover of "Regalame Esta Noche" in Spanish ("Okay, she doesn't speak Spanish," Deal admits, "But she knows the words because she's singing them"), and "German Studies" features Kim's vocals in, yes, German.
"It was just this little riff I made up on the four-track," she says of the latter. "It sounded really cool, really simple. But it would be so cool if instead of me going in my stupid English voice if I could be [sings mock German in gruff tones]." Kelley called the University of Dayton and got the name of a German expert nearby; the sisters were soon plopped down in the woman's living room working out new lyrics. As for "Regalame," Deal says she heard the song repeatedly on a jukebox in an East L.A. bar. "There's one phrase that is not translate-able, and it's something about a pillow, blah blah blah, you can't even make it romantic at all. But the main thing is 'music give me this night, or give me death.' So we had to do it in Spanish. And Kelley does a bang-up job."
The thirteen-track album includes opener "Overglazed," "Bang On," "We're Gonna Rise," "It's the Love" and the title track, which Deal hopes doesn't bring to mind the band called Battles. "I'm like, oh my God, everybody thinks we're going to try to bite off this Battles thing," she says. "But it's from a lyric." Thematically, Deal doesn't think the album overtly reflects all the changes she's undergone in the past five years, from going to rehab in 2002 to reuniting for the Pixies tour in 2004. "I mean I'm sure it does, just the passing of time affects people's outlook and perspective and hopefully that shows in what they're doing."
Deal said a tour is in the band's future, but up first is tonight's gig at The Second City That Never Sleeps, a twenty-four-hour improv marathon for charity in Chicago that's run by Albini's fiancee. "It's just me and Kel because it's a small stage," Deal says. And while she's still wrestling with mastering the new album at Abbey Road ("because I'm going from half-inch tape directly to vinyl, there's only a couple of places in the world that still do half-inch directly to the cutting of the acetate"), she is psyched to see their eventual release after such a long period of incubation: "I think they're good songs."
Stay tuned to Rock Daily for more from our interview with Deal, where she talks about rehab, the possibility of a new Pixies album and more.