The biggest Deal, at the moment, has to be Kelley. Go To The Sugar Alter places Kelley outside the shadow of her sister, Kim. With a strong release behind her, The Kelley Deal 6000 is the perfect revenge for those of you that scoffed at the notion of success after a series of mishaps. Having completed rehab, Kelley Deal is sober and out of her drug induced rut. She's started her own band, label, and new life focusing her energy toward music. I spoke with Kelley one late July night after a show at Sacramento's Press Club.
Interview by Troy Brookins
CB: Does the Kim Deal's sister thing get old?
CB: It doesn't bother you?
Kelley: No, I mean because it's true, I am her sister. You know what I mean?
CB: Well, I think a lot of people really expected great things from the Amps and not as much from you guys. I think you guys made a much better record..
CB: You definitely found a rock-n-roll groove. I mean you can fuck to a Kelley Deal 6000 record, but not to the Amps..
Kelley: Very nice. That's funny that you say that because one of the things I explain to people when they're playing is that they have to put more fuck in it. You know, you've got to have some fucking in there. So it's funny that you should say that.
CB: Do you feel that the media pits you against your sister?
CB: Pits a sibling rivalry that's not there?
Kelley: Well, you know with any two sisters, or brothers you know, there is going to be some rivalry. But I think it's a healthy thing. And you know, to be honest I mean, it's kind of sad and everything, but she did start it with that Spin article [laughs]. You know it was just yucky. I just she came off looking really bad. I mean, obviously I came off looking the worst; hello! But I mean she came off looking really bad too. And they tried to get that you know squelched, but they couldn't. She was going through some real bad shit right then; dealing with a lot of fucking resentments and stuff. She was just really angry, so it was a bad time to do a fucking interview. I went and did some Amps shows with them in April in Texas and they were opening up for Foo Fighters, and then up to Los Angeles.
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CB: So things are good?
Kelley: Yeah, she's in New York. I think she's doing demos.
Kelley: I don't know. You'd have to ask her [laughs]. I have no clue what they're for really.
CB: Do you miss the Breeders?
Kelley: Yeah, I do miss the kids, you know I miss them. Yeah, it's a good band to show off with. I mean not other people, but for each other. You know, we show off for each other. So that's always nice. I like that.
CB: Is it nice to get back to small clubs?
Kelley: You know it's weird. There's this idea that the Breeders were an arena rock band. That's like, so not true. You know what it is.. It's that we did lollapalooza and that we opened up for Nirvana and therefore we did arenas. But we did not draw for arena sized shit. Yeah, I've never felt like we weren't a small rock club band. Now obviously, this place would be small for the Breeders. But it's not, I mean I've been in the Breeders for three years. It's not like I've gotten used to anything. You know, hello, I mean when we started out we'd play here.
CB: Yeah, I think a lot of it comes from being on the west coast where I think the Breeders did some more touring on the east coast before Last Splash came out. It kind of catapulted them into a bigger arena, maybe a medium sized hall type thing to where..
Kelley: Well, we played Slims, we did a tour, we did Slims, we did another tour we did Slims.
CB: And you did the Paradise Lounge when you were recording the record.
Kelley: And then we did the Paradise, yeah. And then after that what did we do?
CB: Warfield with Jon Spencer
Kelley: Did we do that?
Kelley: Oh, okay yeah.
CB: Okay. So you were with the Breeders and things were going really well. You put out a solid, well received record and then you had a great tour. What happened? What were you thinking?
Kelley: [laughs] Well nothing actually. We had just done Lollapalooza and Josephine wanted some time off. Kim wanted to do a solo record and I thought "I guess I'll do this." You know and I really did it. A lot, you know what I mean? And then I got arrested and stuff and you know...
CB: Didn't you notice what heroin had done to the people around you?
Kelley: What do you mean?
CB: I mean did you ever think about Kurt and Courtney? Smashing Pumpkins, Mark Arm any of those people who have had a problems?
Kelley: I don't know them. You know?
CB: How are things going now?
Kelley: 10 months completely sober. No pot, no drinking, no nothing. Just Mountain Dew and cigarettes.
CB: Do you have any drinking and driving stories?
Kelley: About me? Oh my god, lets see... I've got two pretty good ones. But it should be drinking, and not just drugs right?
CB: Either or..
Kelley: Driving under the influence
Kelley: Well this ones a drinking story. I was at a bar in Dayton with Guided by Voices and Kim and Jim Greer and we were hanging out and playing pool and stuff and I left to go home. I was taking atavan(???) and something else and drinking. When you mix those barbiturates with drinking you get fucking weird man! I was on the highway and I got pulled over by a cop. I mean I was crazy. I was weaving and everything and I lost my way and started crying. You have this manic weird personality thing that happens when you mix these things. And this guy pulled me over and I was just [fakes crying] I was on my way home and lost and I know where the bar is I just left..." He said "Do you see that waffle house up there? You just get yourself off this road and you go in there and get yourself some coffee and don't you get back on that road. Go there and sleep." I don't drink coffee anyway, well I didn't, but you know. I do now. So to be honest with you I blacked out after that, I don't know what happened. I mean I actually had a black out..
CB: And you made it to the Waffle House, and then home?
Kelley: I don't know. I don't know how I got home. The next day my car was parked two doors down in my neighbors driveway and I'd lost my address book. Somebody called me that day and I woke up. I looked at my house and it was destroyed. Like somebody had come in and robbed it or something then I looked for my car because I couldn't remember how I'd gotten home. I couldn't find it! Then I heard this "Excuse me miss! You know I've lived here 14 years and I've never owned a car like this." He pointed to his driveway and I'm like "Oh, you know, I let a friend borrow my car and they must have got my directions wrong about where to park it." I have no clue as to what really happened. Later that day someone called me and said "Hey, did you lose an address book?"
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CB: And that was in Ohio?
Kelley: Yeah, that was in Ohio.
CB: How are the cops in Ohio?
Kelley: They're pretty uptight. Well that guy was really cool. Well actually that probably wasn't cool, I mean I was really messed up. But that was nice for me at the time.
Kelley: I wish I had a velvet bag. I can't give you this one. I made these to send the CDs out in this summer; just recently. And somebody told me, "Kelley, it sounds like you've been shot out of this creative cannon!" And it feels like that. I feel really good about it. That's really my new drug of choice or something. So, I'm constantly doing shit. It's great actually.
CB: And now you're in St. Paul. Is that right?
Kelley: Yeah, I stayed there. Recovery system, networking, bands there. My dealer lives behind me in Ohio.
CB: That's what my question was about, about getting away from that.
Kelley: Yes, It's called geographic relocation.
CB: So, I checked out your web page.
Kelley: Oh, good. I haven't updated it yet. I need to.
CB: Oh, so you're doing it?
Kelley: Well, I didn't program it. But I designed it.
CB: You just give someone input and they take it from there?
Kelley: Yeah, this guy named Chicago Bob. I met him in treatment. Crack addict.
CB: That's good.
Kelley: Good networking.
CB: At least you're doing something. The importance is to stay busy.
Kelley: Yeah, you want to do what you love. I really have fun doing this thing.
Kelley: Fuck yeah, it's great!
CB: Best job on the planet?
Kelley: Fuck yeah!
CB: What were you doing previously. Wasn't it computer programming or something like that?
Kelley: Yeah. Technical analyst.
CB: You don't miss it?
Kelley: Uh no, I mean, I kind of do. I wish I had a computer. I'm going to get one. Right now I have to go out to Bob's place. It's an hour away. It's just kind of a pain in the butt. I do have to get one though. That's on my agenda for this year.
CB: Things are going well, the tour is going well?
Kelley: Yeah, tour's going well. Yep, yep. Cakelike are out with us on this tour and that's great. It really makes a difference when you have an opening band that you like,
When you mix those barbiturates with drinking you get fucking weird man!
CB: So, you're not living in Ohio anymore?
Kelley: No, I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota for a year. I was intervened on and went to Hazeldon, which is in Minnesota and then I went to a halfway house in St. Paul for three months; after the month in treatment. It was there that I started writing and stuff and really started liking what I was doing. It's like I was singing words and I wasn't embarrassed. "Hey, cool, that's not bad!" that kind of thing. So then went into the studio and Grifter Dave asked us to open. At the time it was me and my friend Jesse and he asked us to open for him and I'm like, "Ah, hmm Jesse do you want to play drums or do you want to play guitar?" And he's like "Well I don't play drums." Okay, well, we needed a bassist and I said "I'm playing guitar." So we needed a bassist and a drummer. So we looked around for some people and we met Nick first and then we met Marty, then Jesse wasn't into the touring shit and so we got Steve.
CB: So is this one of the bags you made in rehab?
Kelley: No, I've got way too much time on my hands now. No I made this... How did you know I made this bag?
CB: I do my homework. Actually, Matt told me. (from Autotonic)
Kelley: Oh.. [laughs]
CB: He was telling me that in rehab you made a bunch and they were putting them around the CDs, to send out from Autotonic. He said I don't know if I sent you one or not and then I didn't get one, so he was just telling me the story.
Kelley: You need a velvet bag.
CB: I do.
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because you go and you get to see them and you go in the rock club. There's really a lot of bad bands out there. It's just really incredible.
CB: How did you meet them?
Kelley: Cakelike? About two years ago I got a tape from this guy named Michael Azerrad as a demo tape. I met
Kelley: Yeah, on Nice Records. I did that and I'll probably look for other shit to put out. I'll put out another record on my own because we have a lot of extra material. Not extra, but you know. Then, I don't know.
CB: What prompted Nice Records?
Kelley: At first I didn't think that anyone would want the record, because I'm not Kim Deal. I'm Kelley Deal. And plus, I knew it was different. I thought it was different in a good way, but I knew it wasn't like... It's not layered and textured. I like the texture of it, but it's not layered and textured enough for what I would think some guy sitting at Atlantic records is gonna go, wow [snaps fingers] yeah, I like that. I didn't think anyone would be into it. I was talking to Ryko Disc's distribution people and Ryko said [squeaky voice] well yeah, we should just copy this and we're interested in putting it out. And I thought, well maybe you people would like it. So, I did send it out to some people. Warner offered me something, and uh Sub Pop, and Ryko. And as I was looking at it, in a practical way it didn't make sense. The record was done. I was doing the artwork. There's no question about that. I'm doing the sequence, I'm picking the single, I'm doing the video, I'm doing everything. There's not going to be any discussion... about it. [laughs] I don't know what kind of contract I need to sign for that, but I know that probably no one was going to be giving it to me. I wanted it released when I wanted it. Sub Pop, I think, couldn't release it until November, so it wouldn't be out right now. Goddamn man. So, yeah I released it. I just went ahead and I thought I just do it myself. So I got a guy named Cameron Strang and he's an investor, and runs it with me. Between the two of us we paid for the CDs to be printed up and shit like that.
CB: Is it easier than you thought?
Kelley: You know, it's easier and it's harder. Actually it's easier.
CB: Because you have the control?
Kelley: It's easier because it's just not brain surgery. Look in the phone book. [makes phone with her fingers] do you make CDs? Uh huh..huh...[pause] how much, how much they cost? Yeah? Okay so, what do you need to have in your hands to make a CD from it? You know what I mean? That kind of thing. It comes down to that basic stuff. Because I didn't know... I still don't know. [laughs]
check out: www.kelleydeal.com
or write to Nice Records 571 Grand Ave St. Paul MN 55102
Thanks to Kelley Deal, her band, Matt Autotonic, and the Press Club.
Somebody told me,
"Kelley, it sounds like you've been shot out of this creative cannon!"
them when we went through New York during Lollapalooza. Me and Michael made them put on this on command show for us, so they did a show at the Knitting Factory, or something. I can't remember where it was, but they did a show. It was for me, because I was such a fan of theirs. And so they did that and then they are all really busy and have full lives and stuff. Then the drummer, Jody, was able to get off of work for two weeks. I knew I was going to have an opening band for this tour and I called them up and I said my first choice is Cakelike, can they come out? You're not going to believe this, but we've got some time in July, we're going to be going out. So it was like nice, you know that's great. My next choice was the Frogs, but I don't know. They're not going to be able to tour. I think we might go out with Imperial Teen in the fall. Which will be cool, I like them a lot.
CB: Do you have plans to do anything with Cakelike?
Kelley: I would love to. They're on John Zorn's record label out of Japan right now. And I know that they're getting wooed by many a label. I'm not into signing bands. Give me material. I might put it out, I might not. That kind of thing. But I don't want to sign a band and support them. I don't need any contracts. Obviously you need a contract for the thing. You need to know what's expected for both parties and that kind of thing, but I don't need any we're going to do this album and then you owe us other albums. Or whatever, I don't know. Maybe I won't like that next album.
CB: So what are you going to do next? What are your plans?
Kelley: I'm going to put out the Frogs' record.
CB: On your label?
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