The Breeders are a global band in the sense that there’s no strict region they can claim as their true hometown. Members hail from the US and the UK; fitting given their label, the British-based 4AD. Their history is steeped in the happenstance occurrences that were surprisingly commonplace in the worlds of ’80s and ’90s rock. Chance meetings and unexpected inspirations helped turn the Breeders into the influential band they are today.
Pixies bassist Kim Deal started the Breeders as a side project that soon took over, shifting her musical focus from the decline of her old band to the rise of her new one. Flash forward over two decades and you have a recently reunited band celebrating twenty years of a defining album that cemented Deal and co’s stardom. The reissue of Last Splash broke the band’s lengthy hiatus and brought back the same lineup that helped make it famous.
San Francisco acts as one of the few regions the Breeders can liken to a hometown, as Last Splash was rehearsed, recorded, and produced at the legendary Coast Recorders studio in SoMa. Bassist Josephine Wiggs has fond memories of her first time in SF, sharing a flight with British producer Mark Freegard, who helped produce Last Splash and remix previous EP Safari.
“I remember arriving in San Francisco on New Year’s day in 1993. I had never been to San Francisco and he [Mark Freegard] hadn’t either,” Wiggs tells the Appeal.
“We were staying in this type of corporate apartments, almost extended stays and we always walked the same street home up a hill. I remember walking there and back and feeling like it was a little bit scary. The streets were deserted and there were a lot of unsavory-looking characters. It was most definitely the Tenderloin.”
“Kim’s [Deal] got memories of us doing the same walk and it being a little scary. We had three months in between pre-production and mixing from January to March. We did our mixing from the Tenderloin to Saulsalito where they’d rented us a houseboat. It was really kind of fun.”
And now they’re back in the city that helped change the Breeders from a side project to something more, where they’ll be playing Last Splash in its entirety. The band’s two dates at the Fillmore this Tuesday and Wednesday also offer the rare chance to hear their debut album, Pod, from the opening woozy groove of “Glorious” to the closing acoustics of “Metal Man.”
“We’ve only played it [Pod] once before in its entirety at the end of June at the Forum in London,” Wiggs says.
“We had ten days off and then had a show in Amsterdam. It was suggested that everyone should learn Pod and so we came back and practiced it during the soundcheck. We were all amazed at how good it sounded and that everyone was up for it.”
London’s Forum acts as another touchstone for the Breeders and as a place for the band to reminisce. The almost eighty year old venue started out as a cinema and was reopened in the late ’80s as a music hall called the Town & Country Club. It was opening for the Pixies with alt rockers the Perfect Disaster that Wiggs first met Deal.
Though the Fillmore itself isn’t the most memorable Bay Area location for the band, the entire region is one of nostalgia and contentment from hikes in Point Reyes to adventures up to the highest of hills, shirking errands to see the panorama of the city.
“Coming back to San Francisco really means a lot to us. We’re excited to come and play the album [Last Splash] in San Francisco. The fact that we recorded it there and have so many memories… we certainly feel that it’s a homecoming.”