What could possibly go better with a new song by the slightly skewed alternative-rock favorites The Breeders than roller derby? After all, wasn’t the mayhem of the sound collage “Cannonball,” a big hit in the ’90s for the band, really just a sonic version of the contact sport?
Absolutely a match made in the most heavenly of skatoriums, the ladies of Arch Rival Roller Girls in St. Louis are the stars of a YouTube video for “Fate To Fatal,” the namesake of a four-song EP The Breeders released all by themselves — without record-label backing — in April.
When trying to come up with ways of getting the word out to the world that The Breeders were back, they weren’t sure what kind of visual content they could use to accompany the song.
At first, they thought about getting help from graphic artist Chris Glass, who not only designed the cover art for the Fate To Fatal EP — released both as a digital download and a limited-edition 12-inch vinyl EP — but also created the logo for President Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” Kelley Deal, Kim’s sister, had other ideas.
“She had run into an old friend [who] stages her roller derby league in St. Louis, Mo.,” says Kim, who formed The Breeders as an outlet for her and Tanya Donelly to work when their main bands, The Pixies and the Throwing Muses, respectively, were on a break. “And Kelley just had been thinking that it would be really cool just to bring a camera in and that could be our video, the girls skating and lips synching. So she drove to St. Louis, Kelley did, and the bass player [Mando Lopez], who owns a really good camera. He’s out in Los Angeles, and he flew into St. Louis. And they rented out this skatorium where the girls do the games. And they had the St. Louis Arch Rivals skating … our friend helped organize it and Kelley did, too. And it turned out really good. It was just my sister and the bass player and a friend of his with the camera. They skated all day long evidently and they filmed it, but it turned out really awesome. I really like it. It turned out good.”
And the Breeders’ connection with roller derby doesn’t end there. They contributed the number “Bang On” to the Rhino soundtrack of the new movie “Whip It,” a Fox Searchlight Pictures’ film based around the all-girl sport. It’s the first movie directed by Drew Barrymore. Mixed in with classic roller-rink anthems like .38 Special’s “Caught Up In You” and The Ramones’ “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” is Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and tracks submitted by indie favorites like Peaches (“Boys Wanna Be Her”), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (“Blue Turning Grey”), The Go! Team (“Doing It Right”) and The Raveonettes (“Dead Sound”).
Also, on a recent tour, the band invited local roller derby clubs to come out to their shows.
“We thought it would be cool if they wanted to … it’s hard to know when their games are,” says Kim. “So we told them that if they wanted to pass out any information about the games and stuff, they can. They can set up a booth and get the schedules out.”
Along with the title track, The Breeders’ most recent release features three other tracks: a lush recording of “The Last Time,” which features guest vocalist Mark Lanegan [Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age]; “Pinnacle Hollow,” done in Kim Deal’s basement on a four-track with the tape hiss kept in; and a Bob Marley and The Wailers’ song titled “Chances Are.”