If possible, Breeders guitarist Kelley Deal would like to clear up a little misconception about her past: that in a notorious 1995 incident she FedEx-ed herself a packet of smack, leading to her arrest and subsequent rehab.
“The thing is, I didn’t use FedEx,” she says. “If I had stayed with FedEx, I would’ve been fine. It was Emery Air Freight — a real genius move on my part.”
She can joke about it in retrospect; things ended happily. That same year, she met her future husband Todd and then went on to cleanly launch two side projects (the Kelley Deal 6000 and the Last Hard Men) and eventually rejoin her twin sister Kim in the Breeders, who return with the new “Mountain Battles” and an appearance at Slim’s in San Francisco tonight.
Deal, 46, learned a valuable lesson in the process: Not everything has to be overnight.
Rehab led her to a time-consuming hobby that’s now become a dual career: knitting.
“And it’s not about how fast you go,” she explains. “If you’re following a pattern, it’s easy. But I, of course, never follow a pattern. I always make it up as I go along, so it takes a longer time for me. But once you get it down, you can easily make the same item again.”
She has created enough original pieces to warrant her own pattern book, “Bags That Rock,” out in October. Her proudest design is a purse woven entirely from twine-textured jute.
She says she began knitting out of necessity, on the road in Amsterdam. Instead of hitting the hash-brownie cafes, she hid in her hotel room with beginner’s size-10 needles and taught herself the craft. (Now she only uses advanced double-pointed.)
Songs don’t occur while knitting, she says.
“But I just find it really relaxing,” she says. “You start generating these alpha brain waves and you can just disconnect. Because, you know, doing music is really hard. It’s a really strange, intense concentration that you get into, and you get really tired afterwards, as well.”
“Mountain Battles” itself was fairly taxing. After a brief 2004 reunion with her old combo the Pixies, Kim Deal moved from L.A. back to her native Dayton, Ohio, Kelley in tow, to care for their Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother.
So the Steve-Albini-tracked set has a naturally dark, reflective aura. Even though it was six years in the making, Kelley doesn’t consider it a reunion album, she says, “because we started doing the demos for this right after we finished our last record, “Title TK,” in ’02.”
“That’s how it works,” she says. “You get 40 minutes of good music together, release that, then start working on the next 40 minutes.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Contact: (415) 255-0333 or www.slims-sf.com