Kimberley Ann Deal is an American singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the bassist (and backup/lead vocalist) of the alternative rock band the Pixies and the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Breeders. Deal first joined the Pixies in January 1986 as the band's bassist, adopting the stage name Mrs. John Murphy for the band's releases Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. Following Doolittle and the Pixies' resulting hiatus, she formed The Breeders with Tanya Donelly and Josephine Wiggs. After the Pixies reconvened in 1990, Deal felt increasingly sidelined by the band's frontman, Black Francis; this led to the Pixies' breakup in early 1993.
Deal then returned her focus to The Breeders, who released the platinum-selling album Last Splash. In 1994, the band went into hiatus after Deal's identical twin sister, Kelley, entered drug rehabilitation. During The Breeders' eight year break, Deal adopted the stage name Tammy Ampersand and formed The Amps, who recorded a single album, Pacer in 1995. She resumed her role as The Breeders' guitarist for their third album Title TK in 2002, and reunited with the Pixies in 2004. The Breeders released their fourth studio album, Mountain Battles, in 2008.
Youth and college
Kim Deal was born in Dayton, Ohio. Her father was a radar physicist who worked at the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Kim and her identical twin sister Kelley were introduced to music at a young age; the two sang to a "two-track, quarter-inch, tape" when they were "four or five" years old, and grew up listening to hard rock bands such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. When Deal was 11, she learned Roger Miller's "King of the Road" on the acoustic guitar. In high school, at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, she was a cheerleader and often got into conflicts with authority. "We were popular girls", Kelley explained. "We got good grades and played sports".
As a teenager, Kim Deal formed a folk rock band named The Breeders with her sister. She then became a prolific songwriter, as she found it easier to write songs than cover them. Deal later commented on her songwriting output: "I got like a hundred songs when I was like 16, 17. [...] The music is pretty good, but the lyrics are just like, OH MY GOD. We were just trying to figure out how blue rhymes with you. When I was writing them, they didn't have anything to do with who I was." The Deals bought microphones, an eight-track tape player, mixing boards, speakers, and amps for a bedroom studio. According to Kelley, they "had the whole thing set up by the time we were 17". They later bought a drum machine "so it would feel like we were more in a band".
Following high school, Deal went to seven different colleges, including Ohio State University, but did not graduate from any of them. She eventually received an associate degree in biology and took several jobs in cellular biology, including working in a hospital laboratory and a biochemical lab. Deal met John Murphy, an Air Force defense contractor who had recently moved to Dayton, through her brother, Kevin; Murphy and Deal then started to date. Although Murphy was not a musician himself, he wrote the song "Hoverin'" with Deal. The couple married on Memorial Day, 1985, and moved to Murphy's hometown of Boston, Massachusetts in January 1986.
Deal was the bassist and backing vocalist for the Pixies in January 1986, after answering an advertisement in the Boston Phoenix for a bassist who was into hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü and folk music icons Peter, Paul and Mary. Deal was the only person to respond, even though her main instrument is guitar. She borrowed her sister Kelley's bass guitar to use in the band. To complete the lineup, Deal suggested they hire David Lovering as drummer, a friend of her husbands, whom she met at her wedding reception. For the release of the band's first recording Come On Pilgrim (1987), Deal was listed as "Mrs. John Murphy" in the liner notes. She chose the name as an ironic feminist joke after conversing with a lady who wished to be called by her husband's name.
For Surfer Rosa (1988), Deal sang lead vocals on the album's only single "Gigantic", which she co-wrote with Thompson. Doolittle followed a year later, with Deal contributing the song "Silver" and appearing on slide guitar. By this time, however, tensions began to develop between her and Thompson, with bickering between the two marring the album's recording sessions. This led to increased stress between the band members. Exhaustion from releasing records and constant touring, contributed to the friction, particularly between Thompson and Deal. Santiago told Deal he was misquoted in an interview with Mojo Magazine regarding the demise of the band.
Charles quit the Pixies to concentrate on a solo career.
The Breeders and Pod
"Iris" is the eighth track of Pod. This album version sample contains the chorus.
During a 1988 post-Surfer Rosa tour of Europe with Throwing Muses as part of the Pixies, Deal began to write new material. As both bands did not have plans for the short term, Deal discussed possible side-projects with Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. After rejecting the idea of creating a dance album together, the pair decided to form a new band. Deal named the band The Breeders, after the folk band she formed with Kelley as a teenager, and they recruited Carrie Bradley, violinist and vocalist in Ed's Redeeming Qualities, to record a short demo tape.
The Breeders' demo was sent to 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell, who immediately signed them to the label. The Breeders allowed Deal to become more active in songwriting, and their debut album, Pod (1990), containing mostly Deal-written songs, was recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland by Steve Albini. Pod, and especially Deal's contribution, was praised by contemporaries; Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain later named the album one of his favourites and remarked: "I wish Kim was allowed to write more songs for the Pixies".
Bossanova and Trompe le Monde
Deal returned to the States after finishing recording Pod in Edinburgh. Deal was then fired from the Pixies. She flew out to Los Angeles to meet with the band. The other members changed their mind and they all began recording the band's next album, Bossanova (1990). The band's final studio album was Trompe le Monde (1991).
Last Splash and The Breeders
A year after the Pixies breakup, Deal's identical twin sister Kelley joined The Breeders on lead guitar and the band released its second album, Last Splash, to critical acclaim and considerable commercial success. The record went platinum within a year of its release.
At the height of The Breeders' popularity in the mid-1990s, they scored a number of MTV hits, including "Cannonball", "Divine Hammer," and "Saints". The band also released the vinyl-only "Head to Toe" 10" EP during the summer of 1994, when they appeared on the main stage of Lollapalooza. Although the band went into stasis in 1994 when Kelley Deal entered rehab for heroin addiction, they never officially split up, and in 2002 released Title TK (TK is a copy-editing expression standing for "to come" and is often used when editing drafts to indicate missing information).
The Amps and other projects
During this eight-year hiatus, Kim Deal kept busy by forming, recording, and touring with The Amps.
After a few gigs where Deal went by the moniker Tammy Ampersand, The Amps released their single LP, Pacer. The record had an enthusiastic reception from reviewers, but was commercially unsuccessful.
She also produced music for other groups, most notably fellow Dayton band Guided by Voices (one of the songs on Pacer, "I am Decided," was written by the band's lead singer, Robert Pollard).
Deal contributed her voice to the Sonic Youth single, "Little Trouble Girl", from their 1995 album Washing Machine, and to the intro for The For Carnation's "Tales." She also contributed backing vocals to the song "Sunset Strip" on Courtney Love's solo album America's Sweetheart.
Pixies reunion and beyond
In 2004, Kim Deal returned to a newly-reunited Pixies and toured North America with them. The song "Bam Thwok" was also released this year. One notable performance included a live taping for the public television program Austin City Limits in October 2004. The Pixies also played the Coachella Festival in Indio, California in 2004 and headlined Lollapalooza in 2005 at Chicago's Grant Park. The Pixies also toured the UK to massive acclaim including a headline appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Pixies have recently been performing Doolittle in it's entirety to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the record.
In 2003 Deal moved from East LA to her Dayton, Ohio hometown to care for her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The Breeders released their fourth full-length studio album, Mountain Battles, in early April 2008.
Kim and The Breeders released their third EP, Fate to Fatal, in April 2009.