Breeders' Josephine Wiggs on 20 Years of Last Splash and the Future of Women in Rock
Our girl Josephine contemplates her philosophy degree on the right.
The creative process is one of the scariest things a person can endure. Opening yourself up, either alone or with a group of friends and fellow artists, it can blow up in your face. Or, you could make history.
The Breeders were kind of lucky in that regard. Their third record, Last Splash, is a timeless alt-rock classic. And 20 years later, people still want to hear them play it live. Even those of us who were too young to understand "Cannonball" in 1993 find ourselves reveling in its crunchy, moody sound.
We caught up with Josephine Wiggs, the bass player who fingered that famed buh-duh-duh-duh-duh-buh, in advance of the Last Splash anniversary tour stop at Grand Central, to talk about creating something with such a lasting impact, touring with Nirvana in '93, and girls being in rock 'n' roll bands.
Crossfade: On the subject of reflecting, you must be doing a lot of that on this tour. I was still a kid when Last Splash came out, and it's crazy for me to even imagine it's been 20 years, but how has the tour been for you with that kind of hindsight?
Wiggs: It's been a lot of fun spending time with that particular group of people again. Even though in the intervening years, I would be a liar if I didn't say I sometimes wondered if we might do something together again. Especially all through the 2000s, that whole phenomenon of people who had records in the early '90s, there were so many bands that came back and did reunion tours.
That sound had a resurgence.
I think it's partly because that music was made in the early '90s and it still sounds pretty good next to what's being made today. I'm not sure if stylistically things have really moved on that much. Not to denigrate or be critical, but it just so happens that a lot of what's being made now is very genetically similar to the stuff that was being made in the early '90s. It isn't surprising not only are people who've seen it interested in hearing it but people who were too young to have seen that are interested in it because they know. It's in regular rotation with the other stuff on their iPod, you know what I mean? Things from that time, that era should we say, have a pretty long shelf life.
Did you have any inkling while recording Last Splash that it would have this kind of lasting quality?
No, we had no idea that it was going to sell as many copies as it ended up selling. We had no idea how it would sound ten years later even 20 years later. I guess the stars were aligned on that.
You're playing the whole album on this tour, right?
That's right. It's a reunion for us as that lineup of the band, but it's also a kind of a celebration of that album. We're doing kind of two things in one.
Do these songs take on a new meaning now that you're able to apply every experience that you've had in the 20 years of recording and playing it now.
Not really. I mean, maybe it has for Kim. You talking about lyrical content?
Or just even the feeling that you put into the performance.
It definitely is different. It was exactly a year ago, I was listening to the album, to relearn the songs basically. Some came back really easily, and some of them we had never played live, so they were a little bit more like "whoa." I hadn't really listened to the record since we made it, so it was definitely an interesting experience to listen to it after all these years and everything that's happened musically -- not only in the music world but actually musically. To listen back to it and listen to it with those ears, kind of informed with what's happened in between. It was definitely an interesting exercise.
Do you think you did a good job? When you look back on yourself then, are you like, "Good job, me."
Yes, I do. I do! I think we played really well on that record. I mean, we were pretty well rehearsed by the time we went in and made it, from the point of view of what Jim and I were doing. We were pretty solid, and there weren't too many surprises there. Other things changed, like some of the guitar parts were done on the fly in the studio. That was a little more of a wild card, but certainly what Jim and I were doing I think was pretty solid teamwork before we went in. I seem to remember we did our parts quite quickly, and you kind of have to. I was pleasantly surprised, I would say, listening back to it.