The Breeders have always been a unique band. Lead by sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, albums like Last Splash defined them as one of the most interesting rock bands to emerge from the alternative melting pot of the 1990s.

Five years ago, the band’s classic ‘Last Splash’ lineup reunited for a series of much-lauded anniversary shows around the world. Flash forward to this year and they’ve released All Nerve – their first record in a decade, and first to feature bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim Macpherson since Last Splash. It’s an album of confident, visceral songs that sees the band utterly re-invigorated.

We spoke to Kelley Deal about reformation, recording All Nerve, and the joys of being present while playing music.

Watch the clip for ‘Spacewoman’ by The Breeders below

The BRAG: I know Jim and Josephine have been in the band again for some time now. Take me back to those first rehearsals for the Last Splash anniversary shows; what was that like?

Kelley Deal: We got together and all went down into Kim’s basement – where we used to practice, and still do. We got back on the same equipment we had when we recorded Last Splash and toured it, opening for Nirvana and playing Lollapalooza; the same gear. Same Marshall amps and everything.

So there we are, with the same gear, playing this record. And I remember being amazed at how much like the record it sounded. It was like, “oh, that’s how that song is played.”

Kim and I have played with other musicians in The Breeders and each one of them is amazing and unique, but when you get the people who actually created the part and made it their signature, and you hear it, it’s like, oh my god. It sounded effortless, it sounded just right.

The reformation began as a small idea of playing the Last Splash shows and it snowballed into something with more momentum. Was it a bit overwhelming or did it feel natural?

Kelley Deal: We had a really great time doing the Last Splash tour. As the year went on, you start planning for the next year, and we were asked to do some shows for the following year. We were like, wait a minute, it’s no longer 2013 – what should we play? Are we still doing that or not? And so, everyone had music they were working on that we started to incorporate and play live.

Kim had ‘Walking with a Killer’ which she had released solo, and that was the first one. It was something everyone was into re-interpreting, that would sit well with what we were doing. Then we just started adding songs, playing things live, like – okay, this works.

Was there a sense of pressure when you started to realise these songs were coming together as a new record?

Kelley Deal: My first feelings were excitement… and then dread. It’s a long process… constructing the songs, deconstructing and reconstructing them. In terms of feeling nervous about the album itself, I think I kind of felt the same way I did when we were recording Last Splash. No one was there in Coast Recorders back in 1993 thinking, “Oh yeah, this is going to zoom to the top of the charts!”

So, we’ve always just kind of been doing our thing. It’s super important when you’re in the middle of that process to not consider what other people are going to think about an album, or what its place is in your oeuvre. It’s important to get immediate with the music – and that’s my favourite part.

That makes sense. I feel like you’ve rarely been a band that was concerned with what other people were doing at the time, or what people thought of you.

Kelley Deal: When I hear a band I really like, and a new trend comes, and you hear them go towards that sound… I don’t know, I don’t think we do that; we all feel very rooted in our aesthetic. There’s nothing wrong with exploring different types of music, but that’s not what this is – and I think if it became that, we’d need to call it something else.

Watch The Breeders play ‘Nervous Mary’ and ‘Wait in the Car’

You were talking earlier about deconstructing and reconstructing. I know Kim is the starting point for a lot of the Breeders’ work; I’m curious how collaborative a process putting the songs together is?

Kelley Deal: It really depends on the song. Some tracks like ‘Walking with a Killer’ came completely done. Some songs are really jammed out – Kim and Jim will just start playing something in the basement. That’s how ‘MetaGoth’ started: Kim was working out a bass part, Josephine was in New York. And so that song started there, with the three of us, and then Josephine wrote the words and guitar part afterwards.

You’ve talked in the past about how around the time of Last Splash there were times where you weren’t able to be as present as you’d have liked. I’m curious if that sense of feeling present live is something you’re very aware of now?

Kelley Deal: I really am. It’s one of the best things about doing it. I was recently playing a show, and the crowd was good, the mix was good, my guitar tone was good, I could hear everything… Playing live music for other people is such a gift and an honour. It’s always fun, but I had a real feeling of gratitude in that moment. It went deeper that night. It’s a really nice thing to have.

The Breeders play Sydney Opera House this Friday, November 30. All Nerve is out now.