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Copyright © 2018 Shut Up and Listen. All rights reserved.

Published in Bloomington, Indiana


published 5.17

Kelley Deal with her twin sister, Kim.

Kelley Deal has been a swimming instructor, gas station attendant, and the lead guitarist of the Breeders.


She grew up listening to 70’s rock like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones and started playing drums in middle school.  Her first project was a duo with her twin sister Kim during high school. They played at "weddings and truck stops" and always played an equal amount of covers and originals. 

“It was pretty ballsy if you think about it because we were only 16 at the time,” Kelley said about writing original songs. 

We had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Kelley while she was in Bloomington, IN, recording at Russian Recording Studio. She was working on a song with Cole Vargas for the White Label Series on Joyful Noise. The White Label Series choose 12 artists to curate an album and releases a record every month for a year. 

Jessie, Kelley and Bethany hanging out after the interview 

Although Kelley’s biggest passion had always been music, her fear of not being able to make a living as a musician made her set it aside after high school to go to college and get a “real” job. 

She became a defense contractor where she worked all day five days a week.

“Back then the higher paying jobs were in an office,” Kelley said. “Now there are less industry jobs where you have to go clock in for 8 hours and there are a lot more gig jobs that don’t require going to an office in a suit.”

While Kelley was working in an office, her twin Kim was diving into the indie music scene playing in The Pixies and starting a new band called The Breeders. Kim asked Kelley to join the Breeders, and Kelley insisted on playing lead guitar despite not knowing how to play. She started playing in the band as the third guitarist but picked up the lead part extremely quickly.

“If you want to get better at an instrument, play with other people and people who are better than you,” Kelley said. 

She took time off work to record the Safari EP in New York but when she asked to take more time off to tour, she was denied. Kelley decided to quit her job and the Breeders were off to England and Ireland on tour with Nirvana. 

“I guess my memory of the Nirvana tour is clouded by, you know, events that transpired,” Kelley said. “I look back at it in a bittersweet way.”

She said the best tour she has been on was the first time the Breeders went to New Zealand and Australia because she had never been there before. 

After the Breeders, Kelley played as the Kelley Deal 6000 until she met Mike Montgomery 7 years ago and they formed R. Ring

R. Ring’s style is a combination of their past bands, Kelley with the Breeders and Mike with Ampline, and their songs fluctuate through genres. They recently made a podcast called “R. Ring: Ignite the Rest” that is available for free on iTunes. The podcast explains the process of creating their songs and the people who they collaborated with. 

“It’s more than just the music, it’s the journey we went on to make it,” Kelley said. 

Kelley keeps up with what’s happening in the music scene and enjoys seeing live music while on tour. She mentioned enjoying the Funs, Quailbones, Melkbelly and Post Pink. However, she finds it hard to stay invested in Dayton. With shows starting later and repetitve line-ups, it’s easy for her to stay home, relax, and sew scarves.

She sells her one-of-a-kind scarves online at store.kelleydeal.com

She also stays active politically by attending marches and rallies, and debating healthcare at the National Press Club. She stays connected because she feels like she has to.

“When I participate I don’t know if anything I do will make a change other than the change it brings to me and that makes it worth it,” Kelley said.

It’s apparent that Kelley has always pushed herself creatively in a variety of ways. She stressed the importance of letting creativity come to you instead of forcing it. 

“Music is one form of creativity, and if you feel not creative in one way, just move on and try something new.” Kelley said.