Interview With The Kills
For years, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince lived parallel lives some 4000 miles apart. She was in Florida, he was in London; but even the vast distance between them couldn’t stop The Kills.
Six years and three albums later, Mosshart and Hince are the duo everyone wants a piece of – from sticklike supermodels to advertising execs – and come this month’s giant V Festival, chances are you will too.
“The thing that’s really satisfying about this band is that it’s kind of like a two-person social club,” offers Mosshart. “Jamie and I are so similar in that even when we each had our old bands, we were always secretly working on stuff we really wanted to be playing, which actually turned out to be exactly the same type of music. We like the same writers, artists and singers. We also didn’t want to write a record and then just tour it – our idea was to have an art studio and make songs and put on exhibitions and include all these other artistic elements into the music that other bands would be too embarrassed or not interested to do.
“It’s exciting to find a person who is so much like you. I’ve never found anyone like Jamie in my life, it’s really rare, and I think people can see it when we’re walking down the street.”
She’s not wrong there; Mosshart and Hince have seen their fair share of rumours and speculation regarding the true nature of their relationship. After all, in 2002 Mosshart set off for London with nothing but a suitcase and $10 in her pocket just to be with her “creative partner…”
“No one gets to come in,” she states. “Everything we do is under this small collective roof that we are as a band. We’re not looking for help from other people. Once I started working with Jamie on songs, it was a constant; we worked all the time. That’s all we did, and it made us realise that we could live on coffee and toast for years while writing songs, without anybody knowing a thing about us. I guess I was just too busy to notice that I had no money and that I’d just moved to the most expensive place in the world and that it was almost impossible to keep my head above the water. Looking back on it now, it was a risk for sure, but it was something that was just meant to be. All I know is that I was in my 20s and excited about what we were doing.”
It didn’t take long for the rest of the world to get just as excited about The Kills – the release of their debut EP, ‘Black Rooster’ in 2002, unleashed their brand of spiky, fuck-you punk-rock upon Britain and immediately earned them fans. Amongst them, Kate Moss. Still, it was the band’s 2008 LP, ‘Midnight Boom’, which saw them truly come into their own, both in terms of both confidence and sound. It saw Mosshart proclaiming The Kills’ third album their most organic to date.
“It’s a result of believing that you should live your art in everything you do, as opposed to a nine-to-five job that you work at all day and then you go home and you become someone else,” she explains. “There isn’t a minute where I’m not a part of what we do artistically.
“’Midnight Boom’ was a record that was very much unplanned and sometimes that’s how [the] best things happen. You don’t think about what you’re going to do; it just kind of pours out of you, and it really makes you proud. I think if you are able to make something that sounds really fresh to you when you listen back to it, it means that most people will find it just as fresh and new, and that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? You strive to change something or to leave your mark.”
Mission accomplished there… But then again, that’s no surprise for a band with so much drive and ambition.
“It makes it much easier when you have two people with completely the same goals,” Mosshart reveals. “It just goes back to Jamie and I being lucky enough to find each other to be able to do all of this. At first, we didn’t even plan to be in a band, we just wanted to express ourselves artistically and share the things we liked with one another. But when you do have a band and when you have just two people in that band, there’s a lot less chance for you to be lazy because you depend on one another, the other person is going to know it’s you and not them! Jamie and I have too much enthusiasm for what we do to not give it everything we’ve got in our shows.”
Anyone who has witnessed The Kills in a live setting could attest to the incredible onstage chemistry between Mosshart and Hince – the undeniable sexual tension between the pair combined with their gritty, stripped-down live sound makes for a show crowds tend to remember for quite some time after.
“You know, I still do get nervous just before going on stage, even though we know that people are going to come to the show these days,” Mosshart confesses. “When we first started out there wasn’t a scene really attached to The Kills like there seems to be now, so we would get a different type of crowd back then. It was just word-of-mouth and it was really cool because these people had no expectation and we had no expectations so there was a lot of freedom. Live shows are the scariest part of the whole thing but they’re also the best part, it’s when you can be truly honest with your music.”