By Stephanie Nazywalskyj
VANCOUVER — Alison Mosshart is the American, lady slice of the two-part indie rock band, The Kills. Mosshart’s counterpart is Englishman, Jamie Hince. Together, this double act has, dare I say, killed it, receiving glowing appraise on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. I got the chance to catch up with Alison, who is currently in Michigan recording The Kills’ fifth studio album, and successor to 2011’s Blood Pressures.
Kicking off the interview with a cheerful, fairly unconventional salutation (“Hey! How the heck are ya?”), I successfully sparked a laugh out of Mosshart. From that moment forth she was giggly, well spoken and generous with her responses, even though she admits that her usual interview-responding position involves pacing.
Fortunately, Mosshart is “not in interview mode,” answering probing and probably redundant questions day after day, week after week, sparing the soles of her shoes and carpeting global wide. I couldn’t help but ask what she likes or dislikes most about interviews, to which she divulged: “Personal inappropriate things are annoying, don’t get answered, and result in not answering any more questions from that person.” A good rule of thumb and a pace-inducing experience, indeed.
Mosshart’s favourite part about being a rock star is performing, and understandably so, prancing around onstage is nothing like pacing across a hotel room. “I love playing shows more than anything. I just feel like it’s the most honest thing a band can do – actually play. Just being there, showing up and doing a performance is a moment in time that can’t be repeated. It’s important for the human experience. A gig every day is my favourite part of touring.”
Hince and Mosshart’s passion for playing, love for being on the road, and irrefutable success has resulted in the expansion of their tour with a run of West Coast shows next month. The Kills’ fans aren’t the only ones who are pleased with this extension: “I like everything about it – waking up in a different city every day; I love constant movement, constant change. I’m not totally happy living out of a suitcase, mind you. In fact, I don’t know what to do with loads of space in a closet either – it doesn’t make any sense to me, I’ll just wear the same thing every day.”
This likely explains why the public may have come to identify Mosshart with her signature black leather jacket. She comes clean on owning quite a few magical leather jackets, “but since it’s been burning fucking hot this summer, leather jackets have not been [her] thing recently.” In the same way that her luggage contents might be motivated by the weather, Mosshart is “inspired by everything – going for a drive, reading a book, watching a movie, listening to a record, and the people [she] meets. It [comes] from everywhere.”
Aligning with her ardor for leather jacket fashion, Mosshart’s hometown of Vero Beach meant a lot to who she is today. “That tiny little town I grew up in – it was hot, it was small, there was nothing going on, and not a lot of kids my age. I was obsessed with big cities when I was a kid and the desire to want to leave, travel, and just get out. I would beg and beg and beg to go to N.Y., Chicago, L.A., or San Fran. I wanted to go to these places where the buildings were just like the most romantic thing, along with the skylines and endless possibilities. If I had grown up in [a big city], who knows if I would have wanted to get out so badly, if I would have worked so hard to leave. Maybe I would have just already been there, so maybe I would be exactly the same. I remember saying from the youngest age to my mom: ‘I want to move, it’s too hot here, I need to get out of here.’ And literally, the second that I could, I moved to London, and I was like, ‘I’m out.’ They thought I would come back and I didn’t. I was really serious; it was just too hot [there].” And luckily for us, as Mosshart met Jamie Hince, thereby permitting us to share in their extraordinary world of life, love and adventure.
Mosshart sheds some light a propos of life on the road: “You don’t really do anything else on the road but be on the road. I mean, you’re on the road, you’re moving constantly. You don’t get to hang out anywhere. So, that’s when it goes into painting, photography, and writing in your journal mode. You know, doing stuff backstage, doing creative things to pass the hours between sound check and gig time.”
Unlike her fans, Mosshart is the only person tired of hearing herself: “I’ve been working in the studio, and when I’m not in the studio, I’ve been writing in my studio. My own fucking voice is all I’ve been hearing while trying to work out new songs, [so that’s] all I’ve been listening to these days,” she groans playfully.
Mosshart “loves working with all sorts of people [as it’s] a learning experience.” She has collaborated with numerous bands and her attitude towards musical partnerships is reflective of The Kills’ evolution or mantra. “It can be great – taking you out of your own way of doing things – and it’s fun to do things that you’re not used to. I like walking away with some new knowledge and having the feeling of I love that, I hate that, or I want to do more of that.”
With an overwhelming need for change and the vast inspiration that sidecars being out on the open road, it’s no wonder that the group is in pursuit of a new sound, something that would not sit on any of their previous four albums. The Kills’ fifth album is due to come out “soon-ish.”
The Kills perform at The Commodore Ballroom October 26.BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom, The Kills