After a three-year break, two of which were spent slaying stages alongside Jack White in The Dead Weather, Alison Mosshart is back with The Kills.
The duo, also featuring Jamie Hince, released it’s fourth LP Blood Pressure in April and recently kicked off a U.S. tour at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. Mosshart spoke with us from her home in London before the start of the tour, which stops at the Fox Theater in Oakland this Friday.
What do you do to prepare for a tour?
I never really stop touring, so I guess that is it. I only had four days off between this tour and the last one. I repack with slightly different things, but mostly the same things, and I try to sleep.
I can tell you are not in to vacations.
I’ve only been on two vacations my whole life, so I’m not really a vacationer.
Where did you go?
One time, I went to Mexico with Jamie and a bunch of our friends from New York, maybe five or six years ago. I also went to Costa Rica with Dead Weather—those boys and their wives. That was really fucking fun.
Have you spent any time in the Bay Area outside of hotel rooms and venues?
I used to go to Berkeley a lot as a teenager. I played there a lot in my first band and I hung out there a lot more than San Francisco back then. I can’t remember the last time I walked down the street around there. Usually, we just come to San Francisco, play and then overnight out to somewhere else. I hope to see a little bit more this time.
Is it hard to kick off a tour at a festival?
It depends if it’s night or day. Day festivals can be hard and really weird. I always find it really hard to play in the middle of the afternoon. That’s not my ideal time and it doesn’t feel really appropriate to my music to play when the sun is shining.
You really command the stage when you perform. Is your stage presence something you’ve had to develop over time?
Honestly, I still don’t think I have it and I still think I have so much work to do every single time I go onstage. I remember when I started, I was terrified and I would stand behind things and I couldn’t look up. There were so many different stages, being in different bands, getting over that and being more confident. Sometimes it’s easier to deal with it by giving it everything.
Who did you look up to during those formative years?
I looked up to wild and crazy punk bands. My favorite live band of all time would have to be Fugazi. That was the band I adored and loved and looked up to. I new every word to everything when I was a kid.
Did your experience with The Dead Weather influence what you are doing now with The Kills?
It’s hard to say because the songwriting process is incredibly different. With The Dead Weather, we sort of jam all together and that’s how we write. We just start playing and write spontaneously and let the music take us somewhere. At some point, we just hit record and that’s the song.
The Kills is a really different thing because we have a drum machine and we can’t jam like that. The songs have to be developed and put together. You try to capture as much spontaneity that you can, but there’s a format for each song. You kind of almost have to visualize the whole thing before you start with The Kills, whereas with The Dead Weather you’re constantly changing the whole time.
Was it a difficult process to transition back?
It was a little bit difficult at first, but not in a bad way. It was a good challenging way. For two years, I’ve been doing it a different way [with The Dead Weather], very much in a group experience. Jamie and I work separately and bring each other songs. It’s not until late in the process that we sit together and work things out. I’ve also been doing The Kills for 10 years, so it came back pretty quick.
Do you think we’ll see another album sooner than three years?
We hope. Four years is a pretty long time, and I think we need to get another one out pretty soon. Jamie and I are really enjoying working now and every thing feels fresh, new and excited.
The Kills perform at the Fox Theater on September 9th. The show starts at 8:30pm and tickets are $29.50.