15th Anniversary Show!
Over their almost decade-and-a-half career, multi-faceted rock minimalists The Kills have released only four records, each one a restless, reckless enigmatic art statement that bristled with tension, anxiety, sex, unstudied cool and winking ennui. Yet not one of them sounded like the previous one. In an effort to not repeat ourselves, the path of least resistance has never been ours. Change is uneasy. Art should be uneasy, says Alison Mosshart, sitting at a long wooden table in her rented house above Los Angeles Griffith Park, where shes been residing for a month, right next door to her musical partner Jamie Hince.
This is where the two friends-cum-soulmates finished their long-awaited fifth album, Ash & Ice, due for release June 3, 2016 (Domino). Unlike earlier albums, which have largely been written and recorded at Key Club Studio in Benton Harbor, Michigan, this one had a rather vagabond, as well as protracted, existence with the main bulk of recording taking place in a rented house in LA (using both Key Clubs and Jamies own mobile units) and at the world famous Electric Lady Studios in NYC. Begun three years ago, the project was derailed when Hince broke a finger. The first doctor he saw gave him a shot of cortisone, which caused a painful reaction giving the guitarist sleepless nights, undue misery and the loss of a tendon in his hand. He couldnt play guitar, Mosshart says, He began buying all these funny instruments that you would only need one hand to play. But the idea that he would never play again was unendurable, and Hince consulted another doctor. Five operations later, with time out for rehabilitation, Hince was ready to get back to work, but only after learning how to play guitar in a way that didnt include the previously important finger. It was during the guitarists 18 month long recuperation that he first starting sketching out what would become the songs for the album, including the song that gave the album its title.
Mosshart for her part didnt languish during her partners recovery from surgery. She made a record with The Dead Weather, her side band with Jack White, as well as doing some serious painting. Shed always been painting backstage while The Kills were on tour the prerequisite was it had to fit into her suitcase. But after moving to Nashville a few years ago, she moved into a formal studio space, which allowed her to work on bigger canvases, leading to her first solo show at New Yorks Joseph Gross Gallery last summer. Titled Fire Power, it featured 127 paintings, drawings, mixed media, and tapestries. That was not to say she ignored the band. During the past few years she admits to having penned somewhere around 120 songs. But writing has never been a problem for Mosshart, who composes quickly and fearlessly, rarely overthinking, just letting the songs move through her, inspired by an overheard conversation, a mood, a person, or just the sound her turn indicator makes while she is guiding her muscle car through traffic. What takes the most time is writing separately and turning it into a cohesive whole. Mosshart expounds, If Ash & Ice were a painting, it would be incredibly complex. It would be one that looked like it had been painted over and over and over and over. It would be so thick off the wall, it would be coming through the frame.
The Kills formed in 2000 when a boy from Andover, England and a girl from Florida, USA met in a South London hotel. "It was like we'd lived parallel lives," Jamie recalls. Both had been to art college, the boy had just left a punk-pop band called Scarfo and the girl wanted to leave a punk-pop band called Discount, and both were disillusioned with the musical scenes they were part of. "We had these bedrooms on different sides of the Atlantic which were full of artworks and films and music that we'd made for no-one to listen to. We had so many things in common. It was at a time that if you spent a lot of time making art and dressing up you got beaten down for being pretentious. Everything was about being down to earth. And we both just felt this relief when we met each other."
The bluesy punk duo the Kills consists of vocalist/guitarist VV, a.k.a. Alison Mosshart, formerly of the Florida punk band Discount, and drummer/guitarist/vocalist Hotel, a.k.a. Jamie Hince. After Discount ended in 2000, VV began exchanging tapes with the London-based Hotel through the mail, but both of them felt hindered by this method, so VV crossed the Atlantic so the duo could write faster. In spring of 2001, they issued a self-released demo that showcased their gritty, sexy sound and earned favorable reviews from such quarters as TapeOp Magazine. They also contributed a song, "Restaurant Blouse," to 5 Rue Christine's If the Twenty-First Century Did Not Exist, It Would Be Necessary to Invent It compilation early in 2002, before their debut EP Black Rooster arrived that summer on Dim Mak. The Kills released their first full-length album, Keep on Your Mean Side, which in spring 2003. Their second album, No Wow, is an even dirtier, leaner collection of songs.