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Interview: Alison Mosshart of The Kills

Holly Graham chats to Alison Mosshart ahead of The Kills’ first Hong Kong show.

Formed by veteran musicians Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart, indie rock duo The Kills are coming to Hong Kong for the first time. With five studio albums under their belt, Hince delivers grungy guitar riffs, while Mosshart, also a key member of Jack White’s super group The Dead Weather, howls vocals laced with attitude. Holly Graham chats with Mosshart to find out more about the woman behind the back-combed blonde hair and what makes her tick. 

On coming to Hong Kong
I’ve been bitching and moaning for years to play in Hong Kong as I’ve never been, and I want to play everywhere I’ve never been. I’ve never been to Hong Kong, so I don’t even know where to begin exploring. I just want to start walking and see what happens. 

On touring
Touring brings me closer to people around me and I have friends all over the world because of it. I feel kind of homeless, but that’s not a bad thing. My home is everywhere and I know how to set up shop anywhere. My world is so expanded and it’s a strange life but it’s mine and it works for me.

On listening to other music
At the moment there’s nothing new. I’m desperate for something new to happen. That said, I’m happy The Queens Of The Stone Age are recording an album because when they have a new record, it’s all I listen to for like, a year straight. But right now, as I’m trying to write, I naturally avoid other music and play my own stuff, and fuck around with my own melodies. I don’t want to accidentally steal someone’s melody.

On creating the band
I was crazy enough to convince Jamie to be in a band with me. I was so shy and always trying to find the right person to do the right thing with. When I heard Jamie playing guitar for the first time in the room above me, without seeing him or knowing him, I just knew he was the right person. It was spooky and creepy...and maybe stalkerish but I was fucking convinced. It took me a couple of years to convince him but I never gave up. And it worked out. I’m 38 now and wonder if I’m still that crazy. I hope next time I have that feeling, I’m bat shit crazy about it and don’t stop as it’s such a powerful thing to have: an idea that you believe in so much. Because if you believe in it enough, you can convince everyone to trust you.

On Jamie
We work so well together creatively because we’re opposites and complete each other like missing pieces. It’s what's got us 15 years down the line and still excited about writing new stuff. Jamie will harbour songs in the studio that he won’t let me hear and it drives me crazy. He’s super crazy focused but there’ll be a moment when I take a song from him, tell him to stop for a minute and I'll sing on it. For him, that’s when it makes sense and we’ll know what to do. I have the exact same feeling when I’m writing all this bonkers shit, the second he plays guitar on it, it’s real to me. It’s only a dream before then.

We meld our strong points together and it never ceases to be exciting or an amazing discovery when a song comes to be. We’ll have no idea how it happened because it’s a weird magic between us. I’m so lucky to have found him and I still feel that way. It’s indescribable. There’s been twists and turns and I’m sure there’ll be a thousand more, but I totally trust him with my life. He’s so incredibly genius.

On performing
I feel like a true version of myself on stage. It’s another side to me but it’s just as true any other. There’s a crazy amount of energy and I’m nervous because like any human, I don’t want to fuck it up. That nervousness disappears the second you face the audience and the chemistry propels you. Even if it’s good or bad chemistry, it’s still moving because there’s so many more of them than there are of us - they’re in control.

Performing is like a dream state. When you ride the wave, it’s the most incredible feeling as the adrenaline is addictive and you can’t recreate that feeling anywhere else. It’s a magical experience from all sides if you just let it be.

On the first song The Kills ever wrote
Kissy Kissy was the first song we ever wrote together. We sat in a squat in London, singing along and filling in the blanks. We wrote it in one go, off the top of our heads and staring down the barrel of a microphone. It’s so special and beautiful and I still feel exactly the same way about it when we play it now so we always play it at every show. It’s got a quality to it that I just can’t let go of. 

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