The Kills’ Alison Mosshart: ‘New York Is a Real Part of Us’


Possibly an incarnation of all things rock ‘n’ roll, Alison Mosshart, frontwoman of the Kills (and the Dead Weather), is known for her onstage presence, unfaltering aesthetic, and ability to consistently defy cliché and convention as a performer. Details about the Kills’ follow-up to 2011’s Blood Pressures are still for the most part unknown, aside from the fact that the record is forthcoming. Despite this, anticipation builds for fans.

 In advance of the Kills’ performance Thursday at the Bowery Ballroom, Mosshart talked about why movement aids her creative process, why evolution and change are essential to the Kills, and why she missed the Bowery.

Many sources have stated that you’re currently working on a new album. Will your next album be a departure from Blood Pressures? What are some of your goals for your forthcoming release? Do you have a projected release date?
Well, we are in the studio right now working on it. And I hope it will be a departure from Blood Pressures — that’s always the goal, to make a record unlike the record we just made, you know? So we’re working on it. It’s been a pretty long process. We’ve just written and written and written, and now we’re changing everything and writing more and I have no idea when it’s going to be out but I’m very excited about it and I can’t really tell you anything about it.

That’s totally understandable. That’s how it is when you’re still in the creation phase of a project. It’s hard to articulate it until it is done. When it comes to working on a new album or writing new songs, does tour disrupt that process? Or is it helpful? How does touring impact your creative process?

Touring is great. I think that in your head and your heart it gives you a lot. You’re constantly being inspired by things on the road. You’re constantly taking photos and writing things down and making art and doing stuff like that, and it’s all part of the creative process, but you do stop being in a studio and demoing songs and doing that sort of thing….All you’ve really got is what’s going on in your head on the road. It’s been a funny last couple years because, although we’ve been trying to work on this record, we keep getting offered these shows we really want to do. You have to break down, get out of the studio, and get back on the road, and it’s a totally different thing. But, you know, it’s kind of how I would want to be, in a way, because I miss playing too much when I’m not playing, and it’s nice. It’s also nice to get a chance to try something new on stage, even if no one knows you’re trying to do that, even in soundcheck. A lot of both is great.

With each album the Kills’ sound expands, it evolves. How is evolution of sound or style vital to the Kills’ aesthetic? How is it vital to you as an artist, as a performer?

Well, I think it’s important to evolve. I mean not every band, maybe it’s not their thing…maybe they want to write the same record, and not in a bad way, but like the same kind of thing and they really have this definitive thing. I think we have a definitive thing but it’s awkward, it’s different. There’s only two of us, so we have to push really hard not to write the exact same song over and over again. It would be really easy to do. We’re always trying to just find stuff that is incredibly hard for us. Writing new kinds of songs and using just new everything all of the time. It’s like starting from scratch again and you come across really cool stuff, you know? I think it’s been a really natural evolution. I always am surprised every time there’s a record out that those songs fit when we play on stage with the old ones — it’s always amazing to me, and that just makes me think that, well, “OK, we have a sound, we’re a certain thing.” It doesn’t really matter what kind of style of music it is or where we’ve taken it or how crazy different we think it is or how it feels, it still all goes together as one big story and it’s awesome.

So in terms of personal influences, are there any films, books, or albums that have served as creative anchors for you over the years or for your forthcoming album?

I don’t know. I mean, I go through phases of reading books. I go through phases of not reading anything for so long. I’m right now stuck in a phase where I can’t stand to look at a television screen. For some reason I have no patience. So I don’t know where it’s all coming from. It changes all the time. I’d say the most inspiring thing for me is to be driving across the country, to be moving and moving and things being different every single day. That’s when my brain is the most active, that’s when I’m paying the most attention and I’m inspired by almost everything around me. But there’s not a particular record that I’m listening to non-stop or a book that is shaping a song that I’m writing, or anything like that really. And you know, Jamie is different than me…I’m sure he’d have a really long list for you, at all times. But I just go through phases, I don’t know. Right now I’m having a hard time paying attention to anything but work.

So you’re set to play the Open Road Aperture Foundation Benefit? How did the Kills get involved?
I love Robert Frank. I’m obsessed with Robert Frank and have been for a really long time, so when we were asked to that we said yes in about five seconds. I met the people that were putting it together and they were lovely and it sounds like such an incredible event. Anything to do with art and anything to do with Robert Frank, I can’t really say no. We’re really excited to be a part of it. I’m really glad we’ll get to spend five days in New York working.

Definitely. So in regards to NYC, what are you looking forward to about being in New York, since you’re going to be here for a while? How is playing in NYC different than playing tour dates elsewhere?
New York is like its own country. That city is like its own world, and I love it. It has so much to do with the Kills. When we first started playing, it was the first place we couldn’t wait to get to and we never wanted to leave and we stayed at the Chelsea Hotel for months and months and months and it felt like a second home and just, it had such a shape and effect on our band, being there. Especially in that age, it was just so exciting. New York is a real part of us and every time we go back it is like going home in a way, you know? I am excited. I am excited to stay for five days and play a few shows. It’s going to be great. And also we know like a billion people from going there constantly for the last 15 years. Yeah, it’s a second home.

The Kills perform at the Bowery Ballroom on Thursday, October 23.

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