We caught up with Alison “VV” Mosshart, the singer and one half of the art rock band The Kills with British guitarist Jamie “Hotel” Hince. They will play Headliners Music Hall on April 8, in support of their fifth studio album, “Ash & Ice,” set to be released on June 3.
LEO: It has been five years since your last album, ‘Blood Pressures.’ What have you been up to in the interim?
VV: We toured ‘Blood Pressures’ for a good number of years. We were still playing shows as late as 2015, whilst writing and recording there towards the end. It was a long stretch, as the world is big. Five years is a long time to get into detail about, but we did a lot of Kills stuff. Jamie had a photo exhibition in New York. I had a painting show in New York. I recorded a Dead Weather record. We both travelled around a lot, recording this and that, writing [and] making stuff. As I remember it, we were rather busy. There was also about a year and a half in there too, where Jamie had six operations on his hand after losing a tendon.
LEO: Your forthcoming album, ‘Ash & Ice,’ is seen as a heavier effort than previous albums. Is this at all influenced by your involvement with The Dead Weather?
VV: I don’t think so. I don’t think Jamie would think so either. It’s hard to go through life and not be moved and affected by all that happens and all that we do, but we didn’t have intentions to make a ‘heavier’ record, just a different one. We try and move things to a new and exciting place each time we do a record. That is always the goal, the starting point. Jamie, due to his hand injury, spent a lot of time putting together a studio and focusing on the production side of things, the sounds, the drums, the low end, while he was out of commission in the guitar-playing sense. I think that has a lot to do with why things sound the way they do. He had the time and the means and the inspiration to focus on other approaches.
LEO: You have stated about the time spent working on the new album: ‘Anything that sounds like it could have sat quite easily on any of the other records will probably get scrapped or reworked … That’s what takes so long, is trying to break out of the thing that you know and you’re good at and trying to get good at something else.’ Could you give us some insight into the process of creating ‘Ash & Ice’?
VV: That’s basically it in a nutshell. Moving on isn’t easy — it’s complex, it takes time, you have to wait for ideas sometimes, or force yourself down uncomfortable paths. We just keep searching, creating, scraping, reworking, rediscovering, shifting, forgetting, discussing [and] not sleeping. Until we get there.
LEO: The video for ‘Doing It To Death’ has gained a lot of attention and just tipped a million views on YouTube, and it depicts a very lively, if not sexual, funeral march through a cemetery. Can you speak of the artistic intent of the video in relation to the content of the song?
VV: Since we spent so much time in LA making this record, it kind of rubbed off on us. The visuals of the place especially. Vivid blue skies and looming palms became rather romantic icons during that spell. We wanted that in the video. We wanted that warmth and light in contrast with a song that’s basically an underground windowless nightclub. ‘Doing it to Death’ is not about death, but rather about repetitiously seeking pleasure. The joys and the sorrows of that. The graveyard, we liked visually more than anything — the expanse and multitude of common shapes and snaking paths. A graveyard in Los Angeles looks a hell of a lot different than a graveyard in London. The colors are electric. It almost seems happy? The dancers, if you took their coffin away, could have been doing the same dance at a street fair, or some celebratory parade. The repetition and doubling, tripling, quadruple effect of people, cars, movements, were there to capture that never ending-ness.