The Kills: “We hate tech­nol­ogy but we’re em­brac­ing it any­way”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

IT’S A hot one out there in Austin, Texas, and it’s get­ting the weather­men very ex­cited. “Hottest March in years,” they honk at their view­ers. An ideal day then for The Kills to do an open-air show at 3pm at this year’s South by South­west. No doubt Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart are mut­ter­ing “what fresh hell is this?” from be­hind their shades as they sur­vey the crowd yelp­ing and yelling and pos­ing and get­ting their beer on in front of them.

But The Kills have a new album, Mid­night Boom, to flog, and this is what you do when you are in the mid­dle of an in­ten­sive bout of world­wide meet­ing and greet­ing. You get up in the morn­ing, you do phone in­ter­views, you do photo ses­sions, you play gigs, you crawl back to bed. You travel from Lon­don to Tokyo to New York to San Fran­cisco, then back to Lon­don and on to Austin in the space of three weeks. You keep those shades on. You even buy a sec­ond pair of shades in case you lose the first set.

The ami­able Hince says they know what they signed up for. “On the first record, we didn’t do any press and on the sec­ond record, we also avoided do­ing press. This time around, we just de­cided to go for it, but it’s pretty tough.”

Mid­night Boom is a cracker, all louche en­ergy and sweet aban­don. It may re­mind you of var­i­ous rock’n’roll cliches – late nights, sleazy dives, cig­a­rette smoke – but this garage rock racket is any­thing but cliched.

Hince chalks this down to want­ing to make a record that “had its head in to­mor­row a lit­tle bit” com­pared with their pre­vi­ous re­leases.

“Our first album, Keep on Your Mean Side, sounded as if it was recorded in the ’60s. Our sec­ond, No Wow, was our ’70s record. So I wanted to make a record which was an ac­cu­rate snap­shot of The Kills in 2008. I wanted it to sound new, so that’s why we em­braced tech­nol­ogy, even though I fuck­ing hate it.

“It was a hon­est next step. I mean, if Cap­tain Beef­heart was mak­ing records now, he wouldn’t be work­ing on 40-year-old tape ma­chines. He would be em­brac­ing all the new tech­nol­ogy we have at our dis­posal and try­ing to push rock’n’roll into the fu­ture.”

When Hince and Mosshart fin­ished record­ing, they had about 50 songs in the can. Hince felt they needed some out­side di­rec­tion.

“I needed some­one su­per­tal­ented to come in from the out­side and tell me if we’d made a great record or a shit record.”

En­ter Alex Ep­ton, aka Ar­mani Xchange, from Spank Rock. “Alex came in for two weeks at the very end and gave us some ideas about fin­ish­ing the album. Alex is from a bed­room hip-hop r’n’b back­ground and he would not nor­mally work on some­thing like this, so it was fresh.”

Hince has noted a re­cent sig­nif­i­cant rise in ca­reerist bands. “For the first time ever, it has be­come a le­git­i­mate thing to be in a rock’n’roll band. Your par­ents would be proud of you now. It’s ac­tu­ally quite a shrewd busi­ness de­ci­sion in a lot of ways be­cause there’s a lot of money to be made out of it if you play by the rules and do the right things.”

Nat­u­rally, The Kills have done some­thing else en­tirely. “Of course, we haven’t played by the rules and are so fuck­ing broke as a re­sult,” he laughs. “My bank ac­count is an em­bar­rass­ment. I like to make my­self feel bet­ter by think­ing I’m do­ing things right.”

His work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Mosshart con­tin­ues to flour­ish. Hince feels it’s as good now as it has ever been since the pair met by chance while lodg­ing at a Lon­don ho­tel, but finds it hard to de­fine just what it is.

“I think it’s in­stinc­tive. It was there the first time we sat in a room to­gether and started play­ing, even though we didn’t know what we were do­ing. There was some­thing re­ally mag­i­cal hap­pen­ing, some sort of force I had never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. You be­come physic in a way, you’re al­ways in each other’s brain. I’ll write three-quar­ters of a song and Alison will write the other quar­ter. It never ceases to amaze me when that hap­pens.” Mid­night Boom is out now on Domino Records. Lis­ten to tracks at www.mys­pace.com/thekills

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