Alison mosshart


- As told to Giselle Au-nhien Nguyen

CONNECTION IS KEY I spend about 30 minutes pacing around before I go on stage, not saying much of anything. I kind of go into a vacuum for a bit and drop away all the shit in my mind so

I can come out the other side wide open and ready. There are so many ways to front a band. But what makes a great frontperso­n? I suppose a unique execution of the job and an ability to truly connect with an audience. It’s an art form of heart. If you’re truly connected to the music and in the moment, people come with you. They feel it, sense it and smell it and go along on the journey.

TOURING CAN FEEL LIKE HOME I love waking up somewhere different every day. It’s endlessly inspiring to be in a different place. You’re constantly learning about other cultures, other people, different art, different music, different architectu­re – it’s wonderful. It works with my brain very well. I’ve been on tour since I was 14, so my friends and my home and my family feel like they’re everywhere. Touring is the way I get to see everybody.

IT’S OK TO START YOUNG When I was 14 I was a skateboard­er and friends with a bunch of skaters. We all loved music, and one day we just decided to get some instrument­s and see if we could make a song. We played tons and tons of shows with our band Discount – we toured the whole world. We played a lot of skate parks, a lot of houses – back then, bands would often get together and rent a room and invite all their friends, and there would be like 10 bands. My parents were supportive, but they didn’t want me to go on tour at that age. I did it anyway and nothing terrible happened, so they let me go again. The rest is history.

DAYS OFF ARE FOR ADVENTURES There’s a pretty tight schedule every day on tour. You might have four hours to yourself, and you could use that to take a shower and eat something and answer a bunch of work stuff, or you might want to get lost and take a walk and see what you find. If I have a day off, I look up where to go and what to do and see. I like to take walks and go to art galleries. My favourite thing to do when I wake up somewhere I’m not familiar with is to get off the tour bus, get out of the hotel room and go get coffee and see where I am.

TO PERFORM IS TO BE HUMAN I love everything about live performanc­e. I love that you can’t rewind it or edit it or hide from it. It’s true and raw and human, and it connects us. If I could form a supergroup with any other musicians, I’d probably really like Jimi Hendrix to be in there. Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) would be in the band, as well, and maybe Billie Holiday. Even just the conversati­on would be good enough for me.

ROCKSTARS DIG DOWN TIME, TOO I really enjoy my own company because I like working on stuff. I like getting lost in projects and focusing on something for days and days, and I’m OK not seeing anybody. It’s a contrast to being on tour all these years, and always being around people – whether it’s on a bus, backstage or on stage, you’re always surrounded by people and you don’t get that private time. So when I do get home, it’s an automatic thing to want to focus on work. The last thing I want to do is go to a party – my whole life is a party, I’m good! I did that for years; now I’m probably gonna read a book.

TEAMWORK OPENS YOUR MIND When you’re in a band, you have to be open to ideas, and you have to be a good listener. You have to trust other people. The most delightful things happen when you open your ears and your mind to something you yourself did not think of. If someone is very passionate about something, you give them the room to try it out; if you’re very passionate about something, they give you the room to try that. I’m always really pleased with the result of working through these things with other people – you find a magic space where all of you exist, and I think that’s powerful.

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