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The Kills - Killing The Moon

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Garage rock two-piece The Kills have been compared to the White Stripes, but that’s a lazy “oh, look – a guy and a girl doing primitive rock!” comparison. For starters, The Kills cite New Yorkers LCD Soundsystem as an influence and have been known to throw out the odd ode to the Velvet Underground. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers fought the cigarette smoke to chat with the female half, Alison “VV” Mosshart.

Mosshart is flying around Europe to promote the new Kills album, Midnight Boom, which she says took her and Jamie Hince a year to record in Michigan. Along the way they ran out of money, ran away to Mexico and rediscovered the American Midwest.

“We wanted to do something really different and we wrote 40 songs for this record,” Mosshart drawls, in the same way French film starlets have of making you feel like you’ve caught them on the way to somewhere more important. “We just kept writing and writing and really pushing ourselves and that was really, really fun, but I think the nature of it is that half-way through you run out of money and it gets a bit complicated and stressful so we ran away to Mexico. We didn’t really think we had gotten any music and we had been working forever and we didn’t like any of it. I think it’s because we locked ourselves in a studio for so long we couldn’t tell what we were doing. We came back from Mexico, listened to it and really liked what we had done, so we finished it. It was the wrong time to go to Mexico anyways, it was hurricane season and nothing was open. Sandbags were everywhere and boarded up windows and it was a bit weird.

“We were still writing when we went to the studio. We were living in Michigan because the studio was really cheap and you could live there, work there, record 24 hours a day and do whatever you want really which was perfect for us. There was little pressure at all and there is no time schedule and it wasn’t financially burdening like a studio in LA would be and we ran out of money, but we kept going anyway. It wasn’t the smartest thing, but you have to finish your record.”

Alison says that writing this record was like a return to when she and Hince first started working together, embodying that same sense of discovery.

“Writing this record was like starting the band again and we just wrote and wrote and wrote until we hit on something we thought was different, that was exciting to us and then we’d record it or make note of it and just keep working. We have different ways of working all the time. Sometimes I just sit in one little room and through the window I can see Jamie and he’ll be writing drum beats. And I’ll just play the acoustic guitar and sing into a cassette four-track forever, drinking a lot of coffee and typing on the typewriter just seeing what happens.

“The biggest emphasis when we were writing this was to try to do something different rhythmically because we’ve always used a drum machine. We wanted to really utilize the drum machine and really try sampling things and putting together things that aren’t just a loop. Normally we would buy an old junky drum machine and just press a button and just use that loop and not mess with it too much. It was really fun for him to experiment with the drums because we had never really done that. And when everything got more rhythm oriented, so did the way we were singing and so did the way that Jamie was playing and it got quite interesting working in that way.”

Much of Mosshart’s family is from Detroit originally, and she says it has always felt like home.

“The Midwest is an amazing place, it’s very working class, everyone is a car mechanic,” she says. “I think lots of really great bands have come from the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing to do so they just play music all the time and get better than everyone else. We made art the whole time, we wrote and did a lot of creative writing and watched documentaries, played with the dogs, and ran around in the snow. We went through every season and I really love it there. The town was basically destroyed after the Detroit riots so long ago and there’s just no one there. The studio is right in the middle of Main Street, which is this big street that used to have three opera houses and a movie theatre which has been closed down forever. On one side of the street there’s a mental institution and on the other side of the street there’s a prison and the studio is right in the middle.”

WHO: The Kills
WHAT: Midnight Boom through Domino/EMI
WHEN: Out now