Alison Mosshart Talks The Kills, Margaritas and Making Music

The Kills return with a new studio album God Games; their first in seven years, and one that points to life’s bigger philosophical questions, knowing full well they’ll never find the answer.

Fronted by Alison Mosshart and band mate Jamie Hince, the American-English duo prove they’ve still got the creative chemistry required to hit the artistic jackpot once again.

These days, Mosshart splits her time between LA and Nashville. She spoke to The Write Drop about making the new album, her love of margaritas and why painting and fashion rate highly in her creative process.

The Kills, which formed back in 2000, started writing God Games after coming off tour at the end of 2019; and then of course, the pandemic happened.

That time didn’t allow for much creative flow; Mosshart admitting she was consumed by the news, called her mother multiple times a week to check-in, and needed time to take in the shift that has seen her band suddenly unable to tour and record music.

It was during this time Mosshart found comfort driving on long stretches of highway between Nashville and Los Angeles. The alone time allowed her to think about music, life and her connection to it all.

“The past few years has been a period of figuring out what it all means and doesn’t mean for those of us who make music and art,” says Alison Mosshart.

“Jamie and I started this record when it felt time. For us it’s usually a happy accident, something that falls out of the sky and kick starts a process where you get obsessed with writing and can’t stop,” she adds.

“The 58 seconds of music you hear at the beginning of Bullet Sound was the first music Jamie sent me. I wrote lyrics over it. That was the beginning, a feeling and sound and something that interested us and sounded different to us. It spurred on this stream of writing,” says Mosshart.

And then Jamie suggested she buy a keyboard and start writing on it; swapping her usual go-to guitar for something different.

“It developed my writing a different way as I wasn’t locked into a rhythm of a guitar. Melodies were coming to me and I found it great creative leap, almost every song you hear on the new record was written on that $100 keyboard,” says Mosshart.

God Games was recorded in an old church with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Paul McCartney), who first worked with the band back in 2002. The Compton Kidz Club Choir features on two of the tracks – LA Hex and My Girls My Girls.

“Driving between LA and Nashville gave me a lot of time to self-reflect and get philosophical about why it is that we are even here,” says Mosshart.

The 44-year-old singer also likes to paint and made her solo show debut at NYC’s Joseph Cross Gallery in 2015. Titled Fire Power, it featured her paintings, tapestries and mixed media works.

On our Zoom call, Mosshart points to an artwork hanging behind her. It is one she couldn’t part with from her solo show on a canvas her brother helped her stretch. It features a tyre track print which saw her use a remote-control monster truck to ride over the work until the batteries died.

“I started making art as a child,” says Mosshart.

“My Mum was a high school art teacher and always sat me somewhere to paint and draw and I immediately loved it. Art is so personal to me and excites me. I paint when I make music, I go back and forth between the two. They go hand in hand for me.”

Reflecting on her two-decade career, Mosshart is grateful she’s able to do what she loves every day.

“I feel like I always get out of music what I want. It’s the most fun and full of adrenalin I ever feel,” she says. “There is nothing else I want to do. I am driven to it and the beautiful thing that comes back is the way music moves other people. It’s the time I get with others when I am on stage and that energy exchange It is a conversation with a lot of people and it brings you closer to them. Music changes people’s lives, it makes them happy. It’s a win-win situation,” she says.

So why title the album God Games given her agnostic position?

“I love the title because it means hey, we have a fucked-up situation. You can apply that to anything in your life. If you want to get philosophical, the record is full of questions and you’re never going to get to know the answer. We are put her on earth to work things out and I don’t really want to work it out is what I’m saying,” she adds.

If anything, Mosshart says she has leaned into a more honest version of songwriting than ever before.

“In the past when we first started as a band, I was playing a specific character or hiding behind certain things that I thought were cool,” she explains.

“When you’re a young artist, you have a gang mentality, and you want to associate with certain things and you write in a certain way. As I have gotten older, I don’t consider these things anymore. It is truly just me. I don’t know if people can tell the difference necessarily, but it’s a shift that happened in me,” says Mosshart.

And her relationship with Hince is stronger than ever.

“It’s been a joy and an adventure since the beginning with Jamie. I can’t believe it’s been 20 plus years. I see pics of Jamie and I in 2003, and it’s wild. We still have the same relationship and enthusiasm we have always had. The stakes are higher as we’re older, and we’re not living in a squat anymore. Life changes, but it feels all brand new all the time.”

https://www.thekills.tv

FAVOURITE DRINK

I love margaritas – not too sweet, no salt and on the rocks.

BAR

The new luxe bar I am loving is the Chelsea Hotel’s Lobby Bar in New York. I am in love with that building and lived there at the beginning of our career a lot – it was our second home. It’s been redone so beautifully, and now it’s a fancy place, but I don’t give a fuck because I just want to be there and they make a killer margarita just the way I like it.

https://hotelchelsea.com

DIVE BAR

I used to go to the Sportsman’s Grille in Nashville a lot. It’s a place I would go by myself and write four songs straight hours nursing one tequila and soda. It was a really great place and where I always landed.

https://sportsmansgrilletn.com

Los Angeles MUST DO

I love going to Mauro’s Café at Fred Segal. I have been going there for years and always stop for lunch. I love the vibes. You can dine inside or in the parking lot, and you might feel like shopping. It’s totally dangerous.

https://www.maurocafe.com

A ROCK N ROLL SHOP TO VISIT

My good friend runs a store called Savas – she makes gorgeous custom-made leather jackets, shirts and boots. She’s had her store in Nashville for 10 years, and just opened on Melrose in LA. I would love to do something with her down the track. I have a few paintings in her store for now, so we’re starting there. I would love to make shirts for gigs!

https://www.ateliersavas.com

FASHION FAVES

I still have an original pair of gold boots I used to play in – they’re wrapped in paper and in a box and still precious to me. But all the items that have stood the test of time are my leather jackets. They have so much history, love and individuality about them. They’ll go to my nieces one day. Creative Director Hedi Slimane gifted me many during his time at Saint Laurent.

GOD GAMES IS OUT OCTOBER 27.

 

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