The Kills to play murderously good show at Beachland

Jon Dieringer

The Kills’ future is so bright that Alison Mosshart (left) has to wear shades.

Credit: Beth Rankin

One could be forgiven for mistaking The Kills and The Killers in name, but after the hearing the music, there’s no mistaking one for the other.

The Kills are a duo made up of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart, aka “Hotel” and “VV.” They play violent, moody garage blues with a pulsating electronic backbeat that is, suffice to say, more Suicide than Flock of Seagulls.

The pair met while Mosshart’s previous band was touring Europe. The two exchanged numbers and continued to keep in touch, sending tapes and artwork back in forth from Florida to London.

They’re currently on tour in support of their latest release, No Wow, an album that has gained more critical acclaim than their highly regarded debut Keep On Your Mean Side. They stop at the Beachland Ballroom April 5.

Sitting in a room at the Ryatt Hotel in downtown Minnesota, Hince took the time to talk to the Stater about the “chemistry” between the band, the recording process and the forgotten years of New York punk from which his band finds much of its sound.

Daily Kent Stater: I understand The Kills began when you and Alison sent tapes back and forth over the Atlantic. Did you ever plan to be playing live together?

James Hince: We never really planned for it to be a band. I think we just sort of thought that 4,000-mile gap seemed impossible to close. We’d write letters and send artwork and little films, and it was never really a way of trying to write music. It wasn’t until Alison called up and asked, ‘How would you feel about me moving to London in five days?’ that I started thinking differently about it. I always thought it was a really great connection, and I met someone who was living a parallel life. It wasn’t until that act of faith that my whole attitude changed.

What do you think accounts for that connection? You’re known for having great chemistry on stage, too.

I don’t know… the chemistry, part of it is really boring. Because we use a drum machine, there are never parts like choruses where the drumming rises and falls depending on the energy. With us, it’s more of a linear metronome, and you can never really afford the luxury of exploding. I guess because it’s a girl and boy everyone says it’s sexual tension… but it’s really the drum machine.

You had a lot of time to work on the material for your first album, but I understand the second one was done much faster than usual.

We knew we didn’t have the same amount of time as we did when we made the first record because it was pretty open ended, and we figured we’d need two months to do it.

I started being fascinated by how part of playing live is being really terrified and turning that terror into adrenaline. When you go into record, the instinct is to do the opposite, to have comfort and a widescreen TV and a Playstation and make it a relaxing thing. So I kind of wanted to turn it on its head, give it a little bit of fear factor, so we cut it down to a month. The place we chose was going to be really claustrophobic, and we wanted to turn that anxiety into a sort of urgent adrenaline while we were recording.

With “The Good Things,” you’ve been getting a lot of play on MTVu. Can you explain the concept of the video?

I kind of felt like with Keep On Your Mean Side we’d been mistaken for this celebration of the birth of rock or something, and I know what we’re doing is kind of deconstructed and primitive, but I always felt like our lineage was more from the birth of electronic music. I felt like we’d inherited the lineage of electronic music, bands like Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. We were also really blown away by those scenes where the creativity was really anarchic, with the beatnik scene and The Velvet Underground. It was just like creativity can be controlled that with No Wow that wasn’t there anymore. It made me really fascinated from that scene from CBGBs to Studio 54 where the time frame was so small.

So is it safe to say that the album title, No Wow, is a reference to those bygone times?

I’m really comfortable and proud of being inspired by the legend and the mystery of those scenes. It seems like society changing and groundbreaking scenes and the punk scenes in the late ’70s — these platforms for chaos, all that creativity — are gone. People were doing all sorts of things, and it was never just confined to a record, or confined to a tour. And I miss that.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Jon Dieringer at [email protected].