The Kills are an Anglo-American post-punk indie rock band formed by American vocalist Alison "VV" Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie "Hotel" Hince.
CareerMosshart was previously in Floridian punk rock band Discount, and Hince was in the British rock bands Scarfo and Blyth Power, the latter an anarcho-punk band. The duo first met when Mosshart heard Hince practicing in the hotel room above hers, and when the former groups disbanded they struck up a songwriting partnership. For months, the pair air mailed work tapes across the Atlantic; this proved to test the patience of both artists as it took days or weeks to get each others tapes, so Mosshart upped sticks from her Florida home and flew to London.
Wanting to cut themselves off from their pasts, Mosshart and Hince considered their new project to be Year Zero in their careers. They renamed themselves VV and Hotel respectively and began writing sparse, minimalist songs together with the aid of a drum machine. In 2001 they showcased their new songs on a well received demo tape. In true punk rock fashion, however, the pair shunned approaches from major record labels. Recording as VV and Hotel, they contributed the song "Restaurant Blouse" to the compilation If the Twenty-First Century Did Not Exist, It Would Be Necessary to Invent It. Shortly after this they recorded their debut release, the Black Rooster EP, which saw release on British indie label Domino Records and was picked up for distribution by Dim Mak Records in the United States.
The record could not have been more of a departure from both artists' previous bands. It was lo-fi in both musical and aesthetic terms. The record sleeve featured photos of Mosshart and Hince taken in a photo booth rather than professional photography. Musically, the record was a sparse, lo-fi Garage rock/Blues hybrid. Though the band cites PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem and Royal Trux as immediate influences, the music press has largely compared them to the other boy/girl minimalist garage blues duo The White Stripes.
Following international touring, they entered Toe Rag Studios, where the White Stripes had recorded their album Elephant, to record their debut album Keep on Your Mean Side, mostly on 8-track, in just 2 weeks. Distributed in the US and UK by Rough Trade Records, the album was similar in style to the EP, veering from the Velvets-esque stomp of "Wait" to the noisy, dirty garage punk blues of "Fuck the People" (this song is rumoured to be a reference/homage to the French convicted criminal Florence Rey) and dark psychedelia of "Kissy Kissy". The record was well received by the music press, though the White Stripes comparisons would not go away.
Maintaining an anti-careerist, anti-music industry attitude, the band rarely granted interviews. Rather, they got the music press to come to them with their minimalist yet powerful live shows (which also included the drum machine), the pair maintaining an air of tension by subverting the expected role of stage performer. Mosshart chain-smoked while singing, rarely speaking to the audience, whilst Hince violently ripped blues riffs from his instrument. At a New York City show following the ban on public smoking, Mosshart went on stage with three bottles of water, lit up a cigarette and proceeded to smoke constantly from the first song to the last note of the set.
Their second album, No Wow, was released by Domino Records on 21 February 2005. Featuring an artier, less guitar rock sound, the record embraced post punk influences and sounded even more stripped down than Keep on Your Mean Side. Originally written to be performed on a Moog, the band was forced to change directions and record it primarily using a guitar as its central instrument after Hince's Moog broke and couldn't be repaired before entering the studio. A 40-minute DVD documentary was included with a limited number of copies and features interview, performance and on the road footage shot on tour.
The first single, "The Good Ones", from No Wow, was released on 7 February, 2005 and reached number 23 in the UK singles charts.
Mosshart features in the title track of Placebo's latest album Meds, released on 13 March, 2006 in the UK, and on 4 April, 2006 in the US. She also features on the Primal Scream album Riot City Blues.
In 2006 "Wait" from the album Keep on Your Mean Side was used in Children of Men, the film by Alfonso Cuarón. It is played on Radio Avalon and described as "a blast from the past all the way back to 2003, that beautiful time when people refused to accept the future is just around the corner".
In 2007 the show Criminal Minds used the songs "Cat Claw" and "Wait" from the album 'Keep On Your Mean Side' in the episode "Doubt".
On November 2, 2007, the band announced on their news blog that their third album was finished. The first single was called "U R A Fever", and was premiered by Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 1 on November the 19th. On December 10, 2007, The Kills were interviewed on a New York radio station where it was revealed that the new album will be titled Midnight Boom. Two song titles were also revealed: 'Alphabet Pony', a dark surreal song inspired by playground clapping games and songs, and 'Last Day Of Magic', a song written by Jamie Hince about heartache and loneliness, with references to the Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.
Following a cover-story interview in Nylon magazine, the new album was released March 10, 2008 (March 18 in US), and The Kills embarked on a supporting US tour. There is also a new UK tour for April, set to begin in Edinburgh on April 15 with These New Puritans.
EPs and singles
- Black Rooster EP (Domino, 2002)
- Fried My Little Brains (Domino, 2003)
- Fuck The People ("limited 7") (Domino, 2003)
- Pull a U (Domino, 2003)
- The Good Ones (Domino, 2005) UK #23
- Love Is a Deserter (Domino, 2005) UK #44
- No Wow (Domino, 2006) UK #53
- URA Fever (Domino, 2008)
- Cheap And Cheerful (Domino, 2008)
- Last Day Of Magic (Domino, 2008)
- "Restaurant Blouse" (on If the Twenty-First Century Did Not Exist It Would Be Necessary to Invent It compilation, 5 Rue Christine 2002)
- "I Call It Art" (on Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited -tribute album-, Barclay 2005)
- "Meds" (Placebo (band) feat Alisson Mosshart, on Meds, 2006)
- "Rodeo Town" (Jesse Malin on "On Your Sleeve", 2008)
- "I'm Set Free" (Written by Lou Reed, Performed by The Kills. Featured in the movie Free Jimmy, 2006)
- "I Hate the Way You Love" (February 2005, directed by Morgan Lebus, documentary film included on the initial limited edition of the No Wow album) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482225/ http://www.truckstopmedia.com/news/kills_news.html
- "Wait" (November 2002, directed by The Kills & Craig Nicholls)
- "Fried My Little Brains" (2003, directed by Grant Gee)
- "Cat Claw" (live, 2003, directed by Vanessa Moss)
- "Superstition" (2003, directed by Pete Mellor & Matt Huntley, spec)
- "Kissy Kissy" (February 2005, directed by Morgan Lebus, taken from "I Hate the Way You Love")
- "The Good Ones" (February 2005, directed by Rojo)
- "Love Is A Deserter" (April 2005, directed by Mark Davis) http://www.retro-juice.com/promos/mark-davis/the-kills-love-is-a-deserter.php
- "No Wow" (September 2005, directed by Kenneth Cappello)
- "No Wow" (October 2005, directed by United Visual Artists, produced for The Kills' live performance at "Fashion Rocks") http://www.uva.co.uk/index.php/archives/22
- "U.R.A. Fever" (December 2007, directed by Sophie Muller)
- "Cheap and Cheerful" (January 2008, directed by Sophie Muller)
- "Last Day of Magic" (May 2008, directed by Sophie Muller)
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