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The Dead Weather

The Dead Weather

Monday 9th August, 2010 12:12PM

Alison Mosshart, the vehement frontwoman of both The Kills and The Dead Weather chats to UTR about balancing two bands, not having a life and working with the genius that is Jack White.

So, from the beginning: how did you guys meet and decide you wanted to try The Dead Weather out?

Well there was actually zero plan for this whatsoever. The Raconteurs and The Kills toured together at the end of 2008 and on the last day of the tour I ended up going back to Nashville with The Raconteurs, and Jack and I and LJ and Dead decided we wanted to go into the studio and do a 7Ē. And so we went into the studio to do that but instead of writing a song or two we wrote four songs and then I left - I was only there for 24 hours, I had to leave and go back on tour with The Kills Ė and in the new year of 2009 Jack (White) called and said you know I think this stuffís really good I think we should try and finish it. So he got me a ticket and I got on a plane the next day and went back to Nashville thinking I was gonna be there for a week, and then I stayed for three weeks and we wrote a whole record and suddenly we had a record and we had a band and suddenly it just got completely out of control. I never saw this coming

So it was an intrinsic musical relationship from the beginning?

Yeah, I think thatís what was special about it. It just clicked together without much effort and wasnít in any way a forced situation Ė there was no reason why any of us needed to be in another band Ė I think that was what was beautiful about it and we were just really enjoying it and there were lots of ideas coming out and just really inspired I guess it was just a good time for all of us to make a record right then Ė we just really wanted to do it Ė without even talking about it. Thatís what made it so good and the thing with when we started playing shows, it just felt right you know, and I think the audience has felt that way and people who have bought the record have felt that way, like Ďwoah I donít know where this came from but this is coolí. Thereís not a day where we donít look at each other and think Ďwhat the hell this is nuts!í

Thereís a definite overall aesthetic to the album Ė this Southern swampiness Ė was this purposeful?

We had no plans or conversation about this Ė we didnít even know what we were gonna do. Jack sat down at the drums and I looked at him like Ďyouíre crazy whatíre you doing Ď and everyone just took their places and played. There was no conversation about what it was gonna sound like. I guess that might have been kind of like the mood of the time Ė who knows. We were all on the same page we didnít know we were on, and good things come out of that you know. We were a group of people at the right time. Those three boys could not be more lovely if they tried to be and itís such a pleasure to do this.

So you donít feel like the odd one out being the only female?

Yeah you know what I hardly know any girls and that just always seems to be the way. My first band I was the only girl in a band of four and then itís Jamie and me Ė heís kinda like a girl haha Ė and then you know this. I guess itís so normal to me I donít even think about it itís just not an issue. I get on really well with boys and I play just as rough as they do so itís sweet.

Going from the kills to the Dead Weather Ė what were the immediate musical and creative differences?

The way itís played like with a full band on-stage - to look round and see all these people Ė I was like what the hell Iím used to one other person on stage! Also the kind of free-ness that it involves. Because Jamie and I donít have drums and we have a drum machine - itís basically a recorded track - so itís like youíre walking a tight wire the entire time. If you fuck up you have to start the song - you canít patch up - you canít do anything like that. You canít change your mind in the middle of a song and go off on a tangent. For that reason alone I havenít played in a band that can go into any other song Ė stop a song in the middle and start something else. Itís a completely different experience on stage because I never know whatís going to happen Ė in the kills the anxiety comes from the tension that youíre walking the tightrope and in the dead weather the anxiety and the tension comes from I donít know what the fuck is going to happen next. You know I love them both equally and itís really strange that I get to do them both and theyíre both so different.

That must be the nice thing about The Dead Weather: that things are always unique?

Definitely because we try to change it up, and if we get bored we write a song or do a cover and we can do that so easily because weíre not having to program drums for two days. I really appreciate both things because both are as hard as each other. Itís nice to be able to go off on a tangent though I havenít been able to do that in ten years so maybe I needed that. Youíre working with such prolific musicians in The Dead Weather Ė you must have learnt so much? I feel like Iíve learnt so much because the situationís been so different for me. Iíve learnt more about bands, Iíve learnt more about other instruments, Iíve learnt more about song structure and ways of working and ways of producing and all sorts of things. Hanging out with Jack is insane you learn 25 things you never knew every single day Ďcause heís just inventing shit all the time so it was just a really fantastic environment to be in.

It sounds pretty surreal!

I look at them every single day with the most amazing look on my face Ė he is possibly a genius and heís got a brain like no-one else Iíve ever met. I really appreciate and admire him and itís so exciting to work with him, it really is.

How are you managing to balance all these projects?

I donít know yet, weíll see you know if I loose my mind before too long. At the moment itís fine because The Kills toured for a year-and-a-half and we were done. So it was fine to go with The Dead Weather but we were supposed to be recording The Kills new album and it go a little way-layed but now weíre doing that. I just finished the second Dead Weather record and jumped on a plane to come back here and work on The Kills record and itís back and forth like a yo yo and itís this crazy scheduling nightmare!

The same for everyone else thatís in The Dead Weather too, I guess?

Oh yeah, Jackís doing 95 things right now! Like today and every single day. A million different bands doing a million different projects so I always think about him and if he can do it I can do it. But it takes a really strong constitution you forfeit sleep you forfeit personal life you forfeit pretty much everything and you just do this. Iím up for it for a while and weíll see how it goes but I donít want anything to suffer at the same time.

It must make the time that you have with The Dead Weather Ė because youíre all in the same boat Ė relatively precious?

It is totally because we canít tour like weíd like to tour we canít do all the things we want to do weíve picked our battles and theyíve all been really really fun. You know itís really nice getting to know those guys Ė itís like a new family and itís really great to tour with them and thereís no chance of burning out or getting bored or anything or hating the songs Ė you donít have enough time to which is always really exciting.

That sounds like the summation Ė itís all happened really quickly and itís always exciting?

Yeah for sure, but I think thatís almost a better way of doing things. Because you know touring for a year-and-a-half straight and going to the same place six times on one record is an absolute waste of time and itís kind of like Iíve done that with so many records Iíve toured and toured and toured Ė done all the work for all the record labels by just showing up you know Ė but it seems a lot more powerful to go somewhere everyone and knows youíre gonna be there and just make it an event and then just leave. Giving your all everywhere rather than spreading yourself so thin that you donít even know what youíre doing. I feel like Iíve learnt a lot this year doing that because everythingís been like all of your hearts in it. More is not necessarily better.

Courtney Sanders


Undertheradar is proud to present The Dead Weather live in NZ for the first time, for one show only next month Ė donít miss this one!

Wednesday 17th March - Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland

Click here to get tickets.

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