Trans-continental garage rockers the Kills play Neumos tonight, along with the Horrors and Magic Wands (show info here), and today Stranger contributor Dagmar Sieglinde files this interview with the band's Jamie Hince (pictured, right):
Was your family supportive of you when you were a kid and teenager getting into music?
Jamie Hince: My parents were quite formal. I think they thought it was a phase. At that point it was a pretty sketchy career to go into. Nowadays it’s quite a legitimate job, I think. They were concerned and I think they would have been much happier if I’d taken an easier route, something academic. But they’ve always been supportive.
Did you get to see a lot of shows when you were younger?
Not really. There wasn’t any band that passed anywhere near where we lived. We were out in the middle of nowhere really. I’d kind of develop a fascination with a band. It was like another world because I couldn’t get to see bands. There was so much mystery, mythology and iconography about all bands. Most of the bands I got into I didn’t hear about them until they’d already broken up. It was always this kind of incredible chalice for me. The minute I left home I went in search of that mystery. It wasn’t something I took for granted at all. It was incredible if I got to see band. The first time I went to a show I was absolutely blown away. I didn’t go to my first show until I was 14 or 15 and that was it for me. Without my parents noticing I went on the train, pretending I was going out with friends in the village, and I went to London to see the Fall.
Was that the first type of music you bought, the Fall?
That was the kind of music I was into. My sister is a couple years older than me so it was from her friends coming round playing all this modern music and northern soul. I started listening to punk music. One of my sister’s friends stopped being a punk and gave me all her records. I used to hitchhike into the nearest town and I’d go to the record shop, look through the records and I used to buy records on the strength of the record sleeves. I think that visual element was important to me because that was how I came across music, by the look of the records.
Do you still go to shows?
Yeah, but it’s hard when you’re on tour. We’re on tour with two of my favorite bands, Magic Wands and the Horrors so I get to see them every night. We had a day off yesterday and I went to see Mogwai.
More after the jump
I was reading Alison and you are working on a photography book?
Kind of. We were approached a long time ago about doing an art book because we do so much sketching and writing while we’re on the road. Quite a while ago we were approached by a French publisher but the time wasn’t really right then. It’s always been something that keeps cropping up. We’ve done an exhibition of photographs and we’ve had our friend Kenneth Cappella on the road taking photographs for three years of us so hopefully we’re going to put it together at some point. There’s no concrete time or anything like that.
What kind of books are your favorites?
I’ve got a few favorite books. Tin Drum by Gunther Grass. Last Exit to Brooklyn. Crime and Punishment. At the moment I’m reading this really good correspondence of Marcel Duchamp’s. It’s amazing because you get this great sense of the art world exploding at the beginning of the 20th century and the war starting . . . it’s all letters to his sister and his brother and other artists.
What about films?
There’s one that I was talking about the other day — do you know that movie called Grey Gardens? It’s a documentary, I think it’s from the early 80s or the 70s about a woman in her 50s and her mother. They live in this huge house in the Hamptons or somewhere like that. They’re just the weirdest, quirkiest characters. It’s this incredible relationship between a mother and daughter and in some ways they’ve imprisoned each other by their dependency on each other.
You graduated from Goldsmiths [University of London], what did you study there?
I did playwriting.
Do you still write?
I’m becoming more and more addicted to it. It’s a long time away from it but I’m starting, in my head, putting things together. I’d love to do something like that again.
Was it fun to do the video for "Last Day of Magic"?
Yeah, it took a bit of getting into because there was always a crowd of people watching us. We really got into it. We went back to the hotel and there was this beautiful marble floor in the corridors and we were like, let’s do a bit more here. Alison was dragging me by the hair across this marble floor, whacking each other around. I went for a coffee the next day in the lobby and five security guards came up with the manager — they’d caught it all on CCTV and they were really, really angry. I think they thought we were making a snuff movie.
I read you’re interested in using a marching band in your music?
I’m massively interested in rhythm so I’m always looking at things like that. When I was in Brooklyn I saw this amazing drum line, not playing marching music, they were playing all sorts of music with this style.
You’re on the road a lot but are you able to have any pets at home?
We’ve got quite a few cats. We’ve got one cat that’s constantly having kittens — we kind of got overwhelmed. We had about seven cats at one point. Lots of friends were taking them.
Do you remember what the first show you did as the Kills was like?
We weren’t called the Kills — at the time it was just Vv and Hotel. It was Valentine’s Day 2002 in a tiny little club in Soho in London. It had a really weird set up where there was a balcony. The top half of your body was playing to the balcony and the bottom half of your body was playing for the ground floor. The first show we played as the Kills was at this place called Cherry Jam in West London, which was another one of my favorite shows.
What’s the story behind the nickname Hotel?
At the time I was squatting in an apartment in London and we didn’t have any money or jobs. We got drunk one day and named each other off the top of our heads as a stupid romantic ode to the pop art scene, where they had all these fantastic names like Paul America. I named Alison with a sound, Vv. And she came up with Hotel because at that point my apartment was like a hotel for bands.
What about the name the Kills?
We spent a whole day just sitting opposite each other with typewriters where I’d write a name and then she’d write something. We had about seven sheets of paper with all these different spontaneous word association names. The Kills was just the last thing that was typed and I showed it to her, we put the typewriters down and that’s what we called ourselves. We didn’t want a flashy name. At that time I was really interested in making a record with loads of mystery around it. I didn’t want people to know whether the band was from the 60s or the 70s or a modern band. I didn’t want people to know who was in the band. I wanted it to be really mysterious, like someone had found these old tapes. The Kills sounded like a band that could exist in any decade. It could have been a 50s rockabilly band or a 60s psych band . . .
What’s your favorite item of clothing?
Onstage I wear this black waistcoat with brass buttons, it’s got NYC on each button. It’s got medals and military things all over it. In general I’m a footwear fan. I buy loads of boots and when I find a pair of boots that I like, I pretty much live and sleep in them.
What’s your favorite drink?
Red wine, a good red wine. Cotes du Rhone. Nonalcohic it would be a cup of tea.
When did you decide to become a vegan?
When I was about 19. I was vegan for 15 years or more and then I started eating fish just from being on tour all the time. Being in Japan it just seemed like a really good diet. I don’t eat dairy or red meat.