Talking new music and New York moments with Alison Mosshart
The Kills’ frontwoman talks to Jack James Busa about her band’s latest album, living in the Chelsea Hotel, and her favorite New York hangouts.
With blacked-out shades, disheveled platinum locks, and ubiquitous leather jacket Alison Mosshart croons, “Down here on the Bowery, the city’s got me feeling high,” in The Kills’ hypnotizing single “New York” from their LP, God Games.
I first met Mosshart in February of 2023 when we shared the DJ booth for The Mulberry’s star-studded opening. An understandable jolt of nerves coursed through me—after all, she is the fiery frontwoman of bands I’ve idolized for years, a veritable fashion icon, and quite possibly the reigning queen of 21st-century alternative rock.
However, any trepidation melted away upon meeting her. Eclipsing her larger-than-life stage persona, Mosshart exuded a genuine warmth, down-to-earth charm, and palpable kindness that immediately put me at ease.
Fast-forward to the first week of 2024, I am joined by Mosshart who shares her wellspring of inspiration, cherished New York haunts, and what keeps her in the head in the game.
Where are you from?
Alison Mosshart: I was born in Vero Beach, Florida.
What music was playing in your house growing up?
AM: Whatever cassette tapes my dad found in the used cars he was buying and selling. A real mixed bag!
What music is playing in your house currently?
AM: Neil Young’s new record Before and After, and Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert.
Who or what has inspired you recently?
AM: The new Jim Goldberg photography book, and books. I read a lot of books. Check out What You Have Heard is True by Carolyn Forche, and Don’t Call Me Home by Alexandra Auder.
I work in New York nightlife and it makes me happy to hear so many 20-something party-goers citing you as a fashion inspiration. Who or what inspires you aesthetically?
AM: I like individual style. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. People who represent themselves to the nines.
Frank Zappa once said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” That said, forgive me in advance for the cringe-ness of it all, but what would you like to say about The Kills’ new album, God Games?
AM: I would say it’s a wonderful album! I’m very proud of it. I feel strongly that we did good work and that its vibe is very alive and soulful.
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Why did you title your album God Games?
AM: We took the title from the song of the same name on the record. It seemed fitting, the can of worms aspect of those two little words put together.
You’ve been making music professionally for over 20 years and have accomplished so much; what keeps you motivated to make and release new music?
AM: A love for it. We are passionate about music and love making it. I think that’s all you need to wake up in the morning and fire up the engines. Nothing makes me happier than creatively combusting.
How does this album sonically differ from previous albums?
AM: Well, we hope it’s sonically more fantastic. We’re always trying to record better, get better sounds, play with different sonics, different textures. And we’re always trying to be better songwriters and lyricists. I hope we have achieved that. Until next time!
What is your favorite attribute of your Kills’ counterpart, Jamie Hence?
AM: His wild fucking imagination and sense of humor and his totally lawless guitar style.
When you think of New York, are there any particular emotions or memories that immediately come to mind?
AM: I think of the beginning of the band. Going to New York really early on and living in the Chelsea Hotel. For me, it’s one of my fondest memories, those years, W 23rd St, banging away on a typewriter and an acoustic guitar in my room there, us photographing and filming everything manically like at any moment it could all vanish. We were so inspired and so excited and so awake.
Is there a song or album you consider your soundtrack to New York?
AM: Our record No Wow, of which most of it was written there and it was recorded there at Sear Sound. I always think of New York when I hear those songs.
What are your favorite hangouts in New York?
AM: Goodness, so many are gone now, but I am happy the Chelsea Hotel is open again, just so I can walk back in and smell those old paintings. It’s a full-body full-memory visceral experience for me. Makes me happy. These days I love the Mulberry Bar, and I love sitting at Raoul’s. Every free moment I have I like to go to Real Pilates in Tribeca. It’s one of the best studios I’ve ever been in. I dig stopping by to visit Electric Lady and I love ice skating in the park. I love the Comedy Cellar and going to all the galleries in Chelsea. I just love walking. Walking and walking and walking aimlessly all day long.
You and I DJ’d together at The Mulberry and from that evening shared a visual billboard at TSX in Times Square; besides me (obvvviously), who dead or alive would you find the most hilarious person to share a billboard with in Times Square?
AM: I’d like to share a billboard with my niece Goldy. She’s seven and her humor slays.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
AM: Muscle cars.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Favorite curse word?
What other profession would you like to try?
AM: Race Car Driver.
What profession would you not like to try?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive the pearly gates?
AM: Here’s the keys to your car.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
AM: Speeding Tickets, 1978-20??
The Kills play Webster Hall in New York on the 26th and 27th of February. You can purchase tickets—here.