"Being in a band and going on tour and doing that for years and years is a certain way of life."
It's 6.30pm on Friday evening in New York when The Dead Weather and The Kills' Alison Mosshart picks up the phone. She's just come out of the studio — Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village, to be exact — where she's been recording The Kills' latest record with bandmate Jamie Hince. Mosshart says she's really excited about the new record, a follow-up to 2011's Blood Pressures: it's "mostly done at this point", and " should be out some point around next year".
"The thing that's beautiful is if I walk into a room with Jamie, I understand him, I've been working with him for 15 years," says Mosshart. "I understand what that band is, I understand what our goals are, I understand what we're looking for. Being with him, being around him, and playing music with him, it immediately becomes our thing that I cherish.
"If I walk into a room with The Dead Weather it's something else entirely: it's a different way of working, there's three other different personalities there, and so you immediately start to write differently because the music's different, the message is different. That's what's so exciting for me, I wouldn't be in two bands just for my own health, it's a lot to do, but it's so exciting because creatively it's so completely different. They've both leant themselves to being incredibly challenging in opposing ways, and I think that's why I love doing both so much."
"We get to do what we want and when we want to do it. It's all about the inspiration."
We're speaking a week after Dodge And Burn, the latest effort from Mosshart's other project The Dead Weather, dropped, and about two years since the group, made up of Jack White, Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age) and Mosshart, first went into the studio to record.
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"It's kind of a magic trick where we're all in town at the same time and we'll go into the studio and we'll write something together," says Mosshart. "It's very rare, even though we all live in Nashville — I don't live there all of the time, I'm only there kind of half the time which doesn't really amount to much because I'm nowhere for very long — but when we're all home at once, and everybody's off tour, and nobody's travelling anywhere, we'll go into the studio.
"It's an incredibly fast process, where we all sit in a room together, we all have our instruments, and we all write at the same time, and we all feed off each other very well, there's a natural thing there that is almost indescribable: the speed at which we work and how easy it is to come up with songs because we write them and record them on the spot at the same time. It's really insanely fun. It's not incredibly pressurised. We get to do what we want and when we want to do it. It's all about the inspiration. If it's there then we do it, and if it's not we don't."
Mosshart has recently made moves on the art world, appearing in exhibitions across the US, and holding a solo show of her own, Fire Power, in New York.
"It was a strange feeling the first time somebody wanted to buy something, for sure, only because I wouldn't have it anymore... I just thought how strange would it be that I made this somewhere and I have the memory attached to it. In a way all of these paintings are like diary entries: everywhere I paint and I look at the paintings and I remember where I was and why I did them. For me, letting go of them was a strange idea. But then I realised that honestly I have thousands and thousands and I have nowhere for them. It's just humbling and beautiful to think that someone wants to actually look at that every single day. They want it in their house, or they want it in their bar, they want it somewhere they can see it. It's a better place for it than in a box on my floor, clearly."
Mosshart says the feeling of having her art hanging up in somebody else's home is very different to the feeling of having her record played in that same home.
"A record is made to be multiplied, a painting is just one thing, you know, it's one thing, there's not another one like that, it's like a moment in time that can't be repeated. With a record it's pressed thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of times, essentially a copy of that thing that you did one time. I think it's incredible that people are listening to my record, especially in their cars — that's my favourite place to listen to records — but I don't feel that same way around letting something go."
Mosshart says that for some people music as a career "doesn't stick", but if you're passionate enough you might be one of the people that end up playing music forever.
"If you really want to do something then you should do it. There's really no one to stop you if you want to do it badly enough. I did not run into a single person in my life who tried to stop me, or if they have, I was thick-skinned enough to not even notice. Being in a band and going on tour and doing that for years and years is a certain way of life, I don't know how to describe it any other way, but it certainly isn't what everybody else's life is probably like. But if you love it so much, you really can't do anything else. If you want to do it every day, it's got to be something that's incredibly exciting and that you cherish, and I think the right people wind up doing this forever."