The Kills kick off a U.S. tour tonight in San Diego, California. The jaunt, which wraps up with an appearance at Coachella on April 30th, finds the international art-punk duo supporting its second full-length album, No Wow.
Following heavy touring in 2003, Florida-bred, London-based frontwoman Allison “VV” Mosshart and British guitarist/studio whiz Jamie “Hotel” Hince debunked to an isolated part of Benton Harbor, Michigan, last spring to compose the effort after hearing about an infamous piece of recording equipment.
“We went there because it had this Flickinger mixing desk,” Mosshart says. “It was made for Sly Stone and it kind of ruined the lives of everyone that came in contact with it. Sly Stone ordered this desk and got the people that made it to come over and install it, and then he held them hostage with guns for a week. Basically everyone around the whole situation of the mixing desk had breakdowns and never worked again, and Flickinger went out of business.”
The two spent three weeks writing and recording on the desk, located at the Key Club, a warehouse-like studio owned by Bill Skibble and Jessica Ruffins. “It’s a big disused factory that these two people kind of rescued and rebuilt,” Mosshart says. “After the Detroit riots [of the Sixties] everybody just moved out and because it was a black town no one ever put any money back into it. “It was really perfect for us because there was no interruptions, no distractions. You have no outside influences, so your imagination just goes totally off the charts. You just dream up stuff.”
Though they had originally decided to write the songs on a Moog keyboard following the reverb heavy guitar sound of their self-titled debut, their desired instrument found itself stuck in repair when it came time to record. Instead, most of the tracks — including the PJ Harvey-esque title cut — came together again on six-strings, during short bursts of creativity.
“We tried to write keyboard parts on guitars and that really sort of changed the sound of it,” Mosshart says. “We tried to make them sound like machines and quite electronic. We totally operate on being volatile, moody and in weird circumstances, because that’s when we function the best.”