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Dreaming And Driving With The Kills

Frontman Jamie Hince's thoughts on vampires, interpreting dreams, and shitting in the woods.

Photo by David Hall

The Kills—armed with whiskey, beat-up leather jackets, a menacing blues-punk aesthetic and an electrifying stage presence—are living proof that rock ‘n' roll rambles on. This September, the chain-smoking duo are set to release their photobook Dream & Drive, documenting nine years of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s grimy life on tour, with spurts of reckless intimacy in between.

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Before their headlining set at San Francisco’s Outside Lands, we sat down with Jamie and discussed vampires, dream interpretation, and shitting in the woods.

You recently contributed “Dreams” to the forthcoming Fleetwood Mac compilation album. What kind of dreams have you been having lately?
The best thing happened. I’ve got this dog named Archie, and I love him to death. He’s really like my little right-hand man. He talks to me in my dreams. He’s got this voice and we chat. So brilliant. I was having this dream where—it sounds a bit weird—I had something wrong with my health and I had to go back to my old college to get checked up on. In the waiting room there were these sort of shallow pools and loads of dogs everywhere. This muddy dog came up and wiped his grimy fur on me, so I picked him up and threw him in one of these deep pools. And then my dog Archie comes up, nudges me, and says “Don’t do that! He’s only little.” It was very strange.

Huh. Is this a recurring motif in your dreams?
No, not at all. My dog talking to me in my dreams, that happens quite often. Not drowning dogs.

Do you think dream interpretation is pure bullshit, or is there something to be learned from the subconscious?
I don’t think it’s either. Trying to interpret your dreams will obviously not be accurate. But where do those things come from? Some part of your brain. It might be the part of your brain where madness grows, but it’s subconscious nonetheless. They’re real images, real thoughts. Interpreting them? That’s stupid. Like how they say if you dream your teeth fall out, you’re sexually frustrated? Nonsense.

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At least on a surface level, it seems that dreams play a pivotal role for The Kills—the contribution of “Dreams,” and the title of your forthcoming photobook, Dream & Drive.
When I look back at those photographs, there are some moments, like you remember playing at an amazing cathedral and it was life-changing. You look back at the photo and see that the stage is actually a 4x2 and a couple of nails. There’s a chewing-gum carpet and a rag hanging from the wall. It makes you realize that you have to live in this fantasy romance; it’s not facing the harsh reality of things that keeps you in a band. It’s living in a sort of dream, something more magical than reality. The word “dream”—it’s important in music. It’s what keeps you doing it.

Dream & Drive was shot over nine years. How did the project come together?
We accidentally met Kenneth on the streets of Paris. He knew a friend of ours. Kenneth’s not someone who has a normal life and a working life. He’s got his camera all the time. We just built a friendship with him and the camera is an extension of him. After a while, we realized we had all these pictures. It didn’t feel like we had found our photographer, we had just made a friend.

It’s rad how Dream & Drive exposes the candid reality of a band’s touring life—you can see sweat stains and blank expressions in these photographs. Not so glamorous.
It’s funny. I’ve been doing it long enough to where I know it’s not glamorous. The glamor comes from that one moment when you’re playing and, all of a sudden, you’re not looking at the same things. When I was growing up and going to see bands, I remember being wide-eyed and thinking, “This is the most incredible thing you could possibly do, they must be having the greatest life!” Realistically, that thought probably happened at a village hall with 150 people in it.

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From Dream & Drive

What concert was your “This is it” moment?
Actually, the first show I ever went to. Very good lineup. It was The Fall and The Damned at a little festival in London.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that “Future Starts Slow,” from your album Blood Pressures, was featured in two separate episodes of two separate dramas about vampires (True Blood, Vampire Diaries?)
I don’t know. I guess that was just a coincidence of that particular demographic. I didn’t really think about that. What do you think the reason is?

You make a killer soundtrack for vampire sex?
[Laughs] There’s a moment when you turn the TV on and it seems every teen show is about vampires. Jury’s out about what you should put your music on. I have a difficulty potentially putting our music to advertisements. But when it comes to popular youth mass culture shows, I think it’s brilliant. Like, when I was growing up, I wish there would have been shows that featured Sonic Youth.

Yeah, it definitely creates defining moments for young people.
Definitely. All those mediums are just tumbling over themselves. It’s not like ten years ago, where you chose music to put to a show carefully. People are more indifferent about it now, and there’s just so many mediums. Music, film, photography. It’s all becoming a big mass. That’s just how people decipher things these days.

It’s true. What do you think is the greatest obstacle standing in between the future of music?
People expect music now. They don’t expect to go out and find it, or have it hit them in the face like a fucking truck. The way we perceive music is much different now; there’s not that much effort applied. Convenience makes people fat and stupid, so there’s also a danger that music is going to become homogenized.

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Let’s hope not. What are you listening to right now?
‘20s and ‘30s music, actually. Al Bowlly, some jazz and swing. I like visiting things I haven’t listened to that much in the past. Also, a band called Zulu—one of the most exciting bands in London right now.

Photo by Trixie Textor

How does playing at festivals compare to venue shows?
I used to say I much preferred playing intimate gigs, hands down. But I don’t feel that way so much anymore. There’s a mistake where people think playing a small show is more intimate. In reality, when you play at a festival, the audience demands you be intimate with them. There’s so much more interaction with the crowd at a festival, and somehow, they breed this kind of behavior.

What would be the scariest thing to encounter in these fog-covered woods?
Definitely a torturer or a murderer. But this is a festival, so realistically, the scariest thing you’re going to find in these woods will be stepping in someone’s shits or something.

What’s always stocked in the tour bus’s liquor cabinet?
A bottle of Margot, my favorite red wine.

Classy choice. Have you been to the massive wine-tasting tent at this festival yet?
No. Wine-tasting tent? I’m there.

@lightsoutpm