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My First, My Last, My Everything

With The Kills

To celebrate the release of their new album Ash & Ice, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince dropped in to Rough Trade East to go through some records (and one book) that have helped shape the band and artists they are today.

PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me

Jamie Hince: Like with everything I’ve picked I could have chosen quite a few different ones but this is just representative of PJ Harvey’s output really. It was just such a massive part of starting The Kills for me. What really blew me away about it was that this record was done by Steve Albini. It starts off so so quiet and then it sort of gets turned up, and it’s just creeping in, and then BAM it comes in so loud. What an amazing start to a record. This and the 4-track demos, which include lots of the songs from this as it sort of accompanied it, they made me realise that music didn’t have to be like, overproduced or anything like that. It didn’t have to be commercial. I’d been into fucked up non-commercial music like anarcho-punk and all that, but this was something that was like really crossing over with absolutely no compromise. Phenomenal. Then she did that record Is This Desire? a little later on which was all completely electronic, and I just thought, well, it made me want to have drum machine and program things because it’s okay to just reinvent yourself every record. Just do something, it’s just having a voice, it doesn’t matter what style of music you’re doing. So she was a big part of that for me.

Captain Beefheart: Safe as Milk

Alison: One of the first songs Jamie and I ever covered was Dropout Boogie from this record. So I played this record into the ground and it’s still awesome. And all the other ones as well.

Jamie: He hated this album didn’t he? Because it was his “commercial” record. He felt like he had sold out and that he was just playing songs for the man. Some of it’s mind-blowing! That song; “I’m glad, so glad about the good times,” what a classic song. He just sort of threw it in, like: “here, take that.”

The Upsetters: Return of Django

Jamie: I’ve got two of these Upsetters records because Return of Django is a great record but this is just representative of Lee Scratch Perry for me. It could kind of be any record. He just is my absolute idol as a producer, a complete proper genius. There’s a lot of people who kind of try to affect genius by being crazy, or by pretending to be crazy: he was both. He was properly crazy and properly genius. I mean crazy as in completely unique. So prolific. Incredible production ideas. I just wanted to have Lee Scratch Perry in my pile because he means so much to me.

Fugazi - Instrument

Alison: This was my all time favourite band as a kid, and still is. If I were to say who my favourite band is and I can’t list anything they have ever done that I hate, and I listen to the records probably more than any other records; they win. I chose Instrument because I talked about all the other records so many times. But this film which the soundtrack is from I have watched way too many times and have gone through quite a lot of VHS tapes of it, then it came out on DVD. The film is incredible. Jem Cohen made it, he’s an incredible filmmaker who’s made so many short films and art films. He made this film about Fugazi which was like the cinema version of the bible when you were my age. You just wanted to watch it over and over again. It’s interviews, live performances, rehearsals, I don’t know. It’s incredible. So anyway this is the soundtrack for it. It’s super-interesting because there’s not tons of lyrics or singing on it, it’s just kind of sounds and bits of songs. There’s just so many good things on here. I highly recommend this record! And the film.

Crass: Penis Envy

Jamie Hince: Crass. Penis Envy. The Box set (laughs). I mean this is one of the first records I ever bought and it just absolutely did change my life. Not that particular record, but the whole anarcho-punk scene. I was trying to find a record called Let The Tribe Increase by The Mob because I could sing you every single lyric on that from start to finish, it’s my absolute favourite record. But this is kind of representative of it. Penis Envy. What’s fantastic about it is I put this on still sometimes, and it’s not that well recorded, and people go “What’s this? Is this Savages?” Because it just sounds so, so modern. I still quote so many things from it. Not necessarily seriously, because it’s a really highly-politicised record. But there’s things like I still say to Alison; “Where next Columbus?” Which is is a song title. One time I was in New York in this club and I was talking to this girl, she was young, maybe 24 or something, too young to be into Crass, and we got talking about music and we ended up talking about Flux of Pink Indians and Crass and she started singing, “I’ve got 54321…” and I joined in and we were both just singing it word-for-word. It’s that kind of music, once it gets under your skin you’re buying into more than just a record with music on it. It’s gang mentality. In the 80s they did this kind of spoof thing for a bridal magazine who wanted readers to send in a song about marriage and love, and Crass won the competition! The magazine put it on a flexidisc on the front cover not realising it was by Crass, and when you listen to it it’s actually really dark and disturbing.

Neil Young: Special Deluxe. A memoir of Life and Cars.

Alison: I just finished reading this special deluxe Neil Young book which I love because it’s all about cars and dogs, I freakin’ love this. It’s all stories told through all the cars he’s ever owned, including the cars his parents were driving. His memory for things is totally astounding. This kind of weaves in and out of Waging Heavy Peace so it’s a nice thing to read after you’ve read that too. I just had to bring that of there because if anyone hasn’t read it, they need to. I also chose Le Noise which is a Neil Young album that hardly anyone talks about. To me it just sounds so fucking cool. It’s awesome. This is great record to play in your car. It feels sad, dark and very sort of unhinged and electric and it’s very different from so many of his records. I just can’t stop liking the guy. His writing to me is equally as important as his music.

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Photography by Ashley Rommelrath

The Kills