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Q&A with The Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart

The Dead Weather consists of Jack White (The White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), but don’t call them a supergroup.
Photo: David Swanson

Alison Mosshart has traveled the world with her bands The Kills and The Dead Weather, but the latter's post-Coachella concert Sunday at The Pearl will mark her first-ever performance in Las Vegas.

It's a notable moment for the feisty frontwoman, whose only current memory of the city is from childhood — around the time she was 10 years old, she recalls. Mosshart was driving through Vegas with her father on the way to less sinful vacation spots. "I distinctly remember not being allowed to get out of the car," she explains, laughing. "If I was any older, I would have jumped out."

Though Mosshart will not have much of a break in Vegas — The Dead Weather performs in Albuquerque, NM, two days after their Vegas gig — she is happy to be at least getting out of the vehicle. "I'll make some time," she says, vowing to see the city.


The Dead Weather
The Pearl at the Palms
April 18, 8 p.m., $30.

The Weekly caught up with Mosshart via phone from her home in London to chat about juggling two bands, the term "supergroup" and what she does in those elusive moments of downtime.

Sea of Cowards, the second album for Dead Weather in only a year, drops May 11. Is it surprising to you the progress the band has made in so little time?

The bigger shock was at the beginning, when we were in the studio planning to do a seven-inch and suddenly we wrote five songs in 15 hours. It was, like, "What are we doing to do with all of this?" and then I had to leave. A few months later, Jack calls me up and says, "Come back. Let's finish these songs." Then, somehow we had a band name. None of these things were thought about. All of it felt like it was something that was happening to us. Everything was so natural, so magical. None of us had time to do any of this, but when something's working, you don't kill it for that. The whole thing has been a surprise, but such a great one.

The next Kills album is also scheduled for release sometime over the summer. Is that still the case — or did The Dead Weather cause that to be pushed back at all?

It's not been pushed back. We've been on schedule. We're a little more than halfway done right now. Hopefully it comes out this summer. Sadly, it doesn't all depend on us. Record labels will always take their time with things. Generally we (the band) have our shit together. We'll see.

The Dead Weather is often referred to as a "supergroup" because it features musicians already known from previous bands (Jack White of The White Stripes, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs). What do you guys think of that term?

It's definitely not a term any musician would like. It's not part of our vocabulary. It's a journalist thing. I don't really like it, but I can't stop anybody from saying it, so it's pretty much a non-issue. We didn't plan to be in a band together. ... We're all growing up, touring, playing and doing all this music stuff for years in our bands, and you travel the world, play festivals and shows with friends that are in bands that you like. Obviously, at some point, you sit down and play music with them. It's more of a product of a musical community, not a super community. It's just the way things work.

How do the two bands differ for you?

Jamie (Hince, of the Kills) brings a certain thing out of me. So do Jack, LJ and Dean. The Dead Weather is a lot darker. I didn't think so until I went to the studio with The Kills and realized with certain subject matters that they were more Dead Weather than Kills.

Still, balancing the two must be difficult.

Difficult is not the right word. I'd say it's hectic. I've spent my whole life in airports. I don't come home but every two and a half months, which is pretty crazy. This never used to be the case. I guess that's the kind of compromise it takes, though.

What do you do on your days off?

Well, I'm in my downtime now, and I'm doing interviews. (Laughs.) I've been home for two days. I have cleaned my house, done laundry, developed film, done about a thousands e-mails, interviews. This feels like a really slow day. I had a really long walk, had tea, went home and answered my phone.


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