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Interviews, Music

Interview: The Kills’ Jamie Hince on Photography, New Songs, and Relearning Guitar

By: Jennifer Perkin – 

The Kills.


Jamie Hince is known for a couple of things: being one half of lo-fi rock band The Kills, and being the other half of a certain Kate Moss. But what you may not know is that he is also a keen photographer and is about to open his first exhibit in New York hosted by the charity Rational Animal. Aesthetic Magazine’s Jennifer Perkin chatted to the affable Englishmen ahead of his upcoming tour with The Kills about their new album, his photography, learning to play the guitar again, and giving up on fighting the paparazzi.

‘Echo Home’ is an exhibit of your photography. When did your interest in photography begin?

With music I feel like I’ve got to be this superhuman being, I’ve got to channel this fictional being in a way to kind-of be good enough. But it’s funny with the photography thing, because it’s just like a toe . . . or a finger, or an arm. It’s just there, I don’t even think about it. I’ve been taking pictures since I was like 18, I used to take a lot more. It’s funny because when we started discussing this exhibit I was digging out all my photos and it was insane. I used to take pictures of like old bottles of milk, or a sink in a bathroom, it was a bit mental. I used to take pictures of everything.

Presumably this isn’t an exhibit of photos of sinks though?

No! The exhibition just came out of . . . I took a picture for a charity with Alison [Mosshart, of The Kills], people loved the picture and then they got in touch with me. I’ve just sort of picked out a few pictures that I’ve got, and I don’t feel any sort of pressure about it or I don’t feel like a photographer or anything. Which is a little bit silly considering people might come and look at the pictures. But it’s time not to be secretive, I guess.

Are you an admirer of other photographers?

Oh yes. Nikolay Bakharev is one of my favourite photographers. He’s a very old Russian guy that nobody’s heard of but he’s absolutely amazing. He’s got all these fantastic photos of these crazy Russian people. There was a lot of nudity in his photos and the people weren’t conventionally beautiful, it was regular kind of working class people and somehow he convinced them to take their clothes off. And they’d just be like sitting in the sofa naked, tattoos everywhere. [It’s] really beautiful photography. But then, obviously, I like some fashion photographers too.But then, obviously, I like some fashion photographers too.

What is your involvement with Rational Animal and why do you choose to work with them?

Well I’m absolutely in love with my dog Archie. I didn’t really realise . . . Alison asked if she could she do a picture with my dog for this charity and I said ‘yeah, sure’. So I showed up with the dog and she said ‘where’s your camera?’ — I didn’t realise at the time that they wanted me to take the picture. So I ran home and got my camera. Anything to do with my dog, I’ll get involved with. He talks to me in my dreams when I go to sleep and I dream about him.

You also write, and have mentioned that you admire political writers such as Dostoevsky. Considering you and Alison have also both identified Fugazi as a major influence, I wonder if you would consider your art writing, photography, music political?

It’s always been a big deal to me. The music that’s changed my life has always had politics involved. Huggy Bear, The Clash, Fugazi, all these bands are political bands. And I’ve always aligned myself with political record labels — Dischord, Domino . . . so it’s always been massively important. But in a weird way I just sort of think there’s some things in your life that politics cannot affect. And those are the things I surround myself with, those things are the only things in my life. Those things are love, art, music. And pleasure. Those things are absolutely immune to politics. So I don’t know how political I want my band to be. Politics is not just which way you vote, or which way you march or whatever. I think art happens to be an incredibly powerful weapon in politics. But I don’t think politics has too much power over art.

On this tour you’ll be opening for Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and the Black Keys all straight-up rock bands that have been around for over a decade. Do you consider these bands your contemporaries? Do you think there are still ‘proper’ rock bands being formed or is that something that’s behind us?

I don’t feel like I know who our contemporaries are; I’ve never been uncomfortable with not knowing who’s on the same team as us. Because I made a conscious effort when we started . . . I mean rock music is in my blood, but I want more than that. I don’t want some retro rock stuff, I want more than that. I love R ‘n’ B, I love Hip Hop, I love all sorts of things. But we’re friends with all those bands, and that becomes really important when you’re a band for a decade. We weren’t really looking for tours, we were trying to finish our record. And then one by one these people asked us to play with them. It’s really flattering, to play with four of the biggest guitar bands in the world right now.

Speaking of the new album; it’s been three years since Blood Pressures, and you’re currently working on The Kills’ fifth album. How is it sounding?

It’s sounding amazing. At the moment we’re pasting together, knitting together stuff and weird ideas. I lost use of one of my fingers, which knocked me for a year really.

What happened to your finger?

I had a problem with it from playing guitar, and I had a steroid injection for it in my knuckle. And then I slammed my finger in a car door and crushed the end of it. I went running back to my hand specialist who injected me with more steroids and it just went wrong. I got this bone infection and nearly lost my finger, and then they took my tendon out, cut me all the way from my forearm to my elbow. So I spent a year trying to write songs without guitar, and then learned to play guitar again.

That was a really awful thing, to feel like you’ve mastered something and then have to teach yourself again.

Did anything positive come out of that?

It’s funny you should say that because the positive thing that came out of it is that I am positive. When it happened I spent hours working out how I could play the same thing with only three fingers, and I thought – ‘I just need to fucking find a new style of playing that’s even better than before!’. I was really proud of myself and I realised what a positive person I was.

Since marrying Kate Moss you are now known to the public beyond your music fans. Have you taken the tabloid attention in your stride?

The tabloids – I don’t take them seriously, I don’t read them. Paparazzi, that’s just part of my life now. It doesn’t really bother me that much.

I’ve stopped fighting the paparazzi, and I don’t do that now. It’s one of the biggest weapons you can have really, a camera. And no matter how much you might want to chase someone with a camera, they get pictures of you doing it and you look like a clown. So I stopped doing that. My wife is very, very happy about that.

The Kills will play Field Trip Festival on Saturday, June 7th in Toronto and Governors Ball 2014 in New York City on Sunday, June 8th.



4 thoughts on “Interview: The Kills’ Jamie Hince on Photography, New Songs, and Relearning Guitar

  1. Jamie is so dang rad.

    Posted by toliveinpeace | June 5, 2014, 4:12 pm
  2. What a cool fellow. Interesting interview, great read!

    Posted by zobro | June 5, 2014, 5:21 pm

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