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The Kills: Recording 'Ash & Ice'

July 14, 2016

A Rock ’N’ Roll life can be fraught with injury—from AC/DC’s Brian Johnson’s hearing damage to Tony Iommi’s cauterized fingertips to ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill’s recent smashed shoulder. So what to do when the going gets tough? Schedule studio time and hit “record”!

That was the remedy for The Kills’ guitarist and composer, Jamie Hince, who slammed his left hand in a car door and had to undergo six surgeries and countless cortisone shots, and has a permanently damaged middle finger to show for it all.

Following 2011’s Blood Pressures, The Kills—Hince and composer/guitarist/vocalist Alison Mosshart—finally deliver Ash & Ice, a freakily great song collage of demonic rockabilly guitars, Mosshart’s vampish vocals, and programmed beats amplified by Daptones drummer Howie Steinweiss.

Recorded in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills (with Keyclub Recording Co.’s Bill Skibbe manning Hince’s Neve Germanium console) and Electric Lady in New York City, Ash & Ice documents The Kills’ ongoing love affair with the road, with punk rock, and most importantly, with rock ’n’ roll.

“It’s always been a journey for me to join together what I love about drum machines and dancehall, hip-hop, R&B and electronic music,” Hince says. “But my heart is in rock ’n’ roll. I grew up with post-punk and the guitar is part of my body now. When I feel angry my guitar shouts. When I’m sad, my guitar cries. We call it ‘electric guitar music.’ If you’re going to have electronic dance music, then we are electric guitar music.”

Ash & Ice is of one mind. From the album’s blazing singles, “Doing It to Death” and “Heart of a Dog,” to such atmospheric summer scorchers as dead-eyed highway growler “Let It Drop,” The Clash-worthy “Siberian Nights,” and reverb-rattling “Impossible Tracks,” Ash & Ice is rock ’n’ roll devoid of sentiment and commercial avarice. In an era bordered by plastic hip-hop and preening pop stars using AutoTune like eyeliner, The Kills grab contemporary music by the throat and shake it back to life.

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