Jamie Hince is one half of The Kills, a cross-Atlantic indie band whose brooding, atmospheric rock has earned them rave reviews from both sides of the pond. Hince is the British half; the other half is American Alison Mosshart, who also plays with Jack White in the Dead Weather. (Oh, and you may have heard of Hince’s wife, supermodel Kate Moss.)
But Hince is a multi-talented artist: He’s also a photographer, and he’s bringing his visual skills to bear to help out Rational Animal. The group’s signature Mother’s Comfort Project sews and delivers beds to homeless animals in shelters in the greater New York City area, and that’s where Hince comes in. Rational Animal reached out to The Kills to create a photograph for the Mother’s Comfort Project, and – inspired by British photographer Terry O’Neill and his photograph of Brigitte Bardot and her dog – Hince snapped the shot “Alison & Archie.”
The photo, along with others by Hince (including many of Moss), will be displayed in New York’s famous Morrison Hotel Gallery, which represents 90 of the world’s foremost music photographers and their archives. The exhibit is open to the public from June 11 through July 8 – select proceeds from the showing will benefit Rational Animal. PEOPLE spoke with Hince while he was in town for Governors Ball (The Kills played Sunday) about his photography, Rational Animal and the latest from the band.
Tell us about your work with Rational Animal.
Rational Animal asked Alison if she’d take part in a charity campaign and have her picture taken with an extremely beautiful animal. Obviously, she chose my dog Archie, and she asked me if I’d take the pictures.
When did you become interested in photography?
When we first started touring, I suppose … 2002. There was a paranoia back then about the digital takeover in art and music, and the Internet. That the physicality of “things” was being taken away from us: Photographs, pictures, letters, recording tape, film, that sort of thing. So I was trying to capture every possible moment in a way that I thought was preserving its beauty. It sounds pretty naff now, but that’s kind of what was going on in my head. Plus, I was having the time of my life and I wanted to capture that. To prove that it was real!
Who are some of your other favorite photographers? How have they influenced your work?
There’s a Russian bloke called Nikolay Bakharev who I love. He shot a lot throughout the ’70s and ’80s. He’s still taking pictures now, actually. I’ve been championing him for a few years. I went to Siberia in search of him last winter. The idea was to take the Trans-Siberian Express together and find some common ground, a way to collaborate. But it didn’t happen like that. I ended up on the train on my own – for eight days – taking hundreds of pictures of silver birch trees! He’s an incredible photographer, though. Brutally raw and erotic.
Who else? Chris Shaw, from England. He worked as a night porter in hotels for a decade or so and shot the comings and goings around him. Brilliant photographer. Anders Petersen, Peter Beard. I mean, I admire a lot of photographers, but I feel very disconnected from them at the same time. I don’t feel I employ any technique like these people in my work. I guess if there’s any influence from any of these photographers, it’s this: They were concerned only with beauty. Not with “cool.” I hope I’m doing the same.
You have a Staffordshire Bull terrier, Archie. How’s he doing while you’re on tour?
He’s actually a Staffie Viszla cross. I get regular updates from [wife] Kate [Moss] on how he’s doing. He’s pretty perfectly behaved. I speak to him on the phone sometimes.
Was Archie a shelter dog?
He didn’t come from a breeder, but he wasn’t a shelter dog, either. He came from the deepest, wildest countryside in Italy. He was almost feral. His dad was a very special Staffie who I knew well, but his mum was a feral Viszla. I should’ve gotten a shelter dog, I know. But Archie was born, he was there and he needed me, so I [adopted] him.
Do you guys have a grueling summer tour schedule? What’s your favorite and/or least favorite part of touring?
Not grueling, but busy, yes. We’re doing shows with Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White, all throughout the summer.
Here’s the thing, though, why I say “not grueling:” I lost the use of a finger on my left hand after an accident about a year and a half ago, and I’ve had to learn to play again without it. It’s taken its toll on my other fingers and I’m in pain quite a lot now after shows; so I can’t do too much of a grueling schedule just yet, even if I wanted to. That’s my least favorite part of touring now: The physical pain. And missing my family, of course. My wife is very much my sidekick, so I tend to get separation anxiety when I’m away from her. The best part of touring has to be playing shows.
There’s a new Kills album in the works. Tell us a little about that.
Well, this part of the process – the writing and recording part – is always a secret. I have to have it like that, otherwise the songs don’t develop. When I start playing them to people or describing them, they stop!
It’s going to be a very good record, though – I can tell you that. I’m using a lot of old echo machines and reverbs. And I have a 1968 Neve mixing desk that Joan Baez used to record on. And a dozen old ’50s amps that I’m wiring up at the same time. And the first drum machine ever made. And notebooks full of romance and paranoia. Make of that what you will.
Alison Mosshart said that you’re looking at reggae and dubstep for inspiration on the new record – what groups in particular have you been listening to?
Ha! I can’t imagine Alison ever saying “dubstep!” I think chances are NME said that for her. I’ve been listening to Bobby Womack, King Tubby, Bunny Lee, The Dramatics, James Carr, Pusha T, Clipse, Dizzee Rascal, Young Fathers, Link Wray … everything. It’s all in there somewhere. But not dubstep.
Alison moved to Nashville last year, and you guys just played there in May. What are your favorite American cities to play?
I’ve started to fall for New Orleans recently. There’s real life there, if you know what I mean.
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