“How it stirs me, how it stirs me now. To think my fire burnt them out.”
There is something entirely captivating about a duo. The way they are on stage makes you totally believe in all they do, all they stand for and all that they are. Duos fascinate me because they seem to make more noise than a band with 4+ members. They seem more inclined to prove themselves. They play with such aggression and sincerity. There is one man who I firmly believe as being one of the most underrated guitarists of the past decade. I say decade because that is how long he has been in the band I have followed since the start. All hail Jamie Hince from The Kills. I’ve already written about my love for Alison, so it is only right I delve into my love for Jamie and why I love him so. This could take some time, this may read like a rant that will never make sense. I know of no other way to write it seems.
I love the way Jamie holds the guitar on stage as if it is a machine gun, as he directs it towards Alison and the crowd. The way he moves on stage and makes the sounds of his guitar with his mouth. The way he plays is how a true musician should play. With power, with passion- with a gang mentality. Do or die. That’s what you get from The Kills. The Kills, for me just go beyond being a band. They become a way of life. Anyone who truly truly loves and adores this band will know what I mean. The way he plays is enough to make me want to start my own duo with someone I can menacingly yet playfully point a guitar at. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I just cannot and will not ever be able to play an instrument. I’m okay with absorbing all the music I can from the bands I love rather than try start my own thing.
What fascinates me about Jamie is how he manages to make so many sounds without making you get all confused about what you are hearing. You take in every single note, you take it all in and it becomes part of you. Something takes over. When I listen to songs like Fuck The People or Pull A U, it feels likes some kind of brutal tension building up. With Alison’s delicate vocals and Jamie’s aggressive guitar playing you become so enthralled with what you are hearing. What do you do? Do you just sit there? NO. You fucking dance/move as if you are possessed, as if you are about to start a fight. Why be gentle when you can make a mess.
Their debut record, Keep On Your Mean Side will ALWAYS be my favourite record by them. I personally feel it shows Jamie at his most aggressive. The record starts with Superstition. You combine THAT scream Alison does with his guitar skills, you fast become aware that you are about to hear one of the best records of all time. It is one of the very few records that instilled something in me that goes beyond words. It is one of those records that I will always look back on and think, “this record defines so much for me.” The Kills aren’t just a band I listen to for any specific reason other than I just HAVE to. It becomes part of my routine. I play them in the shower, singing Jamie’s guitar parts which sometimes causes my mum to yell “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?!” I just have to constantly have their thrashing and passionate sounds in my ear. Since I first heard them all those years ago, I have not gone a day without listening to them. I love watching how, when Jamie plays it is like he controls how Alison moves on the stage. At times she stalks the stage like a panther. Then you see her move as if something is taking her over. It is the crowd, the energy and the way Jamie plays. Their chemistry goes beyond being able to put into words. It is sacred, but you feel part of it. How she spins around and bends her body from how Jamie slays the guitar causes you to move the same. They both control you in their own way. Jamie causes you to move like a person possessed and Alison captivates you with how she stares deep into you as she sings the songs that own your heart.
One thing I truly appreciate about Jamie’s guitar playing is that you never hear any sadness. With some guitarists, they can make it sound sad. With Jamie it always sounds so full, hopeful, passionate, raw and alive. Pots And Pans is a prime example of this. For me that song just seems so hopeful. I’m not sure what the hope is directed at, but there is something positive there. I’m not sure if I could pick a favourite track by The Kills but I know Keep On Your Mean Side is my favourite record.
Nostalgia and questions fill you as you listen to The Kills. Jamie’s guitar playing makes you feel like you are battling everyone around you. You are part of this road trip that they are taking you on. You’ve been on it for so long, and you know you will never leave. Do or die. Do or die. It will never leave. You feel like you are on some chase. Desert road or highway, you are being sought after by the law. Or someone who possibly hates you. The windows are down, dust hits your face, drive harder, drive faster. Don’t give up. That’s how he makes you feel. You cannot give up. Then Alison’s voice makes you feel comforted. They are on this journey with you. The music is your keeper, your safety net. For me, my lifeline. There is no deeper or greater love.
A band can sum up a generation. A band can be your life. A band can be that friend at 4am when you have no idea what is going on. A band can be that thing you lean on as you stumble home in a drunken haze. A band can be the hangover cure. A band can be the ultimate cure. A band can lead you to wherever you want to go. For me, The Kills are that band. It was love at first listen (and sight of course.)
It does piss me off that Jamie doesn’t get the recognition that he really deserves, but it makes you treasure his genius even more. When I walk around listening to them, I feel like nothing or no one can touch me. They make me feel invincible, less alone and capable. They give me something that I’ll never get anywhere else. The Kills are home. The Kills are all I know. Their lyrics, their songs are like a guide. “It’s alright, to be mean.”
When I saw them live, it was like my eyes had been opened up to another world. I denounced all that came before, all that came after was to be compared to that moment. If it doesn’t move me or make me feel like that night or like a record by The Kills does- then I don’t want to know. I want to feel like my soul has been shaken. That my face has been confronted with Jamie’s machine gun moves. A brutal force takes over and you realise- YOU ARE FUCKING ALIVE.
The Kills give me hope. They have proven that you do not need much to be heard. And if they can’t hear you- be a bit more mean (alright so I cannot be mean and I’m too gentle for my own good ssshusssh.) and turn it up a touch more louder. Don’t let them take you alive, and always ALWAYS put up a fight.
It feels wrong to write about Jamie without falling back on Alison. They are two of the most important people in my life that I’ll never meet. When a band change your life, you feel as if you have so much to say. I haven’t even covered half of how I feel. The love is there though, the love will always be there.