Better Days: On Tour with The Kills

Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince share a tour diary documenting the final weeks of the US leg of their God Games dates in words and photos.
Backstage Camera Roll

Better Days: On Tour with The Kills

Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince share a tour diary documenting the final weeks of the US leg of their God Games dates in words and photos.

Words: FLOOD Staff

March 27, 2024

It wasn’t too long ago that Alison Mosshart regained her creative spark, releasing her debut solo recordings at the dawn of the pandemic before returning to her work with The Kills—first via a reissue campaign, then via the exciting prospect of new material. It also wasn’t long before a pair of singles turned into the band’s long-anticipated sixth album, God Games, and the pair of release events in NY and LA for those singles became a proper North American tour.

And as the band begins packing for the international dates on their God Games tour, they’re still fondly looking back on the memories they made traversing the US and Canada together for the first time in years—even playing some cities they’d never touched down in before. “It’s very hard to stop once you’re rolling at speed,” Mosshart writes in the conclusion of the tour diary she put together for us with the help of bandmate Jamie Hince, which documents the period between their February 26 show in New York City all the way up to the final date in Oakland on March 16. “You need to, but don’t want to.”

Before starting up again in the UK and Europe in May, find the duo’s reflections on their North American dates—where they shared the stage with The Paranoyds and Heartworms, and where lessons were learned about bubble baths, bugs’ clubbing habits, and the width of Texas—below.

Bowery Hotel, watching Drive to Survive, eating vegan chia pudding, morning; Webster Hall, the “SOLD OUT” sign going up the ladder; Jamie after the second show laying on a Lincoln  sandwiched between our tour bus and a Triumph

Backstage at Webster Hall: two James Deans, one Alison; Jamie and I looking at the setlist in the dressing room

How I love thee, New York City. You’re a heartbreaker, an all-nighter, a dream machine. We were halfway through the tour when we pulled into the city. Three weeks behind us exactly. We felt strong and wild by then. There was a tremendous adrenaline for these NY shows to be great. Butterflies. Nerves. We called in gospel singers to sing with us in celebration, and the music just sailed. Seventy-two hours at the Bowery Hotel, mostly spent at Webster Hall, sharing a dressing room with James Dean. We said goodbye to our first wonderful opening act, The Paranoyds, who’d been with us for three weeks, and welcomed our next opening band, Heartworms. The torch was passed and the second  half of the tour began. Laughter and tears as the skyscrapers disappeared behind us. We headed south.

Jamie outside the 9:30 Club early in the morning, a Guitar Man Tumi Globe Trotter sculpture; Alison out walking; gas station portrait across the road from 9:30 Club

We woke up, slithered by the White House, and got dropped at the curb outside the 9:30 Club in DC with no legs. I mean, no legs—we were beat, New York–ed. But the 9:30 Club is one of my favorite venues in the country. The crowd there were a brilliant pep squad and we came alive. That first show in DC was insane. The second one was an equal riot. We saw so many old friends. We had the most wonderful time. Suddenly you could tell we were leaving winter. Something in the air. Or the Mescal coming out of our pores from Amparo. The bus bumping and swaying lower through the country. We were about to break a sweat. 

Asheville audience; dive bar back wall; snakeskin shoes and fake flowers on the smoking deck 

Hello, Asheville! Sketches, lights, eyeball, gold teeth, Dolly, sharks, snowflakes, spare parts. I’d  always heard about the Orange Peel, that it was an incredible place to play, but this was our first  time. The crowd were triumphant, the gig was great, everyone we met was super nice and cursed a lot. I mean seriously: “Fuck hell shit damn fucking fuck fuck fuck shit bitch hell fuck.” We walked  through artists’ studios all day, walked all over town and got served breakfast by the loudest man I’ve ever heard speak. After the gig, we wound up in a dive bar about eight blocks from the venue that felt like a psycho fire drill art installation. Asheville was really fucking, fucking, fucking cool.

Houston bubble bath fail

It's that time: Texas o’clock. You won’t cross another state line for days. You’ll always be in Texas. You’ll not remember a time when you weren’t in Texas. Its vastness. Its boiling. Its widest brim in America. We began our adventure in Houston on a day off. Mine was discovering that you can’t put bubbles in a bathtub that has jets, otherwise the bubbles will climb up and over the bath and fill the hotel room. It’s very fun while it’s happening, but not that fun after. I accidentally swallowed some. That made me unwell. I’ll spare you the details, but the Houston gig was squeaky clean. 

The road from Houston to Austin; 20 miles ’til Austin through the back lounge window

On the road to Austin—our all-time favorite stop in Texas. OK, it’s hot out now. The sun is blazing. We’re playing Stubb’s outside and hanging around all day on the patio, watching F1 qualifiers and eating oysters and hitching rides in pick-ups. Lots of pals showed up for the gig and the sun went down and it got cold and spooky and beautiful. We had this Airstream for a dressing room and one million tiny bugs flew into the Airstream when the sun went down. It was a tube of bugs. It was quite something. But then by 10 p.m. they all seemed to leave—like they went to different nightclubs or something. I dunno, maybe someone really famous was playing nearby. We loved that gig so much. Afterwards we all went to Justine’s and drank wine and danced and carried on, like the bugs never happened. It was a perfect night in Austin.

Dallas House of Blues metal detector (“We’ve had problems,” they said); Jamie and I in the makeshift dressing room that was more like a dining room or a ballroom or a forgotten realm, our shadows through the window 

Once upon a time in Dallas, the sun shone through our legs. Oh Texas, like a heatwave coming  someday soon, like an omen ’bout a two-man band. A two for one. A one for all. Hooters on the  corner. Twin Peaks in the backyard. This House of Blues. Another outsider art collection—inside, beyond the metal detectors, in the ice-cold AC. Our last night and last show in the Lone Star State (Dallas was feisty, giddy; the stage was slippery) before trying our luck in New Mexico. All night we drove, ’til somewhere around Amarillo when the axle broke on our trailer and a wheel spun off and the whole thing was smoking. I slept right through it, but when we woke the next morning expecting to look out the window at New Mexico, we were still in Texas! 

View from my balcony at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town; Jamie backstage during a  photoshoot with Eric J. Keller; self-portrait in a sliding glass door 

We made it to Albuquerque on Sunday, early evening. The view from my hotel room was two limos and two party buses, one of them broken down in Old Town. I sat on my balcony and watched them try and fix it for 45 minutes before throwing the towel in. Albuquerque was cool and felt sorta like a ghost town. I went to a nail salon and my nail tech said he was really into Scorpion. He asked me why I didn’t wear a leather cuff if I was in a rock ’n’ roll band, then mentioned Micheal Bolton randomly, and that he painted a lot of guitar players’ nails—all men, not Elvis Presley. He’d moved from Vietnam when he was 18. He’d lived in Florida, but moved because the hurricanes scared him. Then he moved to Tennessee, but moved because the tornados scared him. Then he'd moved to Pomona, California, but moved because the earthquakes scared him. So he moved to New Mexico because he’d heard all they had was wind. He said, “Wind is just wind.” The show in Albuquerque was great. Our very first gig there. Old theater. Punk vibes. We made new friends. My nails looked awesome. The wind was mild. 

The front of the Fox Theatre 

The last night of the tour was in Oakland. A day of bus packing and group photos. Everyone—The  Kills, Heartworms, the crew, all of us—deranged, giggling, spaghetti legs. Thirty-one shows, six weeks, winter and now spring with mad flings of summer then winter again...sunscreen, T-shirts, mittens, puffers, swim trunks, trench coats, jeans under sweatpants, sunglasses on sunglasses, AC, heat, buckets of ice, hand warmers—so confusing. 

Face mask backstage in hall of mirrors at the Fox; The Kills and Heartworms, last night portrait

That afternoon I paced around nervously, Jamie played guitar backstage, and Dusty (our bus driver) was out in the lot shining up the hubcaps and spraying down the big machine. The crew were running around in a sea of cables and tape, electric guitar piles, the curtain hung, lights blazing, the PA thundering. It was going to be a great night. We could all feel it. There were so many backstage showers that everyone was clean, smelling good, wet hair, hitting up the merch booth for clean clothes, dressing like a gang, like a cult.

All of us were incredibly emotional that it was about to be  over, mixed with relief about soon being able to recuperate, fix torn muscles, and see loved ones. It had been a great run—if not the best of our career. It’s very hard to stop once you’re rolling at speed. You need to, but don’t want to. The show was beautiful. Perfect, from what I remember, though I barely do. All I remember is the eyes of the audience, those smiling-type eyes, hands in the air, the ringing in my ears, and that the very last thing we did before walking on stage was shake Tom Waits’ hand. I’ll never forget that. It was blast-off time. Game on time. Hearts flying out of our chests, the last hurrah. And then, just like that, the tour was over. FL