Growing up in small-town Florida, Alison Mosshart was fascinated with iconic celebrity images, but she never once imagined herself as potential rock star material. She was happy that way.
“I mean, I always took pictures of myself, like I think most girls do — just kind of dress up and play different characters and photograph myself,” remembers the singer, who left the States for London eight years ago to join U.K. guitarist/vocalist Jamie Hince in a blues-punk duo dubbed the Kills. The band plays Popscene in San Francisco Thursday.
“But photogenic? I never really thought of myself like that.” It's with awe and amusement that she's welcomed doing professional modeling.
Onstage, the shy Mosshart's face is often hidden beneath her dark tresses, as she stands sideways, facing Hince when she warbles and wails. But her beauty is now high-profile in fashion shoots like the one she just wrapped for the Lindberg clothing line, alongside Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan.
“I don't know how these things come up, but they do,” she says. “I just get asked to do them, and every once in a while there's one which I don't think is too offensive, and I'll do it. Plus, it's a nice extra source of income when you're not playing gigs. And honestly, it's funny to me, because these companies have got more money than you could imagine, and they don't ask you to do very much — just hang out in a studio for about five hours. It's pretty crazy.”
Mosshart is in such demand, she can't recall all her assignments. But despite the extra work, she says, “an average day for me is pretty much doing stuff for the Kills.”
The platonic team (Mosshart has a beau of two years; Hince has been dating supermodel Kate Moss) put a Herculean amount of time and effort into “Midnight Boom,” its upcoming third CD. For months, they traveled everywhere seeking inspiration — Michigan, Los Angeles, Mexico during hurricane season — but finally found it at home, in “Pizza pizza Daddio,” a documentary on U.S. inner-city kids from the 1960s.
Fascinated by the dark wordplay and handclap rhythms of their jump rope songs, the Kills came up with their own hopscotch chants, like “Sour Cherry,” “Alphabet Pony” and the new single “U.R.A. Fever.” The concept perfectly fits the group's stripped-down sound.
Yet the modeling gigs came in handy; The Kills literally went bust making “Boom.”
Mosshart says, “But you just get used to not having any money — that's the way that artists live. And it's not a bad thing. it's pretty much our normal standard. You get paid for your record deal once every two years, but that money goes away quite quickly once you make a record and travel.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Popscene, 330 Ritch St., San Francisco
When: 10 p.m. Feb. 14
Ticket: $5 to $8
Contact: (415) 541-9574 or www.popscene-sf.com