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Killer Queen: Alison Mosshart talks Kills, Dead Weather

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

It’s been four long years since the Kills released its last album, “Blood Pressures,” but lead singer Alison Mosshart promises its follow-up is on its way.

“It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming!” says Mosshart, on the phone earlier this month from London.

The indie rock duo has been plugging away at the album, the group’s fifth, and recently wrapped a two-month session in Los Angeles — away from the group’s usual recording spot in Benton Harbor — where the bulk of it was written and recorded. “We’ve got tons done,” Mosshart says, “but of course, there’s always tons to do.”

Tons to do is par for the course for Mosshart. In addition to working with the Kills, the band she founded 15 years ago with guitarist Jamie Hince, the 36-year-old Florida native also fronts the Dead Weather, her band with Jack White, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence. And in her spare time she has a burgeoning painting career, and recently had her first solo gallery showing in New York.

“It was totally overwhelming, in the most positive way,” says Mosshart, who plays with the Kills Saturday at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit. She had painted for years, but had never seen her work displayed on gallery walls, let alone sold any pieces. “It’s a dream come true, but it’s a dream I never dared have,” she says. “It’s really hard for me to pinpoint the emotion that I had. I almost don’t believe that it happened.”

Mosshart paints to pass the time during downtime on tour, while traveling on her tour bus or when she’s backstage at venues waiting for soundcheck. She looks at her paintings as personal diary entries, not meant for public consumption, and was weirded out at first at the notion of selling them.

She eventually overcame those fears. “There’s no point in me keeping them forever. What am I going to do with them?” she says. “It’s really super cool that people like them, and it’s an honor they would want to have them hanging in their home or in their bar or wherever. It’s the biggest compliment ever.”

Mosshart has nothing but compliments for her Dead Weather cohorts, with whom she recently wrapped a new album, “Dodge & Burn,” which is due out in September.

The band’s erratic schedule makes them work fast when they finally are able to get their schedules to align, Mosshart says. “Nothing even close to even being in the studio a week,” she says. “Just days here and there, and everybody doing what they can at home.”

But the process works. “It’s just a joy, really,” she says. “It’s fun with that band. I suppose there’s a pressure that is off because we’re all doing so many other things all the time that this is our way of all of us getting to hang out and have fun. It’s great; I think really beautiful music comes out of that, because it’s not our day job.”

At the moment, the band has no plans to tour behind the new album. “I can’t imagine that will happen anytime soon,” she says. “But the second there’s anything in the works, the world will know.”

For now, she’s focusing on the Kills and wrapping that new album. A few more songs need to be added and post-production needs to be finalized, so the album still doesn’t have a release date. But the Kills will be playing some new songs from the set at Saint Andrews on Saturday.

“It will be really exciting for me,” Mosshart says. “If you can imagine, we’ve been playing the other four records for the last billion years, so I can’t wait to play new songs on stage. It re-energizes me completely to be able to do that. You get that extra bit of nervousness when you see a new song coming up on the set list that you’ve never played before.”

The Kills

7 p.m. Saturday

Saint Andrew’s Hall

431 E. Congress, Detroit

Tickets $25

(313) 961-6358