It all started with a lost voice and a missing tour bus. Alison Mosshart sings for the Kills, the dirty blues-rock band that opened for the Raconteurs last fall, when Jack White lost his voice.
White's hoarseness came near the end of a fairly cataclysmic tour for both White and Mosshart; the White Stripes/Raconteurs frontman injured his back, and the Kills' tour bus driver disappeared with the group's bus. (A week later the bus was found in a Los Angeles parking lot and the driver was arrested in February in Miami.)
"I was wearing the same clothes I'd been in for a week, because the bus still hadn't been found," Mosshart says. To get their minds off their mishaps, White suggested an impromptu end-of-tour jam session in Nashville.
"We had one day left with her before she had to go to New York and we were in Nashville together so we said, 'Why don't we record a 7-inch?'" White says. "We had absolutely no energy left and were completely burned out."
And so the Dead Weather was born, with White on drums, Mosshart on vocals, Raconteur Jack Lawrence on bass and Dean Fertita -- a member of Queens of the Stone Age who tours with the Raconteurs -- on guitar.
"We burned the candle at three ends, and all of a sudden we had four songs done," Mosshart says. "And then we just kept going and going, and all of a sudden, we were this new band with this new record. I couldn't believe how kind of natural it felt."
The "supergroup's" album, "Horehound," comes out July 14 on White's label, Third Man Records; it will be distributed by Warner Music. For an album that was spawned from frenzied late-night sessions, it doesn't sound at all slapped-together. It's a deep, sludgy collection that recalls early Led Zeppelin and includes a dark, bluesy cover of Bob Dylan's "New Pony."
"For that song, we were just seeing how we could attack it and what we could get from it," Mosshart says. "We were kind of assuming we wouldn't even put those songs out. But they turned out really fiery and electric, so we kept them. I don't think we ever would have said that we'll put a Dylan song on this album. We'd never premeditate that, but it just came out so powerful."
The band starts its U.S. tour July 13 in Washington, D.C., and will spend the rest of July and August on the road. It will play clubs on this outing, despite the fact that White's name alone could draw much larger audiences.
"It's good to pay your dues a little bit with the band," White says. "We would never be so presumptuous to do something like move to Nashville and try to book our first gig at the Ryman Auditorium."
The band members rush to add that the birth of their new project doesn't signify the death of the Kills, the Raconteurs or the White Stripes. Sprawled on a velvet couch in a suite at New York's Gramercy Park Hotel, Mosshart takes another drag on a cigarette and explains that the Kills are in the process of writing their fourth release, after putting out an expanded version of their first album, "Keep on Your Mean Side."