Having Alison Mosshart’s feature video as the final installment of the The Dead Weather’s series of individual band members’ clips tied to the group’s new Dodge and Burn album seems wholly appropriate to guitarist-keyboardist Dean Fertita.
“To me, she’s the star of this record. I can’t say enough about her,” Fertita tells Billboard. “Her lyrics, everything about her vocals…we were all just blown away with how great she was from start to finish on this record. I’m just so happy we were able to give her the stage that she needed for those words and for expressing herself.”
In fact, the seven-minute black-and-white video, directed by Jack White, opens with Mosshart driving and discussing the process of lyric writing — usually, she notes, in the car, which she acknowledges as “dangerous” but inspirational. “I just notice that when I’m driving, especially on the highway, I just get ideas,” Mosshart says in the clip. “There’s something about that sort of speed and weird level of concentration when you’re diving that leaves a part of your brain open for that kind of stuff.”
Watch the exclusive premiere of Alison Mosshart’s featurette below.
Writing lyrics for Dodge and Burn has become easier for Mosshart over the course of the group’s three albums.“I think the lyric writing became even more automatic,” she tells Billboard. “Being back in the studio and writing songs with these guys came as naturally as it did the first time we did it. There was a freedom about this record, a try-anything environment. As a lyricist…it’s a nice process, and a very certain style of writing. Surprises come because it’s sorta like having an out-of-body experience, being put on the spot like that. I think there is a great honesty in fast writing; The slower you go, the more you edit, the more time/room there is to feel embarrassed, start second-guessing, questioning or following something else that may feel safer. I’ve learned to value first impressions and seemingly inane blasts of thought. There’s always something to them, a naivete and an honesty, even if they’re not perfect in form.”
The Dead Weather, which also includes bassist Jack Lawrence, recorded the songs for Dodge and Burn over the past couple of years as the group members’ schedules allowed, with a concentrated couple of weeks earlier this year when they all found themselves back home in Nashville. “We’ve all been so busy doing other things we just didn’t know when we would find the time to do it,” Fertita says. “We kind of thought, ‘Well maybe it would be interesting if we did singles, how records used to be done — just do singles when we have the time and at the end of it we’ll compile it into a record. We thought we’d go in and do another single and we managed to finished the record. We did, like, eight or nine songs, just really quickly.”
The Mosshart feature also includes a video of The Dead Weather performing the Dodge and Burn track “Lose the Right” on a soundstage, amidst a pile of tires and a corps of body-stockinged figures which gradually surround the singer. It’s a reminder of how potent the group is as a live act — and useful since at this point The Dead Weather has no plans to tour in support of the album due to scheduling conflicts. Mosshart is finishing up a new album with The Kills while Randall is out with City and Colour and White is taking time off the road after touring to promote his 2014 solo album Lazaretto. Fertita, meanwhile, expects to start working on Queens of the Stone Age’s next album soon.
“Being on stage is my favorite part of being in a band, so, yes, it’s disappointing to not tour this record right now,” Mosshart says. “But I am patient. Life is brimming with other engagements, none of which suck. This record came about out of nowhere, so when the muse is speaking you listen, you do the work. The traditional ‘release the record and tour for two years’ thing, that’s impossible right now. We all have other commitments but hopefully a clear patch of sky will open up in the not-so-distant future, where we can get out there and perform these songs. I’m not sure if we’ll record another record super-soon or what. If the enthusiasm to do that strikes us, perhaps we will. But at the moment, there is a lot on our plates.”