My Life in Travel: Jamie Hince, singer and guitarist in The Kills
'I squatted in a derelict cinema in Berlin ... it was quite an adventure'
Friday 29 June 2012
Where have you just got back from?
Los Angeles. We were playing a music and film collaboration with the director David Lynch.
First holiday memory?
Burying my bucket and spade in the sand on Weymouth beach and bawling my eyes out while my dad dug up a mile of sand trying to find them.
When I first went on tour as a guitarist in 1988, the trip took us to the deepest, darkest East Berlin, before the Wall came down. The residents were living like it was their last day on earth. There was an underground lawlessness like I'd never seen before.
I ended up squatting in a derelict cinema for a few months on Oranienburgerstrasse in West Berlin with a dozen or so others. It became a kind of bizarre underground cabaret venue and attracted some of the savviest, wildest people I'd ever met. In those two months I learnt to plumb toilets, plaster walls, make moonshine and fell in love … quite an adventure.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Cotswolds. My wife [Kate Moss] has a house there. It's a beautiful thing how happy you can be with a few friends, some beaten up guitars, a fire and a couple of fields.
Ideal travel companion?
Kate. I know it's obvious to say my wife, but she has this beautiful knack of turning the most ordinary day into an all-singing, all-dancing adventure.
Greatest travel luxury?
A freshly pressed suit is a miracle when you're travelling. When your suitcase has turned all your clothes into creased rags and you've crossed so many time zones that you can't tell a Monday from a Thursday, putting on a freshly pressed suit for breakfast is like spending a week in a spa.
After spending so much time in America, I started travelling with In Defence of English Cooking by George Orwell. It's archaic and old-fashioned in its Englishness, and reminds me of home.
Where has seduced you?
South Africa. My dad worked as a construction manager when I was younger so we ended up moving around a lot, depending on where his next contract was. When I was three, he moved the family to Nelspruit for a few years to work on a pipeline from Swaziland. I went back for the first time a couple of years ago, to a place called Madikwe on the border with Botswana and had this overwhelming sense of déjà vu every half an hour. It's my favourite place on earth.
Better to travel or arrive?
We made a film called I Hate the Way You Love a few years back, documenting the first year and half of The Kills on tour. It's pretty noticeable how much of it centres on the journey to places, rather than the destinations themselves. It seems that we've encountered most of our scrapes on the road.
I've seen a lot of grim hotel rooms on my travels and have never been that bothered by them. Most of the time they're just a place to sleep with a lock on the door, but the Twelve Oaks Motel in Nashville was something else. They should call it a half-way house rather than a hotel.
The Hotel Chelsea in New York. If I added up all the time I've spent there in the past decade, it must amount to a year or more. The concierge always said "welcome home" when I walked through the door. When we were recording the second album No Wow, I lived in Room 105 for the summer. It was the same room Edie Sedgwick stayed in (and set fire to) in the Sixties. And opposite, Room 100, is where Nancy Spungen died.
London. There are plenty of cities that have given me the time of my life for a week or two – including Sao Paulo, Paris and New York – but London has an enduring appeal that keeps on unfolding.
Onwards through Europe for most of July and then to America in August to celebrate the launch of our new book. After that, I'm dying to go to Russia. There's an incredible photographer called Nikolay Bakharev who I've been writing to to set up some kind of collaboration. One idea is to take a train from Moscow to Novokuznetsk, where he lives, and film the whole experience. If that comes together I'll be very happy.
Musician Jamie Hince is singer and guitarist in The Kills. Their new book The Kills: Dream & Drive, by Kenneth Cappello, is published by Domino on 16 August, priced £30 (thekills.tv)
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