The Kills' Alison Mosshart -- The Discount Years

It's the late-'90s inside a dingy club, hardcore music echoes throughout the room, and a female-fronted band takes the stage. A chubby-faced girl with scraggly short hair walks onto the stage and picks up the mic. She's dressed in baggy jeans with an inside-out, over-sized T-shirt and some heavily worn-in Chuck Taylors. The crowd watches her every move, waiting patiently for just a few words to be uttered from her lips. The first 30 seconds of "Torn Jeans" have heads bouncing and sweaty bodies moving against one another. The crowd mouths the lyrics "If you've got to say it, I

won't mind/I can't justify your pain/By saying it's just a matter of

time," along with the fidgety singer who is holding the microphone ever so tightly.

The band onstage is Discount, a postpunk group from Vero Beach, Florida, that formed in 1995 with Alison Mosshart -- lately of the Kills (performing in January at Revolution) and the Dead Weather -- on vocals. At the time, many of the members were still in junior high, including Alison, but this didn't hold them back from reaching considerable success within the DIY culture and music scene. 

Over the next five years, the band toured vigorously throughout the United States and around the world, unknowingly establishing itself as one of the most influential bands in the scene. Although many would say the band departed before reaching full potential, Discount still managed to churn out three LPs and countless EP/seven-inch releases. In August 2000, Discount performed its last show in Gainesville -- the same city where the Kills would play their first U.S. show two years later -- and the elusive Mosshart disappeared along with the memory of Discount.  

It has been nearly a decade since Mosshart resurfaced in London and began working on a new musical endeavor with British guitarist Jamie Hince. In fact, the singer has the date "14-2-02" tattooed on her wrist to commemorate the first time she and her musical cohort took the stage as the Kills. Her appearance, style, and sound has evolved since her days as a Vero Beach punk rocker long ago.

In interviews, she rarely speaks about Discount. She's even taken on the persona "VV" -- Jamie as "Hotel" -- in order to sever ties from the past. It's difficult to find photographic evidence of her Discount days, the band's website is long gone, and only a handful of live footage exists online. Some allude to this being on purpose or a result of great PR. But to be honest, at that time, the scene was extremely different and the internet was a distant reality. Whatever the case may be, at least Alison Mosshart is still creating music.  

The Kills. 8 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Revolution, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $21.50. Call 954-449-1025, or visit

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Betsey Denberg