Mothers had quietly arranged themselves between two picnic tables the moment I spun around to greet them, and were smiling at each other wordlessly under a vibrant orange and blue-patterned wall. Like the interlocking shapes behind them, there was something about the group that just fit together nicely; a certain dreamlike ease to their very assembly.
This is also true for Mothers in the musical sense, as one can detect when listening to their first full-length album, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired; just released this year and recorded a month after the folk-rock group came together. But their cohesiveness is especially impressive given that Mothers started out as the independent project of frontwoman Kristine Leschper – and probably would have stayed that way, had it not been for how quickly they clicked in the studio.
“It was sort of intended to be more of a solo record, because I was performing as a solo artist for a while before that. So I had all these songs written, and then the idea was just kind of to fill them out and make them bigger,” Kristine said of the group’s formation. “We all kind of really got excited about playing music together, I think. And suddenly, over half of the songs were full-band songs. We started playing in November of 2014, and then we went on to make that record the next month, in December of 2014. So, very quickly, it sort of transitioned into this band ordeal.”
Kristine’s words, calmly chosen, are laced with the simple bliss of someone who just found a lucky penny on the ground. “It all really kind of came together really quickly. A lot of it came together in the studio as we were recording it. We had ideas about how things were going to work out, and we had ideas for certain parts. But a lot of it was kind of formed at the studio, with the limited time we were working with.”
But even though they quickly found themselves in the foreground with her, the band was intent on preserving Kristine’s initial concepts. “It’s complex,” said guitarist Drew Kirby. “I think we’re always concerned with what we don’t want to change. We don’t want to get in the way of a lot of things – at least, with that record, that was certainly the case. Me and Matt didn’t want to come in and change what was good about it. We just wanted to try and bolster it a bit.”
“Whereas, now, we’ve been playing out together all the time and just touring together nonstop, so it’s become more of a band dynamic,” he explained. “When we write new material, at least from an instrumental perspective, I think everyone has a lot more even input in terms of structuring, and kind of putting together the songs as separate pieces. But it still often just starts with a Kristine idea. Or like, Kristine and Matt on drums just kind of hatching out the egg of an idea.”
That hatching is likely a careful process if Matt Anderegg is involved, based upon his manner of bragging. “The track ‘Blood-letting’ is probably, to me, the one that I still…feel…good about,” he said with extreme caution, as if too much enthusiasm could tarnish their lucky penny. His bandmates laughed. “That’s the one that feels like it actually achieves what we’re trying to do. That isn’t very easy to describe in words, but it’s just the idea we all had in our head that is Mothers. And we did it really fast too,” Matt said with quiet excitement.
Turns out there’s another fast thing that gets Mothers excited – a swig of good whiskey. Being that they’re from the South, we had to ask them their preference. Maker’s Mark and Bulleit were the clear winners among the foursome, until a few extra votes were cast. “I’m gonna say Jack Daniel’s,” said Kristine. “Not for me, but for my parents. I’d probably drink Bulleit, but my parents love Jack Daniel’s. That’s like the only kind they touch.” She thought back for a moment. “Well, my dad’s tried more expensive whiskeys, but he doesn’t like them because they’re smooth.” Clearly, badassery is genetic.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley