We’re kind of starting to take on a new identity as a group.
Something about the simplicity of the title of Mothers’ debut album feels like solace. When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired (February 2016 via Grand Jury) dropped back in February, but it has managed to continue to nag at listeners who dig deeper into the music. The album moves at a deliberate pace that carries heavy lyrics with light melodies. It manages to be a feat in earnestness, in large thanks to the sheer honesty of lead singer/songwriter Kristine Leschper, who bares her soul throughout.
Mothers began in Athens, Georgia as the solo project of Leschper, who plays guitar, and has since grown into the full outfit that it is today, including Matthew Anderegg on drums, Drew Kirby on guitar, and Chris Goggans on bass. Since the premiere of their album, Mothers have found themselves on an extensive tour of the United States and Europe, playing loads of concerts and recording notable live sessions with NPR and Audiotree Live.
Kristine and Matt kindly chatted with Atwood Magazine about their recent ventures and the future of Mothers. The conversation played out calmly and thoughtfully. Words were not rushed. It felt like both Matt and Kristine were confident in their work, but that they did not hold on tightly to past successes. The future is bright. We look forward to what they have in store.
On the new Copper Mines Music Video:
Leschper: Oh yeah, yeah, we actually haven’t really talked to anyone about that, that was a strange experience for me personally because that was sort of the first time that I really gave up a lot of my creative control intentionally and kind of let someone else that I trusted to do something creative for us, whereas I usually am pretty controlling over a lot of the aesthetics, I guess, of the visual work associated with Mothers… So that was really kind of us taking a chance with someone whose work we really liked, Ryan Ohm, and he actually wrote the whole screenplay and he wrote the entire music video and we felt really good about it. He sent me a couple sentences about how he wanted to address it and it felt like it was just kind of funny enough and weird enough. It’s really our first lighthearted music video, or the first sort of lighthearted thing that we’ve really put out, I think.
Watch: “Copper Mines” – Mothers (dir. by Ryan Ohm)
On the older It Hurts Until It Doesn’t Music Video:
Leschper: Yeah, definitely. And I think that I tend to work on visual things in a way where – I think that I tend to approach heavy material and emotions that feel heavy to me and that’s always kind of the best way for me to get my ideas across, which is why I’ve sort of addressed – like the music video for “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t,” with very personal subject matter and footage I shot myself and a story that I’m really attached to personally. I really love to work that way, but we also don’t always have time considering our touring schedule. I think that we’re learning, and more specifically I’m learning, to allow myself to work with other people and sort of let other people contribute to the visual aesthetics that we have.
I tend to approach heavy material and emotions that feel heavy to me.
Leschper: It feels really good. It’s really hard to keep up with visual work while we’re on the road, and I’ve been trying to get better about it. Tour for me tends to make me feel pretty desensitized and a little bit dull. It’s sort of hard to feel creative on the road. I think you really have to push for it. Or I do. So it felt really good to have – that’s actually an older piece – it was a nice reminder that I still have kind of this other side of myself, and that visual work is still very much something that resonates with me as a creative individual.
On keeping spirits up on the road:
Leschper: Listening to lots of records. Yeah, honestly that’s probably the best part. Especially for me because we all listen to really different things. We have a lot of overlapping taste, but I’ve been introduced to so much new music by just traveling with three other people all of the time. I think we’ve all gained something out of it. We all have slightly different tastes so it’s been really positive for that reason.
Anderegg: We’re also all – we all get along really well. That helps a lot. We’re all good friends. We try to keep each other positive about the whole thing. It’s easy to be negative when you’re traveling, but it’s also a little bit. If we weren’t doing that then we’d be doing something else difficult in a different way. I think we always try to remind each of other of that and try to be there for each other. It’s a pretty close knit group.
Leschper: I also think that going outside and making time on tour to just walk around somewhere and explore a place by yourself is really special, and something that I take for granted in my daily life outside the tour. Because it’s so much sitting in a car and not really getting to move around. It’s kind of stale with air conditioning in the van. Just going to a park or getting outside, getting to do something that’s not sitting in a van for seven hours kind of takes on a new meaning.
On new music from Mothers:
Anderegg: We are working on a lot of new stuff currently. We have been for a couple months. It’s kind of difficult to write on the road. We don’t have a lot of luck with it. Naturally, it’s just hard to have the alone time. I think it’s hard for Kristine to have long enough periods of alone time to even come up with new songs on the road. I think as far as the “Kristine writing songs” that doesn’t happen much on the road, that happens more when we’re at home. When we play live, we play a lot of new stuff now. We kind of work out in the live shows. That’s maybe the biggest bummer when it comes to tour, just not being able to work on new music.
Leschper: Now that we’re sort of reaching the end of this year, we’ve had more time in the last two months than we have all year really, so I think that we all have pretty high spirits right now regarding the excitement of starting a new record and writing a new batch of songs. And I think that since we’ve had a little bit more time over the last couple of months to just practice outside of tour, I think that we’re kind of starting to take on a new identity as a group. I think that we’re all really learning to react to each other. The design process is way more collaborative, and I feel like there’s a lot more equal input, and I think that we’re really growing from that as a band.
Watch: “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” – Mothers
On the songwriting process for the new album:
Anderegg: Well, it still starts the same way where Kristine writes the songs. It’s more collaborative in the sense of how we put it all together. With the first record, for instance, I had very little to do with about half of that record, and the half of it that I did play on I didn’t have much input because the material was done, and I didn’t really want to mess with it too much. None of us did. But this second time around it’s a very different thing. There will still be, just like the first record, songs that are more solo songs or more that approach songs like the first song on our first record, things more in that style, and then there will be – about half of it probably will be a lot of band songs that are arranged in that format – two guitars, bass, and drums.
The way that I’m writing now… is aiming to capture other perspectives and writing less about myself and more about the world around me.
On whether Mothers considers their music sad:
Leschper: For the songs on the [first record], I was writing while I was in college, so I was in my very early twenties. And in a way, looking back at the writing now, I sort of think that shows, that I was a very young individual trying to make my way in the world. It’s interesting, I would say that that is a pretty – it’s a pretty sad record, the first record that we put out, in the sense that it’s a lot of – it’s a lot about self-loathing and not really understanding who you are and feeling frustrated by what you’re trying to do. Looking back at that record, I feel this sense of a very limited perspective, like looking back on something you did when you were several years younger and kind of being like, “Wow, that was sort of short sighted,” or, “That’s not quite what I would do now.” I’ve felt that way about the musical aspect of that record for a while now, because we’ve grown past it musically I would say… but especially now, looking back on the lyrics of that first record. They feel very much to me like a girl who’s in college, who is pretty privileged and has really had it relatively easy. It’s really frustrating in that way to listen back to it, honestly, because it feels like it’s from such a small perspective. I say that to say that the way that I’m writing now for the next record and for songs moving forward, is aiming to capture other perspectives and writing less about myself and more about the world around me, sort of trying to be more observational and less introspective. That’s one way that the next record will be sort of a shift from the first one.
cover photo: Mothers // uncredited