There was no plan for Mothers when they went in to record debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired. A group of musicians from Athens, Georgia headed into a studio with limited expectations, yet emerged with one of the records of the year.
Previously the solo project of Kristine Leschper, the band had played only a handful of shows as a four-piece before their debut – a gorgeous collection of folk songs, drowned in sorrow – was set to tape. As Leschper and guitarist Drew Kirby recall, the recording of When You Walk… came during an interim period in their lives, with the band able to look back on it with a great deal of pride and significance
“Drew was just finishing his college finals,” Leschper remembers, “so we would be recording and then he’d rush off to go and do an exam.” The vocalist herself had finished school about six months before this, and was also stuck with limited ideas of where to go with life next. “We were going through these really crazy parts of our lives and we were trying to figure out what kind of people we were.”
“We were trying to figure out what kind of people we were”
“It was such a distinct moment for all of us. The three of us really coalesced around the idea that it was a make or break scenario. It was a really tumultuous time emotionally, just figuring out what you were gonna do,” says Kirby.
When You Walk… has been out for almost six months now and the band are still learning, but are feeling more confident in themselves – and Mothers – as a unit. Speaking from a coffee shop in rural upstate New York (the second one they tried, in a nearly fruitless attempt to get wi-fi), they are taking a two-week break from a hectic touring schedule to retreat and pen ideas for album two.
“If we ever get time off touring and go home [to Athens], there’s so much going on and so many friends to see that nothing productive really gets done,” Leschper says. “So the idea was to de-camp to the middle of nowhere and clear our heads in order to get some rough sketches for songs together.” Leschper talks of how the band’s huge amount of touring has helped her adapt to playing as part of a band rather than solo, and how this is leading to more cohesive new material – material the band are sprinkling into their live show.
“It’s the first material we’ve really written as a band”
“[The new songs are] pretty different. It’s the first material we’ve really written as a band. The music we’re writing now captures everything that’s happened since the record and since we’ve been a full band.”
Heading away from the internet has given the band the chance to reflect on all the success that has come their way since the release of their debut, and how they plan to continue growing and moving forward. Two shows in New York with Minus The Bear are to come, before retreating back to their upstate AirBnB, and then heading to Europe at the end of summer.
The band were shocked by the reception they received on their first tour in Europe and are looking forward to coming back as a more confident, well-travelled live act: “It was amazing the first time. Everyone was really into it and looked after us so well. We’ve toured so much now that we’re changing as a band, and I think it’ll be quite different,” Leschper says. Kirby talks of the natural urge to ramp up their often deathly quiet debut album to a louder beast live, but that the band are learning that louder doesn’t always equal most affecting.
“We’ve toured so much now that we’re changing as a band”
“It’s so easy and natural to just make it a louder thing live, and when you see bands play and reach the most emotional, huge parts of their songs, it always gets louder. We do that in parts, but are also trying to get as quiet as possible too, and see how that affects people.”
For an album that was conceived with no plan, Mothers are carving out a space for themselves as one of the most interesting new bands on the planet right now, and if uncertainty and a lack of blueprint has worked this well thus far, long may it continue.
Mothers play The Louisiana on August 29th. Their debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired is out now via Grand Jury Music.
Check out Mothers’ full Audio Tree Live Session right here: