Stereogum, Papermag, Spotify and a number of music blogs have all turned the spotlight toward Athens emotive indie-rock outfit Mothers for 2016. There's a lot of interest swirling around the band ahead of its debut album release in late February. Frankly, for singer/guitarist/founding member Kristine Leschper, it's all a bit odd.
"It's great and it's awesome, but it's kinda weird that the music has been as popular as it has been," Leschper says. "It's kinda weird that so many people like it. I was joking with one of the band members the other day that this kind of music isn't supposed to be popular. The point of it is to be relatable. It's very personal."
What started out as a musical/lyrical outlet for Leschper alone has developed into a full band that's far more collaborative. Leschper hopes people are aware that the band on the album, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, is different than the one you'll see at their gigs, including the Double Door Inn on Jan. 20.
"It's a little bit weird to have all this anticipation over the record coming out when it was made over a year ago and we'd only been playing together as a full band for about a month," Leschper says. "Looking back at it, it's kind of this moment in time when we were all struggling to figure out what it needed to sound like and how to appropriately write instrumentation for the songs. The songs on the album, for the most part, were solo songs of mine. They weren't songs that were written collaboratively or intended to be played by a full band."
Leschper acknowledges that the band's sound has changed a lot over the last year — going from her own solo style into a math-rock influenced, punk-pop spewing, indie juggernaut of late.
So, why did Leschper rush into the studio so early in the band's history? For her own sanity, she says. Leschper had just finished art school and was trying to figure out her path in life.
"I was figuring out what I was good at, what I could do, what I could give to other people and provide artistically for them to view or listen to," she says. "It's just something that I needed to do. I paid for it out-of-pocket and spent pretty much all of my savings on it. That's before we had any kind of label helping us. Even though I would consider myself a much more proficient musician at this point, a year later, especially after touring, it's something that I'm always going to be really proud of."
Leschper says the biggest change is in her ability to play as a musician. As she has become more technically proficient, she has been able to explore the boundaries of her music a bit more and try new things in presentation. She also hopes to find more time and space to explore visually within her performances. Leschper says she thrives on being able to present her music differently each time she plays it and found strong inspiration visually after Mothers toured with Of Montreal last year.
"That was such an eye-opening experience because I hadn't seen any of their live performances until we went on tour with them," Leschper says. "It's so intense. We want to do different things, but I was so inspired by the way they make things work visually. It's an experience when you go to one of their shows. That's something we're moving towards doing. I want to make every show different and special."
Leschper hopes all of this attention on her group comes from people relating to her honest lyrics. She says it's easy to complain about the simplicity of the mainstream music landscape these days, but people showing interest in Mothers gives her hope that people are interested in more depth.
"What we're doing is really honest and personal and trying to talk about the human condition and being a person," she says. "It's been really cool to see that people are relating to it. It makes me really hopeful as far as what people are listening to and wanting to hear."
Leschper acknowledges that the band's live show is heavier and more dynamic than the album, but hopes people view them separately.
She wants people to see the live show as an indication of where the band is now and the album is a moment in time in the early stages of the band much like a scrapbook. While the band is able to write heartbreaking songs that are stripped down, they're also able to write loud, fast, post-punk songs, as well.
The latter part is thanks to finally finding people to form a band with — something Leschper had wanted from the earliest days of Mothers.
"I always wanted it to be a full band because my influences are these heavier projects and melodically dense songwriters and experimental math-rock bands," she says. "I didn't have a way of expressing that when it was a solo project, so I was always kind of itching to get more — to move more in that direction so I could express myself that way."
With the debut album set for release, and plans for more recording a possible EP release later this year, does Leschper think that 2016 is the year the door to bigger opportunities will open?
"I think, in a way, it's already happened," she says. "the last several months have been such a whirlwind of meeting the right people who really want to help us do what we want to do. I hope there will be more great opportunities in 2016, but I already feel so lucky with what's happened so far."