During the Savannah Stopover festival, two women sit down late at night in a dimly lit park with a box of fried chicken. One of them is me, and she unceremoniously asks a series of interview questions through mouthfuls of greasy bird. The other, a dainty, stormy-eyed fawn of Czechoslovakian stock bearing a last name bursting with consonants, answers them comprehensively. Her name is Kristine Leschper and she is the vocalist and lead guitarist of the band Mothers, who released their debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You are Tired earlier this year to glowing accolades of music writers and regular-Jo(sephin)e listeners alike. Mothers is a composite of musical ideologies resulting from Athens GA’s storied art-school scene, folk composition, rocks both indie and math and even a smattering of prog polyrhythm. Everything you want to think about how mesmerizing Kristine is based on the music she makes is completely true. Here’s what I mean:
Joanie Wolkoff for AudioFemme: You guys are on the go these days.
Kristine Leschper: Even though I say I live in Athens, it doesn’t really feel like it; when I look at our spreadsheet, we’re touring 10 out of 12 months. It’s so nice when we’re home again, but it’s a rarity. It doesn’t feel like we live anywhere.
Do you like it?
It’s a lack of comfort but I like it.
Part of the lore surrounding the forming of Mothers is tied in with how you took a left turn from printmaking in college to music. How’s this shift to music treating you?
Suddenly we were just on tour forever! This came out of nowhere. Our drummer Matt wanted to sign a six month lease and we said, “We’d have to be touring so much for you to not sign that lease,” but then a month down the road we found out how much we’d be traveling and were like: “It’d be stupid for you to sign this lease.” So he doesn’t have a place right now. Which is cool for him.
Cool for him of cool of him?
I think it’s cool for him to not have a place right now, to be experiencing that. At the same time, though, I’m really glad I have a home.
How did you meet?
We were all just living in Athens and playing music. We knew what we were all up to and had mutual respect for each other, and we we were all into what the other was doing. It was organic.
What were you listening to while you taught yourself how to play guitar?
The Microphones’ The Glow Part 2 which is written in a linear style was a big thing for me. Just the fact that when they write songs they have an “anything can happen” outlook and it doesn’t have to be a specific structure. Also Don Caballero’s American Don and other mathier music with complicated rhythms.
Do you identify with art school rock? Prog?
Maybe a little bit. Mothers is really affected by things that were happening in Athens in the late seventies and early eighties, like Pylon who where college-aged visual artists and didn’t play any instruments, so it was this guessing game of self-taught musicians. It was this desire to figure something out without being properly taught. We’re tied into a lot of Athens’ songwriting history.
Do you write together?
We’re not really a band that can get together and stand in the same room and jam. It has to be more defined, so me and Matt, our drummer, get together, hash out what’s been in our heads and then bring it to the other guys later. Otherwise it risks never turning into anything. Me and Matt have been playing together for the longest as far as Mothers go. He was the first person that I really started playing music with; we have good chemistry musically.
Any contemporary musicians you’d like to collaborate with?
I would love to work with Spencer Seim, who played guitar in Hella and is active in a group called Spock. He’s just my favorite guitar player. I love everything that he does.