Under the Big Ass Fan: MOTHERS

By Jack Pennington

mothers - photo by tucker tharpe
mothers – photo by tucker tharpe

It’s a bitter wind that blows at 7th and Trade tonight. Snowpocalypse is once again impending upon our humble Triad. My fingers burn with a painful numbness that’s only matched by the dull tingles in my toes. I really should trade my green Chucks for a pair of heavy boots on a night like this.

We hardy few who can brave the winter death-storm gather under the big ass fan at The Garage, for a night that promises to be an enlightened evening of genre bending rock and roll, courtesy of Athens based four piece, Mothers.

“I’m inspired by a lot of different kinds of music”, says lead singer and head songwriter Kristine Leschper. “Post-punk, noise, ambient, repetitive composers. And the idea of ‘Mothers’ is to keep pushing in all of those different directions, so we don’t end up in this singular box.”

The band blends elements of folk, punk, psychedelic, and good ‘ol fashioned rock into a unique amalgam that demands attention. From song to song, even from verse to chorus, it’s impossible to predict what you’ll be hearing (or feeling) next. But that isn’t to say that Mothers is a directionless earache. There’s a method, a careful orchestration of chaos that defines the vision of their music.

“I don’t want people to expect, after hearing this record, that they’ll know what the next record is gonna sound like” says Leschper. “The next record I expect to be heavier, more evil, more post-punk inspired. But after that, I would love to come out with something more ambient, more quiet, something that goes back to the roots of being folky, but still experimental.”

“I just want to keep experimenting. The vision [of Mothers] is just progress.”

Over the years, bands have eschewed the form and trappings of genre to pursue new sonic frontiers. More and more bands, like Mothers, would rather ignore the rules of their “genre” and push the envelope of what is musically acceptable.

“A lot of it is the need to be innovative,” she says, in reference to such bands. “We hope to make something new. We hope to do something that hasn’t been done before.”

“Are you eventually going to put ‘Mothers’ into a genre?”, I ask.

“Probably not. I hope not”, she says with a mischievous grin that I will soon accept to be a trademark of hers.

mothers - photo by tucker tharpe
mothers – photo by tucker tharpe

The house music that plays as Mothers takes the stage, “Suffragette City” by David Bowie, is an ironically suitable prelude to a band that resists fitting into a box. Did Bowie ever fit a genre? Is “The Man Who Sold the World” in the same box as “Fame”? You can’t tell me that the man who sang “Under Pressure” was following the same rules he followed when he wrote “Space Oddity”. Bowie never needed a genre, and his unique musical style earned him a place in rock and roll Valhalla. Bucking the trends and forging your own path seems to be the only true way to establishing yourself as a permanent fixture in an artistic landscape.

It would appear that Mothers is in esteemed company.

From the very first overpowering crescendo that kicks off their set, Mothers proves that they’re not the band you were expecting to hear. The lilting voice accompanied by laid back guitar strums that I heard on Soundcloud before the show are nowhere to be heard. Instead, a penetrating wall of sound washes over and through the crowd as Mothers announces their presence in The Garage. And as soon as it arrives, it vanishes, replaced by a trippy, soothing tune designed to welcome you to this unique musical soundscape.

But don’t be thrown by the psychedelic overture. Any second, there’s gonna be a young lady screaming in your face. Their ghostly melodies blend the freedom of noise rock with the loose rhythms of folk music, with just enough of a punk rock soul to keep you guessing.

Her voice is simultaneously powerful and subdued. It begs you to come along, and assures you that the journey will be nothing but pleasant. With little warning, songs that would be war cries lay down into lullabies. And then from lullaby, to victory anthem. The word “sublime” can’t help but leap to mind.

With the death of genre based music comes the unchained freedom of pure artistic expression. A band like Mothers illustrates this trend beautifully.

Their set ends with another wall of sound, this time with the triumphant manner of a victory lap. It ends just as suddenly, and the echoes of Mothers washes away like footprints in the tide.

With an unforeseen ringing in my ears, I approached Kristine after the show. Through my incipient tinnitus and an involuntary grin, I remark, “That was great. But I wasn’t expecting you to be so LOUD!” With the reflexive chuckle of an evil mastermind, she shoots back, “Good! I want to be unexpected. I live to keep the crowd on their toes!”

Here’s the bad news: Soundcloud doesn’t do this band justice. I’m not even gonna bother embedding one of their songs from Soundcloud into this article. I’m going to refer you to their tour dates. Because this band needs to be experienced. You gotta be in the room with them. You need to hear it in your heart. You have to soak every syllable of Kristine’s voice straight from her lips to your ears. Catch them on tour. You won’t be disappointed.

Mothers’s new record, “When You Walk A Long Distance, You Are Tired”, comes out February 26th.
Tour dates on Mothers Facebook page HERE.
To see what is coming “Under the Big Ass Fan” at the Garage find them online HERE.