"The first printmaking conference that I went to made me realize how punk rock printmaking is," Kristine Leschper raves over the phone. "It's really time-consuming. There are a lot of really cool techniques. It's very nerdy. It's a very old-school way of making art."
Leschper is speaking about intaglio, a copper-plate etching technique she fell for while attending the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Georgia, but she might as well be talking about the intricately imagined, eclectic musical compositions she creates with Mothers, the rapidly metamorphosing band she fronts. Mothers — whose debut LP, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, arrives February 26 on Grand Jury — began as Leschper's solo project, "a way for me to experiment with my comfort zone, sharing my art with other people," she says.
But it soon evolved into a four-piece band. And though the album features compositions written in her folkier days — When You Walk was recorded more than a year ago — mentally the band has already moved onto something new and very different.
"It felt really special and really fragile," Leschper says of the album, produced by Drew Vandenberg, who's engineered albums by Of Montreal and Deerhunter. "And we wanted to make sure it was released in the right way. I think it's an important record for what it is. But it's a lot different than what we're working on now, and that's kind of put us in a weird place." These days, Leschper is more likely to cite the chaotic experimentation of acts like Lightning Bolt and Hella as an influence than obvious references like Angel Olsen.
The contrast between the material and the band's current head space should make for a dynamic live set this Thursday at Churchill's Pub.
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Indeed, Leschper sees the concert experience as a crucial element of the Mothers project. Last January, the band staged a theatrical multimedia performance in their hometown of Athens. "It was live projection, performance art, poetry readings, really strange costumes," Leschper says. "The idea was to create something that was really immersive, where the viewer couldn't escape where they were."
To Leschper's clear regret, the band isn't equipped to travel with such an extensive setup quite yet. Instead, the group has turned to — where else — the internet to showcase the visual aesthetic that, to the band's mind, is part and parcel of Mothers' music. "We're just finishing our first music video [for the nonalbum single 'No Crying in Baseball'], which will come out early this year. We did all of that ourselves because we knew that we would be able to. And then after that, we are going to have a slew of music videos coming out, of songs from the record."
It's all part of a creative drive that seems to be cranking at full steam. In December, Mothers briefly dropped off the grid, holing up in a south Georgia cabin to bang out ideas for the band's second LP, which they hope to release before the end of 2016. "The idea is to put out the next record quickly so that we can catch people up on what we're up to now," Leschper says. And if the world has a hard time keeping up with the fast-moving band, that's not a concern — in fact, it's part of Leschper's master plan. "I don't want people to think Mothers is this singular thing, because I expect it to change very vastly over the next couple of years. I think it's kind of good that people are not totally sure what we're up to."
Mothers with Heavy Drag, Deaf Poets, and Sound Sleeper. 8 p.m. Thursday, January 14, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $10 plus fees via brownpapertickets.com.