Recently, L4LM writer Mark McGwin was fortunate to get an exclusive in-person interview with And The Kids, a powerhouse indie-pop trio from Northampton, MA that released their highly-acclaimed debut album ‘Turn To Each Other’ this past February on the Signature Sounds label. The trio (comprised of Hannah Mohan on vocals/guitar, Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums/glockenspiel and Taliana Katz on bass) is fresh off an appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and are currently playing three weekly residencies this August in Boston, Philadelphia and Portsmouth, NH. Mark spoke with the band before their first show at Great Scott in Boston.
L4LM: Congrats on the success of your new album Turn to Each Other and your recent appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. 2015 has obviously been a big year for And The Kids. Did you expect the album to do this well and for the band to get so much positive press and attention?
Hannah Mohan (HM): It was very surprising actually because we put out two little EP’s ourselves and so we didn’t really know what it was like to come out on an actual label. And [the label] has really been supportive of us and has helped a lot with PR and what not.
L4LM: Your label is called Signature Sounds. How has working with them been?
HM: They’re amazing- they’re like family.
Rebecca Lasaponaro (RL): We’re all from the same town (Northampton) as well which is great.
L4LM: How did you end up working with them?
HM: Our manager.
RL: She has a couple other bands on the label as well.
L4LM: Back to the Tiny Desk Concert- I’m a big fan of that series. How was performing on that?
HM: It was really quick. I happened so quick that there was no time to be nervous. Well, there was but… [laughing] I didn’t even know that it started- it kind of just started.
Taliana Katz (TK): Yeah, I still thought it was soundcheck.
HM: They did an interview and then everyone started clapping, and then we just started playing.
L4LM: I read on your website bio that you had said that your previous demos “hadn’t really hit the nail on the head with a representation of [your] live show…” Do you think that the new album does a good job of capturing your live sound? If so, how were you able to achieve that?
HM: Yeah, I think it does. At least I hope it does… [laughing]
RL: I think we’re all really happy with how this full-length album came out. We recorded it at Sonelab Recording in Easthampton, MA with Justin Pizzoferrato. We also had the guitarist from Rubblebucket, Ian Hersey, produced it and we did pre-production, and I’m really happy with all of the sounds that we were able to get.
HM: Yeah, Ian helped us out a lot with the keyboard and guitar sounds.
RL: I’ve never recorded drums in a big room, which helped us get a big drum sound which we’ve never got before. We always recorded in a small drum booth.
L4LM: I was going to say, I definitely feel like the album has a big sound. I’m also a huge fan of Rubblebucket, so I wanted to know a little more about working with Ian. Were you guys into their stuff before working with them?
[Laughing in unison]
RL: We love Rubblebucket.
HM: We were happy that we became friends with him because he really helped us a lot on this album.
L4LM: Do you have any plans to play with them in the near future?
RL: Hopefully. We’ve played with them before. We don’t have anything planned currently, but we’d love to because we really love their music.
L4LM: Your music videos for “Devastation Celebration” and “Cats Were Born” off the new album are extremely creative and look like they were a lot of fun to make. Could you give me a little insight into where you came up with the concepts for these videos? Were they as much fun to make as they look?
HM: Yeah, they were as fun as they look, for sure. Except for “Cats Were Born” we had to wake up at like 5am to jump in the river with two people that we didn’t know, who are now like our best friends. At the time they were just these videographer guys that we didn’t know waking us up at 5am, but it was so fun. I don’t know how the exact ideas came up.
RL: We just get together and brainstorm.
HM: Yeah, I feel like we kind of had a solid idea for “Cats Were Born” except we had to do a bunch of stuff to fill in some space. But, “Devastation Celebration” was a big collaboration because everyone kind of came up with a different idea for that one and it turned into this big, abstract art piece.
L4LM: Switching over to these residency shows, you guys are doing three weekly residencies this August; one here at Great Scott in Allston, MA, one at Milkboy in Philadelphia, PA and one at Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. Where did you get the idea to do that?
RL: We actually got a new booking agent and he’s a very motivated guy. [band laughter]
HM: We just told him that we want to play all the time, everywhere.
RL: We’ve been touring a lot the past two years, like every weekend and we’ve had other tours down to South by Southwest and we were on the west coast for a little bit. So, we just love playing all the time and we don’t have day jobs, so we just really have the time to do this as much as possible.
L4LM: Do you view these residencies as a bit of a challenge in terms of keeping the shows unique week to week for both yourselves and the audience?
HM: It is a good challenge and we have been talking about that.
RL: I think tomorrow we’re going to go to Party World. We need props. [laughs]
HM: I think we might choose some of the shows to be themed.
L4LM: That sounds cool. I saw that you are also playing a few smaller festivals in the next month. Any in particular that you’re especially excited for?
RL: I always heard good things about Otis Mountain Get Down. As far as the others, Chilifest! Is right near us in Northampton and we love playing in Northampton.
HM: I’m excited for AMOURASAURUS! because that’s in our hometown too, but it’s in this park that I’ve never got to play at but I’ve seen Bob Dylan there and Kimya Dawson.
L4LM: Wrapping up here, I figured that I have to ask about the situation of your keyboardist/percussionist Megan Miller. Can you give us any update on her situation?
HM: [grinning] I knew you were going to ask that. She applied for a waiver for [the government] to let her back into the country (United States), and it takes about six months for them to get back to you. They just got back to her a couple weeks ago and they just denied her.
L4LM: That’s too bad. I’m sorry to hear that.
RL: We’re talking about appealing it but it’ll be another six months before we find out about that as well.
L4LM: Maybe you could put together a Canadian tour in the mean time?
HM: Yeah, we like to tour Canada every couple of months.
L4LM: Where have you guys played up there?
RL: From Montreal to like Hamilton, Toronto.
L4LM: Last question here- do you have anything planned for after the summer?
HM: We have a new music video coming out and we are writing our next album.
L4LM: Awesome. Any timeline on that?
TK: We’re going to record in the winter.
L4LM: Great. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. Have a great show tonight!
-Mark McGwin @
Photos taken by Austin Sorette @agsorettephotog