Hannah Mohan has a perfectly sound reason for why people should check out her band, And the Kids, when the group plays The Mothlight Saturday, March 30.
“A 10-year old girl said we’re better live,” she says. “It was so funny to hear a blatant comment like that from a young girl. But a kid isn’t going to lie to you, so you know it’s a legitimate compliment.”
There are plenty of other reasons for seeing And the Kids, the Northampton, Mass.-based indie darling whose third album, When This Life Is Over, was released last month (to glowing reviews from Paste magazine and Consequence of Sound). Mohan’s soaring, crystalline voice, which she put on display during an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in 2015, is one of them. Another is the band’s talent for constructing tight, earworm-heavy tunes that feature concise-yet-poignant lyrics such as, “Life is a bastard/life wants to kill you/don’t get old.” Those lines come from “Champagne Ladies,” a tune off the new record.
The key to good songwriting, Mohan said, is getting out of your own way. “I hate to be cliche, but sometimes songs write themselves,” she says. “You shouldn’t fight the lyrics. If you try to do that, you end up with stuff you don’t like. Sometimes you might not understand the lyrics that are coming to you, but I’ve found that it’s best to just give into them.”
When This Life Is Over, which features Mohan’s dog on the cover, was a decided effort to shirk convention — or, in Mohan’s words, an exercise in “doing whatever the hell we want.” The album was recorded in several different places, and Mohan’s main focus was to create something that remained true to And the Kids’ high-energy, whimsical spirit — which really shines through during the band’s live shows.
“It’s really incredible when you don’t put rules on yourself and stop worrying about people questioning whether an album is cohesive or not,” she says. “When you’re writing, all these different thoughts are flowing out of you … and there’s a coolness to that.”
Mohan’s love for music began during a middle school band class, where she played the flute, and Rebecca Lasaponaro (And the Kids’ drummer) performed percussion. Mohan didn’t mind the flute, but then one day, the teacher brought a guitar into the room. That ignited a spark within her.
“I wanted so badly to be one of the kids that really got it,” Mohan says. “They taught us a little noodle, or whatever, and I wanted to be the student who stood out. I thought it was just the coolest thing.”
Mohan spent some of her early years playing music on the street, before eventually graduating to bars and then proper music venues. During those formative days — before the Tiny Desk Concert, the rave Paste review, and so on — Mohan admits to envisioning herself, and the band, doing big things.
So would she offer any advice to her street-singing self of yesteryear?
“I don’t think so,” she says. “I learned so much, and I had an absolute blast.”
And the Kids is currently in the midst of its fourth American tour. The musicians have been through Asheville before and are no strangers to The Mothlight, having played there during a previous cross-country romp. Mohan digs Asheville’s “pretty liberal, pretty hippie vibe,” as she calls it, because it’s reminiscent of Northampton. “Asheville is like a mini-Austin, and our town is like a mini-Asheville,” she says.
This tour has been particularly eventful — so much so that Mohan has been keeping a journal of interesting things that she’s experienced. The most notable occurrence thus far was when she and her bandmates, with the help of a man of faith, flipped over a woman’s car that had turned upside down on a snowbank.
“We started pushing, and we realized we needed one more person,” she says. “And this guy started running toward us, and he ends up helping us flip it back over. We found out he was a reverend, so we were like, ‘Oh my goodness, God just gave us the strength to lift a car off a snowbank.’”
Then there was the time a drunk guy approached her at the merch table after a show and offered to buy the hat off her head.
“I was like, ‘Fine: $50,’” she says. “And he actually did it.”
Overall, And the Kids loves the touring experience. “It’s been super stress-free,” Mohan says of this outing. “It’s like a bunch of friends getting into a car and going on a road trip.”
WHO: And The Kids
WHERE: The Mothlight, 701 Haywood Road, themothlight.com
WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 9 p.m. $10 advance/$12 day of show