And the Kids, right to left: Taliana Katz, Hannah Mohan and Rebecca LasaponaroCourtesy of Courtney Chavanell
Breakup songs are so prevalent in pop music that it's hard to find fresh angles on heartache. (Yeah, yeah. Your baby done gone. We get it.) But on their new album, Northampton, Mass.-based glitter popsters And the Kids hone in on a unique, and uniquely painful, kind of romantic trauma. It's one that will likely be familiar to those in Burlington's small, ever-tangled dating pool.
As its title implies, the album centers on romantic complications within friend groups and the devastation they can cause. In writing it, lead singer Hannah Mohan drew inspiration from her own experience with a now-broken friend circle many years ago. You'd think that might make for an emotionally cumbersome listen. And Mohan's sharp writing does cut to the bone. But her ruminations are couched in the band's signature brand of scrappy, indie-pop jangle.
Producer Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes can take some credit for that amped-up sound. He engineered the record in Montréal, where keyboardist Megan Miller is presently awaiting reentry into the U.S. Due to visa issues, Miller, a Canadian citizen, was deported from the States about two years ago — coincidentally, while the band was briefly living in Burlington. She has to wait three years before she can come back and rejoin the band full time.
And the Kids play on Saturday, July 2, at ArtsRiot in Burlington with Vundabar and locals Apartment 3. Seven Days recently spoke with Mohan by phone from Northampton about the new record, friends sharing lovers and how the band is adjusting to life without Miller.
SEVEN DAYS: First off, I just want to thank the band for playing Burlington on my birthday. I'm not sure how you knew, but I appreciate it.
HANNAH MOHAN: [Laughs] Yeah, we planned that on purpose!
SD: Two-part question: Why did you choose to move to Burlington, and why did you move back to Northampton?
HM: We met so many friends in Burlington because it was one of the first places that we started touring and doing residencies. Out of everywhere, there were just so many nice people in Burlington. It really felt like home. To be quite honest, we couldn't find a place in Northampton we could afford to live with our budget. We wanted to not have jobs so we could just play music. And it turned out that somebody in Burlington had a house we could stay in. And their band practiced there, so we could practice there. That was really what made us pull the trigger and move up there.
SD: And the reason you moved back?
HM: Megan had just been deported, and we felt like we needed to get back to our roots a little bit. Also, it's kind of hard to tour out of Burlington. Other than that, I'd still live there. I love Burlington.
SD: Burlington and Northampton seem to share a similar cultural vibe. So I'm guessing moving here wasn't much of a culture shock.
HM: No. That's why I like Burlington and I like Northampton. You could see me in both places.
SD: Megan being deported is obviously unfortunate. It's also a unique challenge for a band to have. How has her absence impacted the band?
HM: It's been hard for us. But from the very start we knew that it wasn't like she was no longer in the band. We just have to try harder to be accessible to her up there. So it was just a matter of working around the whole thing. So it was like, we have to go and write in Canada. We have to go every couple of months, and we have to record there. And that's fine. It's a lot of driving. But the hardest part is that, whenever we do something cool or complete any dreams, it's just sad that she's not there.
SD: I chuckled when I saw the title of the new record, Friends Share Lovers. I'm sure this is probably the case in Northampton, too, but in Burlington it's almost like you don't really live here until you've dated, like, three of your friends' exes.
HM: [Laughs] I think it happens to a lot of people in a lot of friend groups, and people don't talk about it because it's super personal and hurtful. But I think we all recognize that it does happen to a lot of people. And there's a reason for it. You're friends with those people in the first place because you have stuff in common with them, so it makes sense that you'd find something in somebody else.
SD: The album is rooted in the history of an old friend group that split apart. Was it difficult to relive that history when you were writing?
HM: No. I think it was easier. When it all first happened, it was too much, and I had to reflect a little bit. Now that I'm further away from it, it's easier to talk about it. But it's still so prevalent. I had to make totally new friends, and there are trust issues. It doesn't go away.
SD: It feels like you keep yourself a step removed in your writing, particularly in the way you use pronouns.
MH: Yeah, definitely. I've never really been big into writing explicitly from my first-person perspective. I think it makes it sound whinier — it may be more personal, though. But I think with the pronouns it's also what's acceptable to the queer community and recognizing that other people can relate to these experiences, too. It doesn't have to be a "he" or "she." It's for anybody.
SD: What's the first thing you're looking forward to doing when you get to Burlington?
MH: Well, I can't get the cupcake at Radio Bean anymore. They used to have those vegan cupcakes, which were amazing. But I'll definitely call everyone I know and hang out.
SD: Last question: Where did the name And the Kids come from?
MH: Well, in that old friend group that had a really sloppy ending, we were just crazy teenagers. And we lived on this island between Northampton and Hadley for a couple of summers, being total bums and alcoholics. And we had the best time of our lives. We had one friend who we called Mom because she was a little older and the only one of us who went to school. She would buy us alcohol and give us bad life advice. So she was our mom, and we were the kids.
At first the name was And the Kids and the Pirates, because were pretending we were pirates on this island. But that was too long, so it became And the Kids.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Sharing Is Caring"