Since their earliest days as a band, And The Kids have embodied the wayward freedom that inspired their name. “When Rebecca and I were teenagers we just lived on the streets and played music, and people in town would always call us kids—not as in children, but as in punks,” says Mohan. On their third full-length When This Life Is Over, the Northampton, Massachusetts-based four-piece embrace that untamable spirit more fully than ever before, dreaming up their most sublimely defiant album yet.
The self-produced follow-up to Friends Share Lovers—a 2016 release acclaimed by NPR, who noted that “Mohan’s striking vocals rival the vibrato and boldness of Siouxsie Sioux…[And The Kids] make music that’s both fearless and entertaining”—When This Life Is Over unfolds in buzzing guitar tones and brightly crashing rhythms, howled melodies and oceanic harmonies. Although And The Kids recorded much of When This Life Is Over at Breakglass Studios in Montreal (mainly to accommodate the fact that Miller was deported to her homeland of Canada in 2014), a number of tracks come directly from bedroom demos created by Lasaponaro and Mohan. “The sound quality on those songs is so shittily good; it’s just us being so raw and so alone in the bedroom, writing without really even thinking we were going to use it,” says Mohan. “We recorded them right away, and there was a really strong feeling of ‘Don’t touch them again.’”
Even in its more heavily produced moments, When This Life Is Over proves entirely untethered to any uptight and airless pop-song structure. Songs often wander into new moods and tempos, shining with a stormy energy that merges perfectly with the band’s musings on depression and friendship and mortality and love. On opening track “No Way Sit Back,” And The Kids bring that dynamic to a sharp-eyed look at the lack of representation of marginalized people in the media. “If you’re not seeing yourself portrayed on TV, whether you’re a person of color or trans or queer, that can be really damaging to your mental health—it can even be fatal,” says Mohan. With its transcendent intensity, “No Way Sit Back” takes one of its key lyrical refrains (“The world was never made for us”) and spins it into something like a glorious mantra. That willful vitality also infuses tracks like “Champagne Ladies,” on which And The Kids match a bouncy melody to their matter-of-fact chorus (“Life is a bastard/Life wants to kill you/Don’t get old”), driving home what Mohan identifies as the main message of the song: “Don’t die before you’re dead.”
The origins of And The Kids trace back to when Mohan and Lasaponaro first met in seventh grade. After playing in a series of bands throughout junior high and high school (sometimes with Averill on bass), the duo crossed paths with Miller in 2012 when the three interned at the Institute for the Musical Arts in the nearby town of Goshen. Once they’d brought Miller into the fold, And The Kids made their debut with 2015’s Turn to Each Other and soon headed out on their first tour. “At one of the shows on that tour, a burlesque act opened for us at a place in Arkansas,” Mohan recalls. “And then another time on tour, we crashed at a friend of a friend’s house, and there was a pot-bellied pig sleeping on the couch. That’s what nice about staying at people’s houses on the road: you never know what you’re gonna see.”
In creating the cover art for When Life Is Over, And The Kids chose to include a picture of their mascot: a black chihuahua named Little Dog, an ideal symbol for the scrappy ingenuity at the heart of the band. “Some of the most memorable moments we’ve been through with the band are like, ‘Hey, remember that tour when Megan had just gotten deported and we didn’t have any money, and we had to drive all these hours to play for like two people?’” says Mohan. “That was a real bonding experience for us. And even when it’s hard, there’s always something good that comes out of it. There’s always a meaning for everything.”