The Cord interviews Mother Mother

It’s somewhat difficult to describe Mother Mother. Without listening to their work extensively, defining their sound in words is not easily accomplished other than to say they are far from the archetypal Canadian indie band.

Angelic vocal harmonies interspersed with driving bass and delicate guitar work comprise the bulk of the group’s two albums of material, with melodic curve-balls thrown in every so often.

In 2005, the Vancouver-based group self-released their debut album without much fanfare, according to lead singer Ryan Guldemond who spoke by phone with The Cord.

“We didn’t promote it very well. We just printed 1,000 [copies] and played shows in Vancouver; we gave some away.”

Through playing across Canada on the east coast and in Ontario following the first release of what was at the time entitled simply Mother, the band was eventually signed by Toronto’s Last Gang records.

The label, home to Canadian artists like Death From Above 1979, discovered the band after a copy of Mother found its way into the hands of an artists and repertoire representative at the label.

The band was playing at the Pop Montreal festival at the time.

“The Last Gang people were going to be in town so we just arranged for them to come to the show and meet and talk. The rest is history,” said Guldemond.

In 2007, Last Gang re-released Mother Mother’s first album with additional content as Touch Up.

This was followed by the acclaimed 2008 release of Oh My Heart. Sources as diverse as CBC Radio 3, the iTunes Store and even celebrity gossip magnate Perez Hilton have all touted the band’s live performances as well as Oh My Heart.

Guldemond commented on this praise, stating, “These companies and media outlets have clout and a prestige to their names, so I guess their opinions mean something.”

He added that while the band is thankful for the accolades, Mother Mother tries not to let the acclaim define their worth.

“We treat it all with a humble grain of salt,” said Guldemond.

With support from media south of the border, the band has also toured in the United States.

Guldemond admitted, “Things are a little slower to develop down there because we don’t have as much muscle behind promotion and radio as we do in Canada.”

Regardless, he was positive toward recognition of the band in the U.S., stating, “It’s definitely a market we can count on.”

The band has evolved since its inception, changing monikers (originally named only Mother), becoming a five-piece project and changing its line up.

Guldemond described the difference in sound between the first and second album as both a progression and a consequence of being a changing band.

“Touch Up was almost an experiment whereas Oh My Heart was a very focused band effort infiltrated by a record label and team outside the band … there was a different focus to it.”

Due to different circumstances during the recording of Oh My Heart, Guldemond remarked, “I think the sound congealed a bit – it became a bit more cohesive as a by-product of that.”

The intricate arrangements and vocals in the band’s music are in part the product of formal music training.

“I studied guitar from a young age and went on to study jazz in college in Vancouver,” noted Guldemond. Other band members also studied vocal jazz and saxophone at a post-secondary level.

Principle songwriter Guldemond discussed the lyrical style, stating, “I don’t attach a lot of personal anecdotes to lyrics.

“It’s more about concepts and themes. It’s more crafting something than letting people know how I personally am doing.”

The band is currently in the midst of a cross-country tour supporting Matthew Good.

On this experience, Guldemond mentioned watching Good’s sets on the road and marvelling at the “sheer number of hits the guy produced.”

This particular tour is important for Mother Mother.

He emphasized, “What makes it significant is a few things – it’s the exposure, it’s the quality of venue and it’s the compatibility with [Matthew Good] and his band. It’s all been tip top.”

When asked if the band had developed new material or if there were prospects for a new album in the near future, Guldemond replied, “We’ve given birth to lots of new material.

“There’s lots of new stuff and it’s all quite realized at this point – it feels like all we need to do is record it.”

In regards to a new album, he continued, “As far as when we will release this body of work, I’d say late summer 2010. It feels soon when you consider all that goes into getting these things ready.”

Mother Mother will play Center in the Square in Kitchener on Nov. 30 along with Matthew Good.