- Tue, 2010-06-01 10:23
Idiosyncratic indie-rockers Mother Mother have spent the last five years making a name for themselves in the U.S.A. and their home country of Canada as purveyors of music that is thoughtful and catchy in equal measure. Having now made their first European release with the album O My Heart, it can only be a matter of time before their ever-growing reputation bridges the Atlantic.
I Like Music caught up with front-man Ryan Guldemond to chat about Mother Mother’s inception, the state of the Canadian music scene, the unparalleled joy of playing live, and what the next chapter holds.
“I Like Music because… it's a refuge from boring everyday life.” Ryan, Mother Mother
ILM: How did Mother Mother get together?
Ryan: Five-ish years ago I began writing lyric based pop songs. My sister Molly and I put the band together - initially as a three piece acoustic act sans rhythm section - to see how the tunes might fare in the world. The sound connected quite well off the hop so we were gigging a lot right away and doing CBC stuff, which helped get the music heard in Canada. We signed our record deal 2 years later, and by that point we were a full band with drums, bass and more attitude. Since then we have been touring constantly.
ILM: You have a very particular sound, mixing elements of rock and pop in a very individual way; was that the intention from the very start, or just how your sound has evolved?
Ryan: It's not really a planned thing, but there's is a lot of work put into the arrangement and presentation of the material. The essence of a song happens in a flash. Fleshing out all the words, themes and musical infiltration is involved, but never with a modus operandi to sound like a particular genre or aesthetic. It's just our instincts and influences working in tandem subconsciously.
ILM: What made you fall in love with music for the first time?
Ryan: Not really sure. Maybe my first walkman experience; out in the street, music in the brain, falling from the sky, strutting bravado. Listening with headphones is an empowering way to enjoy music. It allows one to alienate the whole world and everyone in it in a positive way
ILM: What’s the Canadian music scene like – do you feel it’s affected the nature of the band?
Ryan: Canada's a big place, but the inner circle in music, or at least in indie-rock feels smallish. That said, there is a community-oriented way that the bands work alongside each other, and that's nice to observe. However, we as a band don't naturally adopt the collective attitude, but just kind of do our own thing, so patriotic or geographical affectations don't usually find their way into the band's nature, musically or ethically.
ILM: You’ve just kicked off your first UK tour. How does it compare to playing to what is presumably a more established fan-base back home?
Ryan: Yeah, there's less awareness overseas so the shows are a lot smaller. It's still the same recipe though - playing songs from a stage to some people - and that's a nice thing to do, no matter the scale of venue or size of crowd.
ILM: What do you look forward to the most about playing live?
Ryan: At its best, the experience of playing live has all the best attributes of listening to the music that you've come to know and love, but has the added bonus of interactivity. It is art and sport combined. Heightened awareness, the energy of the crowd, the natural acoustics of a good live venue and good gear, the connectedness of the band members and the love of the music - all these things can potentially come together to produce the exhilarating experience that we are all seeking from music - from life, even. That exhilaration is the very reason why most of us are drawn to music in the first place, and the live experience is the most fertile ground for that to materialize.
ILM: Festival season is coming up…what’s your dream festival to play, and who would headline?
Ryan: The Festival Of A Unanimous Human Devotion To Being Good, with The Beatles headlining.
ILM: O My Heart is due to hit UK stores soon, how did the recording process differ to your debut?
Ryan: Quite a lot. We recorded Touch Up, our debut, in our living room for the most part and sang 75% of the harmonies live off the floor. With O My Heart, we had a decent budget and more time, but beyond financial restraints or luxuries, there was less identity behind the first record. It was more a representation of a batch of songs than an attempt to encapsulate the personality of a band, which was much of the motivation behind O My Heart.
ILM: We hear work has started on album number three, what direction is it likely to take?
Ryan: Album 3 is shaping up well and truthfully it kind of seems like a bridge between the first two records. Touch Up was very playful and cheeky whereas O My Heart was more serious and dour, but with album 3 there is a lot of fun in the lyrics and motifs. It’s still very modern and electric, and perhaps more fresh than either record. It's our favorite, easily.
ILM: Who are your musical idols?
Ryan: John Lennon, Frank Black, Elvis, Lucinda Williams, Kurt Cobain among others.
ILM: What music, old or new, have you been listening to lately?
Ryan: Colleen Brown, a singer/songwriter from Edmonton, AB.