Snowy Strip Malls and Childhood Visions

Mother Mother is a Canadian Indie-Rock/Pop band, started by Ryan Guldemond, who recruited his sister, along with a friend from college, to record their first album in 2005. The group was originally just called “Mother”, but they changed that after the first album, and then re-released it with the new title (perhaps “mother” is just too commonly used). Mother Mother has since released Oh My Heart (2008), Eureka (2011), and The Sticks (September 2012), and the band now consists of five members; Ali Siadat (drums), Jasmin Parkin (keyboard and vocals), and of course the Guldemond siblings: Molly (vocals and keyboard) and Ryan (vocals, guitar, lyrics).

Mother Mother are going to be at our very own Port Theatre on December 16th with Hanah Georgas. Until then, enjoy this interview with the ever-eloquent Ryan Guldemond.

ALLY: Thank you for taking time out of your busy tour to do this.

RYAN: Yeah, you’re very welcome.

ALLY: So, how is your tour going?

RYAN: It’s going great. We just rolled up to Kitchener

ALLY: Cool, I don’t know where that is, but…

RYAN: It’s in Ontario. Small town. It’s kind of cute. Nice club. Yeah, its going really good.

ALLY: Do you have a place you prefer to play, like clubs or concert halls or outdoor festivals?

RYAN: They kind of all have their charms. The small club is kind of neat because it’s really intimate. And the big club…you know, the larger they get, the more fire and sort of grandiosity, which is exciting So different flavors.

ALLY: You write songs about seclusion and getting away. Do you get that from being around all those people and on the spot? Do you wish that you could sort of go on a vacation?

RYAN: Well, yeah that’s a nice idea but I don’t think the writing is a direct statement on the touring life. Touring is pretty easy, and the people we surround ourselves with are really lovely. It’s more of a societal statement.

ALLY: You mention fire a lot in your songs. What does it represent?

RYAN: Fire? Well, I didn’t realize we did that. I think it’s one of those words that is just an amazing poetic, phonetic vessel: bones, fire…stuff like that.

ALLY: Are you looking forward to coming to BC?

RYAN: Totally yeah. It’ll be nice to be close to home and playing on familiar turf.

ALLY: And you’re from Vancouver right?

RYAN: Yeah.

ALLY: And so are the New Pornographers, which are on the same record label as you. Do you guys know each other?

RYAN: No I don’t know those guys actually. It’s funny how you can be so close and, you know, even affiliated through your label and stuff but kind of miss each other sometimes. People are so busy.

ALLY: Ever listened to them?

RYAN: Yeah. Yeah. I like them.

ALLY: Yeah, me too. You guys are kind of glamorous-looking and stuff. I was just wondering, do you put effort into that or are there, like, people that do that for you or something?

RYAN: Haha. Like people who dress us? Um, no not so much. I mean the girls got sponsored by a company based out of London called AngelEye. So they usually wear those clothes on the tour, but I mean for the most part we just dictate our own wardrobes, and you know, just develop our own kind of style and you know, put our own clothes on in the morning and go about our days. Haha.

ALLY: Have there been any big exciting things that have happened to you so far this tour?

RYAN: Yeah, I mean it’s all kind of exciting. Last night was cool, we got to park our tour bus in downtown Toronto with the day off. It was kinda surreal actually. I mean, this thing is such a moving vessel of diversity and we’ll wake up in different places and usually in back parking lots of snowy strip malls and that kind of thing and so we just arrived in downtown Toronto. It was fun.

ALLY: I guess you do a lot of traveling but you don’t necessarily get to see a whole bunch of the place. You go and you park in a parking lot or whatever, and you do stuff but you don’t necessarily go do touristy things that much.

RYAN: No. No, it’s really not the motivation or the purpose.

ALLY: Just sort of focus on the music.

RYAN: Yeah there is a lot that goes into a show day. You know, it’s kind of a full day thing of running around, setting up, doing interviews, then the sound check, the show. The day escapes you very quickly.

ALLY: You’re coming to Duncan and Nanaimo so I guess you have quite a fanbase here and a lot of nearby places which is cool. Normally bands just go to Vancouver.

RYAN: Right, and then make everybody catch the ferry.

ALLY: Right, that’s what I usually do. So it’s cool to be able to just go to the Port Theatre.

RYAN: Well we grew up on Quadra, a couple of us, so we kind of have a sentimental connection with the island. We like to do right by the territory.

ALLY: It was you and your sister and another of the band members?

RYAN: Yeah, Jasmine grew up in Courtney

ALLY: That’s so cool. How long did you live there for?

RYAN: Like nineteen years and then I moved to Vancouver shortly after graduating.

ALLY: Did you go to a music school?

RYAN: Yeah, I did, for like a year and a half I went to a community college in Vancouver and studied jazz.

ALLY: Was that something that inspired you to form a band?

RYAN: Well I kind of always wanted to start a band.

ALLY: Like a childhood dream kind of thing?

RYAN: Yeah, exactly. As you get older, you kind of realize that maybe that’s a little far-fetched and perhaps a more humble career in music is a better avenue to explore. So that’s where music school came in. You know, I wanted to learn more of the language and be more academic in the field. And then you know, I just started a band and it just started doing good things and keeping that vision alive. You know, that childhood vision.

ALLY: Yeah, don’t just let it fade away like probably happens to a lot of people.

RYAN: It was really sort of tough to make it work. You know, original band playing our own songs. But this one seems to have legs and it seems to have a spirit. A surviving spirit.

ALLY: Your band members have changed a bit. You had a a different drummer at the beginning and a different vocalist or guitar player. How much does it change things when you when you change a person?

RYAN: Well, a lot. You know, usually a change is needed. And for all of the wild and evil feelings and traits that come in to play, it’s usually a positive thing. I mean, one person carries a lot of emotional weight and can shape the dynamic greatly, even in a group of ten or twenty. Everyone’s energy is connected, so one person can change how it travels around. So yeah, we have definitely undergone some shifts in the career but it’s all been for the better.

ALLY: You write the lyrics. Do you write them beforehand or do you all write the music together?

RYAN: I just kind of write the basic song: like the harmony and the melody and the lyric and the form. You know, a song you might just play on an acoustic guitar around a campfire.

ALLY: Oh, so you write the base and then the other band members add on to it?

RYAN: Yeah. It’s like you kind of come up with an outline and then people can fill it in using their own interpretive colours.

ALLY: Yeah that’s awesome. I’m really looking forward to you guys coming to Nanaimo.

RYAN: Yeah, can’t wait to be there.