Mother Mother: Back to Basics on The Sticks
At the peak of digital possibility, for every one artist capitalizing on the technology age, two are cursing its contribution to the demise of good music.
For every Rebecca Black, there is a Neil Young – an established artist there to remind us that it didn’t used to be all MP3 and YouTube; there was a time when music, performing and fandom were organic. A time that some people raised in today’s era of music might not understand.
But then there are contemporary bands that do get it. Take Mother Mother, for instance – a popular Canadian indie-rock group that is, in principle, part of a style-savvy, tech generation. Mother Mother has grown into Canada-wide fame with the world at the band’s fingertips; watched technology develop and aid their every attention-seeking desire. But, as you’ll hear reiterated on the band’s new album The Sticks – Mother Mother would rather strip back to basics. The band has a refreshing case of the Neil Youngs.
“As an artist, as a band, as people – just trying to adapt to the rampant technological advancements is a thing in itself,” Mother Mother front man Ryan Guldemond frankly admits. “It feels like people try to cater to that, forgetting the very simple and raw act of creativity.”
Looking at Mother Mother, the Vancouver-bred quintet that found their bearings in 2005 and quickly captured Canadian airwaves with a danceable rock sound and undeniable knack for delectable hooks – the band’s trendy guise suits their clever hits well. Progressive layers of versatile rock sound, flashy live performances, Guldemond’s spiked golden coif and the rest of the bandmates’ stylish threads speak to their progressive outlook – but are qualities not to be confused with tagging alongside music fads.
“Believe it or not, we don’t really follow the trends,” Guildemond says. “We try to come by our own evolution and how we write naturally. Songwriting should be seen as more of an act of servitude – people take too much credit for their creative output. Realistically, you’ve happened upon a song, you‘re lucky – you were able to pull a song out of the air and channel it.”
Mother Mother should, however, take a little credit for the unique flavour of edgy alt-rock that they have coined as their own; whatever air Mother Mother grabbed, their three-album discography has gifted the band members with handfuls of animated numbers that translate into exhilarating live shows. On their fourth full- length album, the band boasts clarity and perspective – while remaining charmingly quirky – reflecting on their whirlwind experiences through the rough terrain of the overcrowded music industry.
Having returned from touring their last album and now setting sail again, Mother Mother is well aware that overseas gigs are always different stories than the brimming Canadian festival grounds and leaping crowds of native followers. Though the homecomings are forever heartening, Mother Mother often finds the “organic experience” performing in foreign places.
“It’s incredibly humbling having to win people over,” lead singer Guildemond says. “Using only the merits of the music and whatever you’re able to perform and deliver that night to a small crowd – it’s very grounding. In Canada, you can manufacture these epic experiences by using a big fan base and loudspeakers. The people who are coming there love you biasedly. When you’re insignificant and unknown – the raw elements of the music are going to determine your success or depth of imprint.”
Gearing up to rock Ottawa’s Bronson Centre on Friday night, Guldemond exclaims that four albums later: “It’s all still totally riveting – especially how challenging it’s getting to write the darn set list.”
The tightly-knit group is too lovesick for the musical process, the many wins and their “darn set list” to allow the chaos of the new industry to change their mind about a life spent in music. According to Guldemond, the birth of a new musical chapter is always like a new romance; it has its ups, downs and butterflies; it’s lusty, it’s learning – but it’s beautiful.
“This whole thing – it always takes feeling out, all over again. We’re in the honeymoon phase of The Sticks, and we’ll need to take what we learned from our last album, find the grooves of this one, bring in a new maturity and try and have fewer hang-ups each time. But every time, we do feel more grounded as musicians. Each time, we take this starry-eyed, punch-drunk feeling that comes with a new album and try to savour it all. Not belittle it with doubt.”
Mother Mother is set to rock the Ottawa stage on Friday night. More info here.