Yesterday Ryan Guldemond, frontman of “Canada’s biggest alternative-rock band,” Mother Mother, premiered the debut single from GLDMTH, a solo art project that combines Guldemond’s music, photography, videography, and poetry, and whose self-titled debut LP is set to drop September 24th on Warner Records. The song, “The People,” is somewhere between the balladry of Nick Cave and The Beatles, which Guldemond describes as a reflective commentary on all of the most existentially noteworthy identities he has embodied over the span of his life.
However, Guldemond is not taking any sort of break from Mother Mother, who released their eighth full-length (Inside) last year and are set to kick off their second full-scale US tour behind the album late next month, which includes an October 14th stop at The Fillmore, their first headlining show in the main room, after numerous performances in The Foundry. This February I got a chance to chat with Guldemond via phone, just a few weeks after Mother Mother put on an epic show at The TLA, and he assures me that their upcoming date at The Fillmore will certainly be a different experience from their previous local date: “The production value will be higher and the setlist will be different. The light show will be different, and the banter will be different [laughs].”
Mother Mother, who gained a reputation as road dogs shortly after the release of their 2007 debut album (Touch Up), gained a very different and unexpected brand of notoriety during lockdown. When I ask Ryan about some of the recent highlights of the band, he tells me, “This recent resurgence of energy of our back catalogue via TikTok!” According to Rolling Stone, as of October of 2020 the hashtag #mothermother had been viewed more than 56 million times, and the band’s top three songs all came from their 2008 sophomore album, O My Heart (whose songs have featured prominently in recent setlists, with six songs included at their February stop on South Street, as many as came from their latest album.)
The band’s TikTok fame also earned them a very specific, and somewhat surprising (because none of the bandmembers themselves happen to fall into this category), fanbase: the non-binary community. When I ask Ryan about this, he tells me, “That definitely is an honor. When music is doing its job best it’s a portal for people discovering who they are more truly, which is especially important for non-binary people, whose quest to identify is a little more complex than with heteronormative people.” He goes on to say, regarding the music of Mother Mother in general, “We love to make it about the music, instead of ourselves. We love for our music to be a positive force in the world… It’s important that people can connect the Mother Mother realm with healing powers.”
However, Guldemond tells me that the band was ecstatic to finally have their music be able to step outside of TikTok and find its way to live audiences after lockdown ended: “The whole thing felt like a highlight, just back out on the road and sharing music with people after so long.” At the time of our chat, he also tells me that the band’s most recent single, “Hayloft II” – a sequel to O My Heart’s “Hayloft” – is not only currently his favorite song, but also the one that seems to be making the biggest splash at these live performances: “It really crushes onstage and it’s nice to see people connecting with something that has that much darkness and musicality.”
As much as Guldemond and Mother Mother are enjoying playing the songs of Inside live, he does tell me that he thinks there’s something special about hearing the album as a whole and unified work of art: “I kinda perceive the album as a bundle, and with ‘Hayloft II’ we really wanted to pay tribute to the narrative of the story.” He also adds that he’s been really impressed and honored by how much fans are liking the 8-minute-long title track which closes the album, and which is never played live: “I like that people like that there’s a long song at the end with a ripping guitar solo. It’s nice that they like something that’s not just two minutes.”
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