Starting out as an acoustic pop trio in January 2005, Vancouver-based Mother Mother has since evolved into a five-piece, indie rock powerhouse. Following a slew of festival shows – and opening spots for the likes of Canadian rapper K’Naan – the group landed a deal with Toronto’s Last Gang Records in 2006. By 2011, their record Eureka reached No. 8 on the Canadian music charts, their biggest mainstream success to date.
The quintet will be making its way to the Bronson Centre on November 23 in support of their fourth full-length album, The Sticks. WHERE Ottawa’s Erica Eades speaks with frontman Ryan Guldemond about his musical influences, his affinity for country music, and the band’s favourite moment in Ottawa.
For readers who are new to Mother Mother, how would you describe your sound?
Quirky rock music with boys and girls – with kind of disturbing, comical lyrics.
Who are some artists who have influenced the group?
I like The Pixies a lot. And Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, The Dirty Projectors, Neil Young – stuff like that.
That’s a pretty wide range.
Yeah. I like any genre, really – it’s just got to be the good stuff. I mean, I love country music, but I don’t really like pop-country of the modern day. But I do love old Hank Williams, The Byrds, that sort of thing.
What can you tell us about the band’s latest album, The Sticks?
It reiterates a theme throughout, which is protesting the modern world and encouraging living more naturally. There’s also some post-apocalyptic stuff. It has a heavy tone that’s quite pertinent to modern times and the state of the world and the human condition. That’s new for us, to be that purposeful with the writing.
What do you think inspired this change?
I wrote a couple songs that meant a lot to me and seemed pretty powerful. They both shared that theme, so it seemed like a viable avenue to just further iterate it. It was nice to write something that wasn’t just fantastical or made up – it has some relevance.
You’ve been touring like crazy over the past year. How did you find time to write and produce an album?
Well, the writing I can do anywhere. I don’t really need stuff; I just need my head. For the recording part, we have to delegate time in between our tours. That’s set out in a more strategic way. But if your songs come from an inspired place, making a record is easy.
Fellow Canadian Hannah Georgas joins you on your current tour. How did this partnership come about?
I met Hannah a few years ago when I co-produced her last record. I was hanging out with her a lot, and the timing worked out perfectly (she just released a record in October). Plus, it’s just always nice to be on the road with one of your best friends.
You’ve performed in Ottawa a number of times before. Do you have a favourite memory of the city?
I wouldn’t want to favour one gig or tour over the next, but the Ottawa Bluesfest was definitely a fond memory in the band’s touring legacy. There were a lot of people, and it was a beautiful day. And just to be part of that bill – the festival is pretty formidable in its greatness.
Mother Mother and Hannah Georgas take the stage at the Bronson Centre this Friday, November 23 at 8 p.m. For tickets visit Spectra Sonic.