I recently had the chance to talk with Ryan Guldemond, lead singer and guitarist of Vancouver-based rock band Mother Mother. The band released its third studio album, "Eureka," on March 15. Guldemond spoke on the formation of the band, their sudden success, and upcoming North American tour.
Q: When did you first meet and how did you get together?
A: That would be in 2005. My sister and I started rooming together in Vancouver and I was going to music school. I guess as an act of objection from a more cerebral approach in music, I started writing sort of vocal-driven pop songs and wanted to start a ban based around that. Always having had a penchant for vocal harmony, that was one of the premises I wanted to build the band around, so I tried to find the right singers to infiltrate the concept. Molly, my sister, who I serendipitously was living with, was keen on the idea and was into coming into the project. I found another girl, who I was going to school with, who is a great singer, who was also into the idea, so it started like that, like a trio of voices. Since then, it evolved into a rock band that put out a few records.
Q: And how did you pick up the other two?
A: Well, we needed drums and bass at a certain point. You can’t really go far without that rhythm section aspect. Or, you know, you can go very far without a rhythm section but we wanted to amp it up a bit.
Q: Your new album, "Eureka," came out recently. What was it like making that album?
A: It was really intense. I mean, we focused many hours a day spent on it. You don’t really rest. It was a big project. We wanted to make a dense, multi-layer produced sound so there’s a lot of gaps to fill in the making of it. So it was multi-dimensional, time consuming and exciting as always. We really pursued great sounds and tones and had the mentality of building things really properly from the bottom up, never really making a mistake and trying to cover it up with a fix. It was always like you don’t move on until you’ve reached as close to perfection as possible.
Q: When you were starting out, you were known as Mother. What led to the name change?
A: Well, there were a bunch of bands with the name Mother so our record label sort of suggested, encouraged, that we change our name to avoid legal hassle. Instead of changing it all together because we had built some steam with the name Mother, we decided to double it up.
Q: When you were first starting out, you picked up steam pretty quickly; for example, playing at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. What was that sudden success like?
A: It was really exciting. We thought there was going to be the condition of activity from then on out but it mellowed out since then. We sort of came back to reality and understood that it was a steady and, at times, laborious ascent as opposed to a rapid, catapulting into success. But yeah, at first it was really quite shocking and flattering that there were people in high places that wanted to help and elevate the band.
Q: Since "Eureka" is your third album, how has your music evolved over time?
A: Well, it’s definitely gotten more dense and less organic. We were essentially a folk trio at the beginning and now it’s hard to pick those traits out in the music. I mean, it’s vaguely there but I would say we’re best encapsulated as a rock band so that’s the most obvious shift.
Q: Do you have any certain expectations for the new album?
A: We try to keep those to a bare minimum. It’s like you have realistic expectations, and they’re not even expectations but just simply mathematics of the album’s life span. You know certain things are going to happen and you can sort of equate those to expectations but they’re just sort of facts. Those are what we focus on. We don’t really bother with the giddy, dreamish expectations because that’s just a setup for a let down.
Q: The album cover has an interesting design. What was the process like for coming up with that?
A: Well Molly, my sister in the band, she did that. She does all the artwork and design. She’s quite a talented artist and graphic designer. Her approach was to embody the word "Eureka" and also the music which is the most colorful part, I think, with a very forward personality. So that style, we knew we wanted to do something in the animal vein because that’s what we’ve done for all our records so thematics are good and continuity is highly effective.
Q: I know you’re planning a North American tour soon. Can you talk about that?
A: We’ll be coming back down to the states in late May or early June and will be playing shows along the West Coast and Eastern Seaboard with perhaps some dates in the Midwest. Still working out the nuts and bolts.
Q: What do you have planned for the future?
A: Making records, playing shows, etc. but hopefully on a more diverse and elevated scale than what we’ve known. We’d like to tour more of the world more often besides North America.