The pandemic has reduced the visibility of most groups. For Mother Mother, the reverse is true.
During the lockdown, songs from the Canadian indie rock quintet’s “Touch Up” and “O My Heart” albums went viral on TikTok, being used more than 325 million times.
As a result, Mother Mother eventually made inroads south of the (Canadian) border and beyond.
“It’s a whole different world for us here” in America, frontman Ryan Guldemond said earlier this year. “There’s a notorious syndrome for Canadian bands: you can do well in your home country, but you can’t do anywhere else.
“Before the TikTok phenomenon, Canada was our big market. But all of this has transformed the scope of our relationship with the US market.
After a string of successful North American gigs earlier this year, Mother Mother spent the summer supporting Imagine Dragons in stadiums across Europe.
The group is back on their native continent headlining bigger venues than last spring. Mother Mother’s fall tour stops at the Fillmore New Orleans on Tuesday, opening for Vundabar and Transviolet. Show time is at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35.
The Pixies a major influence
As a boy, Guldemond’s musical vision was shaped in large part by post-punk heroes the Pixies.
“It was the band that changed everything for me when I was 10,” he said. “There is something in their sound. It’s catchy, it’s quirky, the lyrics are weird, the singer is wild but not too masculine, which I like when a male singer has girlish qualities. The harmonies are from another world.
This description of the Pixies sounds a lot like Mother Mother. He laughed: “We come dishonestly.”
He then went through a classic rock phase with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the Beatles, a metal phase with Metallica, Deftones and Tool and a punk phase with NOFX and Canadian hardcore band SNFU.
In his early twenties, he attended jazz school and was introduced to this “more cerebral musical language.” One day, sitting in a practice room playing jazz scales, he “switched gears” and wrote a song called “Ball Cap.”
This moment of inspiration led him to quit school. “That song revealed the new direction, my voice and my songwriting,” he said. “From there, it was like (songs) were falling from the sky. It was like something was unlocked.
A jazz school friend from Kentucky tried to convince Guldemond to start a band called “Mother”. “I was like, ‘That’s a weird name.’ But he convinced me. I find that accent so comforting.
Later, Guldemond and the other members of what became Mother Mother — not including, alas, the guy from Kentucky — played an open-mic night without having a band name. Later asked to provide one, Guldemond blurted out, “We are mother.”
When they signed a recording contract, they discovered that many groups were already called Mother. However, Mother Mother was available.
TikTok’s popularity is a ‘shock’
Almost 20 years after the fact, Guldemond still looks fondly at the band’s 2005 debut album, ‘Touch Up’, “because it was a time of so much discovery: ‘What is that sound? How do you sing in a mic? And we tried so many weird things, because we did it in a house with a lot of limitations, so we had to be innovative. For that reason, this album is really unique, there’s so a soft spot for me in my heart.
He relies on inspiration and perspiration to write anthems that can be urgent, unsettling, quirky and melodic all at once, namely ‘Burning Pile’, ‘Hayloft’, ‘Body’, ‘Verbatim’ and ‘The Drugs”, among others.
“The creative energy is in the air. How open you are, how channeled you are, determines whether you can lower that energy and do magick or not. Sometimes you can be in the grip of joy and you feel so good and free and you don’t think about the shit of life too much, and you pull something down, and it writes itself.
“Or you can be in the worst of heartbreak and suffer so much, but that’s another state of pure emotion, which is really conducive to songwriting. For me, it’s about being in a sensitive place, and not too intellectual. That’s when the magic happens. »
Why Mother Mother songs that are over a decade old, including “Hayloft,” “Arms Tonight,” and “Wrecking Ball,” have found new life on TikTok during the pandemic isn’t entirely clear. The LGBTQ and non-binary communities have embraced them, although none of the band members identify as a member of those communities.
“The whole TikTok thing was a huge surprise and a shock, really,” Guldemond said. “Who would have thought that this wild new app and a pandemic would create this perfect storm for us to have more exposure?
“We always joke, ‘Who was patient zero?’ Because it’s impossible to trace.
“More sore backs, better people”
Being popular in Canada but virtually unknown in America “was something we had lived with for 15 years: ‘Oh, great, we’re big in Canada, but nowhere else do we really care.’ There are years when it really hurts.
“But if you keep pushing you go to the other side and you can celebrate what you have got. And we had a really good thing before all of that.
“Now that it’s happened, because we’ve been around for so long, we’re really able to savor and appreciate this success. It couldn’t have come at a better time, because we are seasoned. We’ve been humbled before, so it’s a good time.
Hoping to keep up the momentum generated by TikTok, Mother Mother recently released “Live from Santiago de Compostela,” a six-song EP recorded during the band’s summer tour with Imagine Dragons. The EP will also be included in the upcoming “fan edition” vinyl reissue of the 2021 album “Inside (Deluxe)”.
Additionally, in September, Guldemond released a solo project called “GLDMTH”. Pronounced “mouth of gold”, it is a multimedia album of 11 tracks. Each song is accompanied by an animated lyric video and a visual presentation with photographs curated by Guldemond.
Honed by years of touring, Mother Mother – Guldemond on vocals and guitar, his sister Molly Guldemond on keyboards and vocals, keyboardist/vocalist Jasmin Parkin, drummer Ali Siadat and bassist Mike Young – unleashes a focused intensity on stage.
But one downside to finding success later in their collective career is that “we’re more sore on the road,” Guldemond said with a laugh.
“There are more back pains on the bus. But we are better people.