Mother Mother forge a new path

by Devin King

Indie darlings Mother Mother will be making an appearance at the Burton Cummings Theatre on December 4th. The tour comes after the release of their album Sticks, an album which many have identified as their darkest album to date. Sticks deals with the notions of technological infringements taking over our lives, and the desire to seek out a more balanced life. Ryan Guldmonde spoke to Stylus about the album and how some of the ideas on this album and others play out on the tour.

Stylus: You’ve written before about the problems with Babies Not Dancing. Is this a consistent problem in Canada, or is this a global problem you’ve specifically identified at Mother Mother concerts?
Ryan Guldmonde:
Well, people’s willingness to gyrate does ebb and flow, but I’m not sure if it’s geographically based. Or maybe it is. Canada is a bit more reserved as a whole. But that being said, there [are] going to be some markets where they’re just as crazy as anywhere. I would say we have a beautiful blend of extroverts and introverts in this country.

Stylus: Was there an attempt to make a “dark” album, or are reviewers just talking about it a lot more now?
Yeah, I feel similar confusion when people seem to hit on that specifically because there’s plenty of darkness on each record and lyrically that’s always been the nature of the songs and their message. I think maybe there’s a little more cohesion between the sound of the music and the sentiment this time around. They’ve noticed that we’re dichotomous in that we sound happy but we say sad things, and that this time around we look how we feel.

Stylus: Is there a resolution to the problems of the album?
Well, I think things come full circle at the end. You’ve got your penultimate track which is a pretty bleak, apocalyptic story. Then it closes with “To the Wild” which [has] a really light, optimistic feel. But the message is to continue venturing away. So I find that those songs work really well. Even though the world as you know it is obliterated, it’s a beautiful opportunity to forge a new path. That’s kind of the message there, as the record wraps up.

Stylus: Is that why you haven’t renounced this world and gone into “the sticks” yourself? Because there’s some kind of beauty in the destruction?
Well, I mean, the natural connotations are more metaphorical. You could take it literally, envisioning a forest and a little hut but it’s really just about the spiritual calm one is trying to reach in their life amidst a lot of craziness, a lot of distractions, and a lot of technology.

Stylus: And technology is a big part of this. One thing I noticed on your website is that you’re crowdsourcing what songs will be played at your live show. If integration of technology is a problem, why choose to solicit fan response through Facebook and Twitter?
To use it is fine. I mean, it’s what it does to you that you need to be careful about. These things are all good in theory. Like much of religious principles. It is what the humans did with it that gives birth to corruption. So I think it’s fine, if you use things in the right way – if you use things in a synergistic way, you take your own natural ambitions and use technology or anything to help bring them to life, to thrive, to be seen from a wider lens. I really endorse technology and social media and adapting to technology, which might seem contradictory. But that’s okay.

Stylus: Has this helped to determine what songs will be played? Are there any big favourites?
Oh yeah. We’ve tried to find a top eight off the top album, because it becomes difficult trying to appease all facets of your repertoire when you’re four albums deep. So we want to make sure that we’re playing ones that mostly people are smitten with. You can’t play it all off the new record. You have to play the ones that got you to where you are.

Stylus: When people come to your shows, are they wanting particular songs or vibes?
: I think it’s natural for diehard fans to be in it for the old stuff, you know, music they fell in love with in the first place. They’re very nostalgic about that, and biased. That always gets a stir, when you play the oldies. But for the most part our fans appreciate it all. It doesn’t feel like there’s a certain dead point when you play a particular song in a set.

Stylus: If you were a Mother Mother fan, going to a Mother Mother show, what songs would you hope Mother Mother would play?
I guess something that they don’t play. Maybe this song called “Fat Kids.” We should play that one more often.

Stylus: Will you be playing it more on the tour now?
No. It’s kind of offensive.

Stylus: I was listening to a radio station and I heard Monster Magnet’s song “Space Lord” come on, and I think it’s the radio edit, because they say “mother mother” in that song. I’m wondering if your band name is actually censored, and your real band name is Mother Fucker.
Ah, well some of us are mother fuckers. But no, there’s no correlation to the Monster Magnet.

Stylus: So you’re not secretly a Monster Magnet tribute band?
: Nope. Afraid not.

Mother Mother play the Burton Cummings Theatre Tuesday December 4th.

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