When I first heard “The Stand” in 2011, I knew that Vancouver-based indie collective Mother Mother were a band that I wanted to know more about. The irreverent call-and-response was unlike anything coming out of American Top-40 radio at the time and the line “Everyone’s fucked and they don’t even know” was a facetious, yet entirely honest manner in which to describe the human experience.
I interviewed singer Ryan Guldemond shortly after the song’s release and found him to be a refreshing voice in an otherwise superficial scene. After speaking with him again recently, I’m pleased to report that I still feel that way.
Mother Mother’s latest release, “Dance and Cry,” is further proof that pop music doesn’t need to be dumbed down to be relatable, which, in 2019, is a concept that can’t be overstated. If you’re someone who likes infectious melodies steeped in subtext, the band’s show at Town Ballroom on March 16 is the place to be.
MNOD: The last time we spoke was in 2011 when “Eureka” had just been released. How do you feel that the band has evolved in that time?
Guldemond: We’ve evolved in so many ways. We’ve grown sonically in that there’s more texture and experimentation in the music as well as less sarcasm in the lyrical tone. The band is connecting well with the fans now on a very visceral level, which is what this whole thing is all about.
MNOD: I know that you instituted a year-long experiment in sobriety while making the last record, “No Culture,” so I was wondering how that influenced your process moving forward. Did that clarity spill over into the creation of “Dance and Cry?”
Guldemond: Being sober really catalyzed things for me. I was listening to my body and creating things from a clear perspective. It put me in tune with my thoughts in a better way and ultimately convinced me that it was a better way to go about the business of writing a record. The purpose wasn’t to go off on a tangent against drugs and alcohol. I just wanted to try something that was necessary for me at that time, because that clarity of thought enabled me to get in touch with my emotions and write a cathartic record. I was able to touch base with myself and finally hear all of those creative voices that were coming from a really deep place.
MNOD: How did the recording process for “Dance and Cry” go compared to past projects you’ve worked on?
Guldemond: It was a very rewarding experience. This album was much more live off the floor sounding and less computery than our previous records. I didn’t want the vocals to be precious or perfected. I wanted the finished product to mirror my intention of becoming a vulnerable human.
MNOD: How has the audience responded to the material so far?
Guldemond: Really well, actually. We feel like our fans are up for having this conversation with us in a different way. It’s brought us closer to the fans, because we’re talking about things that resonate with people.
MNOD: Is there a track on “Dance and Cry” that you feel encapsulates the album’s themes?
Guldemond: I think “It’s Alright” is the one that really stands out. It has a confessional verse that explores an imperfect persona. It’s about expressing imperfection. It’s about solace and forgiveness. I think the song explores the dichotomies quite well and connects viscerally with the listener.
MNOD: What can fans expect during the live show?
Guldemond: We’re drawing from our whole catalog. We’re putting new skin on old songs and injecting the show with very positive overtones. The production is great and the dialogue we’re engaged in with the audience has taken on greater significance.
MNOD: What are your goals for the band moving forward?
Guldemond: To make more music, better music. We want to play new places and continue to make that connection with people. We’re going to Europe in May, which is exciting. I think we’ve made our most honest record yet, which has revitalized the band and added a therapeutic quality to the music. We’ll continue to follow that path.
Mother Mother will be at Town Ballroom on March 16 with the Winnetka Bowling League.
“Dance and Cry” is available now wherever music is disseminated, but do us all a favor and pay for a physical copy.