Last summer I took a trip to Brooklyn to check out Mother Mother, since the Canadian band only had two U.S. dates on their ’07 tour, both in New York. I stood five feet away from the stage and was instantly captivated. Their debut album, Touch Up, released in 2007 on Last Gang Records, had been on constant iPod rotation since it dropped. There was something about their Vancouver sensibility and genial alt-folk sound that made songs like “Dirty Town” and “Polynesia” more than just powerfully catchy tunes; the songs became a part of my life soundtrack. The voices of singer/guitar player Ryan Guldemond, Molly Guldemond (Ryan’s sister), and Debra-Jean Creelman combine to create a hauntingly harmonic wall of sound that is sometimes chill-inducing.
Ryan Guldemond took a few minutes out of his tour schedule to answer some questions for Black Plastic Bag.
How did the songs on O My Heart emerge? Were they the darker next chapter of Touch Up or something entirely organic?
OMH is TOUCH UP’s brooding older brother, dark but sensitive. He is easily perplexed by his flippant younger sister, trolloping about, showing flank. Despite a shared lineage, he often wonders of their maternal source. Catch him in a candid moment though, and he’ll be the first to admit, blood is thicker than water.
What were some of the musical and literary influences that informed O My Heart?
Nothing obvious at the time, and even now, with the guidance of hindsight I stumble. When your band becomes your life, especially when recording an album, listening to music and reading books fall to the wayside and become luxurious. But if I had to pick, The Band and Charles Bukowski and would have been direct influences. They had a big, raw sound and he could really shine a light on the soul. Both are things we tried to achieve with OMH.
What’s a new band you’re really excited for? What’s an old band you’ll never stop listening to?
Tokyo Police Club and The Beatles.
Have US audiences been receiving you well live? What’s something that sets U.S. shows apart from those in Canada or Europe?
There are less people at US shows than Canada, but that’s to be expected. People are always rather nice in America and I find there to be a wiley glint in there eye when they get excited about our music. Either that or a poised nonchalance. I can really appreciate both.
Can you talk a bit about the production of O My Heart and what the band in-studio dynamic is like? Like, is there one person in the band who really orchestrates or is it collaborative recording process?
I helped produce OMH but we each had our voice, our talent and assets. These are the ingredients of any band’s sound. Once you know the tape is rolling, an unbridled spontaneity and improvisational sense comes alive that speaks to the moment, no matter how pre ordained the moment may be. We tried to maintain a balance, staying on course of a rigid game plan, but fearing not unchartered waters.
Has any of the band been to DC before? What do you look forward to in coming to the nation’s capital?
C’est le premier fois que nous sommes a DC!!! and during such a pivotal time. Pre election buzz will be interesting to see and feel, and the White House is somewhat of a thing, isn’t it? not to mention the home of Alexander Ovechkin and Fugazi!