We Chat with Mother Mother About Their Recently Released New Album, No Culture, and More

12 April 2017
Kevin Nash
Three months before heading to the studio to begin writing the new album, Mother Mother frontman Ryan Guldemond put down a long habit of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. After a few months of sobriety, the honeymoon wore off and he fell into a depression. A debilitating period of writer’s block ensued, which inspired the first single “Love Stuck” and material for the band’s new album. 
Mother Mother’s new album No Culture was released on February 10, 2017, via Def Jam Recordings. The album is the follow-up to 2014’s Very Good Bad Thing, which hit No. 1 on Canada’s Alternative Albums chart. Gaining wide acclaim, Juno Awards accolades, and now a fresh new piece of work in No Culture, we couldn't think of a better time to catch up with Mother Mother to discuss numerous topics inclusive of touring the new tunes, snack wishlist, what songs they would want to listen to on their death bed, the new album, and more. Enjoy the conversation below. 

You guys are from quite a unique place in Canada. How has that landscape, culture, or ambiance of Quadra Island/British Columbia influenced your sound or approach to music?

I can’t say we’re influenced musically by our environment. We’re not really a laid back or oceany sound. I don’t even think we sound all that Canadian. But I did grow up in a community and family that promoted free, eccentric thinking, which I think makes sense when taking into account the lyrics. They tend to air a little on the bohemian and existential side.

A decade plus, a slight change in lineup, evolution in sound, and different record label; who was Mother Mother then, when you started, who is Mother Mother now, and what surprises you the most when thinking about those two polarizing moments in time?

Initially, we were naive, but in some good ways, I think. The writing was bold and allegorical, hyper-creative and zany, which was a great place to start the journey of refinement from. Now, things are more carefully put together.  I’m having deeper conversations with myself about what I want this music to represent, and as a band, we aim to bolster and support these themes without diluting them with ego or gratuitous arranging.

When you look back at your catalog, what surprises you the most or intrigues you the most in terms of the sonic progression from Touch Up to Eureka and to now No Culture?

I’m surprised by how far we pushed the production from its acoustic origins. Eureka, our third album, was really the apex of this effort to abandon the organic side of the band. We made a really produced and synth leaning album with that one. It makes sense that with the records to follow, we bent back a little bit, utilizing the acoustic guitar and some simpler production techniques.

In regards to No Culture, how have the songs played live while on tour? Have you noticed an enhanced response from the audience or do you personally feel something different when playing songs from this new record live?

They play very well, and people are responding. They're big without being busy and the vocals sit in a great place. I think the band is getting better at those two things: creating size from space, and making sure the song is in the right key so people are singing in their own range, ensuring the vocals pop. These are also some of the most vulnerable and honest songs we’ve put out, lyrically speaking, which has created some new and different energy for us at our concerts. The songs "Baby Boy" and "Family" both seem to really connect with people on a deep, emotional level. We play them and something in the room opens up. It’s cool. I’ve really been enjoying this new energy.

What are you most excited with in regards to No Culture

There’s great cohesion around the album, from its theme to its artwork and the spiritual energy within the band itself. We’re aligned, and that hasn’t always been the case. It really feels like an album that has brought us closer together. I’m excited about that. 

Okay here are a couple fun ones...What food, snack, or beverage do you wish you always had while on tour?

I wish we had a deluxe smoothie bar on tour. That would be amazing. I’d be on a liquid diet.

What’s the last song or album you’d want to listen to on your deathbed?

Life is Strange, by T-Rex. Something to help me not take the whole ordeal too seriously.

Roping it back in, what should fans expect from Mother Mother on tour and are there any particular places you’ll be playing for the first time or are excited to be performing?

I think they can expect the band at its best to date. We just got off of a Canadian tour and something really clicked on that run. There was more interaction and synergy between members than I ever recall. We also pull from our whole catalog so fans can expect to hear old favorites as well as songs from No Culture.   

What’s next for Mother Mother?

We have a bunch of US dates in May, some opening for Kongos and some are our own headlining shows. You can check the dates at www.mothermothersite.com