Mother Mother mixes it up
you’re a band noted for its three-part harmony, having two vocalists just isn’t an option.
So when Vancouver’s Mother Mother announced in December that vocalist Debra-Jean Creelman was leaving the group, the remaining members immediately started the hunt for a new third singer.
Thankfully, the search for a new voice went smoothly and without having to hold a giant, open audition. Jasmin Parkin, a musical acquaintance of band founder Ryan Guldemond, came aboard in January and the band is moving forward with a new singer and new outlook.
“Jasmin is from Vancouver and she’s got a great voice and also brings an instrumental element to the table so it has definitely enhanced and evolved the band’s sound,” Guldemond said from his Vancouver home. “It was a really easy transition.”
The Mother Mother lead singer/ songwriter didn’t want to get into the finer details of Creelman’s split from the group but said the decision basically boiled down to being on different musical paths.
“Now that there’s a group of people with one like-minded vision it makes the focus more powerful. It makes the show more cohesive and direct because everyone’s motives are coming from the same place.”
Mother Mother has been busy since adding Parkin — who Guldemond describes as an “angelic siren of fire and passion” — to the mix. Gigs have included an American tour opening for Montreal rocker Sam Roberts and a showcase at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas.
SXSW, a musical confluence of nearly 2,000 bands from around the world, was “hectic, kind of fun, crazy and productive” for Mother Mother, a group that is seeing its U.S. fan base grow. Guldemond said the festival is a good showcase but also overwhelming.
“You go down there and you try and flaunt your music as much as you possibly can and hope you made some kind of impact or impression because there’s a lot going on down there,” he said. “It’s hard not to feel like you’re getting swallowed up in all of it.”
While the band is working to foster more fans south of the border, the five-piece pop/rock group is feeling lots of love in its home country. Mother Mother released its second album O My Heart in the fall of 2008, which went on to rack up an array of titles — including No. 5 Best Album of the Year and No. 3 Best Indie Album of the Year — on iTunes Canada.
The Mother Mother buzz began in 2005 after its self-titled debut, which was re-released as Touch Up in 2007. The critical acclaim came from music magazines and websites but also included a mention on gossip blogger Perez Hilton’s website as “the most exciting band coming out of Canada.”
Guldemond still laughs about the blog accolades but said it’s always encouraging to be received with open arms.
“There’s all these people you wouldn’t think you’d find a fan in and there they are digging your stuff. I guess beyond it just being funny it’s moving I guess to see how genre classification can transcend cliques and personalities,” he said. “It’s nice to see that good music will find its way into the hearts of anybody.”
Kudos for Mother Mother almost always refer to the band’s ambitious singing style. In fact, the group recently won the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for best vocals of the year on the song Body of Years.
Guldemond said he, Parkin and his sister Molly Guldemont spend “years” perfecting the layered harmonies the band is known for.
The vocal element and Guldemond’s edgy pop songwriting combine to create Mother Mother’s unique sound. The group’s founder pens such unconventional and clever lyrics as, “And this is why I have decided / to leave your house and home unhaunted/ You don’t need poltergeists for sidekicks,” in the song Ghosting, but Guldemond insists he didn’t excel in English.
“I’ve always been drawn to writing and words and their possibilities. I did very poorly in English in high school so I don’t know what that says. I wanted to do well — I just couldn’t figure out the system, I guess.”
But Guldemond seems to have mastered his own system for writing, taking inspiration from anything from a bad day, a good conversation or a scene in a movie. He said he’s not really listening to a lot of other music right now but has always been interested in the experimental pop of The Beatles, The Pixies, Radiohead and the Talking Heads.
With two records left on their contract with Lang Gang Records, Guldemond said he is always working on new material. But for the rest of April, the focus is on the live show, an experience that has improved since the last tour, according to the band leader.
“There’s a lot of care that goes into not only recreating the record but bringing a new life to it on stage. We bend some of the songs and really strive to make the experience the most superior Mother Mother experience one can have,” he said. “It truly is the most important environment to connect with music when it’s being unfolded right there before your very eyes.”