PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL MAXXIS
Open-mic enthusiasts take note: Mother Mother was birthed from such a session.
The group’s first performance was at Main Street’s Five-Point. Back in 2005, guitarist/singer Ryan Guldemond pulled his sister Molly and their friend Debra-Jean Creelman on-stage to perform songs they had hammered out in private.
“That was the first time we played in public, and it was fun, a totally new experience,” he said. “Molly had never sung in public before at that point.”
Backed by Guldemond’s guitar, the trio laid the foundation for Mother Mother’s arrangement: three vocalists laid over acoustic instrumentals. Since then, the band has added a rhythm section — a boost for Guldemond, who said it’s tough to hold the floor with just vocals and guitars.
“The bulk of songs were written at a time where I felt like anything was an option,” he said. “[Now] we’re nailing down a sound more specific to us, not so much borrowing from other collections of sounds.”
That sound is tough to define. Both catchy and disconcerting, songs on Touch Up bend genres. For example, on Neighbour, a gentle folk number anchored by breakbeat drums suddenly culminates in a heavy rock riff. The vocalists add to the head-trip, singing both to and over each other in a surreal play of characters.
“Lyrics are just a reflection of the personality of the person writing them,” said Guldemond. “You’re just writing what you know — it’s a vehicle for your personality to come out in a different way.”
The group is relaxing after a 40-day tour that kicked off at May’s Virgin Festival and ended at a free Canada Day concert — a fun, but not profound, show to play.
“The show at David Lam [Park] was like a homecoming,” said Guldemond. “The fact it was Canada Day wasn’t too apparent ... There wasn’t an air of patriotism, it just felt like an outdoor festival.”