Ryan Guldemond talks Mother Mother tour, ‘Inside’ deluxe album

Illustration of Ryan Guldemond, lead singer of the band 'Mother, Mother', with moth wings.
Betsy Siegal/Staff

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Musician at heart and poet by nature, Ryan Guldemond, lead singer of Canadian alternative rock band Mother Mother, pens the existential into every aspect of his life.

“It’s special just to be doing dishes, to wait for your toast to toast, mundane things,” Guldemond mused in an interview with The Daily Californian. “I try to remember that even in the grip of mundanity, that that is taking place. That ‘OK, I am a human here and this is wild and this is special and it is a gift to be alive.’ ”

Mother Mother has captured lightning in a bottle. After some of the band’s songs from its second album O My Heart went viral on TikTok amid the pandemic, new listeners were taken aback to learn the record was from 2008. The band’s eerie sound dominated For You pages across the globe, finding new success in a world that changed significantly since Mother Mother’s first step in the music scene 17 years ago.

Young members of the genderqueer and nonbinary communities have especially latched onto the band, forming a new fanbase that was raised in an era of questioning conventions and societal norms. Paraphrasing Guldemond’s own account, the band’s early music was a menagerie of the unconventional. Androgynous, quirky, dark and empowering all at once, Mother Mother offered the perfect soundtrack for stepping outside the box just to tear it down.

“It’s fascinating because that early music was not premeditated. Those words, those sounds, those arrangements,” Guldemond said. “It is fascinating to see how something so unpremeditated has so much specific meaning with gender and with identity.”

The band’s newly garnered fans were thrilled when the band released a studio album in June 2021. Titled Inside, it is only natural that the project has joined the ever-expanding pantheon of “pandemic records.” Now, half a year later, Mother Mother has announced a deluxe edition of the album, featuring seven unheard songs — new and old.

“We really did want to rummage up a little nostalgia and capture some of that early spirit,” Guldemond remarked. “So you will find some songs that feel very much like they are in a time capsule from 2005, 2007, 8.”

Among them is “Hayloft II,” a continuation of the chilling narrative first spun in the group’s 2008 song “Hayloft.” In the original, the now-iconic hook of androgynous piercing vocals repeats “My daddy’s got a gun” before delving into the story of a young couple fearing for their lives once discovered together in a hayloft. Hesitant to call the sequel a “return” to the past, Guldemond is excited to see what creating this new, more progressive landscape will bring.

“It’s more like honoring, remembering that being odd and courageous in songwriting is a great thing, and being granted that permission by this audience — which is really more of a reminder that you didn’t need any permission in the first place,” Guldemond said.

Like most of what the band puts out, the album’s deluxe edition will exist within its own field of time, fitting seamlessly into the soundscape of both tomorrow and today. The track “Frying Pan,” Guldemond revealed, was originally written in the O My Heart era before being decidedly cut from recording. Even so, remnants of that past work lived on, sewn into the patchwork of “Burning Pile,” another one of the group’s songs that blew up years after its initial release.

“I was like, ‘Should we change the second verse lyrics so they aren’t the same as ‘Burning Pile?’ ” Guldemond said. “And it’s like, ‘No, we should leave them as they were.’ It’s kinda cool that the listener can make that connection and wonder why they are the same lyrics. It’s a very special little collection of songs that truly harken back to our origins.”

Inside, as it stands, bathes in the depth of emotion more than anything else. Each track is as much a sensation as it is a sound, ranging from the personal rallying cry of “I Got Love” to the emboldened desperation of  “Sick of the Silence.” Gearing up for its now sold-out US and Europe tours, Mother Mother wanted to weave the same level of sentimentality and passion into their set.

“We want our fans to feel unified and like they had a great musical experience, but also had an empowering emotional experience,” Guldemond asserted, “where they feel lifted and encouraged to leave the venue like they can sink their teeth into their own lives and do whatever it is that they dream of doing.”

One feeling, however, seems to reign above all.

“It’s really important to us to keep the love in the air at our shows,” Guldemond continued. “To look these people in the eye and take the space between songs to say things that bring us together and help remind us that what we are doing right now is a miracle … That’s a very special thing.”

Mother Mother releases the deluxe edition of Inside on Jan. 28 and tours through May.

Contact Afton Okwu at [email protected].