Ryan Guldemond is one-fifth of Mother Mother, the B.C.-based folk-rock band that seems unstoppable in its mission to churn out catchy melodies highlighted by three-part or more vocal harmonies. He picked up his first guitar at age 10, determined to learn the Eric Clapton cover of "Crossroads."
You've said that every one of your three albums feels like a debut since the sound changes so much. How does Eureka (released March 15) differ?
It's flirting with being a rock band. It's fairly heavy. We wanted to exercise our right to be loud.
You've taken on a heavy touring schedule recently. When you do shows in the States or the UK, is the welcome different than in Canada?
Those fans are definitely savvy online and seek new underground music out, because the promotion over there isn't as strong as it is in Canada. They're true music enthusiasts. I think someone who does their due diligence to figure out what they like makes for a really great fan. They make you feel like there's a secret handshake at play.
Are you a savvy fan, your finger always on the pulse of new great bands?
No. The thing about current music that deters me is that it's so steeped in what I do as a professional. That kills the romance. I'm too intimate with the climate of the music industry. I like the idea of when rock 'n' roll started to burgeon, push the envelope and speak on behalf of people who were trying to have a revolution. I like the way the music from that time makes me feel when I listen to it. It's a feeling I don't get when I listen to current music. I don't think there's any counter-cultural revolution in music these days.
What is it like to navigate a band in the wake of this industry change?
When you're a band now you have to cover a lot of bases. That can be empowering and fulfilling, to not just be the stereotype of an artist who only shows up, late, for gigs. Today's bands have to work for it. You used to be just swept under the wing of a major label and everything would be taken care of for you. That can be really negative because things can be corrupt in your business and you wouldn't even know it.
How do you see things moving in the future?
Right now there's a real free-for-all in cyberspace. For people to be able to download music for free is a crazy luxury. But it can't last forever. The big powers are going to be able to figure out how to put a stop to that. And when that happens I think it'll be a very reasonable fee to tap into anything. Like water or electricity, it'll be an amenity. Obviously there'll be some artists who are bazillionaires and sell streams of records. But most of us won't make an exorbitant living; we'll continue to depend on the live aspect in terms of making a living.
Bands make money touring. Do you also prefer touring or writing and recording?
I really like the writing process, the conceptualization of new music. It's so exciting and mysterious as to which direction it's all going to go, how it's going to unfold, and what the reception's going to be like. Then recording it, it becomes so real and unveiled. And when you start touring, same thing: you're sort of punched in the face by reality. And this thing that you were building up in your head and trying to figure out all of a sudden has a real life personality -- which can feel anti-climactic.
Do you set up time when you say, 'OK, we're going to come up with some tunes?'
No, I think creation is something you've got to have your ears perked to every moment of every day. You have to be waving that antenna and ready for a little transmittance. In the early days when I was working as a line cook we'd be having this mad dinner rush and I used to write a lot of melodies in my head, while cooking on the line.
Mother Mother plays Montreal on July 30 at Osheaga (as well as "Busking for Change" shows later that day, a by-donation series set up by Osheaga to benefit War Child.)
They also have upcoming North American shows in Cleveland, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Toronto, and Victoria. Visit mothermothersite.com for details.