Talking 'Grief Chapter' with Mother Mother

Submitted by wordsbybrenton on

Mother Mother - Mackenzie Walker
Mother Mother - Photo Credit: Mackenzie Walker

One of Canada's biggest alt-rock exports, Mother Mother have released their feverishly anticipated new full-length Grief Chapter.

Pre-empted by lead single Normalize, which arrived alongside an intense video directed by acclaimed horror director Colin Minihan (Grave Encounters, What Keeps You Alive), the uplifting To My Heart and the future-facing The Matrix, Grief Chapter sees vocalist, songwriter and guitarist  Ryan Guldemond make another leap forward in his artistry. 

Guldemond swings big and goes as grandiose with songwriting as he does granular, with big-picture concepts like life, death, mourning, and the freedom that comes with accepting the inevitable – seemingly heavy themes that, magically, are buoyed by lyrical moments of complexity and lightness throughout the albums 12 tracks. 

To celebrate the release of the album and the band's impressive ascent to the top of the alt-rock scene, we caught up with Mother Mother for a conversation all about Grief Chapter. 

Talking Grief Chapter with Mother Mother 

The new Mother Mother record Grief Chapter just dropped. What makes this your best work?

"Who knows if it’s our best. Five different people might have five different opinions on that, but the ways in which I think it stands out is its high sonic value, the confidence of the band’s performances, and the lyrical depth." 

The lyrical themes of Grief Chapter are pretty heavy, you’re touching on life, death, mourning and even the freedom in realizing nothing is ever truly under your control. What inspired you to tackle such grand themes this time around? 

"The way it works for me as a songwriter is I’ll get into the creative space and let things happen organically, almost accidentally. I never premeditate a theme, it just appears and then I’ll run with it. Such was the case with this album. Death and mortality showed up asking to be written about. That said, we do appear to enjoy themes surrounding ‘carpe diem’, so maybe death and dying was just a new way in to talk about, and celebrate the act of living." 

The musical compositions themselves still maintain elements of joy and dare we say it danceability, how did you manage to find the balance between subject matter and musical delivery, and do you feel that the secret to Mother Mother lays in that balance?

"It has been noted we are dichotomous in that way: happy music, dark lyrics, which is a recipe we love. There’s just something about that paradox. It’s playful and cheeky. But honestly, I don’t find the themes on Grief Chapter dark per se. I think death has been made out to be a troubling concept, when in fact it’s just a part of life, and more than that, it’s the best motivator for living with purpose, as far as I can tell. So if the music is saying “hey you’re gonna die, which means you’re alive, how amazing!”, then it makes sense for the music to have some lift to accompany that positive energy." 

The videos for Nobody Escapes, The Matrix and Explode are all quite interesting conceptually speaking, with a performance clip, an animated clip and a full-on short-film-styled approach. Was there something in particular you were trying to express with each of them that dictated the style you used?

"I think these specific videos play off the themes of these specific songs quite clearly. The metaphors aren’t too cryptic. “Nobody Escapes” takes place in a warehouse that is sorting through the deceased, aka those who did not escape. “The Matrix” depicts a teen who is addicted to screens and isolated in their bedroom, aka the matrix.  And “Normalize” is probably the most metaphorical. It plays off the horror genre, depicting the villain figure as societal normalcy, which the song suggests as being socially constructed. We reverse the horror trope however, and the characters who would typically be victims prevail and kill the monster, representing a reclamation of their unique individuality".

Grief Chapter as a title lends itself quite well to the graphic novel or anime space. Is that something you’d be interested in exploring in the future?

"That is a cool style indeed. We would certainly be down to collaborate in that sphere. Putting the call out to all artists in these fields!"

We’re an Australian publication and your music has blown up over here in the past few years, with a sold-out tour and massive streaming numbers. What is it about Mother Mother that you think vibes so well with music fans down under?

"I’m not sure if it’s an Australian thing or just a human thing. Our music kinda blew up all over the place and what seems to be the common force of connection, especially with young people are the themes in the music itself: isolation, alienation, individuality, non-conformity etc. So maybe the youth in Australia are more or less like the youth everywhere, struggling to themselves and looking to music for some direction."

Do you have any specific memories of your last tour here, if so, what are they, and is another tour perhaps on the horizon?

"The shows were amazing. We were totally shocked by how many people came out, it being our first time in the country. And the energy of the shows was electric. After the gig in Sydney, I went out on the street beside the venue and hung out with 50 fans or so and just chatted and connected for an hour, taking pics etc, which made for a great memory. Everyone was so cool, kind, respectful and friendly. Australian hospitality!" 

The band has a pretty unique sound, who were the artists that inspired you the most as a musician, and do you think you can hear their influence in the music of Mother Mother?

"Pixies, Weezer, Beatles, Violent Femmes, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, jazz music to name a few."

As a band constantly touring the world, you often find yourself in foreign environments, what are some of the must-have comforts from Canada that you take with you, to give you that sense of ‘home’?

"I don’t take anything overly ‘Canadian’ with me. Like, no jars of maple syrup hidden in my luggage if that’s what you mean. I just need my phone so I can text and call my loved ones back home whenever I get homesick." 

Outside of music, what is something that you consider yourself to be a Maniac for?

"I really love photography. Molly is into fashion. Jasmin is a yogi. Ali adores soccer. And Mike is really into vegan baking." 

What are some non-musical influences on Mother Mother? Is there elements of other art forms or activities inspiring the music?

"I’m terms of aesthetics, we like sharp graphic design.  Molly is the resident artist so she could speak better to this, but some kind of fusion of art deco and pop art." 

If you could have any song play when you enter a room ‘fight-song’ or ‘John Cena’ style, what song would it be and why?

“Bad Boy” by The Jive Bombers. It makes me feel rebellious, playful and social. It’s a confidence booster." 

If you could form a supergroup, consisting of any musicians, dead or alive, who would be in that group, and what style of music would they play?

"Vocals: Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. Guitar: St. Vincent. Drums: John Bonham. Piano: Sergei Rachmaninoff. Bass: Paul McCartney, they would play Rock n Roll."  

Grief Chapter is out now. 

Listen to Mother Mother


Grief Chapter album

Category Tier 1
Author Name
Brenton Harris
Blog Thumbnail
Mother Mother - Photo Credit: Mackenzie Walker


Join the Maniacs mailing list now to hear about the latest releases, tours, competitions & more.


By submitting my information, I agree to receive personalized updates and marketing messages about Maniacs and their record label based on my information, interests, activities, website visits and device data and in accordance with the Privacy Policy. I understand that I can opt-out at any time by emailing

Thank you!

Welcome to the Maniacs mailing list!

Customize your notifications for tour dates near your hometown, birthday wishes, or special discounts in our online store!


By submitting my information, I agree to receive personalized updates and marketing messages about Maniacs and their record label based on my information, interests, activities, website visits and device data and in accordance with the Privacy Policy. In addition, if I have checked the box above, I agree to receive such updates and messages about similar artists, products and offers. I understand that I can opt-out from messages at any time by emailing