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Mother Mother Find Comfort in Death on Grief Chapter

Ryan Guldemond and his Vancouver indie rock band cement their immortality with ninth studio album.

by Julia Dumbrell

Photos by Mackenzie Walker

Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond thinks about death a lot. In canon, he’s at home in Vancouver on a Wednesday morning, wearing a black graphic tee with two skeletons smiling cryptically back at me. If you’re not on the same wavelength yet, Guldemond promises that morbid thoughts and existentialist impressions will only increase as you get older. 

This belief could be accredited to his success in his role as the paternal figure to Mother Mother. Front manning the soft-apocalypse-core band for nearly 20 years, Mother Mother’s growth from local concert halls to international arenas has immortalised them. Ever since his band experienced their big break with a “weirder song,” – “Hayloft,” which blew up on TikTok in 2020, twelve years after its release – Guldemond has spent his adult life accelerating towards death, then finding himself reborn in stadiums and tour buses. “When things get good,” Guldemond says that these moments lead him to ruminate on “the morose, inevitable fragility of everything.” 

This acknowledgement of our brief existence is at the centre of Mother Mother’s latest studio album, Grief Chapter. Now on their ninth life – with nine studio albums released – Guldemond says the project is “a larger contemplation of our impermanence,” where the concept of grief is used “as a reference point for how to live more fully and presently.” As he’s come to realise, “death is the most effective way to frame this miracle of living.”

It’s a rather philosophical conversation to be having at 10 a.m., as our death discussion puts us in the exact awe-struck headspace which Guldemond finds necessary to create. On a typical tour date, he “wakes up and spends the day trying to forget the day,” finding value in the mundane experiences which counteract “the high vibration and holy experience of playing live.”

Balancing depth and sublimity, the new album cements Mother Mother’s “Goddamn Staying Power,” as it’s framed on track eight of Grief Chapter. As Mother Mother’s legacy of risk continuously amplifies their resonance, bandmates Molly Guldemond, Jasmin Parkin, Ali Siadat, and Mike Young form an alliance to challenge the rigid structures of indie rock, taking their biggest leap yet with the album’s 12 songs. The project opens with the funeral procession drums of “Nobody Escapes” while “The Matrix” sings a lullaby towards the end of life. A crypt keeper sits on the decaying front porch of “Days” and finger picks its banjo towards finality. They’ll play these tracks in an inaugural Rogers Arena Vancouver performance this summer and will continue on a world tour from South America to Australia. 

Grief Chapter’s power is in touching on the world’s unanimous certainty. Listeners will find comfort in the tracks’ admittance, soothed by the familiarity of the band’s twangy guitars and sibling harmonies. “Death is loud right now,” says the in-tune Guldemond. His hope for the album is “to offer a powerful, positive reference point.” As it becomes available for soundtracking our life experiences, fans everywhere can turn to the album as a sixth stage of grief. 


“But then again, it’s just music.”

— Ryan Guldemond


“But then again, it’s just music,” Guldemond reels in. The band’s intent is for the music “to wash over listeners. The vibrations alone are medicine.” He sharply differentiates how thematically “death and grief rooted themselves in these songs, but not morosely.” 

Guldemond is delighted when I ask him to predict his own death. Like the energy he brings to the stage and the early morning conversation which stirs mortality into mugs of black coffee, he’d like to pass “awake, wide-eyed, and smiling.”