Alternative pop band Mother Mother can be called lot of things — including innovative, cerebral and artsy.
But easy listening it’s not.
In fact, the band’s keyboardist and vocalist Jasmin Parkin admitted with a giggle, that she didn’t immediately bond with the group’s esoteric sounds— much like those TV viewers who were left puzzled by Arcade Fire’s offbeat performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
Parkin was a music student at Vancouver Community College, where Mother Mother members Ryan Guldemond and Jeremy Page had graduated from, when her instructor first suggested she listen to this “incredible” band made up of some talented alumni.
“I didn’t get it the first time I heard it,” admitted Parkin, whose ears were just being opened to jazz and other unusual musical forms.
It took a thief breaking into her vehicle and stealing all of her other CDs — except the Mother Mother CD, which was in a player, shoved out of sight between seats — to get her really appreciating the band’s idiosyncratic grooves.
“There’s dissonance, interesting melodies and complex harmonic structures. …”
After two or three, or maybe 10 listens to her now one and only album, Parkin recalled, “This whole world opened up, and I became a massive fan” of the group.
Not long after, Parkin got to know the Mother Mother musicians — including Ryan’s sister Molly Guldemond and Ali Siadat — by regularly attending their gigs in Vancouver. Her own musical talents eventually came to light, and she was asked to join the band when former keyboardist and singer Debra-Jean Creelman left in 2009.
When Mother Mother plays on Friday, Dec. 5, at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre, another “massive” fan of the band should be well satisfied.
Parkin met a Red Deerian called Dallas Annable at an Edmonton concert some years ago. And although Annable had never heard the group before, she was so impressed by that concert she’s since become “our biggest advocate in the whole universe,” tweeting messages about Mother Mother and promoting the band through other social media.
“She started up a little group and even does a live (online) chat with Mother Mother fans,” said Parkin, who’s thrilled with the support.
“You’d think that having a fan (that devoted) would be creepy or weird, but instead she’s super-cool,” she said, noting Annable even accompanied the band on a concert in Mexico, through a radio promotion. “She’s become our friend and she’s very excited that we’re coming — and we’re excited.”
Mother Mother hasn’t played in Central Alberta in many years. And a lot has happened to the band recently, including getting signed by Universal Music Canada and releasing the new album, Very Good Bad Thing, produced by Gavin Brown (Metric, Tragically Hip).
While some earlier fans might balk at its slicker sound, the new CD stays true to Ryan Guldemond’s lyrical themes that contrast dark and light — or the higher with the baser instincts in us all. Parkin particularly sees this in new songs like Monkey Tree and Jump the Fence.
Ryan brings the bare bones of a new tune to the rest of the band, and some jazz-like collaboration goes on to create the larger sound, said Parkin. “We build the harmonies.”
The vocals are what Parkin, who comes from a jazz crooner background, loves best.
But initially she had a hard time replacing Creelman, who she considers a natural vocal genius at the level of Adele.
“Those were hard shoes to fill … I don’t have Deb’s vocal chops, but I do have the ability to blend with Ryan and Molly,” said Parkin, who has gained her share of fans over the years.
Compared to the few slams her musical contributions initially took from online detractors, she has read thousands of supportive comments over the years, which helped her find her niche in Mother Mother.
Parkin has also seen the group gain a wider audience in recent years — which could expand even more with this latest album. The new sounds have been likened to that of Metric.
“The radio play helps in a big way,” Parkin said. “We are slowly seeping into people’s consciousness.”
Tickets for the 7 p.m. show, with special guest USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker), are $42 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.