Shadow The Wild
628 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA, 94117
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
With the world roiled by fear and division borne out of politics, economic uncertainty, and terrorism, perhaps there is no better time for the arrival of music underpinned by the belief that love wins. Into the maw of anxiety comes Vancouver's indie synth-rock band Mother Mother and their new album 'No Culture,' which posits that society uses negative byproducts of culture -- such as narcissism, hedonism, and addiction -- as a means to nurture its fears of the unknown. "If we can strip back the culture, or the masks, attitudes, and stories that feed our differences, and just connect as people we might be more united at a time where we really need to be," says Mother Mother's frontman, guitarist, and lyricist Ryan Guldemond.
To amplify the themes on 'No Culture,' the album's cover art depicts a painted-white baby doll dabbling in black paint, suggesting the immediate imprint society makes on us once we enter the world. As its creator Molly Guldemond, Ryan's sister who sings, plays keyboard, and makes all the art for Mother Mother, puts it: "The idea for the image came from careful consideration of what culture is and how it is used in society as a form of self-identification and belonging. What would it be like to be clear of this? How much of our identity is placed on us from the environments we are born into? A baby, shiny and new, is without culture. It is the tabula rasa, the clean slate. Slowly through immersion in domestic and social environments, it is painted with the brush of other people's ideas, fears, and beliefs ... it is imprinted with culture."
For Ryan, stepping away from cultural influences was crucial to his ability to write Mother Mother's new album. Unless he did so, Guldemond was afraid he'd never be able to write another song, much less an album -- a significant concern given that Mother Mother fans were expecting a follow-up to 2014's 'Very Good Bad Thing,' which hit No. 1 on Canada's Alternative Albums chart. In 2015, the band, which also features singer-keyboardist Jasmin Parkin, drummer Ali Siadat, and bassist Mike Young, was nominated for a Juno Award for "Best Group" and toured the U.S. extensively, including dates with Imagine Dragons and AWOLNATION.
When it came time to write, Guldemond retired to a home studio he had built in the woods on his dad's property on Quadra Island off the Eastern coast of Vancouver Island where he and Molly grew up. "It was so perfect and quiet that it became deafening and self-defeating," he says. Three months before heading there, Guldemond put down a long habit of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. After a few months of sobriety, the honeymoon wore off and he fell into a depression and "a regression back to the shit that I was trying to avoid when I was a kid," he says. "That stuff just lies dormant."
A debilitating period of writer's block ensued, which inspired anthemic first single "Love Stuck." "It's about the condition of overthinking and how it creates blockades against creativity," Guldemond says. "I wrote this on my birthday at the height of my funk and so, always having believed in the magic and synchronicity of the universe, despite not feeling it at the time, I told myself that some element of cosmic numerology would inform the birth of a song."
As a result of his paralysis, Guldemond was forced to write autobiographical songs for the first time in his life. "I was having my own identity crisis at the time so I couldn't help but write about it, despite not wanting to," he says. "So I really had to capitalize on everything that I was going through. The clean-living experience surprised me with a lot of discomfort and confusion, and a loss of confidence. I was second-guessing everything, what my intentions were with the music, what good was, what bad was, what authentic was. I had grown used to conducting myself with a kind of intensity, and sobriety seemed to take that ability away from me. I found myself more open and softer, which allowed for more authentic connection."
It turns out that exploring life, songwriting, and his own identity -- and being clear of mind and substances during the year that 'No Culture' was written and recorded -- resulted in Mother Mother's most emotionally honest, vulnerable, and least cynical album to date. Guldemond says he felt free to explore lyrical concepts unfiltered by persona, a move away from the allegorical and conceptual writing the band was known for on its five previous albums. "The Drugs" is about the euphoria, or "high," that one gets from being in love and replacing one source of dopamine with another, with love being the "true" path of light and health. The piano ballad "Letter," a song Guldemond sat on for years as he searched for a deserving chorus, morphed from a simple idea rooted in unrequited love into a lament for the past: "a case of toxic nostalgia, which I directly related to, being in my own state of longing, looking back on the good old days and indulging their mythological qualities," he says. On "Baby Boy," Guldemond delivers confessional verses that admit his penchant for self-destruction and deceit, while Molly takes the lead with a melodic intervention, singing: "Baby boy, baby brother, we're losing you to the gutter." Molly also shines on the album's closing track, "Family," which began as a fairly caustic take on the Guldemonds' family dynamic, but eventually softened into something that celebrates the idiosyncrasies of kinship.
But just because the album's themes skew dark does not mean the sonic mood of 'No Culture' is gloomy. "It's not a down record," Guldemond says. "There's never a dark theme that isn't accompanied by an answer or a way out. And it was crucial to take introspective themes and prop them up with energized and optimistic music. Sometimes sadness is better carried in a vehicle of happiness." On their new studio album, Mother Mother continue to honor their synth-driven sound with aspects of alternative pop, creating a shimmering blend of strong hooks, big beats, ethereal vocals, and sing-along choruses, with an injection of punk-rock energy. The listener is taken on an epic sonic journey that is filled with emotion, similar to Guldemond's experience during the writing process. Now he's relieved to have some distance and to be able to represent his journey from a place of objectivity. "I think a story is better told when you're not so entrenched in living it," he says. "I look forward to performing these songs from the vantage point of having moved on from what led to their creation in the first place."
Shadow The Wild
Shadow The Wild was born on a movie set. Lead singer Ari Welkom was playing the part of a vampire killer. Guitar player Fabien Hameline was the assistant director. Between takes, they struck up a conversation about music, which developed into some jam sessions that spawned a decision to start a band when the film wrapped.
"The first time we played together, it was magic," San Francisco born Welkom says. "Fabien's twin brother, Sebastien, was a classical guitarist. He switched to bass. [Drummer] Adam (Timmerman) was the second guy we auditioned. After one song, we knew he was the one." The new band started writing songs, polishing them with numerous gigs on LA's active club scene, touring regionally, playing SXSW, etc.
But there was still a sound they were collectively chasing. They knew they'd know it when they found it, so they stopped performing for a year to hone in on their song writing.
When the band met longtime LA producer Greg Morgenstein, they knew they'd found a kindred spirit. "Greg's attention to detail is immaculate," Welkom says. "He guided us through the recording process helping us polish the hooks, the grooves, the tempos and the dynamics. He made sure we were playing the songs as tightly as possible before recording them. He encouraged us to come up with all sorts of cool parts, then showed us how to incorporate them into the songs."
The first result is "Twin Flame," the band's debut single and the lead track from their eponymous EP, set for release on June 3 via the band's label, My Inner Animal. It opens with the spacy, swirling sounds of a Wurlitzer electric piano and the heartbeat of Timmerman's kick drum. Washes of color from a processed electric guitar solo, played backwards, seep into the track, a nod to the sounds of '60s psychedelia. Dub-like keyboard effects and the band's swooning choral harmonies set the stage for Welkom's vocal, a perfect blend of passion and apprehension. He captures the feeling you get when you're aching for love, while doubting it will ever arrive. "The song explores the dilemma of being in a superficial culture, disconnected from our fellow humans, yet longing for connection." Welkom says. "It's that old - I can't live with you, but I can't live without you – conundrum, but the guy in our song says he'd rather burn with her, than drown without her." Midway through the track, Fabien Hameline takes an eerie psychedelic guitar break that intensifies the feelings of hunger and longing. It's a fitting harbinger for the impressive EP the band has waiting on deck.
While the four musicians in Shadow the Wild have been playing for most of their lives, this is the first time any of them have been in an ongoing band.
Twin brothers Fabien and Sebastien Hameline grew up in France, but American rock inspired their move to LA. "'Rock' is an English word," Sebastien says. "It's odd to hear rock music sung in any language other than English. We both started on piano at seven, then moved on to cello and classical guitar. When Fabien started playing with Ari, I switched to bass." Sebastien's bass lines have the flavor of lead guitar, adding a unique texture to the band's rhythms.
When he was a child, Timmerman was already making percussive sounds with his mouth and teeth. In 4th grade he started drum lessons and in high school picked up piano, guitar and bass. He later graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of music before leaving for LA. "Somebody asked me if I wanted to try out for a band and I've been playing with the guys since that first audition, growing closer, as friends and musicians, every day."
"Our ultimate goal is to write songs that will outlive the band," Sebastien says, "and play them on the biggest stages of the world."EBUT SINGLE OUT JUNE 3