Mother Mother seems to be one of the fastest-growing bands in America lately, but it didn’t used to be this way. For years, the Canadian band has been extremely popular in their home country but remained a niche interest among American listeners. Surprisingly to many longtime fans, much of the band’s newfound support has come from TikTok trends that include lip-syncing to excerpts from their songs.
Mother Mother’s Rise in Popularity
For close to 15 years the band was almost unheard of in the United States, until they became all the rage on TikTok in early 2020, when users started sharing clips of the song “Hayloft.” The “It Started with a Hey” TikTok trend in February of this year has been linked to over 579,000 videos. Before this, there were several users who lip-synced the lines “My daddy’s got a got a gun. You better run,” from the same song. Because so many TikTok users were unaware of the band before these trends, some were surprised that Mother Mother has been around since 2005, and that “Hayloft” had been released in 2008.
While the band had trouble promoting itself in the United States, they have always been incredibly popular in Canada. Back in 2013, the San Antonio Current put out an article describing the sold-out venues in their homeland; however, it also included some discussion of the band’s difficulty in entering the U.S. market. In an interview with the band’s drummer, Ali Siadad, recorded in this article, he stated, “It still feels like it’s the early growth stage here in the U.S. We have focused a lot on Canada, and, being a Canadian band, we have avenues to exposure in Canada in a very immediate way that are harder to come by in the U.S., especially when you don’t live there.”
This may have been the case in 2013, but platforms like TikTok have provided a way for fans to promote the band outside of radio play and other, more traditional means. According to an article from David Friend, “clips tagged with “mothermother” have been viewed more than 65.5 million times on the platform as of Wednesday afternoon [October 2020].”
Since the trends began on TikTok, Mother Mother has skyrocketed in popularity. As of May 24, they have even scored No. 333 on Rolling Stone, which tracks the week’s top streamed artists. Rolling Stone also ranked Mother Mother at No. 11 on their list of the fastest-growing artists.
In response to a conversation about dismantling the “gatekeeping” of the music industry, lead singer Guldemond expresses that the purpose of music is to touch people’s hearts. He stated, “It’s [TikTok is] reminding us that success is born from people being moved and souls stirring.”
What Sort of Content Does Mother Mother Create?
Many fans describe the band’s work as incredibly dark but with a happy enough sound to make it feel optimistic. On paper, their genre is indie rock/alternative, but their sound varies drastically even between albums. In a previous interview, Siadad explained, “We do get a lot of fans that come up and tell us that every album has built on the one before and has gone to a new rich place.” According to Siadad, there are many fans who fell in love with the sound of the first album but fell away after subsequent releases. Most fans that have stayed with the band long-term are people who appreciate artists with diverse sounds.
The breadth of content in each album is also fairly large. In earlier albums, the songs ranged thematically from living in poverty in “Dirty Town,” to “Oh Ana,” which many fans speculate is about self-harm, anorexia and suicide. “Hayloft,” which came out on the album “O My Heart,” is about two young people making love to each other in a hayloft and getting caught.
In later albums, there are many songs that touch on issues of mental health — songs like “Little Pistol” and “Dread in My Heart.” A simple glance at the YouTube comments of these songs will show just how impactful some of these songs have been for listeners.
Two of the lines from “Dread in My Heart” read, “And I can’t seem to change my attitude, but I can change my shirt / ‘cause you know how actually at times that can be a good start.” This is a fairly clear depiction of depression and anxiety, and many longtime Mother Mother fans stay with the band because their songs speak to them on this deeper level.
Another few lines from “Little Pistol” read, “I pack a little pistol on my pistol belt / I think it might be fear / Of the world and the way it makes you feel afraid.” This song explores childhood trauma, domestic violence and the way those with PTSD guard themselves against others — often at the expense of their relationships. Despite its eerie tone, the song has an optimistic ending, with the speaker finding his “burning rose,” and subsequently finding peace within himself.
Lyrics such as these provide a sense of hope and empathy among fans, as well as the feeling of being understood. Because of the way TikTok spreads content, those listeners who may need such messages are able to find these songs and feel comforted.
What’s New for the Band?
Mother Mother has been posting on TikTok and engaging with their expanding community. Two months ago, Mother Mother posted their new singles, “I Got Love,” “Stay Behind,” “Forgotten Souls” and “Pure Love,” to promote the launch of a new album. The new album is titled “Inside,” and it is set to be released in June. The band will be touring the United States, Europe, the U.K. and Ireland following the album’s release. Tickets and new songs are currently available through the band’s TikTok page under the tour link. Prices vary depending on the package, but general admission only costs $25.
It is safe to say that if the rest of the album is anything like the songs they’ve released so far, it will be a roaring success.