Mother Mother’s Career Zooms With TikTok Breakthrough
After 15 years, eight albums and more than 20 singles, Vancouver-based Mother Mother is breaking through on a global scale with concerts scheduled in 16 countries, including 5 at the Commodore Ballroom, and TikTok is the catalyst that kick-started the whole shebang.
By David Farrell
After 15 years, eight albums and more than 20 singles, melodic rock ensemble Mother Mother is breaking through on a global scale, and spurring a concert tour that at last count includes 16 countries, including five shows at the Commodore Ballroom in their adopted city of Vancouver, and TikTok is the catalyst that kick-started it all just 14 months ago.
In a phone interview yesterday, Darren Gilmore at Watchdog Management in Vancouver relays the fact that “I’ve never been busier in my career” and enthuses about shows in London, Dublin and across the US that are either sell-outs six and eight months in front, upgrades to larger halls in Canada, the U.S., Germany and in other EU countries–and about the global reach of TikTok that has given them the opportunity to play in Moscow and St. Petersburg in spring 2022.
The new momentum actually caught Mother Mother and its team off-guard at the start of the pandemic and between record company deals. The idea was for the band to take a hiatus from the road while co-founder Ryan Guldemond booked time to make a solo album. That’s when Gilmore and his team noticed that the band’s Spotify numbers were trending fast in an upward trajectory. Further investigation showed them that TikTok audiences were behind the newfound interest in the band’s earlier catalogue of four albums released by Last Gang Records. Gilmore thinks the band’s new converts made their discoveries as a result of sitting at home, and spending more time streaming and discovering music.
Whatever it was, newfound fandom put jet-fuel behind their online metrics.
As Alex Hudson succinctly summed up in Exclaim! last week: It all “changed very quickly in 2020 with the band's Cinderella-like rise to viral stardom, when their first two albums, 2007's Touch Up and 2008's O My Heart, suddenly went stratospheric on TikTok. The hip-hop/rock barnburner Hayloft logged hundreds of millions of streams, while the trans community embraced gender-twisting songs like Touch Up and Verbatim (the latter of which features lyrics like, ‘I wear women's underwear / And then I go to strike a pose in my full-length mirror’).
Working on building an enhanced presence on social platforms worked as Mother Mother now has accumulated over 1.3 billion streams and views, and won itself a loyal and dedicated 15 million monthly listeners.
After leaving Last Gang in 2013, the band did a deal with Universal, but that concluded last year, which is when discussions with RCA, Sony and Warner Music started, and the band went into a creative surge writing and recording the new album that came out last week on WEA, entitled Inside, set up by the lead single I Got Love that hit No. 1 on Canadian radio charts and remained there for six weeks. That was followed by Stay Behind, Forgotten Souls and Pure Love which cumulatively racked up 12 million streams before the album’s release.
On the day of the album’s release, came Sick of the Silence.
From his base in L.A., Last Gang founder (now Global President of Entertainment One Music) Chris Taylor has been watching the band’s rapid ascent on the world stage.
“It’s a phenomenal story for such a genuine and unique act,” he said yesterday, adding that “it’s been a joy to watch them fly over the past year. The first to spot them was Jen Hirst, our all-star A&R person at Last Gang at the time.”
He judicially adds that “we’ve learned it’s hard to initiate a viral TikTok moment, but once it sparks there are many tools to burn the fire brighter.”
Warner Canada senior marketing & publicity manager Dave Stelling says he’s seen the success acts can have when TikTok fans get behind an act (Fleetwood Mac as an example), but, he tells me, this is the first time this has happened on a global scale for a Canadian act.
While Mother Mother now prepares its show, Gilmore has been furiously working the phones with Jeff Craib at the Felman Agency here, Corrie Martin at TeamWass in the U.S., and James Whitting at Paradigm tasked with co-ordinating the UK and European shows.
With Watchdog Management a division of A&F Music, it has given Gilmore access to expert advice from Bruce Allen and Sam Feldman, both of whom have extensive contacts and success on the global stage and, he tells me, he and the band are particularly proud that the tour is going to be “a very, very Canadian” affair, enhanced by his longstanding relationship with Live Nation that has Canadians in key roles in the U.S. (President and CEO Michael Rapino and Global Music Chair Arthur Fogel), former Canadian music executive John Reid (now President, Live Nation Europe) and of course Reilly O'Connor (Chair of Live Nation Canada)
Mapping out and locking in the 66-date tour during lockdowns (with additions and venue changes occurring routinely) “has been nuts, but it’s also been totally nuts where everyone on the team has had to work collectively on a tour that covers multiple territories with different travel and health restrictions, and connecting all the dots when more people are working remotely out-of-office than not."
The team's efforts of course are all for the band, a construct that includes two female singers and a rhythm section that hits as hard as a battering ram. Musically, the ensemble weaves sonic magic as majestic as Arcade Fire at its finest, and harmonies as perfect and rich as classic Fleetwood Mac.
As Hudson at Exclaim! writes, it’s a Cinderella story and a classic example of how cream rises to the top, even in a world obsessed with predicting the next big thing. Ultimately, it’s about fan discovery, and no smart marketing is ever going to beat that.
2021 Tour Dates:
Sep 17 Summerfest /Warehouse Stage Milwaukee, WI
Sept 19 Riot Fest Chicago, IL
Oct 03 Austin City Limits Music Festival Austin, TX
Dec 02 The Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC
Dec 03 The Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC
Dec 04 The Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC (early show, all ages) – SOLD OUT
Dec 04 The Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC (late show) – SOLD OUT
Dec 05 The Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC
2022 Tour Dates:
Jan 07 White Oak Music Hall Houston, TX
Jan 08 Scoot Inn Austin, TX – SOLD OUT
Jan 09 The HiFi Dallas, TX- SOLD OUT
Jan 11 The Van Buren Phoenix, AZ – SOLD OUT
Jan 12 Music Box San Diego, CA – SOLD OUT
Jan 13 Regent Theater Los Angeles, CA - SOLD OUT
Jan 15 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA - SOLD OUT
Jan 17 Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR - SOLD OUT
Jan 18 Neptune Theatre Seattle, WA - SOLD OUT
Jan 21 Summit Denver, CO - VENUE UPGRADED
Jan 23 Metro Chicago, IL- SOLD OUT
Jan 25 Saint Andrew’s Hall Detroit, MI- SOLD OUT
Jan 26 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH - SOLD OUT
Jan 28 Town Ballroom Buffalo, NY
Jan 30 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA - SOLD OUT
Feb 01 The Foundry Philadelphia, PA (early show) - SOLD OUT
Feb 01 The Foundry Philadelphia, PA (late show) – SOLD OUT
Feb 02 Irving Plaza New York City, NY
Feb 04 9:30 Club Washington, DC- SOLD OUT
Feb 05 The Underground Charlotte, NC - SOLD OUT
Feb 06 The Masquerade (Heaven) Atlanta, GA - VENUE UPGRADED
Feb 22 Tavastia Helsinki, Finland - SOLD OUT
Feb 24 Tyrol Stockholm, Sweden – VENUE UPGRADED
Feb 26 Parkteatret Oslo, Norway - SOLD OUT
Feb 27 VEGA Small Hall Copenhagen, Denmark - SOLD OUT
Mar 01 Fabrik Hamburg, Germany –VENUE UPGRADED
Mar 02 Kesselhaus Berlin, Germany – VENUE UPGRADED
Mar 04 Paradiso Noord Amsterdam, Netherlands (early show) – SOLD OUT
Mar 04 Paradiso Noord Amsterdam, Netherlands (late show) – SOLD OUT
Mar 05 Rotonde Brussels, Belgium - SOLD OUT
Mar 06 Kantine Cologne, Germany – VENUE UPGRADED
Mar 08 Freiheitshalle Munich, Germany – VENUE UPGRADED
Mar 09 Santeria Toscana 31 Milan, Italy
Mar 11 Razzmatazz 2 Barcelona, Spain- SOLD OUT
Mar 12 Sala Moby Dick Madrid, Spain - SOLD OUT
Mar 14 Les Etoiles Paris, France - SOLD OUT
Mar 16 Heaven London, UK - SOLD OUT
Mar 17 Garage Glasgow, Scotland - SOLD OUT
Mar 20 Olympia Dublin, Ireland - SOLD OUT
Mar 22 The O2 Forum London, UK - ADDED SHOW
Mar 25 Glavclub Moscow, Russia – ADDED SHOW
Mar 26 Morze St. Petersburg, Russia – ADDED SHOW
Canadian Tour Dates
Apr 29 Royal Theatre Victoria, BC
Apr 30 Royal Theatre Victoria, BC
May 2 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Edmonton, AB
May 3 Jack Singer Concert Hall Calgary, AB
May 4 Jack Singer Concert Hall Calgary, AB
May 5 Conexus Arts Centre Regina, SK
May 7 Centennial Concert hall Winnipeg, MB
May 8 Thunder Bay Community Auditorium Thunder Bay, ON
May 10 Centre in the Square Kitchener, ON
May 11 Théâtre Corona Montreal, QC
May 13 The Music Hall Concert Theatre Oshawa, ON
May 14 London Music Hall London, ON
May 16 The Grand Theatre Kingston, ON
May 17 FirstOntario Concert Hall Hamilton, ON
May 19 Massey Hall Toronto, ON
May 20 National Arts Centre Ottawa, ON