INTERVIEW WITH THUNDERMOTHER LEAD VOCALIST GUERNICA MANCINI
Date: June 4, 2020
Photos: First, fourth and fifth photos courtesy of Thundermother
IF YOU’VE BEEN FOLLOWING SLEAZE ROXX FOR THE LAST SIX YEARS OR SO, YOU’RE LIKELY FAMILIAR WITH THUNDERMOTHER WHO ARE ABOUT TO RELEASE THEIR FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM ‘HEAT WAVE’ VIA AFM RECORDS ON JULY 31, 2020. THE ALL-FEMALE GROUP HAS BEEN QUITE PROLIFIC IN TERMS OF RELEASING ALBUMS DURING THAT TIME WITH ‘ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DISASTER’ (2014), ‘‘ROAD FEVER‘ (2015) AND ‘THUNDERMOTHER’ (2018). BETWEEN ALBUMS NUMBER TWO AND THREE, THUNDERMOTHER HAD A MAJOR LINE-UP OVERHAUL LEAVING BAND FOUNDER FILIPPA NÄSSIL AS THE LONE WOMAN STANDING. LEAD VOCALIST GUERNICA MANCINI AND DRUMMER EMLEE JOHANSSON JOINED THE BAND IN MID-2017 AND NEW BASSIST MAJSAN LINDBERG HAS BEEN IN THE LINE-UP SINCE MID-2019. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH THE EVER POSITIVE MANCINI TO DISCUSS AMONGST OTHER THINGS HER MUSIC BACKGROUND AND THUNDERMOTHER’S UPCOMING ALBUM AND PLANS.
Sleaze Roxx: I was looking through your profile and I saw that you are a little bit of a child prodigy because you got your start at age 14. So if you could just tell me how that happened?
Guernica Mancini: Well, thank you! That’s very kind of you to say. I grew up in a very musical household. My dad is a drummer and we always had music playing growing up so it was just a natural thing. I’ve always liked to sing and perform and create. When I did get an opportunity around that age to start a band with some friends of mine, it felt very natural and normal going from being in church choirs to having your own band. Yeah!
Sleaze Roxx: Cool. I saw Thundermother’s first live stream back in late April. One thing that struck me was that you had spent some time in California and your English was very, very good. So how did you get to California, how was your stay there and why did you end up leaving?
Guernica Mancini: Well actually, I went to music school there. I went to a school called Musicians’ Institute. I lived in Los Angeles for almost five years. It was four and a half years and honestly, I loved it. If it wasn’t for my student visa you know expiring, I would have stayed there forever because I felt like I found my place on earth there. But I am super happy that I am back in Sweden and obviously, everything that I worked for in L.A., I could manage to accomplish in Sweden so there’s a silver lining in that. But I loved L.A. and I wouldn’t be in this band today if I didn’t take that step and go to MI. What was the question again [laughs]?
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Well, why did you end up leaving and how was your stay?
Guernica Mancini: Great! I loved it and I hope that Thundermother will end up going there and playing. I want to show the girls where I went to school.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, that would be great. During the live stream, you had mentioned that it was actually kind of hard to get work while you were in L.A.. Is that accurate?
Guernica Mancini: Oh yeah. It was. It was really hard. I got my degree and then you can apply for a visa where you can work within your craft, whatever you had studied. I went to vocal performance so that’s pretty broad. It’s music and acting, kind of. It was really, really hard. I didn’t even realize that I was saying that at that interview [laughs]. I guess that it’s good. It’s several years now. I did end up getting some acting things and jobs but it was really, really tough — super tough.
Sleaze Roxx: So let’s fast forward to Thundermother. I have to tell you that I’ve been following the band since 2014 or whatever and I really fell that although there was a huge line-up overhaul at one point, now, we’re really seeing the real Thundermother. How do you feel about that?
Guernica Mancini: I couldn’t agree more. I feel like most bands go through changes and it’s really, really tough to find people that want the same things that you want. People can say that they want it. I’ve been in bands before so I’ve gone through basically very similar things that Filippa has gone through with the changes, the changes of heart and bla bla bla. I think that it’s just part of being a musician. Now, we finally got to the point where we are four people with exactly the same ambition. We’re equally ambitious. We want the same things. We work really hard for it you know? We’re not going to stop until we accomplish what we set out to accomplish so it’s very exciting to be part of a band like that where we just work really well together and we have fun doing it.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you have any sort of hesitation in joining the band in terms that it seems that you were running your bands previously, and now, you’re going in a band where Filippa is kind of the leader and has been running the band for a long time. Did you have any hesitation in that regard?
Guernica Mancini: Ummm. No, not really. I was excited to join a band with a strong leader. I mean, yeah. We are very, very similar. It’s funny that you say it [laughs]. Nah, I wasn’t hesitant at all. I was just super excited. I love working. I have sisters. Working with all females is not an issue for me. I know that people think word things about that. To me, it’s like, “Hell yeah! I’m super excited to be working with strong females!” I was excited. I wasn’t hesitant at all. I think that Filippa was really happy to have people join her that were eager to work and as ambitious as she is. So that also made it so now, finally, not that I’d say it ever was a dictatorship but if there’s only one driven person, that’s obviously the person who is going to run the show. Now, we’re dividing it equally and we’re an actual real band. I know for a fact that she loves that because that’s what she was longing for the whole time, and now, we just divide everything and just do the work. Sorry, that was an uber long answer!
Thundermother‘s “Driving In Style” video (from upcoming album Heat Wave):
Sleaze Roxx: That’s OK [laughs]. I’d rather have a long answer than a short one. In terms of the band line-up, obviously, it sort of exploded before you were asked into the band. Did you have any concerns going into the band knowing what had just happened?
Guernica Mancini: Hmmm. No, not at all. I mean, I am a confident person. I know what I want and I’m not scared of like discussing things or you know, communication has never been a problem for me. No, I wasn’t at all. I only had positive vibes and excitement going into the band.
Sleaze Roxx: So let’s fast forward to the new Thundermother album [‘Heat Wave’ which will be released on July 31, 2020]. How was this one different than the last one [‘Thundermother’ released back in 2018] in terms of recording, writing and things like that?
Guernica Mancini: Well, I think that the main difference was that we were all involved in the songwriting. Before, I would say it was 90% Filippa writing and creating all the music but now, we were all involved, and it’s been such a blast and we’ve had so much fun creating together. I think it comes across really well on the album as well. You can hear how much fun that we have together, the energy… I think that we managed to create a real Thundermother song. We still have the AC/DC / Mötorhead DNA but it has a freshness to it.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s cool. What are your favourite songs off the new album?
Guernica Mancini: I love all the songs but “Somebody Love Me” I think is awesome. I think it’s a super cool song. I really like “Sleep” the ballad and I am super excited about performing “Into The Mud.” I can’t wait to do that song live.
Thundermother‘s “Sleep” video (from upcoming album Heat Wave):
Sleaze Roxx: How did you ladies come up with the album title ‘Heat Wave’?
Guernica Mancini: I don’t know. We wanted to have a cool, powerful title. We had a few ideas but we ended up choosing ‘Heat Wave’ because it was such simple, cool and we did not know any other rock albums that had that title. It is one of the songs on the album so it was just a cool name that actually fits the energy of the whole rock scene, the whole album and Thundermother.
Sleaze Roxx: The release date is on July 31st. Did the Coronavirus pandemic impact the release date for the album?
Guernica Mancini: Well, not at all actually. We discussed changing the date, postponing it like a lot of bands are doing, but then pretty quickly, we were like “No. We’ll just have to think outside the box on how we do the release and the promoting of the album.” People need music now more than ever, especially fun, uplifting music. So we’re very happy to share our album with the world and hopefully, when we’re allowed to start touring again, people know the music and it will be like the next level function of the live show because everybody is going to be able to singalong. It will be super exciting!
Sleaze Roxx: Listening to Thundermother’s live stream [on April 24, 2020], it really felt like you made the older Thundermother songs your own. How does it feel playing some of the older Thundermother tunes and do you feel that they are your own songs now or still the other line-up’s songs?
Guernica Mancini: Thank you for saying that. It did take me a little while to figure out my place and how I could make them my own. Honestly, I love the old songs. I enjoy singing them so much. I managed to make them my own. I don’t know how to explain it. I played and performed them so much. Yeah, I don’t even think about that. I just see them as Thundermother and great tunes that need to be played.
Sleaze Roxx: Now, I think that when the Corona virus thing started happening, you ladies were on tour with Rose Tattoo. How was that tour and is there any plans to tour with them in the future?
Guernica Mancini: I don’t know at this point if we will but I’m hoping that we will tour with them again because it was so much fun. The guys are super. They’re awesome dudes! They’re legends! They were so supportive. They were watching our shows, giving us some feedback and they are just awesome dudes. We would love to tour with them again! It was the best. It was really sad that it was cut short. We were going to be with them for a month but it ended up being two weeks. Those two weeks were awesome!
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve had previous bands like The Inglorious and Royal Ruckus. So tell me about your time in those bands and what happened to them.
Guernica Mancini: Well, Inglorious was a band that I started while being in Los Angeles. It was a fun band. It was MI [Music Institute] students that got together. It never ended up being… We did ‘Battle of The Bands’ and stuff. It was a great learning experience but I would not say that it was ever a super, super serious project whereas when I came back to Sweden and started Royal Ruckus, that was like my baby and I was 100% involved. I was 100% involved in The Inglorious as it was my band but Royal Ruckus was a great time. I learned a lot — early days of touring and everything that comes with a band. And that’s how I met Filippa and Sara [Pettersson], our old bass player. I think that it’s gotten me where I am today so I am really grateful for those experiences. I’m super happy that I am in Thundermother now. I couldn’t ask for a more exciting band to be in.
Thundermother‘s “Revival” video (from album Thundermother):
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of bass players, how come that Sara [Pettersson] is no longer in the line-up and how did you ladies go about finding a new bassist?
Guernica Mancini: Well, Sara — let’s see here. Two years ago… Well, it doesn’t really matter. Majsan [Lindberg] has been in the band for about a year. A few months earlier, it was like in November 2018, we had a band meeting and discussing that we were going to go all in. Lose our day jobs. Well, not lose them, but quit our day jobs so that we could do music full-time and we were discussing having [drummer] Emily’s [Johansson] graduation as the deadline, which would be June of last year. She graduated from the Music College or the university here in Stockholm. So we set out that deadline and we had that band meeting in November . Everyone would be able to start preparing, whatever that means, financially and bla bla bla. When we had that conversation, I think that it became reality for Sara. She didn’t really want it as much as we did. She wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices you kind of have to do if you want to take that next step as a band, being that we’re not making millions just yet [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Guernica Mancini: She’s a little older than us too. After that meeting, she took a few weeks to think about it. She came to the conclusion that she wanted to do music as a hobby and not at the level that we wanted. She actually had individual meetings with all of us. Not breaking up but she told us in person and just explained really nicely why she didn’t want to do it as much. She still loves the band and we’re still good friends. She just told us in a really nice way and we were like, “OK.” We respect that. There’s no problems with that. It happens. We all want different things. So that wasn’t very dramatic. I don’t know if you were expecting a super dramatic story but that’s basically what happened. Once we knew that Sara wanted to quit the band, we started looking for new members or a new bass player. Filippa’s fiancé played with Majsan at some sort of gig they had had together and he recommended her. We contacted her and we just clicked. She’s a great player and she really fits the band perfectly. We had her at like a trial period throughout the summer and it wasn’t because we didn’t like her, we wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting into because we tour more than most bands at our level. I mean, last year, we did 90+ gigs…
Sleaze Roxx: Wow!
Guernica Mancini: …which is quite a lot for a band that’s like, we’re still up and coming. We just wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting herself into. Obviously, after we had the conversation after the summer, she said “Yes.” We feel so fortunate. She lives an hour away. It was meant to happen.
Sleaze Roxx: So what are Thundermother’s plans considering the Corona virus restrictions for the future?
Guernica Mancini: We’re still hoping that we can do the shows in September as planned. We have band meetings with our management and everyone once a week so we try to think outside the box and see what other things we can do in case that doesn’t happen. I mean, we are releasing an album. We might do a live stream thing where we play the whole album, something like that. Right now for me, I’m just focusing on the positive and thinking from September and on, we can start working and touring as planned.
Sleaze Roxx: Just speaking to you, you’ve really struck me as a very positive person. Has that always been your DNA?
Guernica Mancini: Yeah. I am an Aquarius. Just kidding [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Guernica Mancini: Thank you! That’s such a lovely thing to say. I am positive. I am… How would say? I never lose hope and it’s yes, I’ve chosen to put all my energy into music and I’m going to do all I can to make it happen, and while doing that, I want to have fun. I don’t see the point of being negative. I just seize opportunities. If some things don’t happen the way that you planned it, you know, you change it and something better will happen. I guess that I am a very positive person [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Guernica Mancini: Well, not that I can think of. I am just hoping that people will enjoy the album and listen to it, have fun and come to our shows. When we play in your city, I hope that people show up and party with us.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you. What are your three favorite albums of all-time and why?
Guernica Mancini: Aaaah. That’s such a tricky question. I just have two albums that come to mind right now. ‘Purple Rain’ from Prince because Prince is one of my favorite artists, all-time favorite artists. That album just means a lot to me. I have it on vinyl. I listen to it. I just thing every song from that album is amazing and that album made me fall in love with Prince. And obviously when I saw him, I was lucky enough to see him live. I just have so much respect for him as an artist. The other album I would say is ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ I’ve always loved Guns N’ Roses and I think every track on that album is friggin’ awesome. it definitely inspired me as a rock vocalist. You know, the attitude and everything — I just think it’s an all around great rock album. Those two are the only ones that come to mind. There’s so many more. This is such a hard question. I hope that you can be fine with just two albums right now.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s fine! Thank you very much for doing the interview Guernica. I really look forward to the new album and hopefully, one day, you ladies will come to Canada.
Guernica Mancini: Yeah! I would love to. Thank you for having me.
Thundermother‘s “Whatever” video (from album Thundermother):
Thank you to Dustin Hardman for facilitating the interview.