INTERVIEW WITH THUNDERMOTHER GUITARIST AND FOUNDER FILIPPA NÄSSIL
Date: February 16, 2018
SLEAZE ROXX IS PLEASED TO PREMIERE SWEDISH ROCKERS THUNDERMOTHER’S VIDEO FOR THEIR NEW SONG “WHATEVER” FROM THEIR UPCOMING THIRD SELF-TITLED ALBUM, WHICH WILL BE RELEASED VIA DESPOTZ RECORDS ON FEBRUARY 23, 2018. SLEAZE ROXX ALSO HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THUNDERMOTHER’S LEADER, FOUNDER AND GUITARIST, FILIPPA NÄSSIL, ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, THE LINE-UP OVERHAUL AND MORE! FOR THOSE NOT IN THE KNOW, THUNDERMOTHER HAVE RELEASED TWO VERY STRONG ALBUMS TO DATE — ‘ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DISASTER‘ (2014) AND ‘ROAD FEVER‘ (2015) — BEFORE FOUR OF THE FIVE MEMBERS QUIT THE BAND IN EARLY 2017 LEAVING NÄSSIL FORCED TO FIND NEW BANDMATES TO FULFILL THE GROUP’S UPCOMING TOUR SCHEDULE. THUNDERMOTHER’S NEW LINE-UP CONSISTING OF NÄSSIL (GUITAR), GUERNICA MANCINI (VOCALS), SARA PETTERSSON (BASS) AND EMLEE JOHANSSON (DRUMS) HAS SHOWN THAT IT IS MORE THAN READY TO CONTINUE THE BAND’S LEGACY.
Quote from the band: “This video is about a girl who takes matters into her own hands. The shooting was intense because of the freezing cold, but we had so much fun and love the result. The song is a high energy ego boost meant to kick you in the ass when you’re feeling low. Don’t take shit from anyone and don’t let anyone decide for you!”
Video premiere of Thundermother‘s “Whatever” video (with new line-up):
ROCK / CLASSIC ROCK High energy, wild riffs and a sturdy groove straight from the 70’s – two and a half years after the critically acclaimed album “Road Fever”, Swedish rock’n’roll band Thundermother returns. And it’s a truly amazing come-back. Thundermother’s third album is simply one of the greatest rock records you’ll get to hear this year.
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on your new record. Obvously, there were a lot of changes leading up to it. Can you take us through what happened with the band given that you replaced everybody in the band?
Filippa Nässil: Sure. Sure. I can. I know that you talked to some other band members of mine? I am not sure but I think that I read something.
Sleaze Roxx: Actually, you know what? I never spoke to anyone after the break up [aside from Nässil]. I interviewed Clare [Cunningham] before at the time of your second album. So I never spoke to anyone about the break up [aside from Nässil]. You’re the first one.
Filippa Nässil: Oh! OK. It was another Sleaze Roxx magazine then [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs} I think that there was an article where we just put the Facebook comments from various people, right?
Filippa Nässil: Ah, that’s the one. That’s the one I was thinking about.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Filippa Nässil: Yeah. That was very interesting [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Yeah!
Filippa Nässil: Well, I can tell you what happened from my perspective. One of the band members — the bass player Linda [Ström] — hadn’t come to some tours. And also we had a show that I was very disappointed of musically from the whole band. So I called this band meeting to say all this stuff and then, Clare [Cunningham] the singer, said that — like immediately — “It’s good we have this band meeting because I was going to tell you that I want to quit because I am so tired, exhausted.” And I knew this seemed like six months that she was tired ’cause it’s very hard touring. It takes a lot of energy and she told me. I knew this but I wanted people to start talking to each other, you know — hence the band meeting. So she said that and then, she also said, “I want to move over to the States.” America I mean.
Sleaze Roxx: Which she just did actually!
Filippa Nässil: Yeah, I know but this is one year ago.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, exactly.
Filippa Nässil: And then I said, “That’s good. I support you 100% because I want people to want to play in Thundermother and you don’t want to. You know what. I’ll always support your decision.” And then, another band member quit immediately ’cause she said she also was tired and wanted to have another career.
Sleaze Roxx: Who was that?
Filippa Nässil: It was the drummer Tilda [Stenqvist]. And then [bassist] Linda [Ström] was pissed off because I was complaining about some stuff [laughs]. Some shows that she did not attend even, and than one week later, I got a text from [rhythm guitarist] Giorgia [Carteri] that she quit too.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh wow!
Filippa Nässil: So then I was all alone all of a sudden in one week just because I called for this band meeting. I know some media wants to blame me as the bad girl [laughs] but you know, someone has to take responsibility on what’s happening and I am glad to do that [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: For sure. So obviously it must have been a big surprise to you because you’re just trying to address some problems in the band…
Filippa Nässil: Yes.
Sleaze Roxx: … and then all of a sudden, the whole band explodes.
Filippa Nässil: Yeah but it wasn’t… That was a shock that everyone left. I thought at least some changes would happen because we were not having fun together anymore. So that was a big surprise. I was very shocked then. Right after, a few days later, I had a vacation planned in Mexico so I went to my vacation and try not to think about anything [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Sure.
Filippa Nässil: And then I came back with new energy and like clear mind that I definitely want to keep on going because either way, it’s my vision, my songs and i started the band. So I will not give up whatever happens and I want to keep on playing and I seem to be the only one who really enjoys it too. So I started searching for new members when I came back from my vacation.
Sleaze Roxx: Was it hard to find the new band members?
Filippa Nässil: Errr, it took a few months obviously but I found the singer pretty quickly because I’m a big fan of hers — Guernica Mancini. It’s a name from Uruguay [laughs] but she’s Swedish. So when I came back from Mexico, I received an e-mail — like a coincidence — on Facebook [that said] “If you ever need a singer in Thundermother, I would be more than up for it.”
Sleaze Roxx: Wow!
Filippa Nässil: So I wrote back saying like, “This is a crazy coincidence because actually, I need a new singer [laughs].”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Filippa Nässil: “Why do you write to me since you have a band already?” And then she said that they were on a break for an unlimited period of time and it was not her decision, that she wanted to keep on going. So whatever happened. So I said, “Yeah. Wanna have an audition?” [She said] “Yeah, sure.” She took the train up two days later actually so we just met and went to the rehearsal room. She tried some stuff and I was like “Wow! She’s really good!” So I thought about it for a week or so and then I said, “I would love if you would join.” ’cause most of all, she wants to and that was a key thing for me, that she wanted to be in the band so much, you know. It’s fun to be around people who want to feel like you, feel the same.
Sleaze Roxx: For sure. And what about your new bassist and new drummer? How did they get into the band?
Filippa Nässil: I just called my bass player Sara [Pettersson] from my other band. [I said] “Can you like do this? Come and do the shows this summer that I have with Thundermother?” Like support me ’cause we’re friends. She said, “Of course. You can always count on me. I’m with you whatever happens.” Because we have another blues band together called Hifly. [It’s] a trio. And then I didn’t search actively. I took it very easy, got to know each other and then I got a suggestion on finding [drummer] Emlee from a party, from a girl. Like she recommended her and then I realized, I knew who this was because ten years ago, I met her at the Swedish Rock Festival and we talked. We played the same stage where we were just like demo bands [laughs]. I remember standing watching her whole show and I was really impressed by her drumming so that was cool. But I would have never thought of her myself. It just kind of reminded me. I was like, “Thank God that I went to that party [laughs]!”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Filippa Nässil: I was deejaying at that party. It was a party for AC/DC, like a tribute for AC/DC, so I was hired to deejay there. And her friend was there so that was cool.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, that’s very cool. So how did you find the chemistry between the new band members and yourself compared to your previous band [line-up]?
Filippa Nässil: Oh! Like night and day I would say without being patronizing or something in any way. It was their decision and I wanted everyone to be happy but you know, I can’t make people happy — whatever [laughs]. You have your own choices. These people — my new bandmates — are very easy going, very same like. We respect each other and we tell each other everything immediately and don’t hold grudges, which I think is key to communicate very good, which I think was the problem before. And so also, they were fantastic with their instruments. We were only four people now. It’s thrilling to play with them as well.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you decide not to get a second guitarist? You know what? We actually did a small written interview I think after the band break up — now that I think about it — because you had made a funny comment about the fact that there was no second guitarist. But why did you really decide to go to a four-piece?
Filippa Nässil: Hmmm. I don’t remember doing any comments at all. I was off Facebook [for a while].
Sleaze Roxx: You know what? If you’re on Facebook, I’ll send you the link to the Sleaze Roxx article but I do remember now.
[Interviewer’s note: Nässil advised Sleaze Roxx on June 20, 2017: “It’s way more simple and we wanna keep it that way. And if I ever miss a second guitar I’ll use a loop pedal [laughs].”]
Filippa Nässil: No worries. I didn’t read the whole thing [laughs]. I don’t want to talk about anyone online. It’s not my style. I wish everyone the best. But I think I said one time in some interview — it’s probably that one then — that I can use a loop pedal. So I can use that if I need a second guitar [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Sure, sure.
Filippa Nässil: And that’s what I do right now so…
Sleaze Roxx: Well, there you go.
Filippa Nässil: And four people fit in a car, I want to say.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough.
Filippa Nässil: Less people, less drama [laughs].
Thundermother‘s “We Fight For Rock N Roll” video (with new line-up):
ROCK / CLASSIC ROCK Thundermother are back with three new members and keeps on fighting for their music with the new single “We Fight For Rock N Roll”. The guitarist and founder, Filippa Nässil, started Thundermother in 2009 and the band has launched two albums and played hundreds of shows since then.
Sleaze Roxx: Yes [laughs], fair enough. So tell me about the new album. Did you have it already written out before the new members came in or did you write some of the new music with the new members?
Filippa Nässil: I had a few songs done already. Have you heard the album?
Sleaze Roxx: I haven’t heard the whole thing. I’ve heard parts of it.
[Interviewer’s note: I prefer to listen to CDs so I am waiting for my copy of Thundermother’s new album that I pre-ordered to arrive.]
Filippa Nässil: OK. I have some songs down like the first one on the album — “Revival” — stuff like that. “Children On The Rampage” and “Won’t Back Down.” The last track was done as well. But some songs came up eventually with the band on the road ’cause we had 20 shows over the summer. So I had many songs done and then I made more songs and then we chose the 15 favorites from my demos to record. So we recorded 15 tracks in ten days in September.
Sleaze Roxx: It seems that you are closer to the first album now than the second one. Would you agree?
Filippa Nässil: Oh yeah! That’s good. It’s the first time that I hear that. Thank you [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s good!
Filippa Nässil: I tried to get back to like, my original guitar sound, I think. What’s the vision, you know? Of the sound, but not the songwriting. The songwriting — I’m more free now and I can do stuff that I want to do, not only ’cause I think people want to have fast like Mötorhead tracks and stuff like that. So “Hanging At My Door” is like a softer catchy rock song I would say. “Fire In The Rain” is more like a ballad. I decided to go all-in there and see what happens because we want to develop as well. Also, I don’t know what’s going to be on the next album — the fourth album — you know? Maybe if we rehearse really good together, maybe we write more stuff together. As long as you develop you know, I think it’s cool. I think that’s important, otherwise you’re not happy as I was before. It’s not fun anymore on stage and you don’t feel like you’re developing anything. It’s like a routine [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the ‘Road Fever’ album, was the decision to do more Mötorhead type songs because of the other members or was that something that was your evolution as well?
Filippa Nässil: Hmmm. No, I think that I wrote everything on ‘Road Fever’ as well [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Filippa Nässil: Clare [Cunningham] wrote some verses, some lyrics. No but you know, just tired of doing the same thing. It’s interesting to change. We have different types of tempos in these songs. We have one waltz. Like the last song is a waltz tempo, if AC/DC goes [laughs] like that. Maybe next time, we’ll have a rumba. Who knows?
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough. What are your favorite songs off the new album?
Filippa Nässil: Errr. I like of course all of them. But to play in the rehearsal room, I would say “Rip Your Heart Out” is one of my favorites. Of course, it’s one of the faster ones, the Mötorhead [laughs]. That was one is very Deep Purple I think. It’s like a four upbeat drum sound and the guitar is… I really have to struggle there and I like to have a bit of struggle. It shouldn’t be easy [laughs]. The easy songs are pretty boring for me [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the setlist, what can fans expect in terms of how many songs from the new album and how many songs from the older ones?
Filippa Nässil: For the new setlist, we are going to play eleven new songs so it’s a lot. We are going to move on with a new beginning [laughs] so the people who haven’t seen our set yet, we have a new Thundermother live. And the people who have seen us, we’ll have a new experience for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you decide to call the third album just ‘Thundermother’?
Filippa Nässil: Like I said, it’s like a new beginning. It was impossible to name this album because no name fit like what I am going through and what I have gone through with the new members so we just said, let’s call it ‘Thundermother.’
Sleaze Roxx: You had mentioned that Sleaze Roxx article where I just posted what your old band members indicated on Facebook [to announce the band break up]. I guess that you sort of expressed some surprise on some of the comments. So what were your thoughts when you saw that article and saw their comments about leaving the band. Some were nice, some were not. What were your thoughts?
Filippa Nässil: Disappointment I think. Like in particular one old member [presumably Giorgia Carteri] chose to go online and say things I think were unprofessional and I think it’s hard for people like that to survive in the music industry. I think that we should be nice to each other and just support each other, especially women in rock. We have always talked about that so that’s why I was surprised actually. I still have good thoughts and memories of each and every one of them. I even texted everyone “Merry Christmas” so that’s how I am [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: That’s good. And what are Thundermother’s plans for the rest of the year?
Filippa Nässil: Touring. Show the people the new line-up in the cities that we have been [to] before around Europe. We’re hoping for — our booking agency had suggested book as much as you can because we are willing to play as much as we can — Spain, U.K., Europe. Our dream is to cross the Atlantic and come to the States.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s what I was going to ask you. Since Sleaze Roxx is based in Canada, I was wondering when is Thundermother going to come to North America?
Filippa Nässil: Aaahhh [laughs]. Oh Canada! I would love to go there. Go see Niagara Falls. Is that in Canada?
Sleaze Roxx: Actually, it’s halfway through the States too. It’s right on the border. But I think it’s nicer on the Canada side.
Filippa Nässil: Have to go there! All we need is a few shows and we come over so if you ask your local pub to book us, we’ll come. It does not take much for us to come. We always love to play so that’s what we are here to do.
Sleaze Roxx: Has there been any thoughts of playing on festivals? There are a couple of smaller US festivals as well as some bigger ones and if you’re able to do that, then you’re able to come to the States, right?
Filippa Nässil: Exactly. That’s just what we need. It’s like some booking agency over there because I have no idea about any festivals over there [laughs]. Even if I was in the States. I just came back last week. I was on an Outlaw Cruise. It was really cool.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any last words to say to your fans?
Filippa Nässil: Just keep on wishing for Thundermother to come over if you want to see us and hope that you listen to the new album and hope you enjoy it!
Thank you to Dave Tedder of Head First Entertainment for facilitating the interview.