Thundermother released recently their latest LP “Heat Wave”, so we seized the opportunity to have a little talk over that (and much more) with the band’s voice Guernica Mancini, who spoke to us from Stockholm Sweden, straight out from the band’s rehearsal studio. Enjoy reading!
by Antonis Mantzavinos
Hi Guernica, how are you doing?
Hi Antonis, I am fine, I hope the same for you. We just finished songwriting with the rest of the girls so, it feels really good this afternoon, even on a busy Friday afternoon! Its all good considering Corona and everything, so we are all well.
How has this whole situation with COVID-19 has affected you personally and also the band with the new album, etc?
We have been mostly affected by all the shows cancelled. And the shows we get to do right now is with seated audience and very limited amount of people, so it feels very weird actually, very different than what we did. We feel happy that we are able to play of course, but it is very strange, our year has changed so drastically, very strange times overall.. For the new album, it has been very well. I think we are very blessed in a weird way, considering the whole situation.
Does the band own a studio, or you have to rent one each time you need to rehearse and write music?
We have our own rehearsal space which right now is more of a storage room, we don’t all live in the city. This weekend we will all be in Stockholm, so we need to have a good planning ahead, each time we are about to meet and rehearse. We try to maximize the time we’re together and be productive by this means. When we’re apart, everyone is doing their own part, write music, doing interviews etc. The band is based more or less in Stockholm, even though when Filippa started the band she was living in Växjö in Småland, in the South of Sweden. But with COVID now, we definitely need to have better planning so that we arrange to be and play together.
Ok, so, let’s move on with some information and background about your new album “Heat Wave”, which I personally really like. Give me please some details about the writing process, what was your contribution to that, etc?
That was a new process to write an album like that, meaning altogether. My contribution could be around 25% more or less, I have provided lyrics and some melodies to the songs, and I think the magic of this album is us all coming together, giving our best aspect of ourselves, our influences and experience. We are all very proud of how it came out at the end. Speaking about this line-up, we have been 3 and a half years together, we share everything equally, we bring everything forward together, and we have a great time altogether, if you ever going to see us live, you will immediately sense this energy and boost from our side (boost from hell!), so that is a great common feeling we all share.
Moreover, every song is different of course, meaning that every ‘jam’ brings on new ideas, riffs etc. so, Filippa brings a riff and then we create something together from that riff, or Emily and myself bring something from ourselves. This week we tried to create lyrics based on some ideas we have, its always different and we try to grow as creative artists and music writers, we try to push ourselves and see what else is out there, we want to grow and evolve further. The whole thing is a very dynamic process. We are all good on many different things with each other and we bring our own ‘vocabulary’ so when this is blended with all 4 of us, this is something very unique and special.
“Heat Wave” is more diverse and different than the previous ones, so, was that an intentional effort towards a specific direction, or it just came up like this while jamming and improvising in the studio, blending your ideas?
First of all, we all share different music backgrounds, influences and music origins so to speak. You can hear that I believe, all the different music flavors which stand out with our songs and performance. The album itself is very diverse also because we wrote so many songs and we try to pick the strongest ones to our opinion, the ones we felt more comfortable to be more representative of what we wanted to present. We spend a year and a half preparing for that album, and then when we started the pre-production we had to be selective and decide. Some of the songs remained the same, but others evolved and changed from their original form. For example, the song ‘Bad Habit’, we had a few moments there, questioning even whether it should be on the album or not, and then, boom!, you know? And also ‘Purple Sky’ which is a different song for Thundermother but it was really cool for us to show a different side as creative musicians.
If you had to distinguish one or more songs from “Heat Wave” as special for you, for your own special reasons of course, which ones would that be and why?
Tough question. Well, personally I like “Somebody Love Me”, because it’s a very emotional song, making me showing my vulnerable side to the world, so to me it was uncomfortable from the one side, but I enjoy it, and I know that some people could relate to that as well, making it very personal to them as well. Also “Sleep”, a heartfelt ballad, which Emily arranged and recorded the guitar strings, and I love as well “Purple Sky” which is a very cool track. But overall, I love every single song of this album, honestly.
As a vocalist, how do you challenge yourself to perform and improve the way you perform? How exactly do you address that situation?
In the studio, it all has to do with people who make me feel comfortable to push myself and challenge my boundaries and try harder. I know that I have been able to do that more for this record, because we have been working with our producer Soren Andersen, who knows how exactly to bring the best out of us. He has made the whole experience a lot fun and productive at the same time, and I really like the blending of those two. So, working in the studio has been very effective and not boring at all. It’s helpful being in a group that allows you to ‘fuck up’ sometimes, you know? Give you good energy, pushes you, that’s why I have been able to evolve. Initially, when I joined the band, I had a more blues background rather than rock, so all this time, it was super exciting to get myself into new territories, challenging my skills and trying a different style. I want to be the best I can be, and I feel comfortable, I say “Why not?”
It would be interesting to get some personal musical background for you, and also, how did you get involved with Thundermother, what is the story behind that?
I’ve been singing as far as I can remember, singing is a huge part of my life. Once I graduated from high-school, I came into terms that I really wanted to do music full time. I just had to make that happen. So, I applied for a music school in Los Angeles, called ‘MI’ (‘Musicians Institute’), moving to LA and living there for almost four years. During that time, I studied vocal performance, music business but I really found myself and what I really wanted to do. Found my way so to speak. During that time, I also grew up with a lot of ‘80s rock crowd’ (laughs). I’ve always loved soul, r n' b, blues, I still listen to that a lot, but started back then to also focus on hard rock. And tried to sing Hard rock and see how my voice works that way, I liked it, I got a rock music teacher as well, who specialized in extreme and rock vocals as well. I learned how to scream without losing my voice!
Moving back to Sweden, I started a band on my own, which was sounded more like Led Zeppelin, that kind of music. I guess you could compare it in a way to a Blues Pill-ish sound. Very retro band. So, that way I got to meet Filippa, and we became friends, and then as all bands sometimes goes through some difficult phase, my then band faced a similar situation. I reached out to some friends, Filippa also included, to get some advice, maybe they knew a bass player etc. I remember telling her, “if you need a singer, I’ll be there tomorrow”, then we discussed that I could audition, and the rest I guess is history! That was early 2017 and then we just been working together since.
If you could freeze the time, which moment you could characterize as your best moment, the one you’ll never forget?
I have a few of those moments, but I would say the first time we played in Wacken was incredible! I have never played in front of 10.000 people before, so that was absolutely overwhelming! It was just an amazing, euphoric, magical day, on all aspects. Great show, Fantastic audience, everything was perfect. And also,, last year, when we played at Sweden Rock, that was a unique experience as well. I was flying high after that show, could not come back down to earth in a way! It was spectacular. My expectations for the Swedish audience were quite not very good, but they proved me the absolute opposite! I swallowed my own words because we had 15.000 people cheering like crazy for us ...! Amazing!
What would be the artist(s) that influenced you as a musician or a singer?
I am influenced by so many, but I consider myself to be more influenced by Prince. Both as a songwriter and a performer. I am a huge Prince fan, all the way! I love how he was at the same time, rock, pop, electronic, funk, he was so many things altogether but everything in him was so sexy, so awesome, and he could be everything he wanted to be and also be very good at it. I think it was amazing the fact that he was also very bad ass and very talented, that made him very special to me. And I feel that he is one of those artists that someone does not think about too much or too directly, it seems that people do not understand his greatness in a way, I don’t know.. He wrote so many great songs, he was not only a great performer but creatively speaking, he was a fantastic music writer.
Currently, do you listen to music the old school way, like putting records in your stereo, or you prefer the digital way (Spotify, etc)?
I am a constant listener, always putting some music, mostly on Spotify at the moment. I have a vinyl player somewhere in my apartment, because I just moved to Stockholm to my new apartment.
Any new music band that you have listened recently and you would like to recommend?
I always love finding new bands and discovering new stuff that might be interesting for me. For example, the singer of Tribulation has released his solo album, and that one I really like. I also found out a band from England who play indie rock, they are called “The Amazons”, and they are really good. And there is also a punk band from Malmö, called ‘Arre! Arre!’, their latest single is called ‘Sit on My face’!
A lot of artists have passed away this year, the latest Van Halen, I would like your comment as well about that.
It’s heart breaking, so sad, all these legends are gone and they leave a huge void behind. They’ve done incredible things for music, have inspired all of us so much, I don’t know what to say. I hope we will all keep the torch high and flaming. And be able to do it with dignity and honor them the best way we can, continuing their work.
Any special comment for the fans and our readers?
We had a fantastic time during the festival in Thessaloniki, it was so much fun! Even though we had a problem with our luggage. It was a great party with the audience and everything. We definitely look forward to come back to Greece soon, as soon as the whole situation world wide gets better!