"Quitting music was never an option for us"
What do you do when you get kicked out of a band? Exactly. You continue to operate under a new name and make the rock world shake again. The ex-Thundermother musicians' band is now called "The Gems" - and frontwoman Guernica and guitarist Mona talk to us about the new beginning and their first album "Phoenix".
8. Feb 2024
In recent years, Thundermother have been flying high: their highly acclaimed studio albums filled concert halls to the brim and earned them the honor of accompanying the legendary Scorpions on their North American stadium tour. The unexpected turnaround came back in 2023: Band founder and guitarist Filippa Nässil decided to kick singer Guernica Mancini out of the band. This in turn led to guitarist Mona Lindgren and drummer Emlee Johansson leaving the band voluntarily. For the three musicians, however, this was not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter.
Note: The following interview took place before the album was released.
After the end of your Thundermother time, did you three immediately agree to remain musically active as a trio?
Guernica: We decided that immediately on the day I was released. Quitting music was never an option for us. If we were ever to do that, it would be our own decision and not someone else's.
The release date of your debut album "Phoenix" is approaching. How are you feeling so close to the release?
Guernica: The joy of finally presenting our first album to everyone and being recognized as a fully-fledged band is hard to put into words. It's often said that you're not considered a real band until you've released music, and that's exactly what we're doing now.
Mona: That's true! I'm also very curious to see which songs will leave the strongest impression on the audience.
The Gems is a band founded in 2023 consisting of ex-members of the band "Thundermother". The trio's debut, Phoenix, will be released in January 2024 via Napalm Records.
Guernica Mancini - Vocals Emlee Johansson - Drums Mona “Demona” Lindgren - Guitar
Mona: I think that "Running" and "Domino" in particular might go down well with our fans, as they are close to classic rock and we have a lot of fans of that genre.
You decided to give your first long player the title "Phoenix". This word also seems to describe the genesis of the band very well.
Guernica: Absolutely! "Phoenix" is not an ordinary word; it carries a profound story. It embodies the rise from the ashes and the transformation into something much more beautiful, stronger and more powerful. This is exactly how we look at our own development: we have evolved from a difficult, dark professional phase and are now a newly blossomed, colorful and powerful entity.
How was the start of your collaboration as a trio in the creative process?
Guernica: We put ourselves under a lot of pressure, which naturally led to a lot of stress during the creative process. I found writing lyrics in particular quite challenging. Nevertheless, I'm proud of the end result and think that every single track turned out really well.
Mona: As a new band, we also had to deal with budget problems. We had to come to terms with tight financial resources and at the same time make sure that the quality of the album was at the highest level. We wanted the record to be at least as good, if not better, than "Black And Gold" (note: 2022), our last work with Thundermother. However, we had to make do with half the budget and a third of the time.
It's obvious that comparisons with your former band are inevitable.
Guernica: Definitely. Basically, we are still Thundermother, but in a much more mature and freer form. We now have the freedom to create the sound we really want, which is classic rock with a modern twist. I'm convinced that our sound will be different compared to Thundermother, but that's ultimately up to the listener.
You still play some Thundermother songs at your live gigs.
Guernica: Yes, we do. It's very important to us that our fans can experience the songs as they were originally conceived. But we also do that for ourselves: One example of this is the record "Black And Gold", which barely had the chance to be properly recognized before we were no longer a band. During the North American Scorpions tour in 2022, we only had the opportunity to present a few tracks from this album live. These tracks just have to be played because we put so much heart and soul into them.
What personal developments have you gone through since forming The Gems?
Guernica: I'm not sure if The Gems is the reason, but the friendship and connection between the three of us has given me new confidence. I have found great friends in Mona and Emlee; we are always there for each other. This loyalty is invaluable and has made me personally more confident and stronger as a singer.
Guernica Mancini (*August 15, 1990) is a Swedish singer/songwriter and the lead vocalist for The Gems.
But now there is a fourth member in your group: Gemma, your mascot. What's she all about?
Mona: We created Gemma especially for our merchandise. Many of our fans, especially in German-speaking countries, prefer dark designs on their T-shirts. With Gemma, we now have the opportunity to offer a variety of different, dark styles.
Gemma's appearance is very reminiscent of Eddie from Iron Maiden; she could almost pass for Eddie's little sister.
Guernica: Definitely - either as his sister or his daughter (laughs)! Emlee is the biggest Iron Maiden fan and even has an Eddie tattoo on her back. So we thought it would be really cool to create our own version of him. We have big plans for Gemma, similar to Iron Maiden with their different versions of Eddie.
How about having someone in a Gemma costume at your shows from now on and celebrating together with the fans?
Guernica: Brilliant idea! We absolutely have to do that! As soon as we have a bit more financial leeway, we could either buy a costume or even design one ourselves.
Speaking of concerts: When and where can we hear "Phoenix" live?
Mona: We will be playing several festivals in the summer, including the Reload Festival (note: in Sulingen, Germany). A complete "Phoenix" tour is planned for the fall, but nothing is set in stone yet.