Ask any bad you like, changing singer is one of the hardest things to do. Thundermother saw four members quitting the band leaving guitarist Filippa Nassil as the only member of the group. She didn’t give up and found three replacements. One of them, Guernica Mancini, the new frontwoman talks about the whole experience, the changes, the new album, the differences between all-female and mixed bands, life and the music scene in LA, as well as sexism and sexual harassment in our favourite music. Sad but true… Interview: Yiannis Dolas
Rockpages.gr: How did you join Thundermother? Did you know them beforehand?
Guernica Mancini: I knew them before I joined them, yes I did, and I thought they were really cool. I knew Filippa, I met her a year before everything happened. It was with her other band, Hifly, when my previous band opened for them and we became friends and we stayed in touch through Facebook. That was how I met them.
Rockpages.gr: The band went through a serious change with three new members coming into the fold. What is your mentality being one of those three members:
Guernica Martini: I am just very excited for the opportunity to be honest… on one hand I am like how can anybody leave a band that’s on the rise? And at the same time I am excited and super happy and feel very blessed that I have this opportunity to be part of it and to make it hopefully bigger than it ever was. I see a bright future for us. I feel very very blessed and happy about it!
Rockpages.gr: What would you say that you bring to the table that wasn’t there before?
Guernica Mancini: I bring a much more soulfulness that wasn’t there before.
Rockpages.gr: You sing on an album where I guess more of the songs were already written when you joined. I guess by Filippa.
Guernica Mancini: Yes, she wrote most of them, but we arranged the album later and I guess I wrote some parts too, but yeah Filippa wrote most of them and had me in her mind for some of the melodies.
Rockpages.gr: Which of the songs would you say that you relate most with, although you didn’t write them?
Guernica Mancini: Hmm… I think personally, because I went through a very similar thing with my band and life in general, I think I relate with most of the songs a lot, from “Revival” to “Quitter”. I relate with most of the songs.
Rockpages.gr: I get the feeling that this could be the best album the band has released so far, what do you think?
Guernica Mancini: I agree! 100% agree! I think it’s a more well-rounded album, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a progress. I also think that we are a bit spoiled, because we already established what Thundermother is all about in the first two albums and now we were able to be more free with the writing and creativity of it.
Rockpages.gr: You said that the band is already recognized. Usually, the singer is the most recognizable member in a band. So, how tough would you say that it is to replace a singer?
Guernica Mancini: I think it’s extremely tough to be honest. It’s a very very tough thing to do, but it’s not impossible. Because, when you are in a band all 3,4, or 5 members are important. It’s not about this one member. You should never forget about that. It’s about the unit, not the individual. It’s hard, but not impossible, obviously! I joined the band now and it works out pretty well.
Rockpages.gr: Your name, Guernica, is pretty unique. How did this come up? I guess from the painting…
Guernica Mancini: Yeah, it’s actually my birth name, my real name. My mother gave me that name because she really liked what the painting stood for. Obviously, she is a fan of Picasso’s art but mostly because it’s an anti-war painting. So, she wanted me to have a powerful big name like that. So, I lived by this name my entire life… it’s in my passport!
Rockpages.gr: Would you say that it also reflects your personality?
Guernica Mancini: Hmm… I mean I am anti-war… I fight for what is right and what I believe in, so yeah I guess in that sense definitely.
Rockpages.gr: Also, someone who hasn’t listened to Thundermother before and gets to listen to this album first will come to the conclusion that AC/DC is your main influence. What are the others?
Guernica Mancini: AC/DC is the main… AC/DC, Airbourne, Motorhead… an exotic 70’s rock type of band. That’s what Filippa had in mind when she started the band. Now, you can hear a little bit of the Who and Deep Purple and that sort of old school rock. Me having a more blues singing tone and I guess soulfulness it brings another aspect to the music that wasn’t there before.
Rockpages.gr: Would you say that you look up to any other female bands, both from the past or the present?
Guernica Mancini: Hhmmm, I can’t speak for the other girls in the band, but I never really had any… I mean there are female artists that I look up to, like Janis Joplin… performers like that. Stevie Nicks… There are so many talented singers out there, but I never had a specific girl, or girl band. Because, there are not so many out there. So, I hope we can be that for the future generation. Because, what happened with the band last year was sad and the band needed to regroup. There are not that many all-female bands, especially in the classic rock world. So we need more bands like that.
Rockpages.gr: I think that female fronted bands are a lot, but in the symphonic metal territory. But, lately there are new bands that follow the footsteps of Joan Jett, the Donnas, Halestorm… do you think that this is a hype, or something that happens right now?
Guernica Mancini: I definitely not think that it’s a hype. I think that it’s a natural progress. Because, female musicians are as good as male musicians. It’s just like everything else in our society. It’s a little bit backwards and for that reason men have been taking more space in every aspect of life. Now females are being more empowered and I think more and more they don’t give a shit! If you are a female or not you are just going to do what you want to do with your life and not care about what society tells you is right or wrong. You are just going to follow your own intuition and do what you like to do.
Rockpages.gr: You’ve also been in bands with guys. What is the difference being in a band with guys and being in a band with girls?
Guernica Mancini: Ahmm, well… I think that most people think that the “drama level” is bigger, but in my opinion I’ve had the same kind of drama with men as with females, so that’s just the same. Hmmm interesting… you might think that girls are more judgmental and might go “oh, you can’t do this and this and that”, but in my experience the guys that I worked with were much more aware and they just always thought what everyone else thinks. Like in Thundermother I can do whatever I want. In my other band If I’d do something that in their opinion was cheesy… they cared much more about what others thought about, whereas in Thundermother we just do what we feel is cool and right.
Rockpages.gr: Bands with female members are often accused for putting their image and sex appeal forward and overshadowing the music aspect. What is your comment about this?
Guernica Mancini: I don’t do it myself and when I played with guys I always told them open up your shirts and be sexy! Hahaha! I mean guys too wear tight pants to show off their junk you know… It’s hard for me to say anything about this sex appeal thing because I’ve never been one of those singers. If you see me live I don’t move really sexy! If you think I am sexy, it’s not that I am trying to be. It’s a tricky question because I think it’s sad when people do it because I don’t think it’s super important, but I can understand why they do it because they obviously are going to get more male fans.
Rockpages.gr: Unfortunately, recently we have seen several cases of sexual harassment mostly in Hollywood but also in hard rock and heavy metal music. Have you ever been a victim of something like this and did you ever felt racist behavior because you are a girl in a band, or a girl in a “man’s” rock’n’roll world?
Guernica Mancini: I can answer in two parts. I have not experienced any racist behavior luckily. But, I have experienced… well, I wouldn’t call it sexual harassment but in lack of better words… and the #metoo movement… we’ve all experienced sexual harassment and that kind of stuff. When fans are crossing the line, people that we work with say inappropriate things… when you are a female it’s inevitable unfortunately at this point in time. And I am hoping that it won’t be like it forever, but I don’t know anyone that hasn’t had anything happened to them.
Rockpages.gr: What was your reaction to that when it happened?
Guernica Martini: I mean there are several incidents I don’t want to go into any of them but most of the times when really weird things happened I was in shock to be honest. Because, you just freeze when people crosses the line. It’s just crazy.
Rockpages.gr: Do you have some kind of advice to other people that might experience the same thing?
Guernica Mancini: I would say: don’t give up, keep doing what you are doing and don’t let that get you off your track and also and I say this to myself as well, when this happens just speak up right ahead because it’s hard and you are definitely not alone. I think that this is the most important part with the whole #metoo movement. Now, all of the sudden it’s in the open and you know that you are definitely not the only one, because people are talking about it now. And it’s much more common that I ever expected it to be.
Rockpages.gr: Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll… that has been the stereotype in rock music for ages. What would you say that it’s Thundermother’s experience on that so far?
Guernica Mancini: Hahaha…sex, drugs and rock’n’roll? Ahaaaa (screams)… We do ahmmm… how big is this news? We definitely meant that lifestyle in a sense. The most important thing is that you can do all those things as long as you get the job done. So, we would never be too drunk to perform. Work comes first. So, it’s not crazy, or cool, or glamorous as it once was back in the day. All that comes in a much more organized, or adult kind of way. We like to drink alcohol we’d get drunk but when it comes to the sex bit for a female artist is not the same, as it is for a male artist. We do not have groupies waiting for us, to put it that way! So, on tour… we are nuns! Hahahah!
Rockpages.gr: You also lived and been in a band in LA. Can you make a comparison of the States and Europe, as far as music, being in a band and the scene is concerned?
Guernica Mancini: Well, in LA it’s very cool because you are always around and there is a lot of cool people and interesting projects around but, there are so many bands and it’s so exaggerated with different things. It’s really hard to get through and then also I think the work ethic isn’t always the greatest. Obviously, there are great bands and people that have taken it really far, but in my experience most of the people that actually take it all the way aren’t from there. That’s one of the reasons I like being here in Sweden and doing it back here, because you actually work with people who are more precise in their work ethic and that’s something that I really like. Obviously, I hope that we will go to LA and play all the cool venues in the future with Thundermother but I appreciate the music scene in Sweden much more. LA is more of a place where you go once you’ve already made it. Being a struggling artist and trying make it it’s so hard to get seen. Sweden is a smaller country, it’s not easy in any way, but it’s must easier to get an ad in the newspaper whereas LA it’s so huge. I think there are as many people living in the Los Angeles area as in the entire Sweden. That makes it harder. But, I love in in Los Angeles, I would live there…
Rockpages.gr: What would you say it’s the roof for new bands nowadays? Getting recognition in your home country, getting a contract with a major record label, getting million views on YouTube, living off your music?
Guernica Mancini: To me it would be to live off our music because we are all either students, or have other jobs so we can make it work. So, for me that would be the ultimate success, to be able to live free with this lifestyle and do what I want all the time. That is my goal and I am hoping to reach it in the near future.
Rockpages.gr: What about your wildest dream about Thundermother?
Guernica Mancini: I’ve always been dreaming of going on a world tour with a huge artist. Nowadays, it’s more pop artists that get to do this being on tour for like 18 months, or a month there, have a few weeks off and get back on tour. That has always been my dream and also playing in Rock in Rio… that would be amazing!