Thundermother – Bringing Out the RockThursday, 17th May 2018
Proof that a strong enough band can emerge out of what could have a catastrophe and come out stronger, Thundermother recently returned to deliver their latest self-titled album after losing 4 members in 2017. That left only Filippa Nässil as the last woman standing, but she picked up the pieces and found fresh blood to continue the band’s pure rock and roll sound.
Thundermother proves the band has not lost a beat, full of punchy and energetic cuts that have that classic rock and roll feel running through their veins. But it’s also a more diverse and dynamic album (featuring the band’s first ballad), which takes Thundermother’s sound and enhances it. We talked with Nässil herself about all of these things, as well as her thoughts on rock and roll’s revival and more.
Dead Rhetoric: Was there a thought at some point that maybe the band was done after 4 members quitting?
Filippa Nässil: No, there wasn’t. I founded the band in 2009, I wrote all the songs, produced the two previous albums, and wrote the lyrics…so it was not my choice to quit. I wanted to continue doing music, which is my passion and my life.
Dead Rhetoric: So how did you pick up and move along after that?
Nässil: At first I took a little holiday just to forget about everything, because I was shocked. Not too shocked because I’ve been in the band for the last 8 years and the last two years hadn’t been brilliant. So I contacted all the festivals that had been booked for the summer – there were like 15-16, including Wacken. I told them what had happened and that I would find a new line-up, and if they wanted to cancel, to tell me now. All the festivals, except one, told me that they trusted me and kept us on. It was a good push to hear that from the festivals. So I got my shit together, and kept on doing this. I had already written so many new songs – I basically had another album done. I just needed to find people that wanted to do the same thing as me.
Dead Rhetoric: With this being the third iteration of the line-up, are you hoping this is the one that sticks around?
Nässil: Of course [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: I guess it would be a problem if you didn’t think that way…
Nässil: [Laughs] Yeah. I just think there’s a good chance with this group. We have a lot of fun, and we live in the same country/city so it makes it a lot easier.
Dead Rhetoric: Does that help promote more of a friendship among the members, as opposed to them living in different countries?
Nässil: You need to be friends, because you need to communicate. A huge part of our life is touring. You get easily exhausted if you are not into it. I have a lot of energy personally – I need to be surrounded by people who know they want to do this. We hang out in our spare time – it’s awesome. I’m truly excited.
Dead Rhetoric: You recorded the album live. What was the advantage of recording the album that way?
Nässil: Faster and cheaper [laughs]! No, I’m kidding. After doing all of the festivals last summer, we were really tight and gelled together as a unit. I had a demo and we rehearsed for a month, then we went into the studio for 10 days. We recorded 15 tracks. I wanted to have a live groove on the album. This kind of music, it should [sound] live. The vocals were live too – she [Guernica Mancini] was behind the glass in the studio. Afterwards we redid some things, because everyone makes mistakes somewhere. But it was a nice process because we changed a bit of tempo sometimes, but that’s the nice thing about our style of hard rock.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you like to do differently or keep the same from the way you approached this recording?
Nässil: I’ve very open to trying something new. I just want the best album/LP possible. A lot of stuff is happening in the way right now. We are developing in a completely new way that I’m not used to, and we are having more fun than ever. There was more variety among the songs this time – there’s a ballad and some stuff that isn’t so ‘Thundermother’ and it’s perfect to do that when you have a lot of input to the music from the group. Who knows what will happen on the next album, but I’m really pumped up for it. We don’t have time to tour – we just want to record stuff now [laughs]. We are actually going to release a little something in the fall, just to show that we are a good musician-unit. We will release some acoustic and live stuff, without any production at all, just to show what we are about. I really can’t wait for that.
Dead Rhetoric: You said you are very involved with the writing and everything. Are you now trying to get more of the members involved in the writing process from this point?
Nässil: That would be the goal. But we tour a lot and don’t have much time in the rehearsing room. I’m like a machine when it comes to writing – I do my demos at home, just chop chop chop. But I’d like to do more stuff in the rehearsal room, because I think they have a lot to offer. They want to be involved, and I want to involve people.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned the ballad, is there a difference in approach for recording a song like “Fire in the Rain” versus “Racing on Mainstreet?”
Nässil: Yes, definitely. I wrote “Fire in the Rain” completely alone, which I do sometimes. I write a lot of music, and I wanted to fit a ballad into the music. We were heading for the studio, and we were rehearsing before we went into the studio and together we thought we needed a faster track. A boogie-style rock track. “Racing on Mainstreet” was the last song we did, right before went into the rehearsal room. I think it turned out pretty darn good! I’m really happy with that one. Everyone was involved in it too – so good stuff happens when everyone is involved together.
Dead Rhetoric: I think you may have alluded to this already, but do you think about how the song will be received live when recording music like this?
Nässil: No, not when I’m writing. Of course, in the back of my head I am thinking about where I’m going to use the song, whether it’s for Thundermother or my blues band, or should I just write it for fun to let out some feelings/just to do something. A good tune, I bring to the band. I look at it and try to arrange in into a Thundermother song.
Dead Rhetoric: So what do you feel defines what Thundermother is about?
Nässil: For me, it has always been the easy, 3-chord rock with a bass line that’s laying on the same note – AC/DC style. You can hear it on the first album especially that we were going for that kind of style. So that’s always what I fall back on. That AC/DC kind of rock. But then there’s a lot of inspiration from bands like Motorhead or Airbourne – that faster stuff. That, with a female voice attached to it, is very unique and is Thundermother’s sound. But now we are more free to do what we want.
Dead Rhetoric: Right – the sound is established and you can veer from it more as you want.
Nässil: Everyone has heard the ‘Thunder,’ now we need to develop. I’ve played 800 shows with this band, it’s not fun for anyone to get stuck in the same genre all the time. You need to grow as musicians as well. The next album will have some unexpected stuff, I can tell you that.
Dead Rhetoric: Why do you think that straight-ahead rock and roll – that AC/DC vibe – has been having a sort of revival among music fans?
Nässil: I started in 2009, and I don’t know how many did it then…probably many. But it’s that ‘70s style, which is obviously back in fashion now. But for me, and many others, it’s the best music ever made. It’s like getting salvation from God for a believer. That’s me getting rock and roll in the ‘70s. I just want to pass it on to more generations and not let the music die. I love listening to that music, and I listen to that music every day. It makes me smile. I always have a lookout for new bands. There’s a new band now in Germany called The New Roses. They are an absolutely brilliant band, just to give an example.
Dead Rhetoric: There is something about that sound, like you said, where it just makes you smile.
Nässil: You just want to forget about your problems and have a good time. We have a good time every gig, and every weekend. We have too much fun, because Guernica just lost her voice last weekend. So maybe we need to cut down on stuff. We talk too much after the show to the fans. We need to be quieter. It’s going to be hard [to do that].
Dead Rhetoric: Given the way a female band is looked at in the scene, do you feel you have to really win people over…at least at the beginning of the band?
Nässil: We win people over all the time when we arrive at the venues. The older guys, who are prejudiced – “I can show you how to plug in your guitar” or something [laughs]. After the show, they are like, “You are fucking kick ass and our best friends” – they forgot that approach when we arrived. They realize that I can play the guitar better than them, or something like that [laughs]. But it’s a bit unfair – you get used to it and try to ignore it. We just go out and show everyone that we are a great band.
Dead Rhetoric: Right, because in the end, it doesn’t matter…or it shouldn’t matter. Male or female.
Nässil: Exactly. Well-said. And there’s not that many kick-ass girls like us I don’t think. So we stand out a little bit at first. Then we always hear things like, “I heard you on an interview and I was really annoyed with you – you are a cocky girl and I don’t like that. But then I saw you play live and I forgot all about it because you were so fucking good!” That warms our hearts – keep doing what we are doing. Boy or girl, we are just people.
Dead Rhetoric: With hopefully a solid line-up, what goals do you have for Thundermother moving ahead?
Nässil: My goal is to keep everyone alive [laughs] – there’s so much touring. Just keep everyone balanced so that they have energy like I do. I’m like a little rabbit, I can play every day! You just need to work out and drink your tea [laughs], then you can do it. I’m sometimes boring in the band – “We need to chill” – everyone wants to live the rock star life, but I’ve done this for so many years. You have to forget about it a little bit. I just hope the band can last so we can keep touring. I had years of plans in my head – I want to come to America, South America…lots of stuff. I know they are with me all way. I just hope they last – they are buddies. It’s hard. I’m not the drummer – drumming for an hour and a half with a solo takes a toll on your body. Or singing. I’m only the guitarist. For me, it’s easy.
Dead Rhetoric: To wrap up, what’s next for the band?
Nässil: Basically tour so much that we can somehow make a living of it would be great. That’s exhausting too – having a job and a band. Just focusing on tours is what we would like to do. Higher fees, more merchandise, more albums – just keep doing what we are doing. Someone told me that it takes 10 years for a band to make money, doing what you want to do. Next year is 10 years for me, so soon we can start a life for real [laughs]. When we come to America, then we have to start from scratch again because we aren’t known over there.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, it’s hard.
Nässil: Right? Now we are great in Germany, so we focus on tours there – it’s like building the fanbase. But we are expanding outwards. We are doing Spain again in the fall. We are even releasing a Spanish version of “Whatever” because our singer is Swedish, but her father is from Uruguay, so she can speak fluent Spanish. That’s fantastic for us because we tour a lot in Spain and we don’t understand anything and they don’t speak any English. So we are always doing sign language with our tour manager there.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you been outside of Europe with the band?
Nässil: Only in Europe right now, which we would like to change for next year. We are really excited for 2019.
Dead Rhetoric: Would you want to put out another album before then or would you just push Thundermother?
Nässil: We could push the album for two years but we don’t really want to do that. We want to release a new one quickly, if we have time.