In February 2023, it was announced that singer Guernica Mancini, drummer Emlee Johansson and bassist Mona Lindgren were exiting THUNDERMOTHER and were forming a new band together. At the same time, guitarist Filippa Nässil revealed that she would continue with a new THUNDERMOTHER lineup featuring singer Linnéa Vikström (THERION and AT THE MOVIES) and returning bassist Majsan Lindberg. Filippa has also since recruited Joan Massing (HONEY CREEK) as THUNDERMOTHER‘s new drummer.
In March 2023, Mancini, Johansson and Lindgren announced that their new band would be called THE GEMS. THE GEMS‘ debut album, “Phoenix”, will arrive on January 26, 2024 via Napalm Records. So far four singles have been released from the LP: “Like A Phoenix”, “P.S.Y.C.H.O.”, “Send Me To The Wolves” and “Undiscovered Paths”. THE GEMS see Lindgren returning to her original instrument, the guitar.
Speaking to Brutal Planet Magazine about the fact that Mancini, Johansson and Lindgren have more “ownership” in THE GEMS than they did in their previous band, Emlee said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “This band is us together, for sure. And the sad thing is that we thought we had that in THUNDERMOTHER. That was the deal we entered the band in to become a full bandmember. And we did everything together — we shared all the workload. We were self-managed, so we did a lot behind the scenes. We were a democracy, and all of a sudden Filippa just told me and Mona that she wanted to fire Guernica and I just said, like, ‘No. No way. I’m not agreeing,’ and she wasn’t agreeing. I just told her that that’s not gonna happen. And I just told her if [Guernica‘s] not in the band, I’m not in the band. And she didn’t take us seriously. And then she just went on and made her own decisions. And there was nothing we could do. She changed passwords on all our social media. That was just such a big betrayal. So for this band, we are for sure doing it together. It’s been like the most important thing for us. We all really love the team thing. We don’t wanna work alone; we wanna work together.”
Added Mona: “I think THUNDERMOTHER was a solo project all along the way. And that’s fine. I mean, that’s totally fine to run a band as a solo project, but you need to be upfront before you get people into it. You can’t say to people, ‘Join us. I want you to be bandmembers,’ and then it’s run as a solo project in the end. You don’t do that, I think.”
When one of the interviewers, Dustin Peterson, wondered aloud if bands like METALLICA are structured the same way, where bassist Robert Trujillo doesn’t get a say in a lot of stuff and most of the decisions are made by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, Guernica chimed in: “I think that in that case, they’re getting paid well enough, so they’re happy to just go along with it. You know what I mean? There’s a huge difference there. I would never have a problem being part of a working machine if I got a salary. It’s my work — I go, I do my job and I’m good. Whereas here, you’re getting used. You’re getting tempted with, ‘You’re part of the band. You’re doing all this for the band,’ and you’re building the brand and doing everything in your power to get that band to as far as it can, for then it just being taken away because all of a sudden it’s a solo project or whatever. I think it’s just a way of fooling people to give you free work. And that’s why we are very upfront with, yeah, we need a bass player for a live. And we really wanna have a permanent hired gun. That’s the perfect setup, because then we’re also honest about it. And the person that takes on that job is aware of the circumstances and really happy with just getting to play live. Because there’s so much other shit that goes into being in a band that most people don’t want to deal with. And we did it in THUNDERMOTHER. We did so much work behind the scenes that you’re never gonna get any credit for. And we know what goes into that. So I think at least the [bassists] that we’ve worked with so far that we’ve had a few of them during last year, they’re all really happy with that because they can have their other jobs and then when they have time, they can be, like, ‘Yeah, I could join you for that show or whatever.’ And then there’s an honesty and really good vibes because there’s no crazy expectations there either.”
Added Mona: “They were just freelance musicians. And that’s what that job is about — you play with different artists or whatever, and you get paid for every show. That’s what a freelance does.”
After Dustin noted that getting locked out of the social accounts is something that happened to him when he got fired from his corporate job, Guernica said: “That’s kind of how it is when you get locked out of all the socials and then you receive an e-mail with ‘your time is up.’ It’s really like you weren’t… Whatever I contributed to THUNDERMOTHER didn’t mean shit, and I was just a — I guess if you’re gonna use corporate terms, I was just a number. You know what I mean? I didn’t mean anything. My voice didn’t do anything for the brand. I was worthless, and I was super exchangeable. And I’m one of those… I’m fully aware that anyone can be replaced, but at the same time, I think in a band, in music, there’s so much more… I didn’t realize how important my voice was for the THUNDERMOTHER sound until I was fired, because fans actually reached out to me and shared how much my voice was part of them either finding the band or listening to the band, any of those things. Because in the bubble of THUNDERMOTHER, I was always just a team player and I was trying to just do my best to get THUNDERMOTHER as big as possible, the team. And obviously with me getting fired the way that I did, it definitely doesn’t seem like I was important at all.”
Last summer, Filippa opened up about the latest THUNDERMOTHER lineup changes in an interview with Bloodstream TV, saying: “Well, we were together seven years — and that is Guernica, the singer, and Emlee, the drummer. And it [was] amazing; we did so much together. But in the end, we couldn’t communicate. ‘Cause you travel and you live together all the time. Not even when you say ‘hi’ to each other. I cannot live a rock and roll lifestyle like this. So I tried to solve it for a long time — like, ‘This doesn’t work. We have to communicate and be respectful,’ and whatever. And it didn’t work out. One person didn’t come to the meeting, so we had to move forward. Because this is a business as well, and a rock and roll band, and it’s supposed to be fun and good and loving also, because we need to support each other. And when that’s not the case… Well, I fired [Guernica] — that’s the first time I’m saying that now, actually — because she didn’t come to the meetings I set up to mediate. We need to talk and be able to work together. Because it’s more and more business, and then you can’t work and then you can’t do your shows. Because it’s e-mails and everything — it’s a lot of stuff.”
Nässil continued: “So friendship — okay, I can buy that; you don’t have to be friends. But I think it’s much better now anyway. And I’m very happy with… ‘Cause I took the old singer… Not the old singer, but a singer that I really loved and admired for a long time called Linnéa Vikström. I actually asked her for the job in THUNDERMOTHER seven years ago, but she wasn’t available. She had too much to do, ’cause she sang with THERION, a big metal band, around the world. And [she has] a lot of experience, but we’re also good friends. So it’s been hard for her to sort of take over something, but it’s been fantastic. And everyone says it’s really good.”
THE GEMS made their live debut on March 22, 2023 at Pustervik in Gothenburg, Sweden as the support act for THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA.
THE GEMS‘ live performances include material from THUNDERMOTHER‘s last two albums, 2020’s “Heat Wave” and 2022’s “Black And Gold”, both of which featured songwriting contributions from Guernica and Emlee.
Guernica discussed her departure from THUNDERMOTHER in February 2023 in an interview with the “Rock And Roll Geek Show”. Regarding how she found out she was being fired from THUNDERMOTHER, Guernica said: “I was blindsided. It’s almost like I’m in an episode of fucking ‘Survivor’. [Laughs]
“I got an e-mail [letting me know that I was no longer in the band]. I had a feeling it was coming because the week prior, [Filippa] had taken me off all our social media accounts. And I thought we had gotten hacked. I wrote to the group; I was, like, ‘Girls, I think we’re getting hacked. I can’t get into our e-mail or Instagram — none of the accounts.'”
Asked if Filippa had any issues with Guernica‘s live performance or what she was doing on stage, Mancini said: “No, that’s not something that I’ve… no information that I’ve received. I think that there’s nothing you can complain about my performance or my singing, ’cause I’ve always brought my ‘A game.’ And if you have problems with that, I think that’s strange, considering that’s something that people really enjoy and respect the band for. So I think that would be weird.”
Clarifying that the reasons for the split were “a hundred percent personal”, Guernica revealed that “a lot of things happened behind my back, and I was the last one to know… Like there were meetings behind my back, trying to convince my fellow bandmates that I’m an awful person, I’m all these things that I’m not.”
When interviewer Michael Butler noted that all the girls in THUNDERMOTHER looked like they were getting “along really well” when they were supporting the SCORPIONS on a tour of North America in the fall of 2022, Guernica said: “I deserve an Oscar nomination for my acting. [Laughs]”
Asked how Emlee and Mona found out Guernica was being fired from THUNDERMOTHER, Mancini said: “[Filippa] had a secret meeting behind my back. She just told the girls, ‘I wanna fire Guernica, and I already have a new singer.’ And the girls were, like, ‘Woah. Hold up. Wait a second. We did not sign up for that. And we thought we were a democracy in this band,’ because that’s something that we’d been told and that’s how we’ve done everything.’ So they were shocked.”
In early March 2023, Nässil shared a six-minute video in which she addressed some of the questions surrounding the departures of Mancini, Johansson and Lindgren as well as her decision to carry on with a new lineup. She said in part: “Some stuff you read online and even now in some magazines is true and some stuff has more to it,” she explained. “I mean, there’s a depth to what happened and it’s impossible to read in a few lines or a quote from someone. And I wanna assure you and tell you guys that I did my absolute best to work everything out between the old members. I think we should be conscious in what we’re saying and trust that I have done my absolute best for peace, love and rock and roll and I did everything in my power to work it out with the previous bandmembers. I would never throw anybody under the bridge. I think that’s another private matter. What happened has been behind the curtain, so to speak, so it’s not everything that people need to know about or should know about because it’s just unnecessary to throw stuff at each other, I think.”
Photo credit: Gustaf Sandholm Andersson