The Gems - Interview


After the split with Thundermother Guernica Mancini (voc.); Emlee Johansson (dr.) and Mona Lindgren (bass, git.) didn't fall into some kind of depression but used all their emotions, time and energy to focus on a new band called The Gems. With "Phoenix" the Swedish girls released a furious debut album with really cool rock songs and caused quite the sensation in the scene. This of course was the reason enough for me to try and talk with Guernica and find out a little bit more about all that happened and the plans for the future of the band. Enjoy reading and check out the album (read my whole review here).

Michael

Hi Guernica, how are you doing?

I'm good, thank you for having me (laughs).

First of all, congratulations on your fantastic debut album "Phoenix". It has become a ass-kickin' rock album. Are you satisfied with the feedback you got so far?

Yes, I'm incredibly happy with the feedback. Most reviews I have seen are very good and very reasonable (laughs). I mean there are no like 10s but I think that if we would only get the highest score on all the ratings there would be a lot to live up to for our next album actually. I still think we got good rating; I would say like 6 or 7 out of 10 which I think is really great for a debut album.

The Thundermother split was about a year ago now. Did the wounds healed up a little bit since then?

It's a work in progress. I would say some are but I think that in a situation like that, it takes years to heal completely because the girls and I devoted our entire lives to the band and building up the brand and everything. There are always new things coming up but I'm very proud of the progress that we've made so far. We're all in a much better and happy place now and that's the most important thing.

Did you have any contact with them after the split?

No, we've been only communicating with Fillipa through our lawyer. It's been like a really bad divorce.

How hard was it to start as a quasi-new band after that? I mean, you had great supporters with The Scorpions and Whitesnake and then you had to start new.

It sucks but we're all really hard-working and I believe that we accomplished so much in Thundermother while being treated like shit for so many years so I don't see why we wouldn't be able to do the same thing now that we feel really good. But it does suck to have to go back to square one and build up everything again. I think that due to what we have done before, we have a bit of an easier time than other brand-new bands. I am fully aware of that. So certain aspects suck but at the same time, I am so excited for this new beginning. It's very exciting and I think we have done it in a way I'm very proud of.

You released "Phoenix" on Napalm Records. How did you catch their attention?

We've been in contact with Thomas (Caser; M.) the CEO of Napalm since Thundermother. Obviously, we were signed to AFM back then so that wasn't relevant for that time being but we stayed in touch. As soon as the news broke that what happened happened a lot of labels contacted us. So we decided on Napalm because it just felt like the best fit. After all the tumultuous years we felt it was important to be on a label that is stable and has been around for many years. They are professional and know what they're doing. We have huge dreams we want to accomplish and take over the world so you need to have a label that has some kind of manpower. We also want to go back to America because we did very well there on the Scorpions tour and we have a lot of fans from there already. They also have a good office over there, too. So it just felt like the right match for us.

Listening to the music, I find a lot of parallels to some 80s rock bands, is this your main influence so to speak? It is much more sleaze-rock-orientated (GNR, The Almighty, Mc Queen Street, Skid Row) than this AC/DC stuff you did with Thundermother.

None of those bands are our influence (laughs). So it's really funny that you mentioned that because everyone hears what I guess they are listening to themselves. Our influences have been more Van Halen, Queen, Led Zeppelin on this record and I guess there's a mixture of that on the album, I do like Sebastian Bach as a vocalist and Skid Row of course, too. So I guess you could say it's a little bit of Skid Row and Guns n ' Roses mixed into that. Iron Maiden and a lot more stuff…it's a mixture of everything that we love.

What about the lyrics? I don't have them and the music sounds pretty much like a party.

No, only "P.S.Y.C.H.O." is some kind of party song. The rest of the album takes you through the grief that we felt and all the feelings that we went through while dealing with all this heartache we had to deal with. If you have the time and listen to the lyrics you can basically follow through the emotional rollercoaster it was for us. We have some faster songs that we enjoy and we also had in mind while writing the album that we would be able to play them live and we wanted to have a mixture of songs. We have "Force Of Nature", "Queens" and obviously "P.S.Y.C.H.O." that could go under the umbrella of "party songs".

So this is more a "fuck off"-album to cope with the whole situation you experienced?

It's an empowering and not-giving-up album. It's a hopeful record. We go through emotions but there is always a glimpse of hope, empowerment, and self-love which has always been super important for us. It's a message that we believe in and something that we live and breathe and it came out on the album, too.

Apart from The Gems, you have a solo project. How is it currently going on with that?

It's on hold. In 2023 I wrote a lot of songs for it that I was dying to put out but everything that happened has taken a lot of time to rebuild the whole band. So my main focus was just to rebuild and have this new band up and running because I love being part of a band. But my solo career is definitely something I'm gonna work on as soon as I have time and I will keep releasing stuff just kind of randomly, no specific way for now (laughs).

I've read that you worked together with the producer from The Black Eyed Peas in 2014 because you won a song contest.

Yeah, exactly. I won a songwriting contest when I lived in America. I studied in Los Angeles at a school called Musician's Institute and while being there I had a teacher, Robin Randall, who pushed me to do my own songwriting, which I am super grateful for. She really encouraged me to write my own stuff because she saw something in me and I did write a few songs there and ended up winning the showcase and got to record an EP with Darryl Swan. I guess he's mostly famous for working with Macy Gray. He was super cool.

Cool. Did you think about collaborating with any of those bands in the future?

I mean I would love to in the future but you need to be famous enough to get a chance (laughs). I'm open to any collaboration if I like the music. I mean all of us three in The Gems like a lot of different styles of music.

I read that you had some cancer-related surgeries. Is everything fine with you again?

Thank you for asking. I had it twice. 2019 and then it came back in 2021. I was lucky because it was a tumor that was encapsulated so they could take it out. I didn't have to do any chemo or anything like that but I still go on regular checkups. After this summer I'm only gonna go two times a year which is like going towards not going there at all. You have to have a check-up for five years. It was a very tough thing to go through.

And of course just like every band you want to perform your music live – are there any plans for a tour so far? I couldn't find any information about this.

Yes! We are planning a four-week long European tour in the fall which I think we will release in a few weeks. I'm excited about that. We have to update our website, so it's always updated like our Instagram and Facebook which always are updated with the latest info. We have shows in Sweden, and some festivals - we're playing Reload in Germany and some other festivals. I'm excited for all that.

The last words are yours!

We appreciate everyone who is supporting The Gems and who joined us on this new journey, I think it is gonna be a very interesting ride. Follow us on all our social media accounts and if you use Spotify, we would really appreciate it if you would make sure to follow us on there and also subscribe to our YouTube channel because we're trying to build that as well. We've already released some acoustic tracks there, tutorials and all kinds of fun stuff. And finally, I'm excited to see you guys on tour!

Entered: 4/17/2024 5:50:58 PM

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