Filippa Nässil is hungry. The guitarist founded Thundermother in 2009, after studying music production, and has made it her mission ever since.
To date there have been three incarnations of the band, with Nässil as its sole constant. It’s been a full-blast ride of beer, broken bones and the sort of commitment to straight-shooting classic rock of which Airbourne would approve. It’s taken them well beyond their homeland, including a festival in a jungle in India.
“It was raining, it was almost flooded,” Nässil recalls, laughing. “Backstage before the gig, everything was wet. We were sitting in, like, socks and underwear drinking beer, and this camera girl comes in and says: ‘Can we do an interview? I’m from the BBC.’ That was strange.”
The simplistic (but effective) elevator pitch for Thundermother would be: ‘If AC/DC had daughters and raised them on Iron Maiden.’ Over 10 years they’ve capitalised on these foundations, touring as headliners and supporting the likes of Rose Tattoo and Backyard Babies.
While their new album Heat Wave isn’t exactly a radical shift, a few things have changed: tunes are sharper, riffs and progressions are tighter and groovier, and for the first time it was a proper team effort.
“It’s the best line-up by far for me,” Nässil says, of the decision to fully co-write songs as a band. “I wanted it to happen now. They’re hungry too, so it was like, let’s write together and see what comes up, we need to hit the next level. I’m very proud of the outcome.”
Three years ago it all looked less promising. In one stroke, four of the five members quit to pursue different projects. What happened?
“I felt just… lack of commitment,” Nässil says matter-of-factly. “I think they were a bit angry with me. I had to ask did I feel any hunger from them any more? And I’m very hungry for this band.”
Did you part on good terms?
“Well, we don’t hang out any more! But the last thing we said to each other was ‘good luck.’”
Nässil herself was a relative latecomer to AC/DC-esque rock. Born in the city of Växjö, at 13 she was playing the key-harp, a 20-stringed Swedish folk instrument, touring with adults and performing at “weddings and stuff like that”.
It was an older band in school playing Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name that turned her on to rock. Inspired, she swapped the key-harp for a guitar, initially focusing on Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen-style shredding.
AC/DC’s Powerage subsequently changed that, but the fire lit by that RATM cover never went out.
“I was blown away that you could play an instrument and be crazy and say what you want with aggression,” she says. “I thought: ‘I’m gonna be that crazy guitar player, I don’t want to ever be bound to sit still.’"