EMLEE JOHANSSON (THUNDERMOTHER): “The Songs I Am Most Proud Of Are The Songs That Allow Me To Fully Bloom Out As The Drummer I Am”

Photo By Franz Schepers

Thundermother are coming out swinging on their fourth full-length album Heat Wave, set to be released on July 31, 2020. “Thundermother don’t just play rock ‘n’ roll. Thundermother are rock ‘n’roll!” The group promises 13 tracks that are groovier and fatter than their previous releases. One could liken Thundermother to the bastard children of AC/DC and Motörhead with their infusion of Rock, Blues, Punk, and Metal. For the first time all members of the group contributed to the songwriting. Steering the ship is producer Soren Andersen, known for his work with the legendary Glenn Hughes and White Lion’s Mike Tramp (among others). Metal Express Radio had the chance to speak with Thundermother drummer Emlee Johansson about the upcoming album and life on the road.

Metal Express Radio: If I knew absolutely nothing about Thundermother how would you describe the group’s music to me?

Emlee Johansson: High energy classic rock with a modern sound and a lot of attitude! If you like bands like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Kiss and other 70’s rock bands, Motörhead, I’m sure you will enjoy us too!

MER: Your latest album Heat Wave will be released on July 31, 2020. What songs are you most proud of and why? You can’t say all of them…

EJ: The songs I am most proud of are the songs that allow me to fully bloom out as the drummer I am. I do enjoy to play all different kind of grooves, but I specially love the grooves I get to play on ”Back in 76”, ”Heat Wave” and ”Purple Sky.” Mid tempo songs are my favorite! Then, I am also very proud of ”Sleep” because I wrote the strings on it, and recorded the string musicians myself. I have a big passion for writing and listen to orchestral music, and to finally be able to write something like that for Thundermother was a big moment for me.

MER: Who came up with the band name and what inspired it?

EJ: When Filippa founded the band in 2010, she needed to come up with a band name, and I think Thundermother just magically appeared in her head. It fits the band so well, powerful strong women as we are.

MER: Are there plans to tour in support of Heat Wave or have the Covid-19 lockdowns prevented that?

EJ: We had a lot of plans this year, and so far Covid-19 stopped our whole spring and summer touring. We are waiting and hoping that our autumn tour will still happen, but we don’t know right now. In the meantime, we try to make use of our situation the best we can, by doing live stream shows, writing new music, and take care of ourselves and rest so we can be fit for fight when this pandemic is over!

MER: Any plans to tour the U.S.?

EJ: Nothing I can tell about right now, but we will definitely tour the US and it’s gonna happen sooner than later for sure.

MER: What has the band been doing musically while under lockdown?

EJ: Two live stream shows so far, which was really fun, even though there was no applause between the songs we could feel the love from our audience through the camera. We all practice individually on our instruments and some of us are writing new songs. Since we don’t get to see each other a lot right now, we do stuff on our own at home. I think it’s also very musically important to take care of your body and rest, to be in shape when we get back touring!

MER: How did Thundermother decide on Soren Andersen [Glenn Hughes, Mike Tramp] as producer and what did he bring to the table?

EJ: Filippa met Søren at a party last year and we all feel that it was destiny. We did two songwriting sessions with him and then we decided to have him producing Heat Wave. It was just a match made in heaven. Søren is an incredible person and a fantastic musician. It’s like everything he touches turns into gold. He understands our sound and what we want to mediate, and just brings the best out of us. We are definitely gonna work more with Søren. You haven’t seen the last of him!

MER: What gig would you consider your worst?

EJ: Gigs where we have had technical problems. It is certainly something that gets you in a bad mood. Thankfully we are always very good at supporting each other through moments like that, giving each other lots of good positive energy!

MER: What gig would you consider your best?

EJ: Gigs without technical problems, haha… No but seriously, those kind of gigs where everything is just right, you feel your body is in perfect shape, the gear is in perfect shape, and the monitor sound feels great and everything just runs smooth and you are just having a really good time. Those kind of gigs. And luckily they happen very often.

MER: Do you have any rituals before hitting the stage?

EJ: Yes. I start warming up on a practice pad at least 2 hours before a show. Starting with light rudiments, to more challenging rhythms. I take small pauses, put some heat lotion on, stretch, change clothes and do makeup in between. About 10-15 minutes before show I stretch my whole body and jump to get my muscles warmer and to keep myself warm. Right before showtime we all do a joint high five and toast!

MER: While researching Thundermother I discovered a heavy influence of the over the top arena and hard rockers of the 70’s and 80’s. Who would you say are your musical influences?

EJ: Definetly a lot of 70’s rock bands. And we can’t help that because we all, as individual musicians, are very influenced by 70’s rock bands. Filippa is a huge AC/DC fan, and their sound has been the core of Thundermother’s sound ever since she started the band. My biggest influence on drums is John Bonham, and I guess that comes through in my drumming on our songs. And we feel very honored to be able to keep classic rock alive!

MER: In that same vein, with the band Kiss; Gene is the Demon, Paul is the Star Child, Ace was the Spaceman, and Peter was the Cat. What alter-ego characters would you assign to members of Thundermother?

EJ: Hahaha, let me see.. I’m gonna change us into [Marvel’s] The Avengers. I would be the happy Hulk, smashing the drums but still with the ability to control my feelings. Guernica would be Iron Man, strong and protective, reaching high up in the air with her flying/singing skills. Filippa would be Thor, with a guitar instead of a hammer, leading us through any thunderstorm. And finally Majsan, Captain America, standing firm and strong on stage with her unbreakable bass-shield.

MER: Do you have day jobs outside of being in the band?

EJ: No, we all play music for a living. We love to do small side projects when we get opportunities but most of our schedules are full of Thundermother. We do feel very happy and privileged to have this as our job!

MER: Earlier this year you released a limited Thundermother T-shirt that stated on the back “Support the arts, sleep with a rockstar.” What’s the groupie situation like for Thundermother?

EJ: Hahah, well.. When you live tight together in a tour bus, traveling during the nights it’s kinda hard to invite local guests on it. But sometimes we sleep at hotels, so it depends a lot on our situation. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination…

MER: In the same vein of the previous question, what rockstar do you dream of “supporting?”

EJ: Haha.. If I were 18 years old and the year was 1984, I would have loved to support Iron Maiden.

MER: Is there anything I missed that you would like fans to know?

EJ: We love our fans very much, and we can’t wait to hit the road soon again so we can play for them. Thank you for your support! We are also super excited to release Heat Wave [ORDER HERE], we are very proud of that album and can’t wait to spread it around the world. The world needs more Rock n Roll and we are here to bring it to you!

Photo by Franz Schepers


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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