This may be the Year of the Dog according to the Lunar calendar, but make no mistake — when it comes to brash, brazen rock and roll, 2018 is set to be the year of Thunderpussy. This quartet of four highly talented women play energetic music with one collective foot firmly planted in 1970s hard rock and the other in a present-day approach. Thunderpussy is set to release its debut EP Greatest Tits on Stardog Records/Republic Records in March, when it also embarks on its “Pour Morals” tour, which takes the band to the prestigious South by Southwest Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, among other places.
Thunderpussy formed in Seattle a mere 18 months ago, with its members having played in other local rock bands. Guitarist Whitney Petty, vocalist Molly Sides, bassist Leah Julius, and drummer Ruby Dunphy have built up a reputation as a mighty musical force for their live performances, including sellout club shows and multiple festival dates. Videos from some of these concerts show the band to have a tight and tough rhythm section, a guitarist who can transition flawlessly from flying on the fretboard to slowing things down for a bluesier number, and a vocalist who can contort and dance as amazingly as she can sing. Backup dancers occasionally join in, as well.
Thunderpussy’s lyrics range from the quartet’s exuberant take on archetypal songs about falling for charismatic strangers in “Speed Queen,” to the cautionary tale of becoming complacent in the face of success that is “Velvet Noose,” to the classic loving and losing vibe of “Torpedo Love.”
Greatest Tits was produced by the legendary Sylvia Massy, who has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Tool, Econoline Crush, and Avatar. Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McReady, an enthusiastic supporter of the band, produced the song “Velvet Noose.”
Petty and Sides graciously took time from their hectic — and soon to become more so — schedule to discuss Thunderpussy’s origins and its plans for the immediate future.
Diabolique: You had all played in other Seattle bands before finding the remarkable blend that is Thunderpussy. How exactly did you find each other, and how long was it before you realized you had found a magical formula?
Whitney Petty: I will never forget our first ever show together. I think none of us will. One song in, and I remember looking around, listening to the crowd, looking at my bandmates — and it was pure magic! As soon as we got in front of an audience, it was, “Oh this not only works, this is special.” We were in the right place at the right time to form Thunderpussy. Quite literally in Ruby’s case! We lost our original drummer to another band after only about 15 shows and it was looking like she would be impossible to replace. And everyone in town knew we were looking.
Molly Sides: I was working as a barista next to Cornish College of the Arts when a student and friend stopped in for coffee. She looked at me across the counter, said “I know who your new drummer is,” and walked out. The next thing I know, she’s walking in arm in arm with a fresh new Cornish student, Ruby. I proceeded to interrogate her and then seek her out more and more and after a few years of playing hard to get, she said yes! It’s probably been over a year with this organic lineup and the formula is divine.
Diabolique: Who are some of your influences?
Petty: I love Kiss for their business model and their rabid fan base! Musically, we are more of a Zeppelin meets Bob Fosse, I think.
Sides: Or The Stones meet Pina Bausch — depending on the show.
Diabolique: Is Thunderpussy’s songwriting process a collaborative effort?
Petty: In this life, everything is a collaboration.
Diabolique: You recorded your upcoming EP with producer Sylvia Massy. How was your experience working with her?
Petty: She’s like a timeless, ageless, mage. Magic Mama Massy.
Diabolique: You have a tremendous reputation as a live band. What are your thoughts on how your EP captures your live sound and spirit?
Petty: Well, that was never the goal. Recording and putting on a live set are two separate arts for us. There are many moments in our recordings that we could never duplicate live, and that’s the fun of recording.
Sides: The performing part is equally exciting because no night will ever be the same. Someone might change a note, or miss something or add something, and the crowd is different. You have to play off the energy of the evening, and that’s always a thrill.
Diabolique: Speaking of that live reputation, do you have a wild or funny story or two about occurrences at your concerts?
Petty: There was that time the dude from the opening band got totally naked and Molly had to dance-kick his ass off the stage . . .
Sides: Or that time I got stuck on the speaker . . . the first time . . .
Diabolique: You’re setting out on the “Pour Morals” tour in March, taking Thunderpussy to some locales for the first time. Your hometown Seattle concerts are already legendary, and now you are hitting the road as headliners with an EP to support. Are you approaching the “Pour Morals” shows any differently than your hometown concerts or festival appearances?
Petty: Fresh cities and new audiences mean that we get to look at old songs with new eyes, which is very exciting. And of course, getting to play every night breeds experimentation, so I reckon we are gonna get real weird real quick.
Diabolique: Besides melting faces and kicking butts, what else would you like Thunderpussy to convey as you begin your conquest of the States today, and surely, tomorrow the world?
Sides: Art lives!
Petty: Yes, long live rock n’ roll!