Seattle has brought forth a music scene and acts quite unlike any other in the world, starting in the 90s with the grunge movement that changed the landscape of modern day rock music. Today, Seattle is one of the most well-known artist hubs in the United States, along with cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Nashville. Adding to this family of ever-growing artist is Thunderpussy, a four-piece, all-female rock act that merges alternative, grunge, and psychedelia influences are preparing to take the music industry by storm. The band are currently traversing the United States on a headlining tour, hot off of the release of their Stardog/Republic Records debut EP, Greatest Tits.
The band will be performing at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill tomorrow evening (along with Down & Outlaws and MUTT), and we spoke with them a few weeks prior to the release of the EP. We asked them about the Greatest Tits EP, coming together as a band in the beginning, how they got Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready to appear on their track "Velvet Noose", and the making of their music video for "Speed Queen".
Minor edits have been made to this interview for the purposes of clarity.
“Speed Queen” was the original single that I was sent over when I got the invite for the SF show. It’s a rock track, but growing up in Seattle which has a big history with rock and grunge specifically, where does that kind of influence come from with a song that brings in all these different influences that essentially make up Thunderpussy?
Ruby Dunphy (drums): It’s just rock and roll. That’s the cool thing about rock and roll, though. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s so much flexibility in the twelve-bar blues that you can turn it into rock and roll and create songs, over and over again, you know? The same riff, slightly different, can make a big difference. I feel like we are adding something a bit new to that wheel, not gonna lie. Maybe a new color to the color wheel (laughs).
With a track like “Velvet Noose”, where you had Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, how did that relationship come about, and how did you go forth with having him perform on the track?
Molly Sides (vocals): Well, going back really quickly to your first question, about how places and people kind of motivate you to make something, and how they become part of your sound; I think that each one of us comes from a unique background, so that in and of itself adds a different, amazing layer to our personal sound. I think that’s also a pool for certain people. Mike [McCready] saw us for the first time at Sasquatch [Music Festival in Washington]. He wanted to immediately make something with us and his label, HockeyTalkter [Records]. It was pretty amazing because “Velvet Noose” was a song that we had recorded in Ashton when we recorded our album with Sylvia Massey. it didn’t go over well, so it ended up being the perfect song to record with Mike at his home studio. It was a different kind of energy in his studio. Mike and Josh, who was the engineer on that record, have such a different kind of knowledge. Their input and background helped build out this really incredible, sonic atmosphere of “Velvet Noose”.
Leah Julius (bass): None of us actually grew up in Seattle. With the fact that we have these influences in our music, I feel like it’s a coincidence that we all live in Seattle now. Seattle does have a big history with rock music though, and we’re really excited to hopefully play some part in carrying that torch. But it wasn’t necessarily the thing that got us here. To follow up on your next question, we met Mike at Sasquatch Music Festival two years ago. He and his wife came to see us, and he enjoyed the set. He asked us if he could interview us for his SiriusXM Radio show. We got in his minivan a little later that day and did the interview, and we’ve been friends ever since.
The songs that have been released thus far (“No Heaven”, “Speed Queen”, “Velvet Noose”, “Torpedo Love”): are those all going to be on the Greatest Tits EP? Or are some of those standalone singles?
Molly: “No Heaven” is going to remain a B-side to the HockeyTalkter release that we did, where the A-side was “Velvet Noose”. It’ll stay there for the time being. But “Velvet Noose” will be on the full-length record as well as Greatest Tits EP. There’s one more song that’s going to be on Greatest Tits, called “Gentle Frame”. That’ll be coming out at the end of this month, I believe.
In regards to the EP, did you record all of these songs at separate times and then say “okay, we’re going to just put these together as an EP?” Or did you go into the studio saying “we’re going to make an EP and release these separately over a period of time?”
Ruby: (laughs) Oh, what a good question. We recorded everything with the hopes of making a full-length album. There was no conversation around making an EP until after we had a label.
Leah: We have a twelve-song record that we recorded. Eleven of those songs were all recorded in the same place, in Ashton, Oregon at a really cool studio by Sylvia Massey, our producer. We loved the song that we did with Mike so much that we decided that we wanted to put it on the record. We’re putting out the first four singles as an EP.
In regards to the album then, is there anything you’re able to let people in regards to what and when they can expect something?
Molly: It’ll be after the EP. (everyone laughs)
Leah: The album is real, I promise.
To go back on something you were saying earlier, about how you all weren’t from Seattle: what were some of the factors that led you to moving to Seattle, and what led you to all wanting to jam together in the first place and create the sound that you have?
Leah: I’m the closest thing to a hometown Seattle-ite. I grew up on Bay Ridge Island, so this is pretty close. I met Molly and Whitney just by playing with other bands in the Seattle music scene. It’s a pretty small, tight-knit community. When you’re in it long enough, you meet other people. I kind of ended up here because of my parents. Ruby came here from Chicago.
Ruby: I came here from Chicago for school. I wanted to move to Seattle really bad, and I went to school at Cornish [College of the Arts] for Jazz. I didn’t really have a choice in joining, they kind of just kidnapped me. (laughs) It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Refinery29 did a premiere for the “Speed Queen” music video a little while back. Are you able to talk about the making of it and the concept behind it? What was the filming session for this video like?
Molly: It was really fun. This is the exciting part; it’s the added layer of writing a song. You finish a song, and then you come together and talk about your creative ideas and see how they evolve with great teams and other resources you can tap into. Seattle is also an incredible hub for artists.
When you write a song, and then you get to create the visual outside of your performance, hopefully it’s always going to be that fun! It’s a rock and roll lesbian love story, and we love motorcycles, badass bitches and old westerns (laughs).
Leah: And dance fighting.
Molly: Oh yeah, and dance fighting. We’re dance fighting right now. You can’t see it, but we are. (laughs)
Last question: what does music mean to you?
Molly: It’s a universal language, and being a part of any sort of language is special.
Whitney Petty (guitar): Yeah, it’s like a technology without being a technology, you know? It’s like this binding universal language that’s a part of everybody’s DNA. It moves everybody in different ways, but it does move everybody.
Leah: It’s like our legacy as humans, it’s our privilege as human beings with a consciousness, our heritage.
Ruby: It’s the deadliest thing, but it’s also the most powerful thing. In some religions, you can’t even listen to music, because it makes you too emotional, too exotic and crazy. I can play a show and hate everybody in the room and not know it, because we’re all on the same page with music.
For tickets to Thunderpussy's upcoming show in San Francisco, CA at Bottom of the Hill tomorrow, March 7th, you can click here: www.stubmatic.com/bottomofthehill/event/9526