We're finally wrapped in the fur of summer's swelter, and a luscious clatter rises with the heat off the road. Is it Foghat with Nancy Sinatra singing, or is it AC/DC? Is it Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold"? Also, something smells sweet, like nectar. Let's land on that smooth pad with fanged teeth and check it out. We take a couple steps, then WHAP, teeth shut all around, locking us in. What is this? This is Thunderpussy, the Seattle rock band, and their Venus flytrap is sprung. It's Molly Sides on the mic, Whitney "Sweaty" Petty (the Grizzled Mighty) on guitar and whip, Leah Julius on bass, and Lena Simon (Kairos, La Luz) on drums—together they perform period pieces, and their period is straight-up, trigger-pulling rock 'n' roll. Live, Thunderpussy strut, flaunt, stride, and stake a bootheel claim at the crossroads. They tie you to a stool there and whip the piccolo flute right out of your mouth. Sides wields poses and high-heat vocals in a hell-cat mash-up of Patsy Cline and Paul Stanley. Thunderpussy granted me this interview based on one condition: that I get waxed. So they took me to a place near South Center and ordered me a male Brazilian (I think) called the Banana Split. It was a Weedwacker/hot-glue/duct-tape combo to the groin area and upper back. Afterward, they took me to a bedroom and poured me a glass of cold, fresh milk.
How were Thunderpussy conceived?
Molly Sides: In halcyon days of yore, Zeus flew from Mount Olympus to Egypt in the form of a beautiful white swan. Once there, he forced himself upon a cat. Eight and a half months later, Thunderpussy were born, and nursed on the sweet nectar of the gods in the royal kitty court. So we're Greek in origin [laughs], and several hundred years old.
How does rock music make you feel?
Lena Simon: Like I'm on steroids, or LSD, or maybe both. It's a lot like David from the "David After Dentist" YouTube hit.
Whitney Petty: It's sort of like waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a scar that you can't account for—grateful to be alive.
Leah Julius: You know that feeling when you've taken four Xanax and everything is chill, and for the first time in forever you forgot what it's like to give a shit about anything? Yeah, like that.
Molly Sides: Like a new tattoo. A beautiful piece of art emerging from a pulsating needle on bruised, broken skin. Riding the edge between pain and pleasure. Hurts so good.
If that feeling were an object, what would it be? A pack of hyenas in heat?
MS: Like one of those coin-operated beds they have at rundown motels. You know, the kind that vibrate.
WP: Or maybe a waterbed filled with piranhas, and encrusted with the remnants of a cocaine hangover.
LS: It's a bed. A bed that's seen some shit.
If Thunderpussy were a pie, what kind of pie would you be?
MS: Peach Pie.
In "Pick It Up," I so hear Angus Young in there. You say, "Everywhere to run. Nowhere to hide." How did that line come about? What does it mean?
WP: That lyric came to me as I was waking up from a nap. I write all my best songs in my sleep [laughs].
MS: I do, too. Well, right before I go to bed. It all comes to me then. I need to create some sort of device that records thoughts falling asleep and while asleep. I'd remember all my lyrics that way.
In "Theme Song," your "peach is ripe." You're "on the prowl." Please talk about the message of the song. What do you mean by ripeness?
WP: Actually, this song is just called "Thunderpussy." It's our theme song. I'll answer your question with another question. What's riper than a peach? Every band should have a theme song. How else will people know what you're about? We are clearly dominatrixes prowling the night, up to no good.
What did you listen to or study to put you in the mood to record your more bluesy songs?
LJ: Mostly we just studied walking bass lines and listened, on repeat, to Elvis deliver the most commanding "yeah" at the end of his version of "Trouble" until we felt like we could do the song justice.
The lyrics you're singing there are "Don't take orders from any kind of man." What do Thunderpussy have to say to a male-dominated society?
LJ: Personally, I don't want to answer any questions about male dominance or what it's like to be a female in a band, especially a female in an all-female band. All four of us women do things that have historically been male-dominated. We play music, ride motorcycles, date girls, and lift heavy shit for a living. And we don't do them as a "fuck you" to the male-dominated society, or in an attempt to advance women's rights, we do them because we can and want to. I understand that many women don't have this same opportunity, and obviously that's not okay. But I also don't want to pretend or convey that I choose to play music and to be a member of Thunderpussy in an attempt to advance women's rights. I like playing rock music and I happen to be a woman.
What needs to happen in order to equalize any sort of unfair, embedded power structure ruled by males?
MS: What are you talking about? You came out of a pussy. All men come from us. We built this city.
Who are Thunderpussy's favorite musicians?
LS: John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell, Charlie Watts.
WP: Steven Tyler.
MS: Robert Plant, Bonnie Raitt, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde.
Where did you all record your demos? Who produced? What spirits did you summon?
WP: We worked with Graig Markel at his studio, the Recovery Room, in Greenwood. It's a great place, and the Fireball flows freely. Graig fashioned himself a platinum grill out of tinfoil and played us Stitches videos about selling blow for inspiration.
LJ: Graig's abode and studio are home to his three special-needs animals—a dog and two cats. One can only walk using a cart Graig designed and built himself. So we felt confident that Graig would be accepting and supportive of our strange rituals and requests.
You all get mean guitar tones. How did you and Graig dial in those tones?
WP: Graig has all the guitars that I want, so I used five guitars for five songs. He also has his own line of hand-wired effects, Recovery Effects. All the pedal sounds come from those. Also, you'd be surprised how much a whip helps a session. And the bow is an underutilized tool for guitar. Let's bring it back, shall we?
Molly, where did these vocals come from? Such fire and power. Damn.
MS: Honestly, necessity. I need to do it. I think about it all the time. I sing when I talk, drink, sleep, eat. Maybe that's why I fumble so much when speaking actual words. I'm always thinking about rhythm and melody. Maybe it comes in part from studying dance. Thunderpussy is the hybrid of all things I must do—the perfect blend of dancing, singing, and interacting. Not to mention the ladies of Thunderpussy are all my best friends and happen to be the most badass musicians ever. Seriously. The best. They're what goes into it and keeps me going.
If Thunderpussy went bowhunting with Ted Nugent and Rush Limbaugh, what would go down? You're out there in the deep woods, Nugent has the loincloth on, there are animals foraging all around, and Limbaugh has eggs Benedict flown in on a private jet. Then what?
WP: Have you ever seen Deliverance? Limbaugh's got a pretty mouth, and the Nuge can definitely squeal like a pig [laughs]. Thunderpussy are not to be trifled with, and we like our eggs scrambled.
So you have these demos now—will a Thunderpussy album be coming out at any point?
WP: We'll put up more demos in the coming weeks. I want to name our first album after our motorcycle gang, Hottie Couturatti. Come party with us at Chop Suey. We have more new songs to unveil.
How should I describe how my Brazilian wax feels? I just feel burning. I think they almost castrated me.
LS: It feels like an orca breaching in the Puget Sound on a warm sunny day.