“I love it when people are skeptical about our name,” says Whitney Petty, lead guitarist of Thunderpussy.
“Older women — and I just mean older than me — are like, ‘What is this music? My kids like it and it’s so vulgar,’ or ‘My kid wears their T-shirt and the principle says something,” and we just love that. But, I mean, we play all ages shows and families come and have a great time. It’s tongue-in-cheek and it’s Rock’N’Roll for fuck’s sake. I mean, we’re not trying to cure cancer.”
Thunderpussy are a Seattle-based band whose sound and fashion are both nods to the black leather, glitter, and ultra-heavy blues riffs of the ‘70s most grandiosely decadent arena rockers… They’re actually far more likely along the lines of the sounds that your coolest aunt and uncle dig than any of the “bangers” you can hear coming from your little sister’s bedroom. And Thunderpussy have already acquainted themselves with some heavy-hitters in the industry. They’ve gotten to be quite close friends of Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who produced and played on their single, “Velvet Noose,” and their self-titled debut (released last year on Stardog Records/Republic Records) was produced by Sylvia Massy, best known for her work with Tool and Green Jello/y.
It seems that there are quite big things in the near future for Thunderpussy, but for those who got in on it early, at the moment they’re still bringing their seemingly massive stage presence to relatively small rooms. They’re currently on a run of dates (with support from Hollis Brown) that will have them playing our very own MilkBoy this Saturday, August 10th. Last week I got a chance to chat with Whitney Petty from the road, where they seemed to be having fun goofing off for a moment or two during a pit stop: “We just rolled into Akron and I literally can’t get The Pretenders out of my head since I’ve been in Ohio [laughs].” Discussing Thunderpussy’s still relatively brief history, Petty tells me that, although they have experienced some really great things, it’s been cultivating her relationship with vocalist Molly Sides – who is both her musical and real-life partner – that has been most exciting.
“Just meeting Molly was such a big life shift for me. She’s my true love and my muse. It always has felt pretty magical to be in Thunderpussy. I always dreamed as a kid to find that person and have a band and have a record deal and we did that and now it’s about things like figuring out what it means to quit your dayjob and be a musician. I mean, as a band, we’re business owners… But also, getting to work with Sylvia Massy and Mike McCready has been such an amazing experience, and getting to fly into London to see Eddie Vedder at the Hammersmith Odeon, and just going to New York and walking through the offices of Republic…”
And while the pairing of Mike McCready, best known as the lead guitarist in one of the ‘90s most anti-rock-star bands, with Thunderpussy, who resemble some combination of Slade and The Runaways, would seem a bit awkward, apparently they all get along rather famously.
“We met him at Sasquatch (Rest in Peace, Sasquatch.) His wife dragged him to our set and he didn’t know anything about us, but he seemed to really like it. As a guitar player, I was really intimidated by who he was. I mean, he asked me about all my pedals – he’s such a nerd about music – and he was just like, ‘I wanna record your band,’ and I was just so taken aback. I mean, I had never really listened to Pearl Jam that much, but shortly after this I put on Ten and I was like, ‘I know all these songs by heart!’ So, when we got in the studio, I was so nervous when we went to do ‘Velvet Noose,’ but he’s just so chill and cool, it’s disarming. He has such a great heart and such a great work ethic. I mean, he’s so humble, like he still hangs out with his friends from high school. He’s a huge mentor, and the Pearl Jam guys… you couldn’t ask for a better group of role models. They make music for themselves and they don’t have to answer for anyone.”
A big chunk of Whitney and I’s conversation centers around what it is that she actually most listens to, and while she confirms that ‘70s rock is a huge part of her diet, she also admits that there’s quite a few other, quite different, things that have also influenced her in a serious way.
“I am most into that kind of music, but when I was a kid in the ‘90s, I was growing up in Georgia, listening to country music, like Wynonna Judd, Kristofferson, Cash, Willie… My aunt gave me an Elmore James record that I just absolutely loved. I love outlaw country and ‘90s country and really rootsy blues and rootsy country, like I’m a big fan of David Allan Coe. I feel like American Idol ruined country; country’s just gotten to be bad pop music. I’m really into lyricists, like I love Mellencamp and, being from Atlanta, I got really into OutKast, too. I mean, Andre and Big Boi are basically like Bob Dylan, and I just love lyricists… But my favorite band of all-time is Aerosmith. My first rock concert was in ’97 on the Nine Lives tour. I mean, I remember shortly before that, I had been in line somewhere with my mom and saw the Nine Lives cover from behind the counter and just knew that I had to have it, and then I found out that my dad had been a fan for a long time, and that was just it. And, I mean, from ‘Fever,’ ‘The buzz that you be gettin’ from the crack don’t last, I’d rather be ODin’ on the crack of her ass,’ is just my favorite line of all-time.”
I ask Petty what can be expected of Thunderpussy’s show at MilkBoy and she tells me that the band is actually most excited about getting to play four or five new songs each night, but she does suggest that they will be bringing their full Rock’N’Roll spectacle to the 200-capacity venue: “I think that we’re playing better than ever. We recently lost our second drummer, so we’re on our third drummer and she’s a fucking fantastic fucking drummer. Get ready for a really balls-to-the-wall show where we’re actually reaching insanity [laughs].” However, she also implies that they’re expecting a little extra something out of you, the audience, as well. I ask her if she has any requests as to how the audience styles themselves that night, and she has a few suggestions.
“I like a little lace and some sequins. Accessories are very important. I mean, I always wanna look fabulous. Like, I’ll think about going out in a hoodie and then just be like, ‘No, no, no, I can’t do this.’ I mean, at the very least you should wear a sick leather jacket.”