June 8, 2018 Interview – Molly Sides of Thunderpussy
There is a lot of truth to the old adage to never judge a book by its cover. Chances are, when most hear the band name Thunderpussy, they arrive at preconceived notions of what they might hear or see. An ’80s Cock Rock band, right? Perhaps a loud, obscene Shock Rock band maybe? How about 4 young ladies out of Seattle, Washington who have a pure love for Rock-n-Roll, art in general, and making thoughtful music? Well, squash your stereotypes because Thunderpussy is most recently the latter. A four piece band – Molly Sides (vocals), Whitney Petty (guitar), Leah Julius (bass), and Ruby Dunphy (drums) – Thunderpussy is a Rock band who has spunk, vision, and a surprising dose of maturity.
Hard at work making their brand of music known over the past few years, they recently released their debut album on May 25th through Stardog Records/Republic Records, and to them, this is only the beginning. Recently we caught up with Ms. Molly Sides amidst the band’s current tour to talk the story behind Thunderpussy, making a lasting first impression with their debut album, her love for performing arts, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – Thunderpussy has been hard at work and recently released your major label debut album back on May 25th. A band that pushes the envelope, what has the last few years been like for you?
Molly Sides – A lot of work, a lot of good work. Just a big push in trying to create something that feels genuine, but loud. (Laughs) We have been doing it for a long time. It’s nice to be able to unleash the album and really set out into the world, have people around the world hear it, not just on the west coast. It has been really great having a major label helping with distribution, throwing your ideas out there and seeing where they go.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like a very exciting time for the band. For those who do not know the band, obviously, the first thing that is on everyone’s mind right away is the band name. Context is everything, and unfortunately we are living in a time where people do not really pay attention to anything in context. That in mind, people need to stop being so outraged and actually listen, so tell us, what the name Thunderpussy means to you?
Molly Sides – A lot of things. It’s funny too, when you start something, you put a name on it, you name your little baby beast, then it kind of takes on a life of its own. You can steer it in a direction, but when it’s out there, it really does take on a life of its own. For us, the name started off specifically as it’s fun, this is funny, then it became this is us, very much us. For me personally, it’s about power, prowess, ferocity, appetite, just going full speed ahead with the people you are committed with, and sticking with it.
CrypticRock.com – Those are all positive things. As far as the image and sound of the band, you truly are unique to what others are doing at this time. Speaking of judging a book by it’s cover, when you first hear the name Thunderpussy some may also think an extremely loud and obnoxious band, but that is not true at all with you ladies. Was it important for you to put out a diverse debut album?
Molly Sides – Absolutely! I think that should always be important. Like you said, people read a name, or hear about you, and they immediately put you in a box and put a label on it. For us, it is more about range, it’s not just about being one thing. We are 4 incredible women who have a passion for a lot more than just music. Pulling that into this one creative endeavor is powerful and it’s supposed to be many different things – many different sounds and images. I think in order to have longevity in any sort of career you have be flexible and you have to pull from everything, you can’t just be one thing.
This album specifically, we did really want to show our range. Also, a lot of people come see us live, and performance is definitely our thing. We want people to come there, be there, be present, but also take a piece of us home with them that is not what you necessarily see on the stage. To get weird in the studio and present something that is a bit of a surprise. You have you keep things weird – surprise yourself and others.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, who wants to be predictable? This album touches on a mix of styles and no two songs are the same.
Molly Sides – I am so happy to hear you say that! That was a big part, that was really important for us.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. They always say an artist has their entire life to write their debut album, so a lot of thought goes into it. This debut seems quite mature, has the band applied their past experience to this?
Molly Sides – Not necessarily for me. Whitney and Leah more so. This was actually my first recording process – I had done little demos with an old band I was in, but we weren’t a serious band. That is kind of the beauty of each one of us too, bringing the knowledge that we have from our other projects. We have been sitting on this and writing forever.
That was kind of the hardest part, picking which songs – which ones are you really going to hone in on and pick for this whole body of work? We called it the incubation period – it is like having a baby, but not. (Laughs) Finally, it is finally out in the world! It was a lot of work, a lot of experimentation, and that is really important too, that is where the surprises come out as well.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and another attribute to the album is the production. Many artists will present an album in an overproduced fashion. This album is not like that, it has character. Did you go for that?
Molly Sides – Yea, within the studio, we took everything to the limit, the capacity for each song. I think for the production, we wanted it to have a rawness and edge as well. A lot of our influences are early on ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. We wanted to create something that has a kind of residual, unique, old time feel, if you will. For a debut album, it was important for people to hear us as we are. This is just the beginning, this is like a taste tester, but you want that taste to pull you back in for another bite.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed. The band has a music video out now for the single “Badlands.” This is a really beautifully shot video, what inspired the music video?
Molly Sides – I am a huge fan of Terrence Malick and film in general. I really loved the idea of creating short films with a song. More than just a music video, but telling a story. Maybe it’s not even the story that’s with the song, but it’s fun experimenting with a vision that you have.
Like I said, Terrence Malick is really an idol, I love him! The way he presents a shot, the feel of touching the grass, it is like you are there with someone. With “Badlands,” it was really inspired by the Terrence Malick film Badlands (1973). Also, kind of a Bonnie & Clyde/Thelma & Louise kind of rebellious feel. I really wanted to capture something like that.
It is also an ode to the land, mother nature, the thing that it gives to us and kind of disappearing into it – on the run with mother nature so to speak. I really wanted it to have a elegance to it, but also kind of darkness. We ended up meeting an incredible crew called Lustre Studios, they knocked it out of the park and worked so hard on it. It was a bit of a challenge for everybody and I think it highlights everyone in a really unique way where everyone can be a character, you don’t have to be yourself.
CrypticRock.com – It works well and is done very well. Thunderpussy is quite an exceptional live band and you really put on a great show. As a lead vocalist, you not only sing, but showcase some captivating dance performances. Is dance something you have always been passionate about?
Molly Sides – (Laughs) Yes. I actually moved to Seattle to dance. My background is musical theater and I started dancing in high school and I thought, “Oh, I think this is what I want to do, I want to be a choreographer.” I moved to Seattle and went to the Cornish College of the Arts to study dance. It’s such a beautiful community where you connect with not only people in your department, but people in other departments. That was kind of my training.
CrypticRock.com – It is interesting to see how it translated itself into a Rock band.
Molly Sides – It’s cool how that happens too. Like I said, life is large – you don’t have to be one thing. You might as well pull from every little seed to blossom more in whatever endeavor it is that you do.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, why box yourself in? The possibilities are endless. As a vocalist, you have a very moody style. You can be subtle, but also harsh. How have you developed your style through the years?
Molly Sides – That’s a really good question. My gut. I am really inspired by everything. I know that sounds cheesy, but I love Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot. I think coming from a place where I was able to listen to a lot and take in everything and not judge it saying, “I don’t like this because it’s this genre.” Instead, I use it, it enhances your toolbox. For me, I really love all of the genres and there are some key idols in each one of those which I think have helped craft that sound for me. It’s really from the gut. I can’t help it. I have a lot of feelings. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – It certainly bleeds through in the music. The band is out on tour this month with Black Pistol Fire. For those whom have not seen Thunderpussy live yet, what would you tell them to expect?
Molly Sides – Fun. (Laughs) I actually like to invite people into a place and not have any expectations. I think you should come as an open book, clear your head of any judgement and just be present. Leave your phone at home and just be there in the room with other people and us, just experience it.
I think there is a lot of beauty in just being present and experiencing something without being told what it is your going to see. I hope people leave inspired, I hope people leave with smiles on their faces and have had met somebody new.
CrypticRock.com – The element of surprise is good. You don’t want to make everything predictable in life.
Molly Sides – Yea, that’s where you lose out on all of the fun!
CrypticRock.com – Very true. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Molly Sides – First, can I tell you, I was in a super ridiculous B-rated Sci-Fi Thriller film, actually the whole band was, it is called Danger Diva (2017). I love those kind of cheesy B-rated movies.
As far as my favorites, Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is a classic. I am more into Suspense than Horror nowadays. I did enjoy A Quiet Place. Rosemary’s Baby just sticks with you. I liked Let the Right One In (2008). It’s so beautiful. There are these eerie, dark, cold environments and the relationships that evolve out of them as young kids, or a young vampire. (Laughs)