Thunderpussy: Rock and roll all up on you

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by McKenna Cardwell & Halee Hastad

Every once in a while a band comes along that puts intention into every aspect of what they do. Costumes, lyrics, even the band name play a meaningful role for the group as a whole, and it all comes together seamlessly. This is Thunderpussy.

This month the Seattle-based band returns to Bellingham for a show at The Wild Buffalo on Saturday, May 11. Bellingham ex-pats, The Wednesdays, will also be joining them for one rocking night full of kick-ass women.

Last year the band celebrated its debut full-length album. Self-titled, Thunderpussy, the body of music expertly features the artistic prowess of  the quartet—Molly Sides (vocals), Whitney Petty (guitar), Leah Julius (bass), and Ruby Dunphy (drums).

Impossibly energetic and dripping with coolness, the women of Thunderpussy radiate an influential quality reminiscent of powerful 80s female stars like Joan Jett and Heart. Their music brings you back to size when the world makes you feel small and insignificant. It empowers you to get back on your feet and stand tall. Basically, when I was a little girl strumming my toy guitar with my hair streaked with blue hairspray, I wanted to be in a band just like Thunderpussy.

In a realm of music that historically maintains male dominance, Thunderpussy is shattering the stereotypes of what you need to be a stellar rock ‘n’ roll band. All-female groups like Thunderpussy are paving the way for a powerful new music to follow.

When starting the process of creating a cohesive album, the band agreed wholeheartedly that everything, from the instrumentals to the lyrics, revolved around the craft of making music. The songs in the album and the album as whole required a lot of thought, a lot of working – and reworking. Thunderpussy dedicated their time and brain space to this album, writing lyrics at all hours of the day. Molly even wrote lyrics on an 11-hour road trip with her dad.

This dedication to the craft comes from a respect of making music, as well as a deeply intimate attachment to the songs. Thunderpussy says a lot of the songs within the album convey emotional reactions to real-life relationships they’ve experienced, making the entire album incredibly personal for the band.

There’s intention behind every word and every note, and the songs absolutely rock because of it. The time spent on this album was repaid tenfold, with professionally crafted tracks and music that will move the listener.

My personal favorite song comes early in the album, “Badlands.” Steady and strong, the track starts out fairly quietly and gradually builds to a classic rock instrumental breakout. The robust guitar and rhythmic drums then give way to Molly’s soaring vocals. The vocals and the instrumentals take turns, increasing with intensity as the song progresses, eventually adding in an electric guitar solo at the top of the melody. In essence, the song is incredibly well designed and obviously thought out to perfection.

Deeply serious about the music-making process, the band isn’t afraid to let loose and enjoy their craft. Performing live in particular is an outlet for the band to express their creative emotions.

“It’s me up there, but it’s a heightened sense of who I am where I get to act, sing and dance on stage,” Molly said. “I can’t really separate the two.”

A strong, empowered, female band – yes, but be careful about smacking a feminist, female rock band label onto Thunderpussy.

“It bothers us that people have to label others. When we started it wasn’t ladies who wanted to rock, but it was ladies with a fierce appetite to make music and perform,” Thunderpussy explained. “Labeling people will only hurt them because if you put them in a box, that’s where they will stay.”

Earlier this year, Ruby left the band to work on individual projects. The band is currently experimenting with a few different musicians and will definitely continue making music once the next member is discovered. In the meantime, Thunderpussy is looking forward to bringing their music to Bellingham before heading out on the road.

See Thunderpussy at the Wild Buffalo on Saturday, May 11. The Wednesdays will also perform. For updates about the band, follow their Facebook page.