A Freewheeling interview with Thunderpussy
Thunderpussy are set for world domination. I wrote a bit about them over at LA Music Blog and after seeing them at last year's Treefort Music Fest, I had the chance to interview them. Sadly, after submitting my interview to a magazine editor, it seemed to disappear. So to hell with it. I love this band and I'm going to push them as much as I can, so this is now the Jubilant interview with THUNDERPUSSY.
Me: Alright well I only have a couple questions to ask you, but its more just to get you guys to talk…
Whitney: Great we have some questions for you.
Me: I forgot my resume though!
Leah: Its over! Wheres the door?
Me: Rock n’ roll is…
Mollie: Oh no! I just saw today…
Mollie: Yes, im sorry! I just saw todayBillboard was like “Rock n roll is dead” because everyone’s dying!
Me: Haha actually that was actually one of my later questions but I can do that now! The zeitgeist seems to be taking us away from rock and roll…
Whitney: Hell no.
Me: or at least from “traditional rock” so does it still have a place or can it still have a place like it did in its glory days?
Mollie: (whispers) Rock and roll will never die!
Whitney: itll never go away I fully believe that. Its never gonna be the same as it was—its not not going to be the same now as it was when Chuck Berry was king of rock and roll. It wont be the same in popular culture but at its core—which is just blues music with a ramped up back beat—will never go away. You’re never going to be able to kill rock and roll. Might not be popular, might not sell as many records, might not have big tours like you used to have—that’s all shifted to pop now, since there’s no substance to country anymore either. Theres fuckin hip hop and reggae in country now! All the lines get blended together so it might not function the exact same way, but are people going to still right rock and roll songs? Of course!
Me: Traditional, almost glam rock bluesy sound, which I actually have been noticing is experiencing a bit of a resurgence with you guys, mother feather, deap valley, and some more—I guess I wondered what you guys grew up on or who your heroes were that made you go for this particular sound?
Mollie: Well that’s the cool thing about us! We all have different influences.
Leah: I grew up listening to punk and hardcore. Like I played drums in punk bands all through high school. Went through all those phases starting with Misfits, Minor Threat, you know? All that stuff. Then I went to the pop-punk side, then like the post punk side…all that.
Leah: (Laughs) Exactly! That’s my favorite. That’s all I listen to now. But I didn’t grow up listening to the same stuff as they did so when I write a bass line it I bring a different viewpoint.
Mollie: It adds an extra flair to it. I mean whitney and I, we kinda fell in love over music having the same love of music. I grew up on classic rock—a lot of powerful female ffronted acts like Bonnie Raitt or even blues like Mavis Staples. But also Led Zepplin to the Allman Brothers to Crosby Stills and Nash, to country to rock and Destiny’s Child. I loved female group bands. I definitely had a big mix of music. And my dad was obsessed with Elvis. Elvis was huge in my family. Jazz, blues, rock, country—it all helped in creating this kind of a sound. It’s all of the influences are just as important. That’s why we all fit. Like ruby over here is bring her extra awesome Jazz flair to it!
Whitney: We have a very clear mission statement which is it’s a classic rock band and we’re doing things old school start to finish. It worked for them so why cant it work for us?
Me: was that the philosophy or the attitude that you started out with as well?
Whitney: Yeah we’re not gonna put a bunch of music up online, you know? We’re faking it till we make it. We’re pretending we’re a big successful classic rock band! We wanted it all—the logos, the kind of campiness about us like fuckin Thin Lizzy on the road! Old school tours and tongue0in cheek and the live show being the focal point. Having a costumed designer and having hair and makeup be a part of the show!
Mollie: Rock n Roll was all about the performance. It really was. It was about how they looked, how the sound was, how they combined as a whole package!
Whitney: Recording too, cause anyone can make a record now in a bedroom or for like five grand. Back in the glory days bands would be around for like ten years before they found a producer and would spend a hundred thousand dollars on that first record and it would sound AMAZING. Led Zeeplin, Aerosmith,with so many bands that first record out of the box just sounds great. We wanted to find the right person to work with. Everything from the recording to the live show has been very thought out—over thought out honestly.
Mollie: we take our time (laughs) but were on it!
Me: That brings up a bunch of my questions! Your emphasis on the live show is so, so clear with your videos and then seeing you live—how did that translate to recording?
Mollie:That was a big question at first—how or if we want to get that live sound? But when you are working with someone like Sylvia Massey who is literally an alien, she used all the tools that she has and made it something different. Being in the studio with her for a month was a surprise in itself. We went in there with way more songs than we were going to record—something like 30+ songs—and it wasn’t about getting the live performance of our live shows, but the performance of what was happening in the studio. Which is different.
Whitney: they are two different animals, really—there is so much you can do in the studio that you cant do live and we wanted to utilize that. The magic is in the overdubbing and the mixing and arranging it and all that cool stuff you can do when its recorded. The energy is there, but its different in a live show.
Mollie: I’m so fucking proud of this album but I do think its going to be a surprise for people. It shows diversity and the subtle charms of our band, you know?
Leah: (Laughs) yeah were a ska band now!
Mollie: We’re actually a ska country punk band now.
Me: You guys and Reel Big Fish, then on the road?
Everyone: (excitedly) Omigod! Are they still around??
Me: Hell yeah! They still put on one of the best live shows! I’ve shot them a bunch of times!
Whitney: REEL BIG FISH!!!!
Leah: When they get the record and listen to it all the way through, they are gonna gind something different. There are ballads—its eclectic and its cool and it shows a bunch of different sides and im really excited for everyone to experience it in this new capacity.
Mollie: (Whispers: performative) Intimacy with Thunderpussy!
Me: Is there a difference, too, in your live shows playing at big venues versus small, intimate ones? Do you find that you thrive in one environment more than others?
Mollie: It’s this gift, you see? You have to give and receive—both ends. Like we are performing for people but we can only perform for people if they are there. In intimate settings it can actually be more special. Every show is different. Like in a big show there may be that barrier separating you from the people youre with!
Ruby: Its funny watching old Nirvana videos cause they would talk so much about hating to play arenas because of this reason. They like to be in basements close to each other, and you would see them in these environements just SO far away from one another, knowing how much they hated that. That’s how I feel sometimes when everyone is so far from each other. But that’s whats great about this band you know? I’ll look up and Whitney is standing on my kick drum or Leah is spitting something at me or Mollie is laughing at me and the crowd is right there. We make it a point to make sure that we are all on the same page.
Whitney: really I just hate it when the crowd sucks! Im serious! I’ve been going to shows and I feel bad for the band—theres always ten feet of space between the first person in the crowd and the band. I don’t understand why people get so in their head! Our job is to get them out of their head and stop thinking.
Ruby: I saw Xenia Rubinos last night and it was the best show of my life and there was this woman in the front row who was making a facebook status and Xenia keptmaking faces at her! The only time she looked up was to do a video and as soon as she did that Xenia ran across the stage to avoid it! I was so pissed!
Mollie: It kills me. That’s rude!! Im a live performance artist—I studied dance! There are certain protocol. i’m a theater goer—I love seeing movies, plays, dance, all of the things! But when someone has their phone it front of them its so rude! We have theater etiquette! The interesting thing about bodies though is that we all absorb things in different ways. Like for me I am constantly moving my body as I experience things. Just cant stop. But some people absorb it in a very subtle way or people feel uncomfortable in their bodies. But im trying to get better at realizing not everyone is at the same level so when I say “DANCE COME DANCE WITH ME!” that not everyone feels comfortable doing that.
Me: Your branding is so intentional, can you go into what drove these kinds of branding choices? Your logo, your name, your stage presence, the way you conduct some interviews, the way you dress on stage, etc.
Mollie: as a core we are a groupe, but were all individual people with our own views on everything. But I mean we have a clear vision—we’re powerful women!
Ruby: Speak for yourself!!
Everyone: Ruby!! Ruby—earmuffs Ruby!!
Mollie: It’s strategic, its planned. We know what we want and we make it happen for the most part. We’re on the path to world domination. That’s what it is and whatever we need to do to get there that’s empowering and positive. Its about human rights and being women, we get pushed to the side a lot of the time. But we have a voice and a platform and we are going to keep pushing through and fuckin dominate.
Me: Last question I swear! I mean world domination, yes, but do you guys have some specific goal?
Whitney: Don’t brush world domination to the side!!
Me: But I mean like—something more specific like “we want to go on tour opening for Aerosmit,” or something like that?
Everyone: That’s it! Nailed it.
Mollie: Touring is the priority for this next year. Being a support, a main support.
Leah: I mean playing shows every night is the best thing in the world.
Whitney: we just to make art. Wether that is songs or music videos or collaborating with other intelligent creative people or doing something that no ones every thought of before! The world is a complex crazy place and nothing is trippier than reality. Just being able to trip out and regurgitate the world through out Thunderpussy lens.
Mollie: Thunderpussy LOINS! That’s whats up!