For some, the band name “Thunderpussy” is hard to swallow. Some commercial radio stations, for example, won’t play songs from the Seattle-based rock ‘n’ roll band because DJ’s won’t say the name on-air. In fact, the four-piece has a case pending in the United States Supreme Court to determine whether or not the name is obscene and therefore not trademark-able. Nevertheless, the ladies of Thunderpussy persist on their musical trek, releasing new records (and music videos) and touring relentlessly.
“Isn’t it interesting how just a word can change your life?” says Molly Sides, front woman for the band. “Or how one word can polarize people or pull them together.”
Sides, who is known by fans for her Grace Slick-like voice as well as her gymnastic-like dancing, is a force on stage. Her partner, Whitney Petty, who shreds and slashes, wails and wallows on the electric guitar, matches Sides’ energy in life and in song. The two met in Seattle and started Thunderpussy in 2015. Sides, a performer since she was young, says she and Petty named the band tongue-in-cheek at first but quickly grew into the power it possessed.
“We love comedy, we love puns,” says Sides. “You have to have humor in life. But, like in anything, we grow and evolve. We have become Thunderpussy. We chose the name and then it really became us. And there’s power in that discovery.”
Sides, who has since collaborated with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and been gifted a bouquet of flowers by friend and songwriter Brandi Carlile, isn’t afraid to share her perspective on important issues, politics included. Most recently, that’s taken the form of stalwart support for both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in this year’s election season.
“You can’t step aside from what’s happening in the world,” she says. “Life feeds your art. When Trump was elected, we realized it was a moment when we couldn’t be quiet and talk amongst ourselves. We had to write about it. It fuels us as individuals and as a band.”
The band’s latest offering is the release of the music video for their song, “Powerhouse,” from 2019’s Milk It EP. The song, which features Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer, Chad Smith, on the kit, is about Sides’ mother. The video features Emerald City drag queen and performing artist, Cherdonna Shinatra, who shifts between acting crazed and dazed in her modest abode.
“It’s an ode to my mom because she’s fucking incredible,” Sides says. “Mothers are incredible. The fact that women can birth humans is unbelievable to me. Women’s bodies are an unbelievable universe. But the struggles that a woman and a mother have to go through is immense. They find a way to push through.”
“Powerhouse” is one of four on the band’s 2019 EP. Sides calls the work an “adventure EP,” meaning that it signifies a creative passage for the band through life. The record features several drummers and includes the track, “On the Line.” Sides wrote the love song about Petty and the two recorded the track a single take.
“Milk It is a palate,” Sides says. “The record shows different sides of the journey within the journey and these are the songs that come with it.”
Looking forward, Sides says Thunderpussy should “hopefully” have a new record in 2020 and her fingers are crossed that the band’s name will be found un-obscene in the eyes of the U.S. government. But in the mean time, the band will again hit the road this spring, with dates slated for March and April beginning in Spokane, WA. And while much is up in the air for the group, Sides says she maintains a sense of faith amidst the unknown.
“I hope, in the end, that Thunderpussy can be a portal to human connection,” Sides says. “I just want to engage people and start talking. And I want people to leave feeling the conversation like they’ve met someone who changed the trajectory of their night. I mean, what the fuck are we doing here if we’re not sharing our stories?”