Thunderpussy – Seattle, WA
Thunderpussy is just a band—for now.
When I spoke with three of the all-female rock group’s four members over happy hour in December 2017, they were still fresh from signing a multi-album deal with Stardog Records, eagerly anticipating all the creative ways they might use the newfound resources to grow their following.
“We have this whole idea of Thunderpussy being like a lifestyle brand,” notes bassist Leah Julius. And chief among the products they envision within that brand? A Thunderpussy-approved pot strain. The Seattle-based band has been associated with legal weed ever since singer Molly Sides was featured on the cover of The Stranger’s first “Green Guide,” which in turn led to them becoming brand ambassadors for JUJU Joints. When recording their as-yet-unreleased debut album at a church basement in Ashland, Oregon, last fall, they had no shortage of hand-rolled blunts to aid their creative process.
This might come as a surprise to those who know Thunderpussy through their unforgettable live performances, which they admit have more of a “drinking vibe.” That’s only because Thunderpussy is, quite simply, a killer bar band with no reservations about engaging in larger-than-life onstage antics, which can put even the cockiest of ‘70s cock-rockers to shame.
“I haven’t been naked onstage in almost two years now,” muses guitarist Whitney Petty. While singer Molly Sides shows off her flexibility and dance chops as frontwoman, Whitney is often the wild card onstage, sometimes brandishing a whip or wearing only a fur jock strap with a racoon tail called “The Duke.” The band’s old practice space even neighbored a sex shop, where they often stopped in for unconventional stage supplies.
But while Thunderpussy’s fearlessness has helped them become something of a Seattle phenomenon in just three years, their choice of name ran afoul of the federal Patent and Trademark Office, which has so far denied their trademark request for being potentially “immoral” and “scandalous”—regardless of how many other federally-licensed trademarks employ the word “pussy.”
“Weed shouldn’t be illegal, and neither should Thunderpussy,” declares Molly. When discussing those offended by a band name that simply references female genitalia, Whitney aptly deploys a Big Lebowski quote: “The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.”
As passionate as they are advocating for legal cannabis, the band members take even more pride in seeing themselves and their rising success as part of a sea of change for female representation in the entertainment industry and beyond. “When a mother and her daughter come up to you after a show and say something like, ‘You changed my life,’ or, ‘My daughter wants to be in a band because of you,’” remarks Molly, “those are the moments I get a little teary-eyed.”
Female representation is also a big part of why they signed to Stardog in the first place. After three years perfecting the songs for their first album, they were determined to find the right distributor to get it to as many people possible, yet were still cautious about signing onto any label they perceived as nothing more than “suited men, saying ‘here’s how we see your music.’”
They were on track to release the album themselves until earlier this year, when they toured Stardog’s offices in New York and found them full of “badass women we could relate to, in powerful positions.”
Following some rigorous contract negotiations, the band has finally signed on the dotted line, and even released a single, “Speed Queen,” in the ramp-up to their major label debut. We’ll see how Thunderpussy—the band and the brand—grows from there.
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