Interview With Ruby Dunphy Of Thunderpussy

Back in May, Seattle-based Thunderpussy released their self-titled debut album. They’ve been perfecting their craft on the road over the past couple years, and the album is a great introduction to a group from whom I can’t wait to hear more. This Saturday they’ll be in Chicago, performing at Cobra Lounge and you can get tickets here.

Below, drummer Ruby Dunphy answers some questions I sent over last week.

I love it when bands have a song named after the group. It becomes kind of like a theme song. Do you feel like your titular song represents the bands best qualities?

The most focused qualities that “Thunderpussy” exudes is those of our musicianship, endurance, and overall message of empowerment and pussy pride. If you are familiar with the recording, the live performance is much different-particularly in tempo, ferocity and physical exhaustion of ourselves individually and as a group. In that sense, some of our most captivating and dynamic qualities are most definitely represented.

Your debut EP came out in February and the album in May. Was it planned for them to hit so close together or was the response to the EP so positive that the album got moved to an earlier date?

It was all planned…very, very much planned. At this particular point in time, the general public doesn’t care about albums. People don’t listen to albums anymore, they listen to songs-singles specifically-so that’s why we released song by song eventually adding up to an EP, eventually adding up to the album. The looming fact that the majority of your fans won’t listen to your entire album breaks every artist’s heart, but that’s he world we live in.

All the songs on the album were recorded well before the EP dropped. It was all of our intentions to release the album as a whole so people could listen to it in the intended song order, however strategic release became a priority. Blah blah blah.

The album sounds slick but not overly polished. How much thought went into not how the band should sound, but how the album itself would sound being played in people’s homes?

A lot of thought went into that. We’re currently listening to Alabama Shakes right now in the van, and we’re all so enticed by the production of newer music being able to invite you into the studio with it. We really wanted to be able to transcend the sound of a stick hitting a rim, the soft cracking of Molly’s whisper,and the coziness of fingers plucking a string to the record. You hear so many recordings now that are so over polished you forget that humans are playing the instruments. I’m not trying to hate on that either-we we’re just going for a more humanistic, intimate sound.

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam produced the album (ed. note: McCready did not produce the album, it was produced by Sylvia Massy who did a great job and I apologize for my error). How much guidance did he give you in the recording process and how much did he let you do your own thing?

He did not produce the album. He produced Velvet Noose (and No Heaven). He helped us arrange Velvet Noose and it was my favorite song to record- he’s so much fun to work with you forget that you’re supposed to be doing something serious.

How much material did you bring into the recording sessions? Were there songs that got recorded that didn’t make it on the album or you decided to hold off for the next record?

We had a ton of songs to bring to Sylvia per her request-like 30 or something. We would play them for her before we’d record and she would basically say yay or nay. In many instances she would say something like “this is good, go home tonight and change the chorus and the breakdown and we’ll asses again in the morning”It was kind of like being at songwriting boot camp.

When people talk about your band they mostly say “rock,” but there’s a lot more going on than just straight up rock music. You’ve got a ballad with “Torpedo Love” and “Gentle Frame” has a country/honkytonk feel. Are there influences outside of rock that you try to highlight or does genre not matter to you?

Molly and Whitney are really into Gregorian Chant and Louis Andriessen’s “Worker’s Union”-structurally speaking.

Leah is experimenting with Dadaism at the moment but I’ll let her discuss that on her own accord. I (Ruby) am really into the Honkytonk feel.

How has the band evolved over the time you’ve been together?

Leah and I are planning to adopt a baby.

What have you learned from touring around the country as a band?

All of each other’s little habits and quirks. Like how some of us are neat freaks, how some of us wake up early as hell, how some of us brush our teeth, how much our musical tastes vary but come together in shocking ways. Endless things, new stuff everyday, I swear.