Thunderpussy Are the Storm the Rock'n'Roll Revival Needs

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Seattle four-piece are shaking up rock'n'roll with a vengeance.

Last Sunday, a thundering snow storm hit Colorado’s Front Range. As the sky rumbled and started spitting fat white flakes instead of rain, Seattle’s Thunderpussy rolled into Denver fresh off of four SXSW sets including an official C3 Entertainment showcase. The band recently made NPR’s “100 Artists to Watch at SXSW” and during the fest, debuted the new song “Show Your Colors,” which they co-wrote with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Their Denver gig was hand-squeezed between a quick trip home and their upcoming Treefort Music Festival appearance and if you braved the storm, Thunderpussy rewarded you with a seductive, spitfire show of rock’n’roll that left the crowd swooning.

Thunderpussy.

Thunderpussy.

“Hi! I’m Molly!” frontwoman Molly Sides exclaimed as she traipsed inside Summit Music Hall, wrapped in a leopard-print coat. As I reached my hand out to hers, she giggled, “Sorry I’m freezing!” and after shaking hands, she held mine and laughed, “But you’re nice and warm!”

As we chatted about Sides’ affinity for snow as an Idaho native, the girls headed to the green room for wardrobe. If you’re curious what that entails, it’s velvet onesies, fishnet stockings, rhinestone bras, and thigh-high glitter boots. And those boots were made for stompin’ on more than just the stage. In a recent interview with Billboard, guitarist Whitney Petty talked about K.Flay’s Grammy nod as the only female artist in the rock category, musing, “I'd say the time is ripe for Thunderpussy to high kick the patriarchy where it counts with a thigh-high, rhinestone encrusted, platform boot.”

And that’s how Thunderpussy rolls- they’ll hold your hand right before serving up their brand of kickass on the stage.

Whitney Petty.

Whitney Petty.

After a session of greenroom pictures where the girls kept apologizing for the cloud of hairspray that hung above us (“Don’t worry! It’s organic!” bassist Leah Julius promised with a smile), the girls paraded out in their heels to the cheers of the crowd.

Currently touring on their 2018 record Greatest Tits with a full album dropping later this spring, the band opened with “Speed Queen,” a song which nods to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and The Runaways all at once. As Sides sang into a vintage-looking mic, her gyrations soon turned to her crawling on the floor while locking eyes with audience members; meanwhile Petty stood above her with one heel pranced on an amp as she leaned into the crowd ripping on guitar and headbanging. Julius jumped off of drummer Ruby Dunphy’s “Pussy” emblazoned kick drum and jazz-trained Dunphy kept a steady beat while the chaos ensued. And this, truly was just the beginning.

Molly Sides.

Molly Sides.

As a frontwoman, Sides seems to pull from performance artists like David Bowie, Elvis, and even Lady Gaga. She is never found standing still, her soaring vocals envelope a room, and though I didn’t get to ask, I left feeling like she must have a dance background. Her stage persona is rock’n’roll seductress, something you can also see in the band’s music video for “Speed Queen.”

Sides is almost impossible to stop looking at, but when you do Petty, Julius, and Dunphy are equally engaging. Petty slashes on guitar in a way that 80s hair metal bands would look up to. She slays, and her solos bring forth those classic rock’n’roll eruptions you look for in this type of sound.

Holding down the low end, Julius’ performance is highlighted with fits of energy- she headbangs just as much as the crowd when she’s not jumping from amps and the kick drum. And Dunphy, who was flying back to Seattle the next morning so that she could make it to her classes at Cornish College of the Arts, is a damn riot. She’s all smiles whether she’s pounding cymbals on “Velvet Noose” or tapping the snare with a light jazz flair on “Torpedo Love.”

Apart, each of these women ooze talented prowess; together the four-piece have an undeniably intense chemistry, one which builds and disseminates throughout the room from start to finish. It’s no surprise that the band has been selling out shows on their Pour Morals tour at spots like LA’s Viper Room, where Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith was seen checking out the band. At Sunday’s Denver show, Kid Rock’s entire tour crew strolled in for a listen, blowing off steam before prepping for Rock’s Pepsi Center performance later in the week. When industry pros start showing up for you regularly, you know you’re doing something right.

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Thunderpussy closed the night with “Torpedo Love,” which they just premiered a video for with NPR. In it, Thunderpussy perform the track live in an abandoned nuclear power plant silo.

Said Sides about the video, "When working with Magic Mama Massy, enthused wild ideas literally explode everywhere…  As we crept up to the monstrous structures, it seemed as though they'd been waiting for us, and the concrete curtains calling to us. With both nature and nuclear walls hovering, a beautifully eerie collaboration ensued."

And somehow, that sums up Thunderpussy too: one part sensitive, seductive, and beautiful; the other nuclear, explosive, and ready to tear your heart out.

Sink your teeth into Thunderpussy’s newest music and catch them at Treefort and other major festivals all summer. They’re poised for a takeover, so best brace yourself for the storm.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bring Em Out! Catch T.I. at Cervantes' This Wednesday (01/11/17)

By: Sierra Voss

This Wednesday night, rapper T.I. will by dropping by Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece, along with Talent Among Us, ITsEVi, Ray Reed, and AP.

T.I. embarked on his well-known rap career in the early 2000’s and soon became a founding father of hip-hop subgenre trap-music. T.I.’s musical career has included the release of nine studio albums, as well as numerous successful singles including, "Bring Em Out," "Whatever You Like," "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna), "Dead and Gone" (featuring Justin Timberlake), "Ball" (featuring Lil Wayne), and "No Mediocre" (featuring Iggy Azalea). T.I. has won three Grammy Awards, including “Best Rap Solo Performance,” “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group,” and “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.” In February 2016 he joined subscription-based music streaming service Tidal, alongside other artist such as J. Cole, Madonna, and Daft Punk. Most recently, T.I. made headlines in the New York Times for writing an open letter of appreciation to President Barack Obama.

Bring on the nostalgia with T.I.’s video for “Whatever You Like”:

Last July, T.I announced his new project, an upcoming EP title Us or Else. In August 2016, he released the first two singles from the EP: “We Will Not” and “War Zone”.

Tickets for Wednesday night’s Cervantes’ show are still available online!

-Sierra

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Wild Women Don't Have The Blues: Cécile McLorin Salvant at Denver University's Newman Center

By: Sierra Voss

Wild women don’t worry; wild women don't have the blues. Especially when you're a wild woman with a stunning jazz voice. Cécile McLorin Salvant graced Denver University's Newman Center stage last week with her expert vocals, alongside the incredibly talented Aaron Diehl Trio. And it was one wildly wonderful performance.

Raised in Miami Florida, Cécile started taking classical piano lessons at age five and singing in choir at age eight. In 2007, Cécile moved to Aix-en-Provence, France. There she study law while taking classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. Soon after, she began to study Vocal Jazz under the legendary Jean-François Bonnel. By 2009, Cécile had recorded her first jazz album with the Jean-François Bonnel's Paris Quintet. Since then, she has recorded two additional albums, Womenchild and For One To Love, the latter of which won the 2016 Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Vocal Album." 

Cécile McLorin Salvant. 

Cécile McLorin Salvant. 

Cécile’s set last week was a tasteful showcase of her extraordinary talent. It is clear that she carefully chooses her repertoire and is known for “unearthing rarely recorded, forgotten songs with strong stories.” Audience members vocalized their excitement and approval each time she announced her next song. The crowd favorites seemed to be a set of three songs placed in the middle of the show, one of which was the Nancy Harrow cover of “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues.” Cécile’s entire performance was a pleasure for audiences young and old, those well versed in jazz music, or those who are rookies to the scene.

That said, to all the trained ears in the room, Wednesday night was otherworldly. Cécile’s ability to use her voice as its own musical instrument was extraordinary. She would often bend notes, transitioning from one dynamic to the next flawlessly in the middle of a word's syllable. She maneuvered her voice technically with advanced skill, switching from one tone to another between lyrical phrases, from word to word, and even from note to note.   

Aaron Diehl.

Aaron Diehl.

Many current jazz singers draw from the past to create their vocal style. However, Cécile seems to use the past only as a remark, and instead manifests her own unique sound and vocal styling in her work. Her relationship with the Aaron Diehl Trio was equally as unique. It is common to feel like jazz trios are simply a support to the singer, but Cécile made it clear that the two were partners, an equal duo. Every instrument onstage was sharing an intricate story throughout each song, playfully exploring structure and pushing boundaries to interpreting its meaning.  

Last Wednesday night was a fierce yet graceful flurry of musical talent. I am continually blown away by the musical talent in this world and the human ability to create new sounds, stretching the boundaries of the fundamentals of music itself. If it’s not clear already, you may want to take a listen to Cécile, who is one such artist, or catch her live at a venue near you.

-Sierra

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bonne Finken Talks To Us About Her Grammy Consideration, SXSW, & More

By: Jura Daubenspeck

It’s no mystery that the ladies of Denver’s music scene are a force to be reckoned with. And when it comes to finding a place that not only satiates your musical thirst, but also your need for some downright tasty pizza, The Walnut Room is where it’s at.

Last Saturday, ladies took over the stage at The Walnut Room for a night of indie electronica flavor. Tana Victoria, Amy Kress, Bonne Finken with DJ/backup vocalist Christine Steeples, and Phee all kept it edgy, poetic, and even a bit dark at times. The lineup consisted of mostly Colorado locals, with the exception of Iowa native Bonne Finken, who lit up the room with her booming vocals and phantasmal projections.

Each performer wowed during their time on stage, but this week, we wanted to give special props to Bonne Finken, who, despite her strong Midwest following, made her Denver debut at the show. We sat down with Bonne prior to her set to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to, including her upcoming album, her Grammy consideration, and her plans for SXSW 2017. Here’s what she had to say:

This is your first time playing in Denver. Welcome! How are you feeling?

I feel excited! We just got done with soundcheck, and I got to hear the other artists play a bit. It sounds like we’re all in the same genre, so that’s pretty cool.

Earlier this summer you released your single and video “Speak to Me.” What have you been up to in the meantime?

I’ve been working on the new album, which will be released in 2017. “Speak to Me” was just the first release from that album. We’ve been recording, which is why I’m in Denver now. Joel Rekiel, my publicist, lined this show up for me while I was in town. I’ve been working on the album; retooling the show. It’s gone really electronic now learning a bunch of technologies, and the band is relearning gear. So that’s what we’re working on now.

You’ve been recording at The Spot Studios. How long have you been working with them?

I just went there last spring to record “Speak to Me.” And then I just started again about a week ago. I’ll be returning next spring and will hopefully have it all done by June 2017.

Bonne Finken. 

Bonne Finken. 

So what’s the experience been like this past week?

Really awesome. They’re so great to work with, and they (Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop) understand my sound more than anybody I’ve worked with before. So it feels super easy. Instead of me trying to translate my sound or fight on sounds, it feels very comfortable, and goes so fast. It’s incredible! It’s been fun, relaxing and exciting.

Last time we talked, we discussed how you put your heart and soul into your music. You take the time to learn everything about every aspect of your music, so it really becomes a piece of you. I’m curious about what that process has been like, and how much of your blood, sweat, and tears will be going into this next album.

Definitely more than ever before. It’s hard to explain. Literally they’re using my own sessions and my own sounds and it’s demoed to the point where if I want a certain harmony figured out, I better have it figured out when I bring it in. [On other records] we would bring in really sketched out ideas and flush them out in the studio, where as now we bring it in and execute whatever we have, so we have to be more prepared. Which is scary and good. It goes faster, but it means whatever my idea is in real time is what they execute. So that’s been a big difference on this album. And I’ve learned a lot about MIDI. You’re able to use electronic instruments of any kind, and write with them. So that’s been very freeing for me as a writer and as an artist. I love the freeness of MIDI.

Regarding your recorded work, what can your fans expect in the coming months?

I’ll probably have a couple more singles out and promote them like I did “Speak to Me.” “Speak to Me” was kind of a campaign to try to get on the Grammy ballot, which it did do, so that was cool that we released it in time. But I’ll probably release a couple of music videos almost quietly. Not necessarily to sell, but to test out some of the sounds on the album. You’ll be hearing what’s been in my brain for the last decade but has taken me a long time to understand how to articulate audibly. I’ve always had crazy ideas, but now I feel like I can really make it happen and show that off in my music.

How will those those crazy, cool ideas be manifested in your future performances?

When I write, I keep in mind my live shows, because that’s what I love most, maybe to the detriment of thinking, “Will this song work live?” It’s important for me to get [my work] across in my live shows. So if anything, my live shows will be stronger because I keep that in mind and am able to manipulate the recordings knowing that. I like going to shows and hearing artists sound like they do in the recording, rather than not being able to recognize the song because it’s been changed too much.

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Do you have any upcoming shows, or tours around the country?

We’re actually coming down into recording mode. Most winters I hole up. I don’t like to travel in bad weather. So I’ve learned to call a spade a spade, and not push it. But we are going to SXSW so I’m super stoked for that. We might just go underground a bit [this winter], write some songs, work on the show, and let SXSW be our big reveal for some of these new songs.

We can’t wait to hear more! Keep up with Bonne Finken here.

-Jura

All photos per the author. Videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BLDGBLKS Artists Score Grammy Considerations

By: Jura Daubenspeck

A Grammy Award is no doubt the highest honor for recording artists. Each year, thousands of artists are entered for considerations. And while the heavy-hitting musicians we know and love often find their way onto the ballots, it’s also important to note the other hard-working up-and-comers who make their way onto the list.

This year BLDGBLKS artists Bonne Finken, Amy Kress, Mawule, R Michael Rhodes, and Interstate 10 have made the cut for the 2017 Awards considerations.

A membership with The Recording Academy is required in order to submit any music. Glenn Sawyer, producer at The Spot Studios, as well as a Voting Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), has taken charge and submitted the following music for these BLDGBLKS artists:

Bonne Finken - “Speak to Me” - Best Pop Solo Performance

Amy Kress - “Fly” - Best Dance Album of the Year

Mawule - “Chosen” - Best R&B Album

R Michael Rhodes - “After All These Years” - Best Americana Album

Interstate 10 - “I’m Gonna Miss You” - Best Country Duo Performance

So what happens for these artists between now and the Awards? After the voting members submit their music for the consideration round, the expert Grammy committees come up with a final ballot of artists. Artists are generally taken from the top percentage of nominations, but many artists not on this top list still make their way onto the ballot. This part of the process can take about two weeks. After the final nominees are contacted and, once again, voted for, the results remain hidden until the fateful February evening of the Awards ceremony.

Until then, considered artists can connect with one another, and make a push to have their music heard. Artists such as Bonne Finken, R Michael Rhodes, and Mawule all plan on partaking in this lobbying process, sending out personalized letters and connecting with voting members.

No matter what degree of fame an artist holds, it is an immense honor to even be considered for the acclaimed Grammy Awards. And while many voters may already have their eyes and ears set on a sure-fire winner, it’s important to always honor the accomplished local talent, who will stop at nothing to get their voices heard.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.