“Welcome to the Labia Lounge, where ideas are birthed!”
That’s how the brilliant Whitney Petty welcomed us into the sacred space where the magic indeed happens for Petty and her bandmates in Thunderpussy, who are currently in the midst of non-stop action. The band is most busy of late – both creating new material for the follow-up to their breakthrough 2018 major-label debut album, Thunderpussy – along with getting road ready for an upcoming summer tour jaunt. The Labia Lounge has become idealized and optimized into the safe space to make that all happen.
“When we finally signed our record contract with Universal, Thunderpussy finally got its own dedicated rehearsal space,” Petty adds. “It’s such a relief not having to share our creative zone with a bunch of sweaty dudes we don’t know.”
Thunderpussy may be the most exciting new band from Seattle since, oh you know… It’s not for nothing that Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready would go on to produce the band’s earliest recordings and ultimately sign the band and became a real mentor figure to Thunderpussy – and especially fellow guitar slinger Petty, who clicked with McCready over shared Joe Perry and Gibson Les Paul obsessions.
Petty has gone on to become one of the guitar world’s rising stars, thanks to her radical, intoxicating meld of boundary-breaking sonic irreverence and timeless virtuoso bravado – in no small part kickstarted by McCready’s ongoing encouragement and friendship. Evidence of their bond is evidenced by a primo ‘72 Deluxe Telecaster with an original Wide Range humbucker in the neck he’d picked up at the ace Chicago Music Exchange, hanging on a rack in the middle of the Labia Lounge. It’s got pride of place next to her beloved Les Pauls (another obsession shared with McCready) and her first guitar, a gift from her father.
“New pedals are always great to get the creativity flowing”
“Mike gave me that Tele after we tracked ‘No Heaven’ together,” Petty notes. “I just gravitated to it and pulled it off Mike’s rack of insane guitars – the most Les Pauls you’ve ever seen, perfectly beat-up ‘60s Strats – and it just made the song. Seeing that made Mike’s mind start thinking, ‘Whitney needs a Tele, dammit!’ After we wrapped the session, Chris Adams, who’s a key part of Mike’s team, calls me and says, “I have something for you.” He comes by the Labia Lounge and drops off the Tele! “Mike really wants you to have this,” he said – I was blown away, like, ‘You’’re kidding, right, Chris?’ It’s my favorite color, cherry red, too.” Mike basically thinks everybody needs a Tele, Les Paul, and a Strat – the holy trinity – and he made me a believer. It was such an empowering stamp of approval.”
The Labia Lounge also provides Petty an inner sanctum to fine tune her pedal game, in solitude and at simultaneous top volume. In addition to her old faithfuls, Petty routinely auditions new pedals to fill some key positions. “New pedals are always great to get the creativity flowing,” Petty says. “It’s always great finding a new sound. That’s partly why we wanted to work with Sylvia – her knowledge of pedals and pedal collection were so inspiring.”
Right now, Petty’s particularly tripping out on some exciting new, super-boutique Joe Gore dirt pedals. “Joe’s pedals are just really cool,” Petty says. “I love dialing them in, and exploring how they add in dynamics and harmonics.” Also distinctive is the real estate she inevitably devotes to Recovery Effects’ exemplary, detailed stomps. “Graig Markel, who started Recovery, makes really cool shit, and he’s really getting his effects out there,” Petty says. “I’m so happy for him. We connected when a band I was in before Thunderpussy, Grizzled Mighty, recorded our first record in Graig’s studio, the Recovery Room, with him producing.”
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Full interview and photo of Whitney’s chosen pedal will be featured in the Stompbox Book, coming summer 2020.
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