Are you thrustworthy? I have my doubts, to be honest, but Thrust Club thinks you probably are. If you want to know for sure, they have a quiz. It’s got questions like “Are you a ninja?” and “Can you dance?” It’s pretty scientific.
“It’s on our website. Send it in, we’ll let you know,” said Thrust Club’s drummer, JC Climint.
Has anyone failed so far?
“Couple times, yeah,” she said, shrugging.
“There’s an open-ended question at the end where you can explain why you think you’re thrustworthy,” explained singer Bethany Leavey. “Apparently people think we find pizza and cats thrustworthy, because a lot of people write that they’re really good at making pizza, or ‘I have two adorable cats!’. It’s really funny how people have pegged us so well.”
As you might have guessed, Thrust Club like to have fun. This is no shoe-gazing, Prozac-gulping downer-rock mope-around. This is high-energy, girl-powered, bubblegum-garage good times. Thrust Club is the heart of Saturday night filtered through an ’80s Saturday morning cartoon.
“It’s true,” said Bethany. “I was a child of the ’80s and I really wanted to be part of the Jem and the Holograms world. I wanted to be in their rival band, The Misfits.”
“Me too!” JC piped in.
“They had better hair and better songs,” said Bethany. I wanted to have green hair and be in the The Misfits. And let’s face it, that’s basically what they’re doing.”
“That’s totally what we’re doing,” said JC, laughing.
Like any great Saturday morning/night cartoon band, Thrust Club has an awesome origin story. They met at camp. Band camp. Specifically, at a yearly fundraising event called Ladies Rock Camp, an immersive three-day rock ’n’ roll bootcamp where women meet, pick instruments, form bands, learn to play, write a song, and perform it live at T.T. the Bears, all in the space of three head-spinning days. It’s all to benefit Girls Rock Camp, a foundation that all the women in Thrust Club contribute to.
“The mission is to build creativity in girls and to give them confidence through music education and performance,” said guitarist Sally Bunch. “They choose an instrument ahead of time. On the first day, they form bands and have instrument instruction. They also take workshops on stuff like ’zine-making, self-defense, screen-printing and feminism. At the end of the week the bands perform their songs at Brighton Music Hall. It’s an amazing event.”
“We got together at Ladies Rock Camp in 2012,” explained JC. “I knew Sally from the previous year but I didn’t know Bethany. The first thing we did is come up with the name. Because it’s so time-sensitive, we really just sat down and put a bunch of words on paper and see what would match up. We were like, ‘Ok, what’s your favorite band?’ and Teenage Fanclub came up. So we were like, that’s cool, we really liked the idea of a ‘club’ kinda thing.”
“Also, we were also using ‘thrust’ in titles, like Lunar Thrust,” added Sally.
“We thought it was a rock ’n’ roll word, like space or whatever,” said Bethany, laughing. “But then all four of us looked down at the paper and saw it at the same time. Of course, Thrust Club! We literally all said it at the same time. And as soon as that happened, we all started making ‘thrust’ jokes, And we still haven’t run out of them. It took us like a day and a half to write our first song, ‘In Thrust We Trust,’ and then we had another day to just practice it over and over again.”
“We played it so many times I didn’t think I could drum anymore,” said JC, laughing. “I thought my arms were going to fall off.”
And that’s really all it took. The band managed to pull of “In Thrust We Trust” at the showcase. They had so much fun, they kept it going, adding more songs, some about thrusting, some about even more important topics, like the tragedy of white pants.
“Most of our songs are based on real-life experiences,” explained Bethany. “Our old keyboard player really wanted to write a song about bad beauty tips. That was the start of ‘White Pants (Don’t Do It).’ And then we read this article…”
“It was about how if you’re out and you need a tampon but you don’t have one around you can roll up paper towels,” said JC.
“And so we were like, ‘I’ve never done that, but I’ve done this other gross thing’ and so we decided to write them all down and make it into a song,” said Bethany.
It’s a pretty helpful song, really. Sometimes I think I might be able to pull off a pair of white pants.
“The question,” Bethany informed me, “Is not ‘Can you?’ The question is ‘Should you?’ And the answer is always no. Everyone loses with white pants. That’s why we had to write it.”
That might be the best party of Thrust Club. I mean, aside from the bouncy, danceable Ramones-mania and the fact that their biggest show to date was half-time at a roller derby bout where they handed out “Thrust Club” buttons to enthralled 8-year-old girls. It’s the fact that they write songs that everybody else is too scared to write. And they’ve got some very heavy shit brewing on the horizon.
“I’ve got a couple topics I want to write songs about,” said keyboardist Erin Genett. “Soviet space dogs and women in computer science. Like, women code breakers in World War II.”
“We’re gonna get very historical,” said JC.
“But still be, you know, a fun Saturday night band,” said Sally.
“We’ve always been a feminist band. We’ve never shied away from that,” said Bethany. “And the thing is, you can write a song about anything. Like in the girls rock camp, the girls seem to write songs about zombie cats a lot. Zombie cats taking over the world and enslaving people. There’s been several songs like that. And it makes you go, ‘Maybe I’ve been thinking too hard about this.’ If you want to write a song about white pants or Soviet space dogs, go ahead.”
Thrust Club has a new song. It’s called “Night Coffee, No Parents.” You get the gist from the title. It’s a fucking showstopper, man. Bethany wraps the mic around her neck, whips a cowbell out of nowhere, and starts whomping the motherfucker like it’s a Bachman Turner Overdrive show at Boston Garden in 1976. It’s crazysexycool. And everybody knows it.
“Everybody loves the cowbell,” acknowledged Bethany.
“It’s so fun to play that song and to watch you play it,” said Erin.
“It really just came from me always trying to figure what to do with my hands when we’re playing,” said Bethany.
“It’’s nice to have something to do with them for a couple minutes. I’ve tried a few things. Like I thought about doing some high kicks, but that just doesn’t work out in a dress. But I’ve gotten some compliments on my cowbell skills, so I appreciate it. I mean, if you’re really trying to look cool and really forcing it, it’s probably not going to work. But if you’re just having fun, people will see that.”
A lot of bands have sacred pre-show rituals. I remember speaking with one local band a couple years back who told me they always sat in the van blasting Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero” before going on. I know a death metal band who liked to throw pots of boiling water at each other. The dude from Ministry shot speed in his eyeball before their gigs. Stryper had prayer meetings with groupies. Really. And Thrust Club have their thing, too.
“We text each other helpful reminders,” said Sally. “Like ‘Bethany, remember your cowbell!’”
“It’s just stuff that’s good to remember,” said Bethany, “like, ‘Don’t forget to drink water!’ or ‘Make sure you get a good night’s sleep!’” I mean, it’s no backstage black mass, but what the hell. It’s good advice, at least.
“Yeah I mean you get caught up with playing a show and sometimes you forget important things,” Bethany said.
“So we remind each other to eat a good breakfast. Stuff like that.”
“It’s kind of a continuation of the rock camp thing,” JC pointed out. “We just still operate like that. We’re all very supportive of each other.”
They are. It’s dizzying, the warmth and affection these women have for each other. Where’s the acrimony, the petty jealousies and seething resentment that fuel so many rock bands?
“When we formed the band, we all liked different genres of music and we weren’t quite sure what direction we wanted to go in,” said Bethany. “But we all agreed we wanted it to be danceable and we wanted it to be fun. So we basically achieved our goal.”
That’s it, really. Who needs resentment when you’ve got friendship and cowbells? And so in thrust they continue to trust. The band plans on gigging regularly and are in the planning stages for the follow-up to their 2013 debut EP, Greetings from Mt. Thrustmore.
“We might re-do some of those songs when we make a new record,” Bethany said. “I listen to that now and think, God, these songs are too slow.”
“We weren’t a band for that long when we made it,” JC explained. “White Pants was barely even written, and we were like, ‘Close enough.’ So we want to do them again and we’ve got to write some new songs, too. Like Erin’s Soviet space dog song.”
It never works out for the Soviet space dog, though. They always die on the way. How the fuck are we supposed to dance to that?
“He won’t die this time,” Erin said. “I’ll give him a happy ending. Maybe he’ll land on a planet that’s like one big dog park.”