International Music News: Teri Gender Bender Talks Le Butcherettes and Deftones Tour, Mexico, marriage and More
Tue, 22 Mar 2011 14:52:29
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L.A. gets a little slap in the face with a little slap of da' bass and downbeat jams from Le Butcherettes. What started out as a female duo from Guadalajara, Mexico is now led by Teri Gender Bender (keys, guitar, vox), Jonathan Hischke (bass) and Gabe Serbian of the Locust (drums) soon to claim residence in L.A.
They tear it up with naughty, pogo-stick, head banging music. Insert death metal scream here! If you didn't get a chance to catch them at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX last week be sure to catch them on their upcoming tour with legendary Deftones and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Omar Rodríguez-López (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In) produced Le Butcherettes' first LP Sin Sin Sin. The album is to be released this year on Omar's label Rodriguez-Lopez Productions. You can check out a free download of their single "Henry Don’t Got Love" here!
ARTISTdirect.com had the chance to talk to Teri about her music, how she got on the bill with two venerable bands and the difference between a Mexican and U.S. fanbase.
When did you know you were meant for something bigger than an ordinary lifestyle?
Rain, rain, this question reminds me of pure morning freshness. Chiapas is the answer. I was 5. My parents took me to Chiapas to visit an uncle of mine who I hold dear but is somewhat a little odd. Aren't we all? We stayed in Chiapas for 2 months trying to help with my Uncle's business. In San Cristobal there was an Romanian woman who was giving ballet classes (in the jungle). I subscribed to them with the help of my father. Wanting to conquer the world with my little feet...all the other little girls in this feverishly small group of ballet were so beautiful. They had their little tutus and ballet shoes. I was wearing nothing. I felt naked. I felt different, not only economically but inside I felt different. "I might not be a ballerina dancer...but something is going to change..." Two days later, a Mexican woman was going through my hair and found out I was infested with fleas. I was different, alright and BIGGER. Earning myself a reputation of "the dirty child."
Why did you decide to move to Mexico?
My father passed away when I was 13-years-old. It was spring, but the spring in Denver is still chilly and he was our only family. We were lonely in our house without him. Mexico was the way out. We ran from the reminders of the hurting. The weather in Guadalajara saved our gut power.
What effect do you hope to have on American audiences?
I want them to feel what I feel when we are playing live. I want the American audience to feel (if anything at all); exhilaration and understanding (which might never be the case ironically). These two feelings must be loaded with internal gut power. I want to remind people that there is more than what meets the eye. A band with a message. A band that is not afraid to face war. If people aren't going to understand the music or the live shows then I hope they at least feel something ringing in their brain, begging them to give us a shot.
What or who drove you to pick up the guitar/piano?
A dream I once had when I was 12-years-old. I was writing terrible poetry (I still do) and wanted to play guitar to sing it out loud to myself. I wanted to play so hard. Dreaming about playing was the closest I was to get to a guitar, except the guitar chords would melt. Leaving me with total frustration. My parents were completely supportive musically and helped me with this issue.
Who are your biggest influences at the moment? (musically, literary, visually)
Gabe Serbian, Jonathan Hischke are inspiring me to write so much music right now. Having them in the band has been thrilling and it gives me all the motivation in this world to try and live up to their expectations which means playing music for hours...it's coming down so naturally. Brittanie D. has lent me a book about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe written by Patti herself. It's so engaging and reading this has given me visual images to hold onto before I go to sleep.
What is the process of creating new songs for you?
Improv when I'm by myself. I let go. I sometimes even have to close all the curtains in the house and lock all the doors, pretending to be living in a ghost town. It's good to pretend you are not yourself and put your feet into someonelse's warm plate of food. Get the gunk in between the feet. I take what I write and Gabe and Jon make it better but lately improvising together has also been working out! Amazing stuff.
What does success mean to you in terms of your musical career?
Being there in the back of people's minds. If people talk about you, good or horrible that is due to the level of your success. In terms of my musical career; putting out lots of albums. I want to do that. Put out at least 5 good albums before I pass off into another dimension.
If you had the chance to interview any Musician or Songwriter whether they be living or dead who would it be?
Steve Martin. He is amazing.
You mentioned Omar found you, tell me about that?
I am so thankful to him for giving me a chance, really. We were in Guadalajara. He saw us play at a show but the lights went out. But the show continued, with just drums and a megaphone. I almost broke my left foot...or was it my right? I almost broke one of my feet, climbing some electrical wired fence. It was drastic. All with a megaphone and like 30 people in the crowd. We got in touch after the show at a seafood restaurant. No one really ate fish or meat at all except a couple of friends that went.
Are there differences in the fans in Mexico and the U.S.?
There are a lot of differences looking at this from an outside perspective. Fans of music (in general) from Mexico are a lot more hardcore and fanatic to the artist they support. Which is bad for the underground artist because these fans close themselves internally from liking any other NEW and young band. But once you get into their bloodstream they will be loyal as hell. American fans (at least in New York and California) are more open to liking lots of bands but won't be super fanatical when they meet you. It's weird.
I admire how your music speaks gender roles are meaningless. What is the connection between women and gender and "T&A" and meat that you want to illustrate?
Meat is the representation of how women are seen to be in the eyes of the people in many cultures. Pop culture, raunch culture and a lot of Mexican culture as well. I would take the meat and place it on myself to mock this subconscious virtue most misogynist people hold.
I really enjoyed "I'm Queen" on your first album. What inspired you to write "I'm Queen?"
Thank you! You are so kind! I was 17 when I wrote the song...which explains the simplicity of it all. I was being treated like shit at school, people thought I was weird, name calling, pretty much everything but I also befriended amazing women at the time and in my eyes they were all queens. I wanted to be a queen despite how the kids at my block saw me. Despite them wanting to do things to me sexually. Which was confusing. You call me names and you also want to fuck me? So basically this song is to all the girls that feel like QUEENS when everyone else wants to take it away only realizing that the pricks are wrong in doing so and later come back and try to seduce them with degrading objectifying terms...making it all worse.
How did you get on the bill w/ Deftones & Dillinger Escape Plan?
I have an amazing booking agent. He rocks my shoes off while I eat peanut butter.
Have you heard of Los Kung Fu Monkeys (from TJ) or Hong Kong Blood Opera (from Hermasillo)? If so, would you consider playing with these bands in Mexico or the U.S.?
I have heard of them! They are amazing. I would love to play with these bands anywhere in the world!
What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
Spaceland (which changed its name to "The Satellite") is my favorite. Only been there twice but it's where it all started for Le Butcherettes here in the states. My least fav? None. All venues are cool in my eyes...for now. Ha!
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Putting out a record in Mexico. No label in Mexico wanted anything to do with us. No one offered to put the record out. That was hard. It was also hard living in a developing country were a lot of people were full of bullshit trying to make me believe that they would do my band "favors" if I returned them in another matter. But I'm lucky, other bands have it WAY worse. To be in a band you need to be a fighter...a wise fighter. You can't just hit and bite like a crazy animal.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Keep it cool and keep playing. No matter what, never get out of character. Lights go out? Then keep singing. Someone spits at you? Then piss on the stage and scare them straight.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
To do it. It is amazing. It's a battlefield full of envy but also a rose garden with angels that will enter your life and tickle you.
What goes through your head when you’re on stage?
Nothing. I live in the moment when I'm up there. I kinda block myself out. Which helps a lot.
Do you see yourself with a family or getting married sometime in the future?
No, I don't. And I'm fine with that.
What’s the one thing you fear most in life?
Obituaries. Don't want to find anyone I love on one anymore.
If you wouldn’t have picked up a guitar in your lifetime what would you see yourself doing today?
Finishing school (of philosophy) and becoming a full time writer. THAT WAS FUN!
Some upcoming shows and events w/ Deftones and The Dillinger Escape Plan:
May 19 - Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
May 20 - Jacksonville, FL @ Plush
May 21 - Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock
May 22 - Boca Raton, FL @ Sunset Cove Ampitheater
May 24 - Saint Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Landing
May 26 - Charlotte, NC @ RoadRunner Mobile Ampitheater
May 28 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle #
May 29 - Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
Jun 01 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
Jun 03 - San Antonio, TX @ AT&T Center
Jun 04 - Austin, TX @ Austin Music Hall
Jun 05 - Corpus Christi, TX @ Concrete Street Ampitheater
Jun 06 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Verizon Theater
Jun 08 - El Paso, TX @ El Paso County Coliseum
Jun 09 - Mesa, AZ @ Mesa Ampitheater
Jun 10 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Hollywood Palladium
Jun 11 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint /Hard Rock Hotel
Jun 13 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
Here's a neat video of the new Le Butcherettes lineup:
-Elena Castro & The Orange Rev