Originally published in the May 4, 2011; the Arts Noticed Magazine, Edition 1
Re/Interview and Photographs by Scott Cronan for
the Arts Noticed 2011-03-01 / 2010-09-13
Copyright © 2011 the Arts Noticed (tAN) | Copyright © 2013 ArtsEarth
Rarely does a band come around that truly incites the people’s passion for music. Most bands nowadays are just ironic remakes of one another or fained attempts at some sort of emotional expunging. Whatever happened to bands like Violent Femmes, Sex Pistols or The Mars Volta? Well, actually, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, the guitarist from The Mars Volta, has a solo project called Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group (El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez) as well as producing the debut album of the Mexican garage tapatio punk band, Le Butcherettes. They are a band that takes raw emotion, talent, fear, and desire smashing it all together raging it back out in the form of leader, Teri Gender Bender’s haunting and mesmerizing irreverent stage performance.
Now, if you haven’t heard of Teri Gender Bender, then you haven’t heard of her band, Le Butcherettes! If you haven’t heard of Le Butcherettes, then you obviously didn’t go to South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX, or see them open for Jane’s Addiction on New Years Eve in Aspen, CO (2010/11, I didn’t go either). This band has blown up in the mainstream focus recently and are opening for huge music acts all around North America. Seeing them live in concert is a religious/spiritual experience.
I first caught a glimpse of Teri’s creative brilliance on July 17, 2010 in San Francisco, CA with their amazing performance as part of the Convergence Fest along with Pilar Díaz and Los Murderachis. Then again, in September when I got the opportunity to cover and shoot photographs for the Arts Noticed Corp. (tAN) of Le Butcherettes’ live show opening for the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA but back then, as Teri explains in the interview below, there were two unidentified masked men playing bass and drums alongside her on guitar, keyboards, and vocals. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite like Le Butcherettes! It’s a painful and gorgeous blend of so many of punk rocks’ greatest attributes and that fire and passion that has been missing from music for so long.
I caught up with Teri in-between sharing the stage with with the Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Flaming Lips while starting a national tour with the Deftones. She had this to say:
Scott: “What is the message behind the music?”
Teri: “Spit into your own heart and analyze where this substance is hurting you. Take those weak spots and make medicine for it. To heal. I make music to heal myself and meet other people that can relate.”
Scott: “How can kids use new media to help spread that message and to get the word about the band?”
Teri: “Kids can spread the message using Twitter[.com]. I used to hate Twitter… but I am realizing that it is the way to get through to people. I know more folks that have heard about the Libya incident through Twitter then by reading the news. I’m not saying Twitter is the only way, there are also other amazing ways to spread the message, write blogs, books, paint, dance… take photographs… most importantly being supportive of other musicians. Respect!”
Scott: “What more can be done to reach the masses today?”
Teri: “Working your ass off and not taking NO for an answer. Never beg but always do your best. I always try to personally send messages to people that contact me on Facebook[.com], Twitter[.com], etc. But, the more you remind people, in a artistic kinda of way who you are and why you are here, the more the rumor will spread. Fire on grass. Grass on fire which is harder to achieve.”
Scott: “How do we effectively fight back against mainstream media control, corporate pop culture, and the established accepted norm?”
Teri: “By doing things no one expects you to do. But only because YOU want to do them and yearn to do so. Have an elaborate plan and go with it until the end. For example; be respectful towards fellow corporate people… but still speak the truth you feel appropriate.”
Scott: “What can your fans do to help the causes?”
Teri: “Think out of the ordinary. Try not to be so judgmental and educate themselves… school is great but it doesn’t cover everything. Dare to be different in your own way. Which is totally possible.”
Scott: “I read somewhere that you grew up in Colorado. Why did you choose to move to Mexico City to start this band?”
Teri: “I originally moved to Guadalajara first because my dear father passed away. My mother couldn’t deal with the loss (no one could) so we moved there to find some healing and moral support. We didn’t… and we did. In a weird way… oddly enough it was through music and not through siblings.”
Scott: “What do you think of the current political conversation on immigration and what do you think the future holds for immigrants in the US?”
Teri: “The U.S.A. is a country of immigrants. I find it so unfair for hard working people getting shit thrown at their faces because of documentation. I mean, what do politicians (anti-immigration) expect? Mexico is falling into pieces right now. Guadalajara is be taken over by drug warlords. The people are scared and they want to survive. They ain’t going to the states cause they want to. They do it out of necessity. Don’t get me started on Arizona. Even documented Americans have to go through the humiliation of having to take out their nationality papers.“
Scott: “When I saw your show at Tres Agaves (July 17, 2010) there were like 40 people there. Then six weeks later, you have a sold out show at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA and play with popular indie rock bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flaming Lips, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and are selling out Spaceland and the Troubadour in Los Angeles, CA. What changed? How do you like the new successes? What are the plans to keep moving forward?”
Teri: “Nothing has changed… well, I take that back, inside of me I’m still that little insecure girl that wants to find ways to lash out her guts at people. I have a new drummer and bassist. Their names are Gabe Serbian and Jonathan Hischke. I love them so much. New songs and it’s so inspiring to have moved back to the U.S. because change is good. It’s hard. Change means sacrifice.”
Scott: “And all this success without even a debut album out yet. When is it going to be released? Are you happy with the sound and feel of it? Does it capture the essence of your live shows?”
Teri: “May 10th of 2011. FINALLY! I am so happy. I feel shivers all over my body. I am grateful and willing to fight sound against sound. Fire with fire and make love to the people. But most importantly keep on writing and reading. I feel that the LP Omar produced does capture the essence but with the new drummer and bassist, it will be different. I never liked bands that sounded the SAME as their LP sounds.”
Le Butcherettes is the band to follow and experience live in 2011! I don’t see anyone else out there doing what Teri and her bandmates are doing with their recent successes and critical praise that are all well deserved. They don’t meet the hype because there is no hype. Just real, raw, music and that’s exactly what we’ve been looking for. Tune in later this year through the Arts Noticed Corp. (tAN) to see and hear more from this groundbreaking band.
Le Butcherettes Online | Official Website