photo (c) Buzz Osborne
“In reality, I am not a performer…. I’m an exploiter. I take out my inner little wounds and it just happens.”
Teri Gender Bender ferociously fronts Mexico’s Edgy Garage Rock sensations Le Butcherettes who take the stage tonight at Chop Suey. Gender Bender recently took time off from a busy tour schedule to chat with us about the band’s latest record, performance art and divine inspiration via Pop Culture.
There was a four-year time lapse between Le Butcherettes projects- Can you tell us a little about what you were up to and why it was time for a new record?
Fortunately enough I can’t even remember all the carcass details. I was going through a dark time, a death, a move and a transformation. That dark time refueled me into an inner awakening … sometimes it’s necessary to take time off and think. Observe, question yourself, forgive yourself, learn from others and let others learn from you -letting things sink in with going into a different project. I Craved to learn and collaborate with different worlds yet similar, like Bosnian Rainbows (Gender Bender’s other project with At the Drive-In’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez ).
Our second record came out last year and that liberating for me. Because it had gone mysteriously missing for a while, as if it was never even recorded, eventually one day out of the blue this record was recovered our studio team. It was time for a new record so soon already is because there is so much material that is in the process of being recorded for the next one. It’s good to take advantage of the antenna juice. While you still have it before it’s too dry.
The band’s sound has “tightened up” (for lack of a better term) on A Raw Youth. How do you go about maintaining the edge your music is known for while adding that progressive polish?
Being on tour constantly helps polish and tightened ones sound. And since I had a reawakening (or at least had a taste of the “reawakening – tip of the iceberg”) I opened myself up to try new sounds. I was obsessed with Laurie Anderson during the recording session of the record. Omar is a great producer, I would communicate my ideas and orientate him to have him help us orientate the sound that we are looking for…. something with a breathing soul. Chris Common is fantastic drummer AND studio engineer. Jon Debaun really helped polish my singing. Jamie is a great musician.
In short, I don’t have an answer because I feel like my music isn’t mine anymore, and I don’t feel like butchering these songs with my misconceptions of own life… if I hardly know myself, how am to know precisely the process… sometimes I felt like I didn’t fucking know what I was doing. I had to trust my gut and trust my bands gut. been writing on the ukulele for a while now so it gives freedom to think of many endless routes to take the song. I always loved keys. I used write way more keyboard songs back in Guadalajara…. some songs are from that area… that I wrote when I was 17, after my trip from Israel/Iran and living in Mexico and reading many books on violence on humanity .
I don’t come from a musical educational background… although I did take music violin symphony class in middle school for 3 years that is about it. Jon was great and frank about my vocal takes and whenever I would begin to doubt myself or want to give up (remember I’m originally a punk untrained dumdum) Jon Debaun is ace. and not to mention that the songs went through the veins and bones of an API console. Like Chris Common says, “it makes the songs come to life.” recording through vintage gear really gives the songs a different shade… a different dimension. magical.
The same could be said of your live performances, which used to include some infamous performance art. Was the pressure to “top yourself” helpful or a hindrance?
I don’t think in terms of topping myself ever. I’m actually very easy on myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very loathful towards myself in many other aspects but in the art/creative department I’m very easy on myself. In reality, I am not a performer…. I’m an exploiter. I take out my inner little wounds and it just happens. Something takes over. I don’t know. (YIKES!)
Maybe I want to “top myself” when I look in the mirror and want better teeth (they are all chipped because of playing.)
Who are you currently inspired by artistically?
The Melvins. Sister Crayon. Eureka The Butcher. ANTEMASQUE. Natalia Lafourcade. Francisca Valenzuela. Tatiana Velazquez. Diana Fuentes. BLOODMILK.Vanessa Zamora. Hello Seahorse.Yokozuna. Disidente. Julieta Venegas. Renee Mooi. Elis Paprika. Patricia Green.Susana Gomez. Robin Laananen. ETC, ETC, ETC, SO MANY…ANYTHING ART. AWKWARD PHYSICAL DETERIORATION! ITALIAN NOIR CINEMA. GAME OF THRONES. ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. ETC THE LIST ON A WHOLE IS ENDLESS…. All this equals GOD. GOD INSPIRES.
You’ve spent your womanhood playing music, what do you wish you’d known at 17 you know now?
I wouldn’t have it any other way! Lack of knowledge is essential to have at some point. That emptiness leads you to yearn for adventure.