Interview: Le Butcherettes’ Teri Gender Bender

Following the release of their third album A Raw Youth, Guadelajara based trio Le Butcherettes are heading out on tour across Europe.  We got the thoughts of irrepresible singer/guitarist Teri Gender Bender ahead of their London date at The Underworld, Camden on 16th November.

A Raw Youth was released a couple of months back – it’s quite a confrontational album, how has it been received?

Come to think about about it, I have been (unintentionally) quite oblivious to how it is being received. If at all. After an album’s process of being made is over I tend to move on to the next chapter and not look back… when I find myself looking back at a record that is when I’m rehearsing with Chris. And it’s amazing to know during the making of ARY my mother would hop in the studio and dance to it. She really seemed to enjoy it. She is my most honest critic. On tour, it’s been very nice to meet different people from different kinds of cultural backgrounds sending me and the band their love. Sometimes I find myself crying at night because I can’t believe how lucky this life has been for me recently and it is completely owed to everyone who is on board with the band and the music.

One of my favorite quotes:

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

Aristotle

It’s hard to do nothing but sometimes that is where my mind wishes to be. That way my heart won’t suffer.

The album comes a year on from your previous LP Cry Is For The Flies, how do you feel it differs from its predecessor?

Musically speaking the album is tighter and the chemistry and flow between me and the band and producer Omar was very easy going. We tend to take things not so serious… try to have a good time while at the same time letting the ambition and the passion heat our veins. The work flow was faster this time around because we are basically touring all the time so we had a small window to transform my songs (demos) into an album. The songs selected had an invisible string that connected all of them. Songs about hunger, existentialism, oppression, rage, suicide, love, fighting for a cause, meaning…. meaning… meaning…. I feel that every album SHOULD differ from it’s predecessor because we as people are always constantly changing and growing or going backwards making mistakes, fucking up, learning from lessons… the longer you work on a craft the more evolved it sounds… though sometimes that is not always the case… sometimes the more evolved you think you are the more you lose your inner child… your innocence which is what makes the art you make great in the first place.  I rant a lot. Sorry.

There’s a consistant aesthetic to the artwork and band portraits that have accompanied your recent work, with a blood red colour scheme.  How important is the visual aspect of the band to you?  Was it in your mind when writing the album or did it come about afterwards?

Red has been a constant color in my life. From having my first menstrual bleeding, to witnessing a man get gutted in front of me to the kidnapped/mutilated women of Juarez to the conception of my brothers to the history of Mexico (blood having been shed from when the Spanish conquered to before they even conquered when the Aztecs sacrificed their own for their God’s mercy)… red is a constant in life… not just mine…. and even though it seems to been such a devil-like and violent color it brings me at ease when we wrap it around our bodies because it also symbolizes unity… to serve a greater aura that is bigger than one’s self. It is important to find your individuality first but afterwards you have to re pay God by giving back into the cycle … to become one with all. RED means this to me. Always has been and as the years go by the definition keeps getting more focused and more empowering.

The album featured a couple of impressive cameos from Iggy Pop and John Frusciante, do you have a wishlist of future collaborators?

Julieta Venegas and Lila Downs… are the first to come to mind… the wish list can go on for a long time. BUT They are truly unas chingonas from my homeland.

Having been on tour around the US with The Melvins and Faith No More, you’re now playing dates across Europe – do you notice much of a difference in the live music culture and the reaction of audiences as you go from country to country?  Do you have a favourite place to play?

Essentially… people are the same everywhere. There are huge cultural differences in just one country alone (Spain for example where it has many regions and different languages and cultures; Basque, Spanish, Catalan, Leones, Muslim, etc) to the mid-west where many states feel like identical twin-cousins. But essentially, there is always someone that is drunk, there is always someone that you feel connected to, there is always someone who is with a lover kissing passionately, etc…. every culture has it’s hicks, snobs, heroes, banshees, drunks, pot heads, etc.

Though Japan is a big one for me because the audience is very sweet and very observant, very quiet … and will wait until the last note finishes before they clap.

The more different a city is from the city where I live the more of a dream it feels like and that is why we do the things we do because we love traveling and observing. I relate to Japanese culture. I was probably Japanese in another life. Every way of being and doing as a very old meaning and philosophy behind it. So much hidden sorrow yet the youth appreciates and respects the old unlike how we westerners treat our elderly.

Le Butcherettes headline the Camden Underworld on 16th November – what can fans who’ve never seen the band live before expect from the show?

To not expect anything at all. To not even expect the worst, that way people won’t be so disappointed when it actually doesn’t meet any one’s standards. And that is if people go to a concert at all.

It’s just great to see people leaving their homes to go to concerts especially nowadays when people live inside computers as Marlon Brando eerily predicted back in day.

You’ve got a great set of support acts with The Pearl Hats and Joyzine faves DOLLS and Dirty White Fever also on the bill, what’s your take on the current UK rock scene?  Do you have any favourite acts from these shores?

Every town has it’s own independent musical movement going on… and then it’s divided into sub-genres and the list is infinite. Artists need to keep supporting each other to be able to live through their art. It is like a web. It only takes a handful of nay sayers to destroy the eco-music-system. I admire the UK so much because historically speaking it’s people has done so much with so little and were able to make the world look at them in awe and ecstasy. Lots of interesting and peculiar art has been expanding from the UK since before my mother was born! There is something in the air, in the weather, in the culture that gifts artists the power to tap into something very special.

The poster for the show features a suggestively placed pig’s head – was this done in reference to the recent David Cameron story, or is it an uncanny coincidence?

That photo was an idea of mine photographed by Dan Winston in London in 2010.

That photo was something that I lived on a daily basis in Mexico, both symbolically speaking and physically speaking. That was during the phase of when I would tour with my personal stage-metaphors: pig heads, meat, fish heads, brooms, feather dusters, aprons, pearl necklaces, mops, eggs, flour: basically a butcherette’s kitchen house items. Her weapons of oppression. So that photo represents a woman confront her fear (pig head= misogynist society) and becoming empowered for standing up for herself and her family. So it’s a very big coincidence!

Thank you for your time, have a great show.

Thank you so much for the merry wishes!

Le Butcherettes play The Underworld in Camden on Monday 16th November before heading on to dates in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Interview by Paul Maps
Photograph by Monica Lozano

lebutcherettes.net

Listen to ‘They Fuck You Over’:

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