INTERVIEW: Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes Talks Touring, New Album, & Future Plans

Since releasing A Raw Youth in 2015, Le Butcherettes have been touring non-stop. Supporting everyone from the Flaming Lips to the Melvins to At the Drive-In, the band has developed a loyal and adoring fan base. Earlier this year, the band released the “spider/WAVES” single and the struggle/STRUGGLE EP (that features three separate interpretations of the title song). Recently, the band completed the recording of a forthcoming full-length album, produced by the Talking Heads Jerry Harrison, and signed to Rise Records.  In November, the band embarks on a 12-date tour with Death from Above.

Prior to their set at Club Dada in Dallas, we were lucky enough to sit down with front-woman Teri Gender Bender to catch up on their recent tour, their latest releases, and get the status on their long awaited new record.

the void report:  This is the last date on your current tour, is that right?

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah, out of home. From this we drive 10 hours and then we have one more show at home. But, this is technically the last outside of El Paso. For this month.

the void report:  Y’all have been mixing in headlining dates with supporting the Flaming Lips.

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah. My gosh. It’s been amazing. I can’t even believe.

the void report:  How are the Flaming Lips fans reacting?

Teri Gender Bender:  Aw, they’re so sweet. I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of women at Flaming Lips shows. The most I’ve seen from most of the bands we’ve opened for. Pretty interesting. Like the Deftones, for example. Most of their clubs are crowded with men. It’s quite a contrast to see at Flaming Lips, there’s a lot more women. That’s what I noticed right off the bat. Other than that, putting aside the gender differences, generally speaking, amazing people, amazing crowd. Once in a while you see someone that’s kinda saying things but it’s normal, right? You’re gonna have to put up with it. I don’t understand artists that get shocked about it when they get yelled lots of things. You sign up with the gig.

the void report:  Yeah, that’s part of exposing yourself as an artist,  being able to take some criticism. Even if it’s just from some asshole.

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah, exactly.

the void report:  How do you approach a headlining show different from some of the support shows you’ve done?

Teri Gender Bender:  Oh shit, I honestly don’t approach it differently. It’s just, try to get through the night. Cause if you don’t get through the night, fuckin’ A, you won’t have enough money to cover the hotels or the gas for the next show. So, basically treat everything with 100 percent, because if we miss the one show we won’t be able to do the next show.  It’s like George of the Jungle. You see a rope, you’re gonna hold on to that rope as much as you’re going to hold on to the next one like that. It doesn’t matter, headliner or opening. The only difference I feel like is that headlining’s a lot longer than the opening set, so it gets more sweaty.  But, then we drink some more electrolytes. In a technical sense, put a little more powder in the water. I heard a little coffee right before the show is good for the blood pressure.

the void report:  Oh really?

Teri Gender Bender:  I didn’t know that until recently. Someone told me that.

the void report:  That’s some performing secret.

Teri Gender Bender:  Who’d of thought, coffee.

Teri Gender Bender:  And bananas too are really great, especially for drummers. They’re carpal tunnel, muscles, cramping. Always be prepared is what I’m trying to say. Doesn’t matter if it’s one song, show, or a 30 or 60 minute set. Which is like, oh my God we’re gonna die or we’re gonna make it. One or the other. Very extreme.

the void report:  Right on. So, if I’m right, it looks like you added another Rodríguez-López to the band.

Teri Gender Bender:  Oh my God, they’re making me crazy! (Laughs) Lucky enough he was open to do it. I’m a huge fan and I’m a huge fan of Zechs Marquise, Antemasque. Also, his style of playing the bass. I’m a huge fan. So, when I approached the idea of him playing on the record and even possibly playing live, cause that wasn’t for sure yet, I just loved his dedication. He was super open minded about it and he listened to the demo and really opened to my ideas of how I saw the song. Really amazing.

the void report:  Has his addition change the dynamics of the band?

Teri Gender Bender:  We’re much tighter. Honestly, I don’t mean to say it, I probably say it every time, honestly, this is my favorite so far. Because A) We’re basically like family, we’ve known each other for so long. B) There’s two brothers in the band so it’s something like chemistry. No matter how many fights they’re gonna get in, for futures sake, I hope that’s not the case, but I know it’ll be okay cause family is family. And it works out for me. They’re amazing musicians.

the void report:  So, he plays…it’s Marfred, right?

Teri Gender Bender:  Yes. Marfred plays the bass. Cause Riko is doing bass, synth, the guitar. Samples. And also after the show, roadie. We’re doing everything. So it’s really nice to get a little bit of extra help, too…in that sense. It’s an addition,  but it’s also in the drives that Marfred can drive, too.  In the artistic and in the logistics. So, it’s really cool to have him. It really helps the machine feel like it’s lubricated.

the void report:  Does he play on the “spider/WAVES” single and the struggle/STRUGGLE EP?

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah. He plays on it. The whole record, the new record, the EP that just came out. The whole line up is the line up on the record. In the videos, too.

the void report:  So, this is gonna be my 5th time to see you and probably…

Teri Gender Bender:  How do you do it? (Laughs) How do you get that much tolerance? Isn’t it annoying? (Laughs)

the void report:  (Laughs) No, not at all. But, you’ve had a lot of band members come and go over the years.

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah, I was lucky to meet them. Sincerely, you know?

the void report:  But, Riko (Rodríguez-López) and Alejandra (Robles) have been in the band for a couple of years now.

Teri Gender Bender:  Reaching a limit there. A record.

the void report:  Do you feel like this is may be a more permanent version of the band?

Teri Gender Bender:  I hope so. I thought that about every line up that we’ve gone through. I had an idea. The longer you’re joined with someone, I started kinda getting hints that maybe they’re not ready. That’s not the word. That touring is not a lifestyle for many people. I gotta admit I’m 29, I’m turning 30.  And I can feel it already. I can see why. Your back gets fucked, excuse my language. Your immune system gets weaker. You know, you feel it. You make plans, but then life tells you, “you know what? you need to settle down.” I hope they’ll be in the band for as long as they can. As they possibly physically and emotionally can. And emotionally is easy though, because I’m a great fuckin’ band leader! (Laughs) I’m really nice to a point where I let people step on me. Just throwing that out there.

the void report:  Right on.

Teri Gender Bender:  I’m not the one with the psychological issues! In this case. In the band case. We’ll talk about that later (Laughs).

the void report:  So…the struggle/STRUGGLE EP. You’ve got three versions of the same song. When I first got it I was like “oh, these are remixes.” The first song is the single and these are remixes. Then I did some research and I learned that these are just other interpretations of that song. So why did y’all do that? Could y’all not decide on which one you liked best or was it just a challenge you wanted to do?

Teri Gender Bender:  It was a happy accident. Because lucky enough, for the first time ever, we were at a new label called Rise Records. Where they helped us, flied all of us out to Stinson Beach with one of my favorite musicians/artists, Jerry Harrison with Talking Heads. So, we were able to leave everything going on in our lives and just close ourselves and record music. So, before we knew it we were making different versions of different songs based off the demo. That demo inspired us, the band live version, or another version where I asked an artist to write a different music arrangement to it. Like in this case Eureka the Butcher, Marcel…another brother. Another Rodríguez-López. So, he wrote the first track. The first version. That’s the collaboration with him.  Cause in Butcherettes, that never really happened. We used someone else’s writings, you know? The music arrangements. It’s always real important to get out of that comfort zone and be like, “oh yeah, let’s use that track to mesh my demo with it.”  So it was a happy accident crossed with very organic, I guess that word must be used so much, organic but fuck it.

the void report:  Well, that’s what it is.

Teri Gender Bender:  But, it wasn’t like, “let’s make as many versions of one song.”  We just naturally, before we realized, and were like “oh, wow that’s really awesome.” Shoot let’s go with the more futuristic one, too. There’s more than three, just so you know. There’s another two.

the void report:  It could be a whole album! (Laughs) Just one song. So yeah, I was gonna ask about working with Jerry Harrison. What was that like?

Teri Gender Bender:  Amazing. Again, a stand-up man. Super. It’s hard to read him at first, because when I first met up with him he was very deadpan, like my father. He reminded me of my father a little bit. That was pretty interesting and like wow I wonder if this is some different dimension. Like my psychological issues started forming a little bit. Like daddy issues. But, all is good once we started getting in the studio and he started opening up more. Showing, from the get-go, complete dedication. And he’s running a lot of organizations that are things that have to do with human health. Like snake bites. He’s trying to find the cure to incurable snake bites and he still made the time to produce a record though. I’m in his debt forever. And his wife would make food for us in the studio. It was very nice. It was very cozy.

the void report:  So am I right, did Omar Rodríguez-López  produce all the other albums?

Teri Gender Bender:  He produced the last three records. The first one was kinda like my shameful side effect that I tried to hide and pretend it never existed, but now I’m like fuck it. I was 17. At least I tried something.

the void report:  Is that the one with (Horribly sings) “Take my heart and fuck it, I know you want to honey?” I love that song!

Teri Gender Bender:  (Laughs) Oh my God! Thank you.

the void report:  That was one of the first songs that I heard from you guys. That’s one of my favorite opening lyrics of a song.

Teri Gender Bender:  Thank you so much!

the void report:  Now, y’all have obviously grown a lot since then.

Teri Gender Bender:  A little bit of growing, a little bit of not growing. Whatever, right?

the void report:  Right. So, what’s different about working with Jerry Harrison versus Omar?

Teri Gender Bender:  That’s a good question. I guess Jerry Harrison has a lot more official musical training. So, he had that language that I did not understand at all. At least Alejandra and him were able to talk about, cause she went to school and I never did. And Omar, he more expresses his vision to support the essence of the music with more poetic language. More Latino. It’s more like, “Try to make it sound more African based.” Or, “We’re coming out from a forest and someone’s running behind you.” You kinda interpret that and try to play like that.

the void report:  Like visual sounds…and interpret that into the music.

Teri Gender Bender:  It’s pretty crazy. Like a trip. And with Jerry it’s extreme.  Also a trip, because it’s like my school, I’m learning all of these technological terms for bars and 8/6 times. It’s really nice to get those two different sides. The Latino producer and the American producer. Different cultures too. With Omar we’d eat different types of food, like sopes or Puerto Rican food. And with Jerry it was more soul food from up in the north. Wisconsin. It was pretty cool.

Le Butcherettes @ Club Dada, Dallas, TX. Photo by Corey Smith.

the void report:  I asked you this last year. When is a new full-length album coming out?

Teri Gender Bender:  You know what? It’s never gonna come out! (Laughs)

the void report:  Never? (Laughs)

Teri Gender Bender:  Because that’s how progressive of an artist I am (Laughs).

the void report:  (Laughs) Leave ’em wanting more. That’s brilliant.

Teri Gender Bender:  Right? I’m the first to think of that. Nah, hopefully it’ll come out either at the beginning of next year or the end of this year.

the void report:  Are all the sessions done?

Teri Gender Bender:  Everything’s finished.

the void report:  And Jerry Harrison produced?

Teri Gender Bender:  Yeah, Jerry Harrison produced and basically mixed by Chris Common.

the void report:  Former member.

Teri Gender Bender:  Yes. He did a great job. He was amazing. But yeah, hopefully soon. It’s really up to the whole team. It’s a democracy. Some people want to stick with it longer before they make a decision. You know, all that stuff. I’m just like here. I only work here. Tell me what to do. Not really, but you know? I’ve learned patience, too. If it were up to me it’d be out now.

the void report:  I think a lot of people were a little disappointed that there was never a Crystal Fairy tour.

Teri Gender Bender:  I’m one of those people. I probably made those accounts and complained. (Laughs)

the void report:  Well, I blame it on Buzz and Dale (of the Melvins). Because they’re never not on the road.

Teri Gender Bender:  They’re always on the road. It’s insane. It’s so inspiring, too. Because I’m like, “See, we’re not crazy. You can make a life, have family, and still live on the road.” They’re both husbands. They pull it off smoothly. Obviously everything’s a fight. Getting out of bed is the hardest part. But with that being said. I’m just on wait, basically.

the void report:  I actually watched the film Crystal Fairy cause I didn’t know that connection. I read it in some interview or article about it. And it was on Hulu. It was alright.

Teri Gender Bender:  Didn’t it creep you out? Crystal Fairy’s character? We all know a Crystal Fairy. So entitled. Supposedly you’re open minded, but you’re telling people in your own country what to eat and play against their customs. You remember that one scene where she’s judging everyone for eating sugar? And at the end, the next day she’s all hung-over and she’s like “aw fuck, give me that shit.” So, I just related to that cause I know a lot of people like that and I just felt like ugh. You didn’t like it?

the void report:  I mean, I liked it. I didn’t love it. It wasn’t Goodfellas, you know?

Teri Gender Bender:  Was it the acting? The director?

the void report:  The acting, the cinematography, it was excellent. It was finely done. I just didn’t have an emotional connection. A little bit cause I’ve done some traveling in the Andes. In Bolivia.

Teri Gender Bender:  Man. Your so fuckin’ lucky. I want to go there.

Le Butcherettes @ Club Dada, Dallas, TX. Photo by Corey Smith.

the void report:  You’ve got a little bit of a break before y’all go on tour with Death From Above.

Teri Gender Bender:  They’re another great band. Not just musicians or artists, but also cool people. Even if they were shitty people I’d still be a fuckin fan. It’s not like you write a contract with every artist you go and support…like everyone has their own shit. Like Alexander The Great. He changed the whole game, but you know he did a little killing. I don’t know. (Laughs)

the void report:  Just a little. (Laughs)

Teri Gender Bender:  Look at what else he did. (Laughs)

the void report:  What are you going to do in the time between tours? Any plans?

Teri Gender Bender:  Rehearse new songs. A lot of rehearsing. We have some Mexican shows coming up too in between tours. We’re gonna get prepped up for that. Just try to stay busy before you let the mind get weird with you.

the void report:  And then on this tour I read that y’all were doing a lot of new material. And then also songs that y’all haven’t done before.

Teri Gender Bender:  Man, I love that you did your homework. Thank you. That means a lot. We’re playing some new songs, some old stuff that we never played. My personal favorite songs that we never did before, cause it was always creepy. But without limiting we’d probably, it’d look like we’d be playing chess. It wouldn’t be anything at all to us. It’s good now that we have Marfred. Kind of be like Whoo!

the void report:  Is “Wrecking Ball” (Miley Cyrus) still in the set?

Teri Gender Bender:  You don’t mind spoilers?

the void report:  I don’t mind spoilers.

Teri Gender Bender:  Okay, yeah. It’s in it. But, just for this. Never again after we play it.

the void report:  I gotta ask, what was your inspiration for playing that song?

Teri Gender Bender:  So, this community that promotes music and they film artists doing it, they proposed it, they invited us to make a cover. And they basically laid out the options for us. And that was the most interesting one that I saw. The most challenging, was Miley Cyrus. Right away I saw it and I was like damn I wanna. Cause, that’s very defined. Her version is very defined. Its universal. So, to make something else, I kinda approached it with a struggle. Different versions of one song. How can I get this to my song. We played a little bit around, I showed the guys my arrangement, which is super power chord punk and it worked. It was fun. It was a nice sound.

the void report:  Yeah cool, right on.

Teri Gender Bender:  Nice collaboration. Whoever proposed the idea. I think it was someone in an office probably. Like the people that work for The Onion. Like its probably a joke and they put it in there, you know?  But, I loved it.

the void report:  Well, I do like covers that kinda come out of left field. You know?

Teri Gender Bender:  You don’t want to touch something that’s already something that you’d enjoy a lot. Like, I would never touch a Rolling Stones song. Or a Beatles song. For now.

the void report:  Or, not to be too specific, or stereotypical, but a Bikini Kill song. It’d be kinda on the nose.

Teri Gender Bender:   Why do it again with my band?

the void report:  Its gotta be refreshing in a way. It’ll challenge you.

Teri Gender Bender:  And its interesting because it took 7 people to write that song. When I looked up the lyrics.  Damn, that’s fuckin…that’s hard. To work with many people on one track. My props.

the void report:  Right on. Well, I’m so grateful that you took the time to talk to me.

Teri Gender Bender:  Thank you for hearing my rants.



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