Yeah, they call her the female Iggy Pop or the Queen of Raunch or the Texas Terror, but crimson-haired hell-raiser Texas Terri has a soft side, too. Ask anyone who knows her and they‘ll tell ya she’s the sweetest gal you‘ll ever meet . . . just don’t fuck with her.
Though Terri‘s ferocious blend of punk and Southern-fried rock has yet to be appreciated by the mainstream music industry, it continues to blare proudly from the PA systems of L.A.’s most rebel-rousing clubs. But the City of Angels and Devils can‘t contain the ”never shut up always want more girl,“ as she likes to call herself. Frequent touring and a label with decent distribution are helping to spread her riotous rock to new ears ’round the globe.
At her Hollywood home, amid a clutter of unopened suitcases and mounds of mail, Terri talked about her resplendent life, one filled with as many ups and downs and turnarounds as you might expect from someone who‘s named her records Eat Shit and Eat Shit + 1.
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”I was born in Houston, but I moved to Fort Worth when I was 5 years old. That’s where I got my trashy sailor mouth.“
Like all young music lovers, little Terri got her first taste of performing by practicing in front of the mirror. She moved to Austin when she was 12, and it wasn‘t long before the flourishing rock scene there beckoned her. Her first band was called the Other Guys and covered tunes like the Seeds’ ”Pushin‘ Too Hard“ and the Cure’s ”Boys Don‘t Cry,“ followed by another punky group called Puss n’ Boots that did both covers and originals (one of her current tunes, ”Cavewoman,“ was written back then).
Terri moved to L.A. in ‘86, because ”My energy was too big for Austin.“ Through a scenester network that included the Screamin’ Sirens, she met Roger Flores (country songstress Rosie‘s brother) and formed the Killer Crows, a favorite at clubs like Raji’s and the Shamrock (now Cheetah‘s) in the late ’80s and the first band to make L.A. stand up and take notice of her unrefined energy and way-husky pipes. Like many in the scene at the time, Terri fueled her wild lifestyle with drugs and alcohol, and while they may have added to her intensity back then, they did almost destroy her. ”I started to black out,“ she says, ”and it was scary, ‘cause I was the one who’d find the biggest guy in the bar and start shit with him.“
She decided to get clean, and took a break from performing around the same time. But the fans wouldn‘t let her go. When Terri was invited to play at the Sunset Junction Street Fair in ’92, she gathered some musician friends and rocked the boulevard. Not long after, Texas Terri‘s Baby Bird was born, with bassist Tom Slik, guitarist Loren Molinare and drummer Rob Klonel. But she soon found a new group, a new co-songwriter and a new name with a guitarist by the name of Demon Boy. ”His roommate was writing a porn book about a funeral parlor called The Stiff Ones,“ she recalls.
Six years later, the band has become one of the most talked-about underground acts around. They’ve crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe, where Terri is known as much for her extreme persona as she is for her fun yet feral lyrics — who else is gonna sing, ”I‘m gonna lock you in the trunk, you’re just a loudmouthed, bonehead drunk“ (”Me Mad“) with such conviction?
Up on that stage, sometimes Terri takes her shirt off, exposing stickered or electrical-taped breasts, but ”It‘s not a shtick,“ she says. ”I get fuckin’ hot, so I take it off.“ Live, the band has a crazy urgency, nekkid or not. On record, their debut, Eat Shit (Burning Tree), and its recent re-release, Eat Shit + 1 (Junk), capture the riff-rippin‘ mayhem and magic of their shows.
The Queen of Mean has recently finished recording a demo with biggie producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick and John Lennon), including a cover of Iggy’s ”Shake Appeal.“ She‘s currently working with a new guitarist — along with Terry ”T-Ray Hooker“ Love (bass) and Jimmy ”Rage“ Miller (drums) — and when she’s not writing new material, she‘s go-go dancing at flashy clubs such as Cherry and Makeup by night or helping out at a yoga studio by day; she credits kundalini yoga with balancing her ups and downs ”and helping me channel my anger and utilize it for my art.“
Texas Terri thinks ”Too many people get compared to Iggy,“ but she doesn’t mind it so much, and says there‘s one thing she’d like to share with the punk pioneer. ”The most fulfilling thing for a musician is when your music becomes timeless . . .“