“My heart's beating, I'm so excited,” says Teri Gender Bender — the wild and wonderfully outspoken singer who fronts Guadalajara garage-punk band Le Butcherettes. To be honest, it's touching that an interview with the good old L.A. Weekly still inspires that sort of emotion in an artist we admire as much as Ms. Gender Bender.
The band's bi/MENTAL album, their fourth, has just landed and it features guest spots from punk royalty such as Alice Bag and Jello Biafra. They play the Moroccan Lounge on Tuesday, Feb. 12, hence this chat.
L.A. WEEKLY: How has your sound evolved, particularly over the past couple of albums?
TERI GENDER BENDER: I think the sound has evolved just due to the added hours — a lot of practicing and touring, being very active. Also constantly listening to music. In the van, when we’re touring, we hear a lot of different music, especially from Riko [Rodríguez-López, guitar] and Marfred [Rodríguez-López, bass] — they’re the ones who usually do the driving. For example, Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. somewhat unconsciously inspired us to get our shit together. Plus having Jerry Harrison as producer really helped us, because he comes from more of an intellectual standpoint. Whereas our previous producer, Omar Rodríguez-López (sorry for the name-dropping), he is more visceral in the sense of, “What do you feel?” It was really nice, the combination, because everybody had come from that background. It was nice to find the other spectrum, on the technical sense, with Jerry adding the intellectual and the mathematical language, which helped a lot and made the process smoother.
How did that connection with Jerry happen?
Basically, through friends of friends. I’m a big blabbermouth — I’m always very vocal about my love for the Talking Heads and also the Modern Lovers. Also Jerry’s solo projects. It got to his ear that I’m a big fan and would like him to produce our band, and he had heard of the band, so he was on board. That to me was mind-blowing. It’s the equivalent of winning a Grammy. I don’t know if that makes sense.
How did you get Jello Biafra and also Alice Bag involved?
I have to pinch my cheeks because these are people that I grew up admiring and listening to their music. Artists with philosophies behind them, and meaning. They’re poets, and that’s in line with Le Butcherettes. This one came super-natural with Jello Biafra. He saw us open for Iggy Pop. He was very approachable. Alice Bag is amazing — she invited me to sing a song on her record Blueprint. We did a lot of collaborative projects before she sang on the record, so there is chemistry and trust.
I read that the new album is an ode to your mother?
My mother is my mirror image. We’re very much alike, so maybe the record is as much a jab at myself. I don’t want to speak for everyone but everyone in the band has similar stories. We joke about being in the dead-parent club. I lost my mother. She’s still alive but I lost her. You can only help someone so much, but it’s really up to them to help themselves. So it’s basically inspired by that, and all these demos accumulated in a period of two weeks. Jerry Harrison helped me pick the ones he thought were the strongest. I have no perspective of my own. I love every demo — I have demotitis.
How has the shitty state of the world affected your songwriting?
Even before the Trump situation, growing up in a Latino family, for me it’s nothing new. My mom would come home every night after being sexually harassed by her boss. My dad would come home, and they wouldn’t say anything. It’s a “suffer in silence” culture. If you say anything, you’re just making a show. It’s very internalized and my family would take it out on each other. It’s made me have a subservient personality. It’s just boiling over now. Building everywhere, and it’s yuck.
What can we expect from the set at the Moroccan Lounge?
Stars at Night are a great band from Los Angeles. The most recent EP was produced by our drummer, Alejandra Robles Luna. They’re on fire right now. This is going to be their second tour, and their first was in Europe. They have a GoFundMe page so as not to lose money on the road. We’ll be playing new songs from the new record, and we’ll have some special guests.
When these shows are done, what else do you have planned for 2019?
This will be one of the first times we get a festival run in Europe in the summer. That’s a big step for the band. I still can’t believe this is happening. It’s been 10 years in the making, and I wonder what the hell is going on.
Le Butcherettes play with Stars at Night and The Tissues at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Moroccan Lounge.