Teresa Suarez sits at a table inside the Brite Spot.
In some ways, she hasn't changed since her then-Guadalajara-based group Le Butcherettes came to fame in 2011 with their album Sin Sin Sin. The act performed in aprons drenched in fake blood, with severed hog heads and chunks of meat on display, all incredibly direct metaphors about misogyny, sexism, and the unsolved murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. The performances were insane and amazing.
Then, as now – on the eve of Le Butcherettes' new album Cry Is For the Flies, out on Thursday – she wears her brown hair long, her eyes still widen and she still holds her hands up as if balancing invisible plates when she waxes philosophical.
But said philosophies have changed dramatically. “I was super ambitious, you could even say pretentious,” she admits of her past self, “and I wanted to take over the world with my meat on my back.” She's since shed the apron, the severed heads and the political soapbox.
“I used to travel with a suitcase full of meat and I had to learn to be practical,” she continues. “Let the words speak out more. Use your words as meat, not the meat as meat.”
She's also mostly shed her former persona, Teri Gender Bender, and become more comfortable in her own skin, willing to reveal herself.
It's the result of a lot of upheaval. In 2011, Suarez decided to leave Mexico and continue her career in Los Angeles, away from friends and family.
Another big change was the introduction of drummer Lia Braswell (below), who contributed to Cry Is For The Flies with Suarez, and sits across from her today. Braswell is the Bonnie to Suarez's Clyde, or the Morticia to her Gomez.
The two met at SXSW in Austin in 2011 when their bands performed at the same showcase. They immediately clicked and, months later, Suarez parted ways with bandmates Jonathan Hitschke and Gabe Serbian, and recruited Braswell.
“I just wanted to be with someone more my age,” explains Suarez.
“Someone you can relate to,” adds Braswell.
“Not that I didn't relate to them entirely,” continues Suarez, “but, you know, it's good to have that pussy energy.”
The pair actually completed Cry Is For the Flies in 2011, but a number of setbacks prevented its release. Producer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, also Suarez's collaborator and mentor, put the album on hold in 2012 after his mother passed away. Then came his responsibilities with his bands At The Drive-In, The Mars Volta, and Bosnian Rainbows, the latter of which also features Suarez.
Le Butcherettes considered scrapping the album entirely and starting over from scratch, but are glad they stuck with it.
“Oddly enough,” explains Braswell, “releasing it now is ideal…It feels like now was the perfect time to release all of that past and let the new beginnings flow.”
It almost didn't happen: There was a period of time when neither the band nor the label, Nadie Sound Records, could find the original master of the album.
“It was missing all of a sudden,” recalls Suarez, “and I thought, 'Well, it wasn't meant to be.' But then, miraculously [Lopez] found it in some other drive. It was the weirdest series of events.”
Whereas Sin Sin Sin felt like an early home-recorded demo, Cry Is For the Flies is a high-end studio work with an experienced producer. The album is darker, with Suarez's vocal work stronger and more mature.
Cry Is For the Flies comes out on Thursday, and Suarez also turns 25 that day.
Teri Gender Bender is dead; long live Teresa Suarez.
Correction: The first version of this story incorrectly stated that Lia Braswell co-wrote Cry Is For the Flies with Suarez. In fact, Suarez wrote the entire work.