OK. Inhale, one. Exhale, two.
Just focus on the numbers. And if you forget what number, it doesn’t matter—start all over from one.
This breathing exercise is the advice given by Teri Gender Bender, one of Mexico’s finest punk exports, for how to violently sacrifice everything on stage and also how to prevent your insane, rattling thoughts from murdering you.
Understatement of the year: Ms. Gender Bender definitely knows a thing or two about showmanship. As the transfixing frontwoman of El Paso art punk outfit Bosnian Rainbows, Teri’s shell-shocked voice transcends through aggressive psychedelia. The liquid guitar is all complimentary of Mars Volta and At The Drive-In mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, who has a nice habit of producing Bender’s albums in Le Butcherettes.
It’s with her main passion project, Le Butcherettes, that Gender Bender finds herself exploring her most contentious issues the way some folks publicly pick at open wounds. Here she often subverts 1950s Stepford Wives stereotypes with brooms and bloodied aprons, sometimes throwing in raw meat and pig heads for fun.
“Everything’s too P.C. these days … no one wants to offend someone else,” Bender says. “It’s just like, c’mon man. That’s what life is about, there’s fire and there’s ice. You can’t just always focus on the air.” When we call her up, Teri Gender Bender talks muy rapido, like she has so much to get out she doesn’t even have time to breath. Twice during our conversation, Bender is suddenly distracted by birds —a very beautiful bird, she insists. “I can go on a rant forever, so excuse that,” she says.
And rant she does. In 23 minutes, she covers everything from her admiration for Frida Kahlo (“she didn’t let herself get dragged down”) to Fyodor Dostoevsky (“he didn’t make music, but he was a mother—fucking punk”) to her love for her label, Ipecac (“the people that run it are just so gracious, they’re so humble.”).
Known by her mother as Teresa Suárez—she changed her name as a ‘fuck you’ to Mexico’s treatment toward women, she is as much a busy bee as her prolific patron Rodriguez-Lopez. The second Bosnian Rainbows album, which is sung entirely en Español, is almost ready for release and the third Le Butcherettes release, A Raw Youth, will materialize sometime this fall.
For now, Le Butcherettes are once again joining sarcastic sludge pioneers The Melvins on an extensive zigzag tour around the nation this summer. Bender describes Melvins as “a breath of fresh air,” not only for inviting them into their dressing rooms after they share a stage, but for generously offering to let the band crash on their hotel room floor.
“They have the good, old school mentality of the ’90s of only supporting your label mates [on tour], so that they become a community,” Gender Bender explains. “Especially in Guadalajara, where I’m from, everything is being against some band. If you’re part of a band, there’s no way in hell we’re going to support you. And if we do, we’ll do it hypocritically, behind your back.”
But Melvins have really taken Le Butcherettes under their wing—“championing” the Mexican garage punk band, as Gender Bender puts it. She says this mentoring attitude, which she sees in Rodriguez-Lopez as well, is a lost art.
“Nowadays, bands, they got their own vans and that’s it,” Bender says. “It’s everyone out for themselves. That’s what’s being missed now from that era.”
In fact, Melvins and Le Butcherettes are planning a 10” split release called Chaos As Usual. So with so many albums planned with so many groups, it seems the self-described “Poet From Nowhere” is going everywhere. ■