Teri Gender Bender of Le Bucherettes bends gender and kicks its ass

Teri Gender Bender has been compared to the punk/grunge scene of the 90s, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, and Nick Cave’s past partner and former muse, PJ Harvey. The release of Sin, Sin, Sin follows Kiss and Kill with artistic and musical growth from Teri, and a new lineup with the band; Gabe Serbian on drums and Johnathan Hischke on bass. Relocating from Guadalajara, Mexico to Los Angeles has Le Bucherettes touring across the United States and Europe. Nothing as sharp or raw has graced the music scene since the Riot Grrrl Revolution.

Q: Why the name, Le Bucherettes?

TGB: I was 17, living in Mexico for about two years and very frustrated that a lot of really cool bands playing lacked women fronting them. I was really influenced at the time reading Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique about the household wife, finishing college and marrying. Back in the 50s that was the traditional thing to do, but there was always this emptiness, this whole that would never get filled. This is why the “s”, (it should be “Les” in the name), is taken out. It is more of a mutilation representing the female issue; female circumcision or the simple fact that you feel like something is missing.

People who talk to us about the band will acknowledge there is something missing in the title. Bucherettes is a metaphor, the apron I wear on stage is also a metaphor; cutting that ugliness, the sexism, which is the meat, to cut it up in little pieces and get rid of it. I’m trying to be more ironic. There is so much more than just a girl wearing high heels on stage portraying herself as a passive young woman. We are unleashing our inner animals when we play.

Q: What are your live shows like?

TGB: When the band started I was really into the visual side, taking elements to stage such as broomsticks and rotten meat that I would get at the butcher shop. This causes a lot of controversy with the vegan issue, but putting that aside, I wanted the meat to represent something, to give that meat life and meaning. I dropped that whole issue, I don’t do that anymore. I’ve already done it; I don’t need to do it again. People ask what my point was. The meat is a defence, a barrier to what people sometimes saw in me when I was younger, treating me like a piece of meat. So here I am on stage with this meat and I’m flinging it around and stepping on it. That’s how it used to be. Now we are going through this process of getting musically more tight and giving me the liberty of using more of my body movements. Johnathan plays the bass like a king. There is a great chemistry there.

Q: Will you ever tour Canada?

TGB: Oh my God, are you kidding me? I hope so. Right now there’s no plan but I want to go there as soon as possible. I’ve never been to any part of Canada and I love traveling. If there is any way, we would love to go; hopefully this year or maybe at the end of the year.

Q: I love your name, Teri Gender Bender! How and why did you choose that name for yourself?

TGBL Malcolm X was an influence on me. He has a similar philosophy when it comes to last names. He would say ‘I don’t know my real last name because my ancestors were sold into slavery; we are carrying the last name of a white man.’ He chose the “X”, which is the unknown; he never knew what his name was. It has a slight influence on “Gender Bender”. I am so proud of being my father’s daughter but if you think about it, his mom and my mom, they all have the masculine line of last name. If I were to ever get married, even if I were to keep my last name, technically it still comes from my father. I want to move away from patriarchy and reinvent myself completely as an individual. “Gender Bender”, to me, represents: ‘I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, I’m going to love you for who you are’; taking your gender and bending it.

Q: Who were your influences growing up? Was there anyone that inspired you or helped you become who you are today?

TGB: On a personal level, my father and my mother were always there for me. Gabe and I (Gabe Serbian, drummer of the band), were talking about this earlier. I was saying I hated how people picked on me at school. But I think that also inspired me. The rejection I experienced at school helped me build up the wrath of the animal I am on stage. The love of my parents and the hate from the kids at school influenced me. On a universal musical level I would have to say Kathleen Hanna, Wendy O. Williams, all the Riot Grrrl Bands; Huggy Bear, L7. I just love women that rock and female writers. It’s inspiring. However, I don’t care about someone’s sex or gender, as long as they transmit this amazing something that affects them personally. Then I’m theirs forever. I get so much from people that do whatever they want without hurting others.

Q: How did the current lineup of the band form?

TGB: I moved to LA and everyone in LA knows everyone. If you know the friend of a friend then the friend will know the friend of the friend. (Teri lets out a laugh). My manager introduced me to Gabe but we didn’t think it would be like this from the beginning. We were just going to try it out and rehearse with Gabe to see how the chemistry was. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never had musicians like this with such strong talent in the band before. The band now is top notch. It is great. The chemistry right away was great. We could play without caring what was going to happen. It was luck and good timing. I moved to the United States to start out fresh. I love Mexico but I am ambitious, I want to travel, play other countries, taste different kinds of food.

Q: You have a song called “Feminist Politics” but it’s in Spanish. Could you tell me about it?

TGB: That was part of the Kiss and Kill ep, it was in Spanish because most people in Mexico speak Spanish. I wanted people in Mexico to get an introduction of the message. I can be a proud sensual woman and not be anti-male. There is a misunderstanding of what feminism is and that is so unfair. It was in Spanish to open up the door a little bit. People ask me why I don’t sing more in Spanish. My Spanish is not as good as my English. It’s good, but my singing voice in Spanish sounds a little different and it has an accent. When I sing the key and tone of my voice is different. I still haven’t found my singing voice in Spanish. It’s a completely different world. I’m working on that right now. Hopefully one day good Spanish rock will come out from me.

Q: How has the music industry treated you and the guys in the band so far?

TGB: It’s good. I feel like I am a lot more protected right now because Gabe and Johnathan are like my brothers. When it was just me and the first female drummer it was difficult because we didn’t have anyone with us when the guys at the bars in Mexico would try to conquer us. Now that there are men in the band I feel like there are less problems. Maybe other people are scared of screwing with me because there are guys with me, who are close to me, like family and vice versa. Maybe people don’t want to screw with Gabe and Johnathan because I am with them and I seem protective of them as well. It’s always hard. I’m trying to look at the good things now. I guess I still can’t believe that this is happening. I am not grasping this yet, not entirely. This is my dream, ever since I was little. I wanted to sing everywhere and it is finally happening. It’s so beautiful.

Q: How is your tour with the Deftones going so far?

TGB: So far it is going good; the first Bucherettes tour in the U.S. of A; a lot of driving, the real deal. Sara, our tour manager is making everything feel so at home and cozy for us. The Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan are really nice, down to earth people which is also been making it easier.

Q: How long have you been playing music?

TGB: I started when I was 12. I always had dreams about playing the acoustic guitar and the dream would always melt. My frustrations were released in dream and I knew I had to get a guitar and start playing in real life. I knew when I was young I had to start playing before I had more nightmares like that. I really don’t play well either way, but I tune the guitar and play it my way.

Q: Do you have any songs ready for your next album?

TGB: We are on that. The new songs are going to be great. Even better than the songs that are out already.

Q: What will the new songs be like?

TGB: There are a lot more guitar songs. I can’t wait to get them on paper and vinyl. Hopefully after the tour we will have time to start recording.

Teri literally blew me away during our conversation. She has studied philosophy and has an intelligence that is rare and inspiring. Suarez is enthusiastic and passionate, yet down to earth and humble. I cannot wait to see what Le Bucherettes will do next.

For all the latest on the band, head over here.