Le Butcherettes know how to put on a live show. The “garage-punk trio” (which originally began in 2008 as a duo), fronted by Teri Gender Bender, has come from Mexico to Los Angeles, bringing with them an almost theatrical energy and obvious passion for their music. Read on to learn about the band’s unique songwriting process and how their new album Sin Sin Sin represents both musical and spiritual growth.
Without using the words “alternative,” “pop,” “rock,” or “hip-hop,” describe your sound.
I describe this sound to be simple but powerful. I really don’t know how to answer this question without looking like a goof. I usually describe it as “butcher rock” because I butcher and cut the hell out of the songs and then every song ends up having a different sound to it. When Omar and I worked on the album I would say he added wonders of elegance to it. He gave my chaos a lot of polishing and has allowed me to live in my own songs when they are played live. Lars Stalfors and Isaiah Abolin really did a great job on the engineering. Life changes and the next sound might be different.
What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
During the recording of the LP I was listening to a lot of Spice Girls, David Bowie and Beck. I love Bowie’s music so much. After we would finish recording for the day I’d drive back to my Mother’s home (in GDL) and just put Bowie on full blast. Beck makes me feel so alive and sexy. Spice Girls are just for fun to bring back the old days when I would use a hairbrush for a microphone. Nowadays Gabe and Jon have been feeding me tons of cool old school rock I’ve never heard of: Betty Davis, Diamanda Galas, Marnie Stern, etc…
Describe your songwriting process.
I lock myself up for weeks without end, I end up not seeing anyone (except my boyfriend and his brother whom I’ve lived with for a while now). Improvisation is ideal for me and recording those moments helps me a lot. I hate listening to myself to be quite honest, but you have to pick the best takes and listen to them a lot to make sure this is the way you want your lyrics to be pronounced.
During the process of writing songs I usually try to think as if I’ve been through a horrible (or wonderful) scenario. Going to the degree of literally dressing up in different clothes and covering my face with a lot of paint. Pushing my limits. Cleaning the house to the bone helps me as well. Therapeutic.
For Mr. Tolstoi I finished reading Crime & Punishment and I got into character and I did the song in one take (no recording at the time…had to memorize it.) At the end I took some pie and smashed it against the wall. Get into character with yourself and with others’ thoughts and psychological traits and you get decent songs in return.
What do you do if you’re trying to write and it’s just not working for you?
Honestly, I can be a huge child. I cry and scream. I hit the walls. I take my lipstick and cover my body in red and then take a long and hot bath and clean myself. The red represents the slime my mind has been blocked with. In the end, it’s all in the mind when it doesn’t work out with your art unless you’re not in good health.
You just have to push yourself…even if that means screaming out loud. It’s part of a process I’ve been so shy to talk about…but screw it…a lot of people do it and are kinda embarassed to talk about it. I know a lot of people that go on hikes and just go and write. I love that kinda stuff. Where people don’t let the work take over them. They take over the work and make something out of nothing.
We saw photos of you performing at SXSW. Can you tell us more about your live shows?
I’ve always been a firm believer in expressing yourself to the fullest. Some days I might be tired, other days I might be sick but I always try my hardest to relieve myself from passive aggressiveness especially when I am playing. I’ve been teaching myself to be good to others no matter how I feel, even when people don’t deserve anything from me I still give. People can take advantage of that because I am such a pushover. I’m working on that. On stage I take that shit out. I take it out and expose myself in a lot of ways. Dangerous ways and personal ways.
It’s scary now…but when I’m up there I feel like I can die happily. And now that Gabe and Jonathan are on that stage with me I feel complete. These guys have seen it all. They’ve been in great bands and have toured all over the world and they still rock harder than I’ve ever seen. I look up to them and I can say that if someone sees us live I can assure you that what you see is sincerity. 3 people who love playing live music and live for nothing else.
We hear you’ve got a new album coming out soon. How did it come to be?
Gabe, Jonathan and I have been rehearsing A LOT. Lots of inspiration, lots of songwriting, wall banging, empty bottles of wine and love for music. Some new-new songs are on iTunes. “The Devil Lived,” “Breathe You In,” and “Gold Notebook.” Very powerful songs. We just throw up new stuff all the time and I can’t even wait for that to come out but all takes time. Sin Sin Sin was written when I was 19 and it’s FINALLY coming out thanks to Omar (RLP) and Cathy (Sargent House), our lovely manager).
Does Sin Sin Sin have a sound that’s different from your other releases? Is there a general theme to the new album?
It definitely has a new sound from the past EP. Much more of a mature and tight sound than Kiss & Kill, and the Sin Sin Sin lyrics are deeper and not so in your face. Kiss & Kill was more of an “in your face feminist” message, though I do feel happy with the work put into it that EP.
Kiss & Kill is the only other release we’ve put out so far besides the singles and the iTunes Live: SXSW EP. Sin Sin Sin is the second stage. I am more of a woman. I do not mind shaving or growing body hair, I can read Bukowski now. Because I used to hate him when I was trying too hard to be a feminist. You can still be a feminist and be sensual. You can have children, get married, do what you want because YOU as a human being want to.
I don’t want to yell my whole life. I want to express myself in a darker way now. I don’t want to use feminism anymore because I was let down by the non- existent movement. I want feminism to use ME as an example instead. I won’t let the movement down because I am not a movement, I am an individual. I just have to be myself and work on art with the purest of intentions. Sin Sin Sin was made to free me of my “so-called sins” laid on my mind in a machismo country which has so many strong and unfearing women and men. I am not afraid. This album is for the men and women that are fed guilt mixed with hatred for not marrying young, for thinking of themselves before others, for trying to see life differently.
Have you started marketing/promoting Sin Sin Sin? If so, how?
Yes! There are some people that are helping with the promotion of this upcoming album. I’m tweeting¾ not so good at it but I try. SXSW has done wonders for promoting the band itself. You guys are nice as well!
What advice would you give other independent artists trying to promote their music and be heard?
To secure their art first. ASCAP, copyright, register, etc… Then they can do whatever they can to promote it. I wouldn’t go around spamming. Good bands don’t beg to be heard, their work gets them heard. Always be nice to people but also don’t say YES to everything.