When Teri Gender Bender – the charismatic frontperson and guitarist for the Mexican band with a semi-French name, Le Butcherettes – was born in Denver in 1989, the city still had a small-town vibe. She vividly remembers being a small child and chewing on the rubbery seat of a swing set, the kindness of various teachers, and a taxi driver who gave her a stuffed animal on Christmas.
In those days, her family traveled back and forth from Mexico for holidays and family vacations, and she underwent some schooling in Chiapas. That is, until her father passed away when she was thirteen, prompting her mother to relocate the family to her own home city, Guadalajara.
“I remember us being very lonely, but sometimes individual loneliness makes a family come closer together. Then again, it will eventually kill you unless you handle it in an introspective and searching way," says Gender Bender. "I think any type of change in itself can become a challenge all on its own, but my father’s death was so overwhelming that a change of scenery and being closer to my roots helped us to heal – at least for me.”
Before ever moving to Mexico and playing in bands, starting at age ten, she started dreaming about playing guitar.
Her dreams "felt very frustrating, to an extent of feeling inept and useless,” says Gender Bender. “I think this constant nightmare was a way of my will telling me to do something about feeling so blocked up."
By 2007, Gender Bender had started Le Butcherettes in Jalisco with her friend Auryn Jolene, who has long since parted ways with the band. The name came from Gender Bender's “Betty Friedan/Malcolm X/Margaret Sanger/Feminine Mystique/Second Sex/[De] Beauvoir-obsessive phase.” At the time, she read literature about female circumcision and its attendant horrors, which inspired the name of the band.
“'Les' is a mangled word. The [removed] 'S' stands for the 'sex' that has been amputated, [leaving] the band name incomplete. It’s still the same, but the entity has changed. All of this is a metaphor for female mutilation that still occurs, yet we choose to turn an eye, because it is not a reality in some people’s worlds; thus it does not exist.”
Early on, the band, part punk and part garage rock, garnered a fan in then-Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López, who went on to produce and play bass on Le Butcherettes' debut full-length, Sin Sin Sin, from 2011. Highly theatrical live shows, including fake blood, have since landed the group several prominent tours, among them ones with Deftones and the Melvins.
Although Le Butcherettes is currently opening for At the Drive-In, which Rodríguez-López now plays with, he will not reprise his role as Le Butcherettes' bassist.
“I don’t think he deserves it,” says Gender Bender. “Hahaha!”
The outfit will, however, perform new songs for a tour that Gender Bender is calling Graffiti Amargo, which some speculate will be the name of a forthcoming Le Butcherettes album.
“I decided to name the tour Graffiti Amargo because there is just too damn bitter graffiti on the walls of almost every country I’ve visited,” says Gender Bender. “That has left me thinking a lot. Still don’t know what the new record will be called, [but it should be out early] next year.”
Since Le Butcherettes got its start in Mexico before relocating to Los Angeles, we asked Gender Bender for some suggestions on Mexican bands to listen to.
Here are her picks:
Aves a Veces: "A Tapatian Band. They are a very unique band with soaring guitar sounds in their dark melancholic goth-rock songs."
Samuel Ayuka: "A psychedelic, textured, toned band from Chihuahua."
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Ruido Rosa: "A punk-rock band from Mexico City that consists of four powerful women."
Renee Mooi: "A soulful angel from D.F. with a voice that can mesmerize you in an instant."
Le Butcherettes and At the Drive-In, 7 p.m., Thursday, June 15, Fillmore Auditorium, 303-837-0360, $39.50, 16 and over.