All of us, one way or another, learn of the great injustices around us and decide what we’re going to do about it. Let’s call it, quoting Alynda Segarra from Hurray for the Riff Raff, “#unfucktheworld.” Le Butcherettes —Teri Gender Bender (vocals/guitar/piano), Chris Common (drums) and Jamie Aaron Aux (bass)— pushes us to the edge of our comfort zone and into the streets with their third full-length album A Raw Youth (Ipecac Recordings). This album was recorded in RLP Studios in El Paso, Texas with longtime producer and true boricua Omar Rodríguez López.
A Raw Youth is Teri’s take on our oppressive society. She takes us down rebellion road and inspires us to change the word. So, having fallen in love with her talent, her lyrical content, her energy and overall persona, I saw no other choice but to propose a 10-minute phone date and get into her mind.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: Who are your influences?
Teri Gender Bender: It ranges from Violeta Parra to Betty Davis, and even Fela Kuti. He is the true essence of Punk because he spoke against the government in Africa. Even though his family was murdered, he still continued to sing and inspire a whole entire nation. He spoke without being taunted by the fear that’s imposed on them.
MF: And I can tell this album is completely fearless.
TGB: Wow, thank you!
MF: Why is it titled “A Raw Youth”?
TGB: If you look at history there’s always an outspoken rebel fighting for what they believe in. There have been people that have dedicated their lives for something they truly believe in. In this day and age a good example is Malala, a young girl that was shot in the head and survived. That didn’t stop her. She continues to be outspoken, fighting for the rights of women and education. I completely agree with her. We need to continue to invest in education because the children are our future. If we spoil them with screen entertainment or neglect their right to an education, those two extremes will never work. We need a balance. A Raw Youth represents an ode to these people.
MF: In many ways this seems to stem out of your mother’s remarkable story. Could you tell us about that?
TGB: My mother was kidnapped in Guadalajara when she was 18. She was walking with her boyfriend. All of a sudden a van pulls up, and [the men] pointed guns at them and forced them into the van. She could’ve easily said: “That’s it! I’m going to die.” But she fought her way out of that van. She managed to open the door, roll and jump out. She severed her ribs and her legs. Unfortunately her boyfriend was shot in the head and was in a coma for a while. Pretty insane! That’s a raw youth.
MF: How is she doing now?
TGB: She’s traumatized for life. She’s a very protective mother. She doesn’t want anything to happen to my brother or me. I can get a little pissed off because, as a child, I wanted to discover and she wouldn’t let me. Now, I completely understand her perspective.
MF: Wow! Unbelievable. This leads me to your song “Sold Less Than Gold.” It tackles sex slavery and child brides. Basically you talk about womanophobia.
TGB: It’s insane we’re in 2015 and we’re still suffering sex slavery. I had the privilege to travel to the Middle East and it’s seen on the streets pretty openly. Sex slavery, if you would see it in a movie, is young children sold into marriage. It also happens in the U.S., but because people are too politically correct they turn a blind eye. Every culture has it’s beauty but also its downfalls.
MF: Do you think we’re outgrowing treating women like pieces of meat, and coming together in a universal spectrum?
TGB: Definitely, yes. Thanks to the Internet, as it is available to almost all people. Again, like Malala who’s spreading the word everywhere.
MF: Let me ask you about a song titled “They Fuck You Over.” Who are “they”?
TGB: The mainstream industry. They constantly try to objectify you and make you feel worthless. If you’re not recognized in a certain level or if you don’t have a certain number of followers, you’re seen as small. If after 30 years you’re working, but haven’t been invited onto a big stage, that doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It’s about how you view yourself.
MF: Have you experienced censorship or been asked to tone it down?
TGB: Fortunately I’m not on a major label. I can do as I please. But I have friends on major labels that suffer. They can’t do and say what they want. There’s a lot of people opening independent labels because of that.
MF: Tells us about “La Uva,” your Spanish song featuring Iggy Pop. It sounds sarcastic.
TGB: Latinos are constantly betraying each other. The Aztecs would sell each other out when the Spaniards came over. There’s always backstabbing.
MF: And you do have a song called “Stab My Back.” Did it stem out of that?
TGB: Yes, you grow up in Mexico; we tend to stab each other’s backs. But the beauty to it is that we also have tremendous riches. Family is the most important thing in the world. I will stab your back only because I want my family to prosper. It’s a two-sided coin.
MF: That being said, do you think Latinos are more united, despite the backstabbing?
TGB: With the government backstabbing us, yes. Take the missing 43 and the photojournalist that was assassinated recently in Mexico City: From these tragedies people took to the streets and expressed their rage. Is it making a difference? I think it is.
MF: How about in the U.S.?
TGB: It’s hard to say because there are a lot of conservative Latinos. So many of them say: “I don’t want those Mexicans to cross over.” And I’m like: “You are one! You have it in your blood!” But again, the ease of information is making people more aware. The fault to this is that: people read one article and think they have an educated opinion or, worse, they’re entitled to their opinion and judgment, like a know-it-all. It becomes a personal agenda to seem smarter than anyone when you have a one-sided perspective.
MF: What is your definition of Latino Rebel?
TGB: Someone that’s true to his or her words. Well informed and find perspective before speaking.
We adore you! Gracias Teri!
A Raw Youth comes out September 18th.
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Follow Marlena Fitzpatrick on Twitter @MarlenaFitz.