Le Butcherettes’ Teresa Suárez Has One Mother of a Muse

The punk band's frontwoman, better known as her stage persona Teri Gender Bender, talks her musical inspiration.

Teri Gender Bender, the guitar, pipes and raw spirit behind Le Butcherettes, a punk band headlining indie music festival Neon Reverb Saturday night, is a stage persona that isn’t too far removed from its creator, Teresa Suárez. Like Bender, Suárez is an open book. The theatrical lyrics in her music and her vulnerability onstage are just as present in everyday conversation.

“I try to put a lid on it, but I can’t … [and] I’m truly obvious,” she says. “When I’m [in a] false place, my mother would know right away—or my lover, or my cats.”

Le Butcherettes’ songs paint surreal, bloody images of her internal battles and conflicts with others. Suárez’s mother is a prominent figure in songs, such as “My Mother Holds My Only Lifeline.” She’s been open about her mom’s overbearing, suspicious and fearful nature, which has been a source of Suárez’s own suffering, at one point creating debilitating anxiety. The familial themes she’s written about in the past continue to sew themselves into her music.

“I’ve been in this mother-daughter bubble,” she says, referencing her new tracks. “From the love to … I don’t want to say hate, but I guess, you know, a little bit of all kinds of emotions.”

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She says her mother’s “true essence” is supportive of her music, but at times “someone else” appears, and she can be berating. Both sides motivate Suárez. “You could say it’s a beautiful sadomasochist relationship. I want to please her… But it’s a two-way street. Sometimes she feels that I don’t like her.”

Suárez’s mother isn’t the only woman who has influenced her life and music. In her voice and onstage you get moments of Patti Smith, Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Chilean singer-songwriter Violetta Parra. And while Suárez recalls being blown away by a Spice Girls performance when she was young, she is now more concerned with women she knows personally.

“I was worshiping women [who] I had a great connection with through their music, while at the same time, part of me was turning my back [on] the women in my life—the women that I have direct access to, in the flesh.” She adds that she’s connected to the women who surround her “through their art, through the food that they make me and from the literature [they] present to me.”

As for her mom: “She follows me everywhere, even when I’m not with her. And she’s alive now. I can’t even imagine the day she dies, oh my God, then she’s truly gonna haunt me!”

Le Butcherettes at Neon Reverb

March 11, 7 p.m. (Le Butcherettes set, 1 a.m.), $15, The Bunkhouse Saloon, 124 S. 11th St., bunkhousedowntown.com

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