By John Gentile
Teresa Suárez (a.k.a. Teri Gender Bender) used to get on stage covered in raw meat and blood. You see, when Suárez was 13, her father died unexpectedly and her mother had to move the family back to Mexico to make ends meet. There, Suárez felt objectified and bullied as a young woman. So, she formed the frantic, hard-rocking trio Le Butcherettes -- and started covering herself in meat on stage as a way of making a statement about how she felt she was treated by society.
Well, now the weirdo-rockers are about to release their third album, A Raw Youth, which examines this type of oppression on a global and personal level. The release features appearances by rock legends Iggy Pop and Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante.
Before the album drops on September 18, MTV News spoke to Suárez about her trip to the Middle East, Iggy himself and her time as a Comcast customer support specialist.
MTV: On A Raw Youth, you have a song called 'Sold Less Than Gold.' It has a very bouncy, new wave texture, but I think it is about something very dark.
Suárez: Yes, indeed! The song was written with women from the Middle East in mind -- women that were being sold from their family to strangers. Being raped and mutilated.
MTV: How did you decide to write about that topic?
Suárez: I had the opportunity to go to the Middle East and meet women who had been in traumatic situations. I went to Iran. I was there for two weeks and mingling with the locals and the people. The women that would invite me into their homes were women that were blacklisted for being widows or single mothers raising their children. But, they were caring and loving.
As hopeless as situation can be, there is so much happiness in their eyes. These women have their children and they are working their asses off for their children. And then you come back to the USA and it’s like, 'What! You are complaining because you don’t have Wifi!' The world has such polar opposites. It gave me a new perspective. But, I guess that’s what makes the world beautiful.
MTV: Can someone from North America truly understand oppression?
Suárez: That depends! It depends what area from the city you live in, what cultural background you live in. I can honestly say that I’ll probably experience more oppression than you because I’m a woman. Of course, there’s oppression everywhere nowadays. Especially what is going on with the Black Lives Matter movement. We still have a lot of work to do. Though, other countries are way more f--ked-up than this one.
MTV: Do you think it is better than it was 20 years ago?
Suárez: I think people have become more comfortable. That’s why we don’t see more artists or musicians writing about the war or oil or the missing 43 students in Mexico. People are comfortable with their cellphones. But, if you take the cellphones away, there will be riots in the streets. In that aspect, I think this era is a little lazier.
MTV: A lot of your lyrics come from a sort of negative perspective. But, just talking to you, you seem like a pretty positive person to me.
Suárez: I try to be as positive as I can. I was brought up to always think of death. Mexican culture involves death. It’s blood lands. If you look at history, the bigger the pyramids were built, the harder the civilization fell. Everything is 'expect the worst.' You can’t rely on anyone. Everything can be corrupt. In my head, I imagine the worst. When I cross the street, I imagine the worst. I might get hit and killed!
MTV: But you are so outgoing and crazy on stage!
Suárez: I carry conviction. Sometimes if you have too much to say, you don’t blend well with society. I didn’t mix well with school. Living in Guadalajara, I didn’t do too well at my jobs at Burger King or Comcast.
MTV: Wait... were you 'outsourced help' that had to listen to people with TV problems?
Suárez: Yes! [laughs] Honestly… oh sh-t… I shouldn’t even be saying this. I was horrible at my job! They were mad right off the bat. 'What’s going on with my cable!' I was so scared. I would just be like, [in meek voice] 'You know what? It’s going to be OK. It. Is. Going. To. Be. OK. Just turn your TV off and on in five minutes.'
And then, they would just be so happy! 'Oh, well, alright! Have a nice day!' I’d have at least 100 calls a day like that. I was such a people pleaser that I would lie to them and tell them it would be OK… when it totally wouldn’t be! That was really sh-tty of me!
MTV: Iggy Pop is on the song 'Uva,' which means grape. Is Iggy cool?
Suárez: He is the sweetest. He is such a humble person. He knew the lyrics in Spanish by heart. He asked me about the song, so, I said that a grape represents a fragile being that can be stepped on. But, the ink from its body stains and is seen by other people. So, there can be a sort of union in death.
So, Iggy was like, 'God damn it! I knew I should have come dressed up as a grape but I thought you guys would have thought that I was weird!'
MTV: What did you learn from Iggy while recording?
MTV: Similar to the things that I learned from Buzz Osborne while touring with the Melvins: no matter what you are doing, if you believe in it, no matter if people think you are wrong or a freak or weird, just keep going. Keep fighting. Don’t take no for an answer. There is always a way to make things happen. Use your conviction. Use that rusty knife until the rust comes off.