Interview: Le Butcherettes' Teri Suarez Swirls In Chaos
By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 14, 2014 8:00PM
Teri Suarez (right), photo credit Violet Felix
It isn't easy keeping up in conversation with the frenetic Teri Suarez, frontwoman of Le Butcherettes, but we did our best late last week talking about their latest album, what's next for the band and life on the road.
"I've been taking really good care of myself," she said of being out on the band's latest tour which stops at Metro Sunday night. "I have a weak immune system. Usually the first week of tour or the last week of tour I get sick. But I've been eating a lot of garlic. Garlic is supposed to have medical properties to boost your immune system."
This latest tour had Le Butcherettes hit the road with the Melvins and are now out with Antemasque, the latest project from Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta fame. During this time, Le Butcherettes performed a few shows in Mexico, the country where Suarez started the band.
Suarez said that hasn't always been the case.
"When we first started, we were not liked down there," she said. "They would boo us and throw coins at us. That's a thing in Mexico if they don't like you, they throw coins at you."
"In the old days, they would say things to us like, 'Oh, you're a clown,'" she continued. "But the last two times we've been to Mexico we haven't heard any insults."
Le Butcherettes spent part of their summer touring Europe and are now wrapping up in North America, but touring has just become a part of life for Suarez since the band has taken off the past few years. She said it's a chaotic pace, but one to which she's grown accustomed.
"I feel comfortable with chaos," she said. "There are no expectations in chaos."
A lot of the songs on the band's sophomore release, Cry Is For the Flies, were written on the road, Suarez said, and it captures some of the emotions felt while traveling from place to place. The album kicks off with eight percussive hits of a prominent dissonant keyboard chord, evoking a sense of anxiety, or as Suarez put it, "neurosis" which carries throughout the whole album.
"It was just my state of mind at the time," she explained. "I was moving (the band from Guadalajara to Los Angeles) away from my family and my comfort zone."
"At the time I was going back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. or to Europe and it just kind of put a seed of anxiety or neurosis into me," Suarez continued. "Being on the road and writing these songs I felt rootless and confused. But that's nothing new for me. When I'm in Mexico people say to me, 'Well, you're too white.' When I'm in the U.S. people say, 'You know, your English is a little yellow.' And that's always in my head. I'm a passive person, when I hear things like that I just hold it in and go on my way."
"I love to communicate and voice my opinion, and I do it best through my music," she said. "The studio and the stage, it's like therapy for me. If I have to look you in the eye and tell you what I think, it's very difficult for me. I couldn't even tell anybody I was leaving Mexico. Not my friends. Not my family. I just said I was going on tour and I'd be back later."
"Oh, I didn't ask her anything," Suarez said. "I didn't want to come across like a typical self-centered Millennial. But I loved what she did. She did a lot of takes using different tones, trying to capture different emotions. I've always admired people who can really sing like that. I enjoyed every moment of it, but I tried to learn from her by observing, more than anything."
However, she said it had been comfortable working with Rodriguez Lopez, who produced Cry Is For the Flies.
"Working with him is like a tall glass of water," she said.
It is because of him Suarez featured her keyboard more so than on previous efforts.
"I was ashamed of embracing the keyboard before," she said. "Some of my past band mates wondered why I wanted to use it. They said, 'We need more guitar. We need to make it more punk rock.' But Omar insisted I use it more. He said it would help us stand out and be more original. 'Just be yourself,' he told me. I always try to be myself, but it was really nice to hear it from him."
The Metro show is the last stop on the tour, but Suarez said she's got plenty on her plate when the trip is wrapped up. She said the third Le Butcherettes album is in the can, ready for release next year, which will feature songs sung in Spanish. Her other band, Bosnian Rainbows, is planning an all-Spanish release soon. She also will be publishing a second book of poetry entitled Unk.
"My mother says music is my passport to go to all these places, to go to Europe. 'Music is a blessing,' she says," Suarez said. "She's never been to Europe. When I get enough money, I'm going to take her. She really wants to go to Spain because that's where my (deceased) father is from. That will be great."
Le Butcherettes perform with Amtemasque on Sunday, Nov. 16, at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, at 8 p.m., $21, 18 +