LA Times // Coachella 2012: The antics of Le Butcherettes make a mom worry

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Teri Suaréz is trying to finish a record. Her phone, however, won’t stop interrupting. It’s her mother. “She’s freaking out,” Suaréz said.

This past Sunday, Suaréz sent her mother into a state of panic when, at the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, she walked away from her guitar and keyboard and climbed to the top of a lighting rig. Then she locked her legs around it and leaned over backward.

"That’s why my mom is calling me," Suaréz said. "She said, ‘Please don’t ever do that again!’ I said, ‘Oh, no, Mom. I won’t do that ever again. I’ll be more careful. I swear.’ But she’s still really scared about it. She keeps calling to see if I’m OK."

For now, yes, Suaréz is fine. If anything, the 22 year old is a little nervous herself. While Le Butcherettes concerts are known for their unpredictability, Suaréz has no intention of putting her life — or at least a few of her bones — in danger at Coachella on Sunday. On stage, as Teri “Gender Bender” Suaréz, the artist is reckless, abusing her guitar and her voice with delight. Off stage, Suaréz constantly laughs at herself, apologizes after nearly every sentence and admits to being paralyzed with shyness.

"It hasn’t been a hard time," Suaréz said of harmonizing the two extremes of her personality, and then adds, "but, existentially speaking, it has been."

Suaréz and her band, which currently includes drummer Lia Braswell and At the Drive-In principal Omar Rodriguez Lopez on bass, is rooted in the anything-goes ethos of punk rock. From Guadalajara, Mexico, and based in L.A., Le Butcherettes are a collision of genres and cultures, as Suaréz quotes from the novels most of us never read, serenades in Spanish, occasionally pretends to be Russian and lashes out at what she sees as political and societal constraints.

When Le Butcherettes opened for Iggy & the Stooges last winter, it was easy to label Suaréz as something of a spiritual heir to Iggy Pop. She’s aware of that, and she hasn’t stopped thinking about it. “I feel like everyone is expecting me to be crazy,” she said of her band’s live performances, and she said Iggy told her the “same story.”

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Los Angeles Times // Coachella 2012: “Le Butcherettes come to festival, conquer it”

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All Teri “Gender Bender” Suarez had to do was walk onstage. Five steps to her keyboard and one uncomfortable-looking chicken-squat later, and she already looked as if she were in need of an exorcism. Once she struck her instrument and began sputtering in time to the beat in a crouched position, the gentleman standing next to me leaned over and said, “I’m scared already.”

This, as anyone who has seen Le Butcherettes before can attest, is when the fun begins.

The local group came to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the midst of recording its new album, and were augmented here by mentor/producer and frequent collaborator Omar Rodriguez Lopez. The member of At the Drive-In was the one and only calm presence on stage, his forceful punk-rock bass guiding Suarez and drummer Lia Braswell away from completely losing it.

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Los Angeles Times SXSW 2012: Omar Rodriguez Lopez targets male ego in ‘Los Chidos’

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When Omar Rodriguez Lopez picks up an electric guitar with The Mars Volta, his playing is usually defined by its otherworldly, psychedelic effects. But as a producer-director picking up a camera for his latest film, “Los Chidos,”  his artwork has medicinal properties that are more akin to ipecac than acid. That is to say, he’s more interested in purging and exposing the worst parts of reality than escaping from them.

Ahead of next month’s reunion with his landmark band At the Drive-In at the Coachella festival in Indio, Calif., the El Paso native headed to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, this week to unveil his latest film, “Los Chidos.” Speaking on the phone with Pop & Hiss, he says that the main objective of this dark comedy about a Mexican family destroyed by machismo, misogyny, classism and homophobic values was to help him heal and become a better person.

And, of course, making movies forces the often reclusive guitarist to get out of his house.

“Anytime I make a film, I have to go out and meet people, I have to go book a place to rehearse, I have to meet strangers,” Rodriguez Lopes said. “That’s therapy for me. Because I’m the type of person that would rather hide from what I perceive to be a very crazy world and just be at home with people that know me and understand me.”

The film premiered this week at SXSW and has already garnered some buzz for its fearless, forthright and gut-churning commentary on the destructiveness of the male ego and long-held social stereotypes within Latin culture.

“On the posters for the movie, we wrote, ‘If you don’t criticize your culture, you don’t love your mother.’ You say that to someone and they’re either on-board [with the film] or they’re not,” Rodriguez Lopez said.

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Los Angeles Times Feature: Big Sir talks about creating a new album in the face of illness

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Big Sir talks about creating new album in the face of illness

During 12 years of sonic partnership, vocalist Lisa Papineau and bassist Juan Alderete’s mesh of meditative lyrics, electro-inflected boom-bap and prog-jazz has combined fury and philosophy in a way that doesn’t have to shout to be heard.

Formed in 1999, their band, Big Sir, brought together the operatic tone of Alderete’s fretless bass with Papineau’s penchant for soulful restraint. On Feb. 7 the band released “Before Gardens, After Gardens,” their first album in six years, via Rodriguez Lopez / Sargent House.

Despite their positive outlook on an album over half a decade in the making, the inspiration it took to make it has taken a serious, very literal toll on their bodies.

Shortly after completing their previous album, “Und Die Scheiße Ändert Sich Immer” in 2006, Papinaeu and Alderete were both diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Alderete was found to have polycythemia vera, a rare bone marrow disease that makes the body produce too many red blood cells, while Papineau discovered she had multiple sclerosis. And just three weeks before the release of the album, heavily steeped in reflections on life and death, Papineau was also diagnosed with cancer.

Despite their health obstacles, both have been incessantly busy with projects ranging from Alderete’s work as the bassist for The Mars Volta to Papineau’s solo career and collaborations with artists like Air and M83 and ME & LP with Matt Embree of RX Bandits. But even with so many other projects to occupy their time, both admit that their shared sense of humor, affinity for bass and West Coast gangsta rap creates a bond that keeps them together.

Ahead of Big Sir’s gig at Harvelle’s in Long Beach on Monday, Papineau and Alderete spoke to Pop & Hiss about crafting their new album and facing mortality head-on.

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LA Times Pop & Hiss’ Todd Martens Top Albums of 2011 And At #1 Is Le Butcherettes

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Teri 'Gender Bender' Suarez of Le Butcherettes

On May 10, the No. 1 act on this list officially released its new album. Not a day has gone by since when I didn’t listen to at least one song from that CD.That made picking a favorite release in 2011 a rather easy task, but what follows are 14 other albums I still can’t wait to hear again. There will be no extended essay or grand cultural commentary here, just some artists I hope some may believe are worth exploring.

No. 1. Le Butcherettes, ”Sin Sin Sin” (Rodriguez Lopez / Sargent House): Everything about this album screams now. Based in Los Angeles and formed in Mexico, this band delivers current-events hard rock that defies genre borders, and it’s led with fearless bravado by Teri “Gender Bender” Suarez. Whether it’s dead authors, poverty or social injustice, Le Butcherettes vamp, rant and howl, a reminder that only rock ‘n’ roll can have this much fun tackling big ideas. - Todd Martens

Click to See his full List

Henry Rollins Picks Le Butcherettes & Boris in his Personal Playlist for LA Times

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If there’s any musician with a passion for potent playlists, it’s Henry Rollins. As a Saturday-evening DJ on KCRW-FM (89.9), you could say the former Black Flag frontman depends on them. His aggressively eclectic tastes range from iconic jazzmen to obscure Japanese acts. The gregarious punk legend shared some of his recent favorites with Pop & Hiss.

The bilingual punk band Le Butcherettes and their record “Sin Sin Sin”: “It’s a great record, but live, forget about it. [Frontwoman] Teri Gender Bender is a full-on rock star … in a good way. I saw her open for Iggy the other night and she just owned it up there. It’s great to have such raw talent happening right here in L.A. So I try to amplify anything like that.”

Japan’s Boris and “New Album”:Boris is one of my favorite bands but they make it really difficult to collect them. It’s fun but it’s expensive. They’ll do like three versions of all of their albums. They did a version of the two albums mixed together called ‘The New Album’ and I think it had a few songs from ‘Heavy Rocks’ and a few from ‘Attention Please.’ Remixed and reinvented, it’s completely amazing and completely worth it.”

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LA TIMES / Le Butcherettes let it all out in Chicago

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L.A.-based trio Le Butcherettes has had something of a coming out party in Chicago. Though Pop & Hiss was forced to piece together the act’s Lollapalooza set via YouTube clips, the excitement and ferocity of the hard rock trio could still be felt through these trusty-ol’ tinny desktop speakers at our downtown HQ. 

Teri “Gender Bender” Suaréz was in fine form, and even in the two-and-a-half-minute clip below, she’s a force that demands attention. Her voice is a dexterous thing, as she knows how to shade a yell with hints of scorn, sarcasm, slyness or whatever the moment calls for. Her rhythm section does plenty of heavy lifting as well, opening up the floor to let Suaréz bounce, run and level all sorts of abuse on her guitar. Before all is said and done, she punctuates the set to a close with a monstrous howl and topples onto a photographer.

At the start of the below video, you’ll notice Suaréz has a little fun with drummer Gabe Serbian. “Puke all the time,” she sings as she looks his way. Serbian had reportedly vomited off the stage more than once during the set, and though this clip appears to be vomit-free, Serbian clearly didn’t let an upset stomach slow him down.

Perhaps he was suffering exhaustion from the Chicago heat, or maybe he just had marriage jitters? After the Lollapalooza set, Serbian flew back to L.A. to celebrate his union with Dum Dum Girl  bassist Bambi Davies. 

Todd Martens

Photo: Le Butcherettes at Lollapalooza in Chicago on Friday. Credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

LA Times / RX Bandits take a bow at final L.A. show at the Glass House

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RX Bandits finish their final L.A. show at the Glasshouse

The Glasshouse in Pomona has long felt like a home base for the progressive ska sounds of the RX Bandits. Crowded in a thicket of floppy-haired, bearded twenty-somethings, the swelling chants of “RXB! RXB! RXB!” on Saturday night were loud enough to drown out the thought that this would in fact be the second to last show of the band’s farewell tour, following 16 years, six studio albums and endless rounds of touring. This last L.A. County show came on the heels of a previous night at the Mayan Theater on Thursday.

Emerging from darkness and manning their respective battle stations with a hired horn section in toe, the sputtering drum line of “In Her Drawer” from their 2006 album “…And the Battle Begun" caused an irreversible seismic shift in the pit. Molten with excitement, testosterone and flailing dance moves, hordes of front row fans compressed into a cluster of whirling energy silhouetted by the glow of flashing stage lights. Off to the side, shards of brass from guest saxophonists added the kerosene, revitalizing the band’s sound after the departure of saxophonist Steve Borth and trombonist Chris Sheets in recent years.

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LA TIMES/Coachella 2011: Striking a pose with Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group

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No matter which psychedelic collective Omar Rodriguez-Lopez finds himself in, they all contain a few essential elements: blistering jams, howling Spanglish and spine-bending dance moves. It certainly seemed to be the case during their 45-minute sonic tirade at the Gobi Tent. Joined by vocalist Cedric Bixler Zavala, the founders of the Mars Volta ignited Coachella fans with a barrage of heart-pounding prog rock. The spindly, clean-cut Zavala went all theatrical on the crowd during jams like “Broken English.”

Reptilian poses and creepy jazz-hand gestures added a spark of eccentricity to the big rhythms and Lopez’s rapid-fire arpeggios. Whether he was attempting an ankle-breaking James Brown pose or attempting to swallow his microphone (hands-free), the nimble frontman made certain that his presence was broadcast load and clear.

Lopez’s strained facial expressions matched his bent guitar notes during sprawling solos. Bassist Juan Alderete looked permanently spaced out, and Lopez’s brother Marcel maintained a shaggy-haired zen as he plodded along on synth with stoic sound manipulator Lars Stalfors. Then there was drummer Deantoni Parks' face, plastered with a gangsta grimace. If nothing else, those unable able to hear the sound too clearly from the back got the gist of their passion from the body language blaring on the big screens near the stage.

Los Angeles Times Show Pick - Le Butcherettes

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Mike Watt and Le Butcherettes @ the Echo
It might be blasmphemous in this town to write about the support act rather than garage rock legend Mike Watt, but let’s face it: Watt’s a regular, and we are, to be sure, lucky to have him. But perhaps just as exciting is the opportunity to catch Mexican punk rockers Le Butcherettes before everyone falls in love with the act at the South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas, next week. There’s some performance art in a Le Butcherettes gig, but leader Teri Gender Bender doesn’t need many, if any, adornments. She has a striking snarl, one that lashes its way around the rhythm like a whip in “Dress Off” and one that reaches spine-wringing heights in “Bang.” Don’t be alarmed Americans, it’s only U.S. foreign policy she’s giving a lashing when she shouts, “You love me / You love me / And now you want to kill me.” The Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd. Tickets are $12 at the door. — TM 

LA Times 12 LA Indie Labels You Should Know

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Twelve L.A. indie labels you should know: a primer 

by: Chris Martins 

A consensus seems to be growing that Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance for independent music. In a recent Sunday feature, we set out to discover just how it is that while the major labels continue to suffer layoffs and severe sales losses, this city’s scrappy, savvy, taste-driven indie imprints have, in fact, been thriving. As a corollary to that, we’ve spoken to and profiled 12 of L.A.’s most active young labels, from artist-owned black metal powerhouse Southern Lord to chart-climbing indie rock outlet Danger Bird to progressive hip-hop imprint Anticon. Here’s hoping they’ll all end up in a GZA song some day.

Sargent House (Echo Park) 
Longtime talent manager Cathy Pellow started Sargent House in 2006 with one artist: Seal Beach prog-punk band Rx Bandits, who were ready to call it quits after selling around 150,000 records through MCA/Geffen and, according to Pellow, “never seeing a penny.” Today, her stable comprises “a middle class of awesome musicians,” also proggily inclined, able to live off their earnings. She also manages a sister label co-run by the Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez. 

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