The Mexican-American punk group Le Butcherettes have a right to question where they come from. Teri Gender Bender, the band’s 25-year-old vocalist/guitarist/pianist, recently moved to Texas from Guadalajara, Mexico, a city where she frequently came face-to-face with violence, corruption, and other time-honored foes of the punk ethos. In the past, Gender Bender and Le Butcherettes have lashed out against the stains of their upbringing with loud guitars and furious, cathartic shouts — the kind that instantly draw comparisons to Karen O and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill.
On their latest single, however, the group allows themselves to sound vulnerable for a change. “My Mother Holds My Only Life Line” is a quiet, desperate coming-to-terms that strips away the distortion and amplifies the discomfort. If the song has a story, it’s one of anxiety and vague abandonment. Le Butcherettes have always been critical of where they come from, but rarely have they sounded so afraid of it.
“My Mother Holds My Only Life Line” marks Le Butcherettes’ first new material since their third full-length album, 2015’s A Raw Youth. The single will be available on all digital streaming outlets on May 6th; listen in below.
Consequence of Sound also had the chance to ask Teri Gender Bender about the deep inspiration behind the song, how it differs from the rest of the band’s catalog, and when we might get more music. Check out our Q&A below.
What was the genesis behind “My Mother Holds My Only Life Line”? What inspired its creation and what sort of themes are you tackling in it?
Since I was a very young girl I have been having the same reoccurring dream at least one time every 27 days. It still eats at me until this day. But it is not just me, it’s in the family. We are all cursed with the same blood. This blood comes from thousands of years ago. Sins of the past pave ways for our comforting sickness of this very present.
I am in a bed covered in tangled balls of yarn and I am trying to undo all the knots but at first I am hysterical and can’t seem to get very far… So much disorder and chaos yet I have only one mind and two hands… Feeling so alone. Choosing to feel alone?
Suddenly my mother’s voice… Soft yet vibrating through the walls. Her calming and [intoxicating] whispers blending within the yarn.
My hands are warm and cease to be cold bones and before I know it she is guiding me and I am almost free of knots until the roof of the room starts raining hair. I wake up.
Never seeking out any immediate help with a professional therapist (ever) or too afraid to open up and tell someone until now… Shame.
Writing a series of songs about this dream has kept me from going insane. I managed the to grow a pair of balls and share this song in hopes of stopping the dream. Maybe someone out there has the same dream. I don’t know anymore.
The process of years of trying to understand why the episode kept happening was frozen in the air. What was it? Denial and fear of understanding? Fear of what? What is going on? Is it directly linked to my relationship with my mother? Who is she? Why does she constantly change colors?
My mother is a very interesting and fascinating person. She has made me suffer intensely yet has fed me with intensity and Magic. I am barely coming to terms with this. She suffers and now it is my job to suffer … But to suffer LESS. Undo the knots in real life. I suspect the knots are connected to my mother’s silhouette, her silhouette has been tainted by bad disconnected wires, electrical phantoms and suffocating.
We live in a modern society in the United States where we don’t seem to understand or even want to care about the soul anymore. You mention dreams and people write you off as a spacious cookie dough eater.
The track is considerably sparse for a Le Butcherettes song, without a lot of the punk teeth that makes up so much of your catalog. Why did you decide to go with this sort of more art-rock, stripped-down direction here?
This song is in no way pretending to even imitate other sounds that pertain to different parts of my brain. It’s stripped and bare because this song is a poem with a measly melody trying to free itself of the Suffocating thing that follows me around. It was decided for me.
Can you talk about the recording process for this song in particular? Considering how different it is from, say, A Raw Youth, I’m curious if there was a different approach in studio.
I was in El Dorado Studios in the B Room. We were in working on some other tracks (for Bosnian Rainbows) and it just so happened that the night before that damn dream appeared again and I had gone all day without food. I was moneyless and prideful, didn’t want to ask anyone anything so I recorded this song in between tracks. I ended up loving the result of how exposed and ghostly it felt. If I try and re-record this song later it won’t have the same soul. Sometimes soul is killed, sometimes soul travels well… But, this is hard to recapture. It’s stuck here to be laughed at. But hopefully it can resonate with someone that feels that undying connection no matter how sinister between themselves and their mother.
Being a Mexican band and this song being about, as it says in the description, being “at your most vulnerable when your roots have been torn away,” it’s hard not to try and tie “My Mother Holds My Only Life Line” in the context of the current US political climate. Is this something you’d want listeners to embrace or caution them against? Why or why not?
As mentioned before… It goes beyond the political and climate situation …. This about a matter that is also in extinction: the spirit, the soul… It is being drowned out by our sins. Our history is here to be seen and we ignore it as a whole. I think this dream / song was a sign from who knows what (subconscious?) telling me to look inward.
As this song is going to be premiered by the incredibly supportive CoS I am making progress with my mother yet I miss her terribly and I feel empty now so I must fill this void with books and music… And yes… Hope for more life changing dreams and nightmares.
A Raw Youth only came out a few months ago, but you’re already releasing new material like this. Are you working on more songs, and possibly a follow-up to A Raw Youth already? What can fans expect release-wise in the near future?
So much old and new material is in the closet of hard drives and new ideas. I say to people to never expect any of sound in particular….. Yet, I have to admit that it’s impossible to not have any preconceived expectations … So I don’t know. Then again, not many people know this project so being an unknown can grant so much Liberty because there is nothing to lose.
Sorry for sounding like a fool. I am just very passionate and I refuse to die young. Ja!