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.”