The term “supergroup” is an overused one, but when it comes to Crystal Fairy, their lineup deserves the moniker. It includes Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover from the Melvins, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez from At The Drive In/Mars Volta and Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. Gender Bender gives us the scoop on how the band got together, their self-titled debut album, tour plans, her other projects and more.
Chad Bowar: How did the band form?
Teri Gender Bender: Buzz had seen Le Butcherettes (my band) at the Roxy, opening up for Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School of Medicine. Since then he asked us to tour with them. The first time we toured together we all got along great. From then on we toured together fairy often, resulting in them having me sing on stage with them to close out their set with “Rebel Girl” (Bikini Kill). After we all got home from tour, we’d hang out and go to the movies with the family. They are really down to earth people that are crazy about art, music, baseball and their families. I can relate to them.
You’ve known and worked with Omar for a long time. When did you first meet Buzz and Dale?
I met them in 2014. The first time I met them face to face was on our first show together (on their tour that they invited us on), which was in Bellingham, Washington. It was their third show into the tour. We flew in directly to start with them from a run of shows in Mexico.
Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled debut.
To be honest I feel a bit self conscious about describing the process because if you’re an outsider that wasn’t involved in it I’m afraid it would bore them to tears. For us it was exciting, getting to record both in Los Angeles and in El Paso. Buzz and Dale drove out, I cleaned the guest house up for them despite us not having much furniture. We would present ideas to each other. Sometimes I would sleep in and wake up and Dale and Buzz would have finished recording two songs so I would write lyrics and melodies to that and then Omar would write bass parts to it, sometimes we would all write to each other and stitch pieces up to it. It was nice and easy going. Just the way we all like it.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the record?
I have instantaneous and reoccurring glimpses of laughter and feeling good when I would watch Buzz, Omar and Dale play while tracking Dale’s drums.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Powerful, angry, elegant, rough with comedic elements in some of the lyrics as well. It’s fairly important to balance the serious with the comedic. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
What inspired your lyrics?
Everything and nothing, from my chaotic upbringing, fascination with Aztec history, literature, to the unexpected death of my father has been an ongoing source of inspiration. The search for the self was a constant theme at the beginning of my overall work, but this had led me back at the starting line of the circle where now the life and strengths of my father are what keep my hand doing all the story telling,… I don’t know, of a search for closure. I think every member in the band has a lot inside going on that even we are not aware of and that is inspiring to the core within itself.
What are your expectations for the album?
I am just happy that this album exists, if we live in a perfect world perhaps this album would be heard everywhere, but we do not live in a perfect world so I would hope that at least it gets appreciated in the small groups of eclectic weirdos (aka our kind of people).
You have a handful of dates scheduled for February. Will your schedules allow for additional touring this year?
I do hope so! We are all going to make it work one way or another. This is a very special project for all of us involved…. well, I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s very special for me.
Will the setlist be only Crystal Fairy material, or will you add in songs from your other bands or covers?
You will have to wait and find out! Don’t wanna ruin the surprise, I’ll leave that up to Buzz!
What’s the status of the next Le Butcherettes album?
Currently writing and going through a lot of demos to pick out for an album. So in short, me, Riko and Ale have recorded some demos and I’m wrapping my brains around them now to start the selection of songs for the LP. Boring stuff, nothing exciting, but I’m fucking happy and it’s exciting in my world.
Will there be another Bosnian Rainbows album?
Yes, there will be. We are all just waiting for a just time to put it out since everyone in the band really wants to tour the next new album but if you guys really wanna hear it, I heard it leaked, which essentially made me sad but also very grateful that someone put that much energy into leaking it into cyber space… oh well!
What is your personal reaction to a Trump presidency, and what do you think his effect on music will be?
I think the question is not what will his effect have on music… but what effect will political correctness have on the arts? My reaction to a Trump presidency? I was actually pretty surprised that he won. But…nothing new here, history will always have it’s villains and it’s rebels, and as time passes people will forget about them and replace them with new villains and rebels… for all we know, we are holograms and God is having a laugh.
Seriously though, I’m Mexican as well which means, If you put it into perspective, my (other) president is Enrique Peña Nieto. Comparing the two to each other makes me appreciate Trump. Think about that. The world will continue (with or without us). It will be okay.
And when things do start to get harder, as they have before in human history, we will do what we were born to do, keep eating, keep copulating and keep on laughing. Humanity will always find a way to overcome… not the Trump thing…or the political thing, but a way to over come their own demons… which will be on going for our entire existence. There is some raw beauty to this that I admire. And if we end up hating life so much we can always kill ourselves.
Like Louis C.K says, “It’s not your life, IT’S LIFE. Life is bigger than you. Life isn’t something that you posses, it’s something that you take part in and you witness.”
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Mogollar. An amazing Turkish band from the ’60s.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I recommend reading Guillermo Arriaga’s newest book, El Salvaje. I am not exaggerating when I say this but it is my favorite book in the whole world. I think it will be translated into English (and into hundreds of diverse languages) very soon.
(interview published February 23, 2017)