Texas Terri Interview from Sonic Iguana
by Anita Jackson

I only heard of Texas Terri (real name, Terri Laird) three weeks ago. When I heard her new CD, Eat Shit, I was shocked. The songs weren’t pretty, and they were transparently simple. But I hadn’t heard music like this in years – true, naked, raw power. I pictured an uninhibited fireball of contradictory energy – raging sex appeal on the outside, brutal lyrics within, cut by a razor voice that turns guts inside out for all to see. A truckload of live reviews confirmed this. Audiences don’t go to watch, but to experience. Terri has been called “the female Iggy” so many times it’s practically her second name.

My admiration for her was sealed with this interview. While it’s practically required that a female artist have a neurotic, messed-up life, this wild woman with a compulsion to strip onstage was also one of the most together people, of either sex, I’ve met in the business. Here’s our uncensored chat about nudity, drugs, and surviving the L.A. scene.

Have you toured much?

Nah, we’re just starting to do that. We just got back from New York… five shows.

How did the New York audiences treat you?

Great! ‘Course we have that New York vibe, so everybody there was like, “cool!” We stayed with this band called the Toilet Boys.

Did you run into anybody?

I called the Dictators, Andy and Handsome Dick, and bugged the hell out of ‘em… They finally showed up the last night. They’d been recording all weekend. It was so cool! And was so flattered that we had done their song, Baby Let’s Twist. I didn’t even know they were there until after we played. I kept telling them that they had to sing it with me, that’s probably why they stayed in back! Bebe Buell came too!

You’re pretty old school…

I keep tellin’ people that I’m 30 so that’s what they think! You can only play for so many years until things fizzle out. But it’s good because I’m clean and sober, and have been for 8 years. People think I’m trashed, which is even better.

There’s not many people who can say that.

I’ve found that all the cool people are clean and sober. They’re the people who’re doing things.

Was it difficult, getting onstage again, without a drink?

Yeah, I was terrified! But everybody was telling me they could understand the words for the first time. When I got me band back together I had taken a two or three year break… If my brain starts tripping out, going “God, what’re they gonna think?” then I’m dead. But if I can remember that I’m up here for me, now there’s my 30 minutes and I’m gonna have a good time…

Your music is raw and honest – is that your therapy?

Oh, totally! That’s the only time I get to get away with who I really am. Most of the time I just try to be invisible, make life as easy as possible… So when I go onstage I vent it.

Do you still strip onstage?

Yeah… I really with I would stop. Every once in a while I won’t take off my bra… but I always make sure I have tape on my nipples in case I can’t stand it and have to pull off my shirt. It’s also become more of a rebellion because everyone says (mimics whiny voice) “You won’t get signed if you keep doing that!” I’m just like, fuck it! But now I think my favorite schtick is water on the head.

Like Flashdance?

Yeah, I’m a flashdancer! It just takes it to the next level and people seem to get so excited. I was just taking people’s drinks, pouring their beer or mixed drinks over my head. Then I had all these straws sticking in my hair, it was fun! I use Aquanet hairspray, and everytime I’d pour beer on my head, you know those Poprock you put in your mouth? That’s what it’s like. But I can’t use beer on my head anymore because the
Aquanet and the beer together would burn my eyes too much. But I like getting wet – it’s kind of erotic, pouring water all over your head and flingin’ it on the audience. But I really don’t wanna get known for the Wendy O Williams thing. I don’t know… It just gets so hot!

Were you like that as a kid? Always taking your clothes off?

It’s kind of weird, ‘cause I really don’t care. Sometimes my butt will get flabby – you know how girls worry about this? Or my stomach stickin’ out… Soooo many people are so concerned about what other people’s bodies look like that I’m just gonna show that it doesn’t really fuckin’ matter. Now these people are saying that I’m too skinny… With the stress of the band I don’t eat, but I’m gonna start gaining weight again and then everybody’s gonna comment on that. I’m not even a big deal yet, but people pay attention to all these little factors.

You should gain 50 pounds and keep doing it.

Really! Because to me the body is art, it’s about how you feel inside. I guess I just wanna show people, fuck the bodies! And they’re so easily amused, I guess that’s why I keep taking my shirt off. But once they start expecting it, then I don’t wanna do it.

How’d you meet the characters in your band?

I used the rhythm section from my old band, the Killer Crows, and got Lauren from Little Caesar. We called our bad Baby Bird, because baby birds never shut up and always want more. But then some guy in England showed up and ruined it for me, so it changed to the Stiff Ones. The first group of Baby Birds had other bands that were playing gigs, so they started canceling shows on me… The original guitar player and me are the only ones still around – that was 3 years ago. We went through rhythm section hell. It doesn’t even affect me anymore when one of ‘em quits.

They say you’re an institution in L.A.

Yeah, which is why it’s good to get outta town. I’ve been in the backyard too long here, but I’ve worked really hard and a lot of these people who would’ve never taken me seriously before are starting to. I’ve always known that there was a pot at the end of the rainbow and I’ve been getting it… in little, little increments. I’ve finally convinced them that my band’s bitchin’ and were worth coming out to see – in L.A. that’s a pretty big deal. Unless you have some sort of safe gimmick. What do you think of all these bands that are using smoke and lights and fire? A lot of ‘em, I wish their music was as good as their stage show. I went to see KISS’ Halloween show, and I was bored! I went to see Alice Cooper this year and I like his songs better, they just move me more. My band is really good, without that behind me I wouldn’t have a chance. It’s really cool that young girls look up to me. I hope I’ll be a good influence on them.

Do you have a lot of female fans?

Oh, tons!

Would you say that music is your replacement for drugs?

There really is no replacement for drugs and alcohol – they are what they are. But being onstage is a real mind-saver. Some nights you get higher than others. You said my record’s raw and honest, just being able to be raw and honest and have people get off on it… Yeah, that’s the ultimate high.

-- from Sonic Iquana #3

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