THE BUTCHER BABIES
Interview by Barbarann Kym
Touring with shock rocker Marilyn Mason, Butcher Babies made their way to the Pacific Northwest to be greeted by the ever so cliché (and mostly accurate) atmosphere on 2/12/13. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s Seattle and a large group of some very colorful individuals are lined up in front of the Showbox SoDo, most of which are completely oblivious that there is a bomb within the quaint trailer parked just a few feet away. A heart-stopping, face-melting bomb that is going to detonate before their eyes, on stage. Butcher Babies are not to be underestimated. Seeing their live show is an absolute raw explosion.
Entering their trailer, my much anticipated opportunity to sit down with front women Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd for an interview, finally commences .
What is your take on being criticized by many for being fake or being commercially loose with no talent maybe based off of the “fact “ that you perform almost completely nude?
Carla: Well, actually, we DON”T perform completely nude [laughs] or anything near completely nude, as you will see tonight, and, as far as judgement, or people not liking us, usually that is founded on Youtube videos which sounds pretty crappy no matter what artist you’re watching
Heidi: I mean, you can go to any concert, [it] doesn’t matter what the sound or anything; [attend a] Marilyn Manson show [and] record it on your shitty phone. Yeah, it is going to come out sounding bad.
Carla: Usually after a live show people leave with a different impression; They come up to our merch table afterwards and say,“I can’t believe how great you are and how well you did” and they are totally blown away new fans, and they can say whatever they want beforehand but if we can convert people at the show, that is ideal and we love that..
Heidi : We don’t really read a lot of the stuff; we don’t read any comments and hardly any reveiws because I know that, and we all know that people are very judgemental, all stuck in that high school age. The stereotypes you had in high school, they carry over into your adult-life. Some people never grow out of that, and people feel really strong behind a keyboard. I don’t care, I feel really strong on stage.
Carla: I think men, even some women, will always fear strong women and obviously Heidi and I are very strong women and people are going to judge. Like she said, we don’t really view the comments anyways; [It] doesn’t really matter.
Heidi: The strong woman thing… I like how she said that. A lot of people think that women don’t belong in metal bands or in anything alternative; we have to do certain things and be in a kitchen. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “why isn’t she in a kitchen?”
Nice girls don’t rock and roll, ya know! [laughs]
Heidi : YEAH! [laughs] and that’s the thing. We’ve always-
Carla and I both have always done a lot. A lot of men and some women are afraid of girls with power.
Heidi : I don’t view it as sex appeal, I view it as image and I don’t know any band who hasn’t- you know, they have great music and a shitty image and they don’t do well. If you can have a combination of both- that’s something we have really been able to hone in on, a combination of both. And one thing, we have the EP out and once the new album comes out in full, don’t think everyone’s going to love that kind of music because some people don’t like metal. That’s fine but I have full confidence that everyone will see the real talent.
Carla: Obviously a female mammary is different than a man’s, but it is the same thing in that they are out there using their sex appeal to sell records. So, it is a common thing- everybody does it.
It is a double standard that a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers can perform on stage wearing nothing but a tube sock covering their junk and THAT is completely okay.
Carla: The word “fake” for me- that word is a very tender subject cause Heidi and I are the most real girls that I know; we are exactly who we are and we’ve never changed for anybody or anything.
Heidi: It’s funny because we have very few girlfriends and I am sure a lot of girls can relate to that because especially in Los Angeles- talk about fake people! We are in the haven of it and we actually found each other and we found two girls alike who (singing) “fell in love in a hopeless place.” [laughs]
Heidi: I am not going to go out there and not be who I am and that’s why I don’t care about, you know, my big blonde hair and I’m not going to dress like a metal girl just because. I am going to go out and be the blonde cheerleader that I have always been and do something I love, A.K.A. “metal.”
Good for you! Absolutely! I think people can’t embrace something that they fear and they fear strong women and they don’t like the idea that somebody is doing something in a male driven industry… like, “how dare she be proud of her body and her vocal skills and be metal and be a pretty girl!” If it is uncommon it “must be bad.”
Heidi: Right? And you know I think a lot of people are afraid of something they don’t understand; I don’t expect everyone to understand. If [they] can’t open up [their] minds enough to understand, then I feel really bad for them.
Do you see Butcher Babies as a rebirth in Shock Rock?
Heidi: No, I don’t think it’s a rebirth of anything; I think that it’s something that every act has in them but some people just don’t portray it. We are not reinventing the wheel and we know that, but, we are on tour right now with one of the most legendary Shock Rock bands in the world (Marilyn Manson) and I don’t think that we have done any sort of rebirth, I think that all we’re doing is just playing a show.
Carla: We are wanting to keep that torch going.
Heidi: Like the Olympics!Carla: We are just doing what we do and I don’t think that I could perform any different way, so I think it’s just who we are and what we do.
Heidi: I think, (our entire image aside), our persona on stage and the way that we handle ourselves on stage, to me, that’s what is shocking; to me, that is what makes a show. I have not seen many bands in years go balls-to-the-wall, so, when we created this that was all we really could do. If we wanted to be something that is different from right now, lets go all out every single show. We don’t stand in one place; organized chaos is how I like to say it.
Carla : As a fan of music, I miss the times when I was a kid and I would go see Marilyn Manson play a show and I was completely in awe of the rock star that he was on stage. Then, you know, in L.A, or we watch other bands and they are up there with their guitars, but they are not rock stars anymore; they are not icons anymore.
Heidi: I can go to a coffee shop and watch somebody’s band there and play guitar and not pay money to go to a concert; I want to see it and I want a show… a rock show.
Carla: All different sensory levels and I want to go home and I want to talk about it and tell all my friends the next day about how amazing it was and how inspiring it was. I haven’t been inspired by an act in a long time.
Heidi: The last big one for me was Slipknot, and they’ve still got it. Every single show they play is all out craziness and that is a huge inspiration to me! If you wanna talk about Shock Rock or Shock Metal, or whatever, that right there and the way that they handle themselves on stage… that’s amazing.
What was origin of the name Butcher Babies?And have you changed your band name before?
Carla:We have been the Butcher Babies from the start and Heidi and I used to be in a punk rock cover band and we are both huge Wendy O. Williams fans and we used to cover the song ‘The Butcher Babies’ and we just thought it would be a cool name. [It was] also because we used to wear capes and everything was an ode to Wendy O. Williams and it’s funny now. Some people who hear the name [that] don’t know who Wendy O’ Williams was are like, “what is that ?” Butcher Babies? Abortion clinic? Do you all butcher babies? What do you do?” I think the best band names are like that. Every iconic band name, even like “Guns and Roses,” for instance, when you isolate it, you’re like, “that’s weird! ‘Guns and Roses’?’ But it just becomes this iconic name . I feel like our name is like that.
What has it been like being thrown into the whole scene coming from Detroit.
Carla: I was in Detroit as a kid. I always knew I wanted to live in L.A ever since I was very very young, so as soon as I could I moved there and Detroit is not a small town, it is a very hard city, so, as far as moving to Los Angeles I don’t think I had any sense of naiveté. I grew up with a chip on my shoulder, so I didn’t have that, but I love L.A. Growing up in the mid-west you have certain values [and] I think you just don’t have that sense of, I don’t know the right word. People in L.A. are very like “what can you do for me?” or “what can I get out of this person?” and I think if you grow up elsewhere and take your dreams there, you can do fine, but if you grew up there and get too wrapped up in the L.A. scene, I think that it always goes bad, but i have always been able to remain true to who I am and what I am and that’s why I’ve survived In LA.Heidi: I am from Utah and I grew up Mormon and everything- that whole spiel… very religious. For me it wasn’t that much of a difference going to Los Angeles [as long as] you keep your head on strait. If you go there and allow the place to chew you up and spit you out then that’s where it’s good to have a thicker skin. We have had to have thick skin in everything we have ever done. It wasn’t that crazy to transition [and it was the] same with Carla. I always knew there was something different for me than Utah- something else out there- something bigger [and] Los Angeles happened to be it. The move, then the evolution finally happened; I feel like it was an easy transition.
We touched on this a bit earlier, but what are your biggest influences in music?
Heidi : We all have difference influences, which is great about us. Once we combine those influences, it creates a unique sound. We agree on Slipknot, Pantera…
Carla: Wendy O Williams… but I think that Slipknot and Pantera are probably the two that we agree on the most; Lamb of God too.
What are your favorite types of horror movies?
Carla: I like the old stuff; I like the grainy texture of old horror movies and the kind of muted colors. Rob Zombie does a great job of bringing back that vintage look. I love stuff like, everyone knows that my favorite horror is ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ I have always liked things that are more psychological or kinda based on people who just go nuts. I am not really into the gory stuff. I was a mortician and I have seen the goriest things you can imagine so I am not really into, like, ‘Hostel’ stuff; I like things that are mentally scary.
Heidi: For me, I love the paranormal.
Carla, a licensed mortician? Tell me more about that.
Carla: I have always been fascinated by death since I was a kid. I went to art school years ago and it was a very easy transition from art to being a mortician You’re basically rebuilding faces and stuff like that so it is an art form in itself. I have always been fascinated with death. I used to work for Playboy. I left Playboy and I said “you know what? I am going to take a break from all this and do what I have always wanted to do… go to Mortuary school! So I did it and I worked for a couple of years in that field and I loved it. Hopefully I will go back to it one day. I love helping people; I think that dealing with death you have to have a certain kind of empathy that most people don’t have . I think it is a gift that I have and I think that if you have a gift like that you should share it.
What are your favorite kinds of shows or venues to play?
Heidi: Playing in Canada! That was incredible! [It was] just big open floors full of people [and] stands on the side full of people and in the back; I love that. Then again, there are some things amazing about smaller venues such as this one we are playing tonight (The Showbox SODO, Seattle) that really brings that punk rock vibe. [It’s a] very intimate show where we get to be up close and personal with everyone. Usually at the end of our shows we would jump down and get into the crowd anyways so it’s neat both ways.
Carla: Seating, that’s awkward. There were a couple [theaters] in Canada with assigned seating and we are a metal show and it feels like we are at the zoo.
Heidi: It felt like a big fat pep rally.
You have been nonstop promoting and touring for over a year, how has that adjustment been and is it harder than you expected it to be?
Heidi: I think it was something that we were all very excited to do and the adjustment has not really been that hard; I think the hardest thing is missing family members. Carla is married and Jason has a child. I miss actual work and especially the L.A. lifestyle. NOPE. This is what we want to do; this is really incredible.
Carla: and I think [that] when you’re on stage fortyfive minutes every night, no matter what kind of feeling you have had during the day, that forty-five minutes on stage and interacting with your fans afterwards heals the day’s wounds.
Heidi: It’s like an injection.
Carla: It keeps you going.
How do you spend your time off? How do you rejuvenate and relax?
Carla: The gym for me; I love going to the gym.
Heidi: I usually work out at home. If we get an extended amount of time off I try to take a little vacation. I know this seems like a vacation but it’s not; this is work and I love to sleep. If I have a day off i will lay in bed all day[and] I will sleep.
Carla: I am so jealous that she can actually sleep because I cannot sleep on tour. I have the hardest time sleeping and she will be out all day. I have tried Melatonin and everything and nothing can make me sleep like Heidi! [laughs] She gave me one of her Melatonins the other night and I had the wildest dreams; I will never that shit again.
Heidi: For the past three weeks I have had the wildest dreams.
Carla: I had a dream the other night about egg salad sandwiches from subway.
Heidi: They have egg salad sandwiches from Subway in Canada!
Carla: So good!
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Carla: Being taken seriously.
Heidi: I would say that’s the biggest challenge. Our band works very well under pressure getting to know each other and getting to know each other’s personalities. Every single person works really hard at making every body happy, but also themselves happy, so I don’t think anything else has been really difficult for us, just being taken seriously. At the same time that’s also sort of a blessing because it makes us work harder.
Carla : The negative press that we have gotten has actually helped us become who we are by giving us so much attention. We weren’t being taken seriously! Then, when people actually see us, they are like “whoa! wait a second , they ARE a real metal band!”
I have always heard that bad press is better than no press and people might come just for the novelty of it… show up with rotten tomatoes in hand to throw at you while you’re on stage and then think “oh, never mind, I won’t be needing these after all.”
Heidi: ( laughing hysterically)
Carla: “Yes! exactly!
Heidi : I LOVE that! That’s so cute! “ I wont be needing these!”
Within a few hours of interview, Butcher Babies took the stage to give concert goers an unforgettable mind blowing performance. With sweat , fists, and “Hell Yeahs!“ thrown liberally ( Yep.. no tomatoes) after their set, fans were far from disappointed and wanting more. Good news is, you can expect to see Butcher Babies’ first full length (11 -track) album this summer, (late July ; release date TBA )
check out more at the Butcher Babies official site here
Interview by Barabarann Kym