Meet the Butcher Babies!
I try to never make an interview article about myself, but I had to mention just how I discovered Heidi Shepherd, Carla Harvey and their kick ass metal band, Butcher Babies.
Last August, I was in the pit at the Mayhem Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY. I was waiting to see Children of Bodom, but there was one other act scheduled before Alexi Laiho and his Finnish brethren took the stage. A group called Butcher Babies. Fronted by two incredibly beautiful and awesomely aggressive ladies, Butcher Babies absolutely slayed the crowd in Saratoga and I knew I had to catch up with this band and interview them as the Dread Central readership would certainly fall in love with them as I did.
Although I wasn’t able to coordinate a meeting at Rock and Shock 2013 where the band played, I was finally able to catch up with the two lead singers of the band after they blew the doors off the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY in support of Down and Black Label Society recently. So finally, nine months after they originally rocked my world, I give you Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey (representing their fellow bandmates, Chris Warner, Henry Flury and Jason Klein) of the Butcher Babies!
The stage presence of both Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd is amazing and the duo have such incredibly explosive energy onstage, one has to wonder where it comes from. “I think we’ve all had it inside ourselves since we were kids,” Harvey said. “We all grew up as metalheads, so that’s a huge thing. When you grow up as a metalhead and you grow up in the pit and you grow up going to rock shows, how else are you going to behave onstage? We’re not going to stand there. We feel the music. So as soon as we get up there, we go crazy.”
Heidi Shepherd added, “As Carla said, we were kids that grew up in the pit and the second we heard that music, we raged. That was our outlet to let everything out and it’s still that to this day. I like to blame it on the fact that I was a really angry teenager and I still have that inside of me. I could see myself at 11 or 12 years old as an angry kid, sitting in my closet, writing swear words on the wall. So, for me, it’s that anger and that energy as a teenager that has guided me through my adulthood.”
Harvey and Shepherd also credit other factors to their energetic onstage personas. “Writing our record was a very cathartic experience, getting those emotions out,” Harvey said. “And now we can live it out in kind of a safe manner. We can be as crazy as we want, but when we’re onstage, we’re letting it go in a safe way.”
“Plus we’re a bunch of party animals,” Shepherd said. “We like to have fun and the whole band is that way. So when we get up there, we can’t help but jump around and party with our best friends.”
For a band who’s first album dropped last year, the Butcher Babies have had the incredibly rare opportunity to play in front of tremendously large audiences. Shepherd and Harvey spoke on the experience. “We know how lucky we are,” Shepherd said. “We’ve worked our asses off. Carla and I have been working together for seven years. This band has been together for four and a half years. We’ve worked really hard over the past couple years. We still are newbies, but we’ve been very lucky to share the stage with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Korn… For us, it’s a huge dream come true. Sitting in your room as that 11 or 12 year old kid envisioning you’re the singer of your favorite band, and for me that was Korn or Slipknot…”
“For me that was Pantera,” Harvey said. “I would sit in my room and draw comics and listen to Phil Anselmo scream. I wanted to be Phil, and now we get to tour with him. It’s a really, really cool experience.”
“It’s really nothing you can describe,” Shepherd said. “The oddest sense of accomplishment because you don’t want to let every day pass by. You want to take full advantage of every single day. Like tonight, we’ll be at the soundbooth watching Down as we will be for every night on this tour because this is something that we’ve been looking forward to our entire lives. Carla and I, when we worked with Marilyn Manson, stood at the soundbooth every night. Carla said to me, about Manson, ‘This is one of the last true rock stars of our time.’ And for our names to be attached to that is indescribable. We definitely don’t take that for granted.”
Harvey added, “We didn’t get this when we were 20 years old. None of us are kids so we realize how lucky we are to have this and to still be doing it. We’ll never take that for granted.”
With one killer album under their belts, Butcher Babies will soon be turning their attention away from their seemingly endless tour schedule and begin working on album number two. “We’ve been really busy touring, but we’ve been getting writing sessions in here and there,” Harvey said. “We’re taking the whole summer off to write our next album because it’s that important to us.”
“With the success of the first album, the second album means more, in our eyes,” Shepherd said. “This is an exciting time, but also a very scary time for the band because your sophomore album can make or break your career. So we want to take all the time in the world, fall off the map for a little while and write a really good, honest record. And by honest, I mean honest in the sense that we’re not going to conform to what’s popular right now. We never have. We have so many people who say, ‘You guys are girls. You should not be screaming, you should be singing.’ You should do this and you should do that. And what we want to do is push all that away and put ourselves into our project and that’s what I mean by honest.”
And speaking of the tour schedule, Harvey and Shepherd spoke about life on the road. “We’ve done a couple of tours. We did Danzig after Mayhem and then we did In This Moment and then we did Europe,” Harvey said. “So we’ve been home a couple months, maybe, in all that time. It’s rough, but it’s the best time of our lives. We get to share it with our best friends. We love being onstage.”
“It’s funny when you think about living out of a suitcase,” Shepherd said. “When we put our bags right here on these seats and we live out of them day to day, some people would look at that like ‘Oh my god, you live out of a suitcase. That must be terrible.’ For us, this is our lives. I have everything I treasure right in that suitcase and in this RV and for us, this is where we know we belong. So if we’re on tour, we’re happy.”
A successful album, endless tour dates and adoring fans have all come the way of the Butcher Babies, a creation not of a corporation, but of five lovers of music. “All of us have been in bands prior to this,” Shepherd said. “What musician hasn’t been in a band prior to the successful one? You have to fail to win. Carla and I did in a band before this. In all honesty, all of us came from other projects and formed something original and fought our way to the top. We used to practice in Chris’ (drummer Chris Warner) garage. We were a garage band. I want to clear the slate, sometimes people think some manager put us together…got some really great musicians together with some girls, that’s a common misconception. This is actually a brainchild of all of us in the band.”
And the common thread that ties the Butcher Babies together with the Dread Central readership? Of course it’s the horror. “We’re all horror fans,” Harvey said. “We kind of started off like horror rock because we used a lot of blood, so people associated that with us being a horror rock band.”
“It’s really hard to shower off, though. It’s really hard to tour and be covered in blood all the time,” Shepherd joked.
“We used to have torsos and decapitated heads that we got from real movie sets on our stage,” Harvey said. “But we’ve kinda toned it down a bit because we want people to see us, who we are as musicians and people on stage and not just the blood and gore.”
“But we’re still horror fanatics,” Shepherd added. “If we have an off day…our off day the other day consisted of seeing Oculus (which Heidi recommends!) and for us, we’ll sit around and talk about different things horror-based. Tomorrow we’re going to that museum…”
“We’re hoping to go to the Mütter Museum in Philly,” Harvey explained. “It’s a museum that has all these cool medical oddities in it, like the famous double-headed fetus skeleton. It has just a ton of weird medical shit. I’ve never been there, but I’ve been dying to go for years and we’re finally getting a chance to go.”
“We’re really looking forward to doing that,” Shepherd added about the Mütter Museum. “For us, everything we do is more horror-based. We write about the things that scare us. Our stage antics as of late are not as horror-based, but the things we write are horror-based. We have a song off our album called The Grim Sleeper about serial killer Lonnie Franklin in Los Angeles and the whole song, we really dove into this story and we wanted to feel what it would be like to be the killer and the victim. Also another song we have, called The Werewolf of Wisteria (on the Japanese version of the album), that’s about Albert Fish in the 20’s who would take the babies and eat them and write a letter to the parents. We really like to dive into horrific stories.”
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