Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd
Of Butcher Babies
By: Gary Flinn
It is the Friday before Labor Day and I find myself driving from Atlanta to Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama, for another chance to interview Carla and Heidi of the Butcher Babies. I had last sat down with the ladies in Atlanta in October of 2014 and was definitely excited to have the opportunity for a follow-up. As I set out, I set my I-phone to shuffle with the Butcher Babies latest release, Take it Like a Man, front and center. I had already listened to the album in bits and pieces over the last few days and had watched the official streamed versions on Youtube, but this was my first “listen” to the album in its entirety. As the miles went by, I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the tracks and definitely found some favorites along the way. This new album is a showcase of the talents of all five members of the band, not just Heidi and Carla. There is a little bit of everything here, hard and heavy, power ballads, and everything in between. My first impression is that this album will be the one that brings Butcher Babies to the forefront in the months and years to come.
HHM: Take It Like a Man was released a couple of weeks ago. I have to tell you, I love it. I put it on shuffle and listened to it all the way over from Atlanta. How has the response been so far for you guys?
Carla: The same.
Heidi: Yeah, the same response.
Carla: We knew we had made a great album personally. We really loved what we had done on our own album and then the comments started rolling in from the fan base and people just seemed to really like the album. We are thrilled, obviously. Reviews, professional reviews have been good too, but what matters to us most is the fan response.
Heidi: You know; one thing that is really neat about this album that we have heard from a lot of people is the diversity. It’s a very diverse album. There’s something in it for everyone, so we are hoping that it will reach a wide spectrum of people. Plus it really showcases all of our different loves in metal. We are so proud of it.
HHM: It really does sound great. You kind of read my mind there. I was about to ask you about the diversity of the songs.
HHM: I was reading the other day that there was a little bit of conflict about the naming of the album.
Heidi: That was definitely blown out of proportion. Anytime a band comes up with anything, it’s the label and the managements job to make you second guess, to make sure that is what is best. They make you think of many things. To let your mind open up and that is what that was all about. It wasn’t that they hated it or anything. In fact, as soon as we explained to them “Take it Like a Man” was the only option for us; that was it. We decided very early on that was what we wanted. We have a very personal connection with that term, so for us it was a no brainer. As soon as we explained the meaning behind it they were like “yeah, that makes perfect sense”.
HHM: The last time we talked you guys were working on this album and doing a lot of work in venues after shows. How do you feel that influenced the album? Is it different because you did so much work on it while you were on the road?
Carla: It was definitely a different way of doing things than when we did Goliath. On Goliath, we had our whole lives to write. There were lyrics on Goliath that Heidi and I had written when we were in Junior High or High School, and some little tidbits here and there along the way. With those songs we had the chance to perform them live in front of and audience before we recorded them. The new album we didn’t have that luxury. We didn’t have the time. We had to write it on the road and use stolen moments while we were on the road, the short time we had off, and then in the studio. I think the stress of doing that kind of opening our minds up to a different way of writing. Lyrically, especially, I think we dug even deeper for the album. Also being on the road so much in the last couple of years, we got a chance to write about some of the new experiences we have been having, the new feelings that have just come up in the last few years on this album.
Heidi: It was really cool to be all together. You know, when you write at home, you leave the studio, you go to your home and you reflect on everything alone. What was really cool was that we were all around each other and we could bounce ideas off each other right here (inside the bus), which was really different. I remember certain times where Carla and I would be sitting on one of these benches and both of us were writing and we were writing about the exact same emotion and we didn’t even know it. It was really cool to be able to have that dynamic on the road.
Carla: It was a really interesting experience.
HHM: You keep reading my mind.
HHM: I was going to ask if you guys collaborate on the lyrics or if you tend to write your own lyrics and then bounce them off of the others.
Heidi: no, not really
Carla: In our spare time, we each write separately, but I think what works best is sitting together and finishing each other’s sentences, literally. We do that a lot. We’ll have an idea for a song and we’ll sit in a room together and just bounce ideas off of each other. Our best material comes out that way.
HHM: With the album coming out, you also did the full album video stream.
HHM: That was pretty impressive. I thought it was a great idea. Was that the original concept or did it just kind of morph from a single video stream into the full album?
Heidi: Initially, when we sat down and talked about the marketing of it with our manager, we kind of wanted to do, in the two weeks before the album release, a 30 second live snippet of each song. When it came down to it, they had this brilliant idea of making a playlist and putting it on Youtube, rather than just a static picture of the album cover, because a lot of people nowadays stream. Show them what our performance is like, show them what we really are. It was such a brilliant idea the other one just got washed away.
HHM: Speaking of videos, Monsters Ball, I loved the zipper face
Heidi: Oh thank you!
HHM: Carla, yours was the little shuffle dance you were doing. For me it was so ironic paired with the music.
Heidi and Carla: That was the point
HHM: From the first time I watched the video, I was hooked with how it was done. I loved the change when it drops later in the song and everything goes wild. The whole thing was just a lot of fun.
Heidi: You know, that is the thing with videos, they are supposed to be creative and fun and show your silly side a little bit. In that one we wanted to create an actual “Monsters Ball” and have a jazz band playing where we were the jazz band, making it really jazzy then towards the end everything gets turned up. That’s kind of the way our shows are you know. This group of random people coming together and by the end you may have found some of your best friends in the pit. That’s what that whole song and what it is about, encompass the video as well.
HHM: “The Butcher” has an interesting story behind it. How did you guys come across that?
Carla: I think I just saw it online one day. Whenever me or Heidi find a story like that, we immediately share it with each other.
Heidi: Especially very interesting stuff like that
Carla: We researched it together and we thought it would be cool to write a song about this kid in the U.K. who brutally murdered his girlfriend and explore the mind of a psycho. We’ve written about killers before, on the Grim Sleeper we wrote a song called “World of Hysteria”. We really are fascinated by the mind of a killer, especially, in this case, someone so young. What went wrong? It was a really cool story.
Heidi: I was fascinated with it because I had just finished watching Dexter, the whole entire series. So for me, looking at the way he committed this and his obsession with Dexter, it was extremely interesting. The fact that he had this secret dark passenger like in Dexter, and his name was Ed. I was like “oh my god”. Ed made me do it. When she (Carla) and I were talking we were like “we have to do it”. It was either going to be called “Ed Made Me” or something like that, but “The Butcher” was just perfect for it. It explains the story and Dexter and the whole thing around why he just butchered her. Like Carla said, we are fascinated by the mindset of these types of people.
HHM: I know we spoke briefly earlier about the diversity of songs on this album with songs like “Thrown Away” and “For the Fight”, which is one of my favorite songs you guys have ever done. For me personally, “Dead Man Walking” is the song that speaks to me the most. I’ve got goose bumps just sitting here talking to you about it.
Heidi: That song is very emotional for us too. It delves into emotions that we really wanted to suppress. When it came down to it, I truly believe that there are a lot of emotions out there and that turning that negative into a positive has helped me personally and I know Carla as well. I know that if we can do that for ourselves it is wonderful, but if it can touch anyone else it is so much better.
HHM: You guys have been touring pretty much constantly for the last couple of years. Do you have any plans to take a break in the future?
Heidi: Right now, I can’t imagine. I mean, this has been my dream since I was twelve or thirteen years old and now it’s right here in mind hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love being home, but this is what I’ve dreamed of. I just can’t imagine sitting at home right now.
HHM: Thank you both for taking time with me tonight. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Heidi and Carla: Thank you. Make sure you pick up a copy of the album and come see us at a show.
Butcher Babies are currently on tour with GWAR and Battlecross through mid-September and are set to begin a new tour with Amaranthe in October.
Check out the photos from the show:
Butcher Babies live at Iron City in Birmingham AL
Photos by: Gary Flinn HHM/Beyond The Pit photography
or check them out on the HHM Facebook Page
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