A Conversation with Butcher Babies

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TICKETS: September 14 | Lakewood, OH    September 15 | Warrendale, PA    September 25 | Louisville, KY

 

By Lori Smerilson Carson – We all could use a blast from the past and Butcher Babies are supplying just that with their 2021 fall tour featuring their debut album GOLIATH which was released in 2013. The album was an immediate success with in the first week having reached 3,300 in sales and landed the Butcher Babies at 112 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and No. 3 on Billboards New Artist/Heatseakers chart. Now, Ohio area fans can see this extraordinarily talented band’s latest show BUTCHER BABIES VS. GOLIATH (which also includes new music) September 14th at The Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood, OH, September 15th at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale, PA and September 25th at the Louder Than Life 2021 festival in Louisville, KY.

Catching up with Frontwomen Lead Vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey just prior to this tour, they revealed details of what they and their bandmates Guitarist Henry Flury, Bassist Ricky Bonazza, and Drummer Chase Brickenden have planned for this tour, as well as some fun facts about their music, the obstacles they overcame to achieve success, past and present projects and what fans can look forward to.

Ohio Music Experience: This is exciting that you have your upcoming tour based on your (Debut album) GOLIATH LP. Playing it in its entirety.  How did that come about?

Carla Harvey: Well, we recently had a livestream event and we did GOLIATH in its entirety. We had talked about it as a band. That album is one of our fan favorites. Also, when we recorded it, you know, it was out like a decade ago. We’ve grown so much, we thought it would be really cool to breathe some new life into the songs and see what we sound like now doing it because some of the songs we never even played live before. So, the Livestream event doing GOLIATH was a success and we figured why not you know, bring this show on the road and do it for real too.

Ohio Music Experience: So, what can fans look forward to with the show?

Heidi Shepherd: Well for us, we’re really excited about kind of honing in on the GOLIATH era of the band. Bringing back, you know, some makeup that was of that era. Also, we’re going to be playing some new songs too. We’re gonna be throwing it back to Goliath, but we’re also really excited to finally be playing songs live that we had written in 2019 and released throughout the last year, so we’re very, very excited about playing those live too. It’s about time. People can expect that it’s just you know, classic Butcher Babies. It’s gonna be a party that everyone’s invited to.  Our stage show is high energy. Crazy, fun antics onstage and like I said, it’s a party! We’re finally excited to celebrate the return of live music, and so it definitely is going to be that. A celebration.

Ohio Music Experience: Are songs like “Last Dance” going to be performed when you speak about the new music?

Shepherd: Yes. Yeah, we’re very excited to finally play that song live. It’s so cool because each album that we’ve released has been an evolution of the band. Every time we have a different look. Our sound has just evolved so much over the years too. So, it’ll be really neat to be able to play the first songs we ever wrote in the band and some of the last stuff that we have written as a band together, and people will be able to hear that evolution pretty much in real time. It’s pretty cool.

Ohio Music Experience: What inspires your music when you write?

Harvey: So much has inspired it over the years. I think that all of our songs are very honest and raw. Most of them come from personal experience. You know, Heidi and I grew up very differently, but we’ve bonded together over finding a life in L.A., starting this band together, and we’ve gone through so many similar things that when we write, it’s like finishing each other’s sentences. So, a lot of times like I said, its straight from our own life experiences and it’s just raw emotion, but other times we also write about stuff like serial killers or stuff like that. So, it’s all over the map. Everything is very personal.

Shepherd: Especially in the last year there’s been you know, so many emotions. I think that it’s been pretty easy to pull out inspiration for music to a point that you probably become a little bit, I would say creatively dry after a while because we’ve gone through so much over the last year, that’s an easy inspirational moment. Now sometimes on the road you know, when you’re doing the exact same thing every day, you start to feel a little bit stagnate, and so we have songs about that too. There’s all sorts of different things that we can pull inspiration from. As Carla stated, sometimes like the classic horror films. Like those to us, horror, we love to write about horror. To us it’s like the number one emotion that we all can have in common is fear and I think that to us, that’s a really interesting thing to write about.

Ohio Music Experience: Would you say being from L.A. played into the band or how would you say it influenced the band?

Harvey: Well, neither are from L.A. originally. I’m from Detroit. Heidi’s from Provo, Utah. So, we both at very young ages you know, drove across the country and made that move to L.A. on our own, and I think whenever you make a huge decision like that, your music has to be affected by it. When you move from you know, smaller places to a big city like Los Angeles, there’s so much that you go through. So much growth that you have to make. So many sad situations that you get into. How can it not affect your music? And I think it is so cool and it kind of speaks to fate that two girls from completely different backgrounds and places met each other in this place that they decided to go to fulfill their dreams, and they were able to fill those dreams together. So, I think that journey is a huge part of who we are. How could it not be?

Shepherd: Yeah, you can hear it. There’s a song called “Magnolia Blvd.” which is off of our album GOLIATH and it’s been a fan favorite since we released it almost ten years ago. And it’s about those struggles in Los Angeles of trying to find yourself and trying to navigate this whole new world, and the reason we chose the title “Magnolia Blvd.” is because every single member of the band has lived on Magnolia Blvd. at one point or another in Los Angeles. Yeah, It was really special to us, but you can really hear those struggles and that growth in that song. So, that song is like classic (she laughed) we moved to L. A. Oh shit! Let’s grow up here. It definitely tells our story.

Ohio Music Experience: What prompted you both to go into music?

Harvey: Well for me, I’ve always been in love with music since I was a kid. It was my safe place growing up. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was from a broken home and music was like I said, the one place where I felt safe and I always knew that I wanted to sing in a band. My grandpa was an Italian opera singer. So, I do have some music in my blood. My uncles are jazz musicians and my mother’s actually a very beautiful singer and I think that’s something that she would have liked to do if she hadn’t gotten married young and had kids. So, you know music, it like just spoke to me. Metal spoke to me and I felt like what people were screaming about was how I felt on the inside, and I wanted to do that one day.

Shepherd: For me, I grew up in a very musically inclined family. My dad is the middle of twelve kids and they had a family band. So, every single wedding, funeral, everything was all centered around music. They would get together, they would play. Everyone would get up and sing. It’s basically you know, part of my everyday life as a kid. In my parents living room even to this day, they have a full-on studio. They’ve got the electronic drums. They’ve got every instrument you could want and it’s just been a part of my life, and I always wanted to be a rock star (she said with a whispered flair)! It’s funny, I was a finalist for the T.V. show Big Brother in 2007 and I’ve been watching the show back, and it wasn’t on the show. I was in the top sixteen and they narrowed it down to twelve. So, I was like the fourth that got released and I was reading back on my old, it’s so funny. I didn’t publish it yet, but I thought about posting it. I was reading back on the old questionnaire that they sent out, and the question is: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How did it work out? And I said, “a rock star! I opted for a radio D.J. to play and host music. The dream is still there though. It will never leave.” And It was the next year that we started (she laughed). Yeah, it’s always been a dream of mine and always been, you know, laying in bed, listening to these bands. Imagining that you’re the lead singer and what your antics would be onstage. So, it’s always just kind of been a dream, and when the opportunity came to play music and you know, build this, this life that we have, it was a no brainer. And never did we ever think it would end of here (she laughed), but we always dreamed it would.

Ohio Music Experience: Well, with your talent it’s no surprise, the both of you.

Shepherd: Oh, thanks.

Ohio Music Experience: You’re welcome. Did you have formal training since your families were musical?

Shepherd: Yes. Yeah, I was in choirs and vocal lessons at a very, very young age, and then throughout high school. I was in the Show Choir in high school and it was really fun, but it definitely doesn’t really train you for what we do (she laughed). It taught you how to use your vocal cords in like a more classic way which is amazing. I’m glad I learned that, but nowhere does it teach you to scream.

Ohio Music Experience: Yes, that is difficult. How did that come about?

Shepherd: Yeah, it’s something that over the years, you know we both grew up loving metal and both adapted different styles of screaming actually. It was a lot of trial and error. A lot of growth in that just getting on and trying to scream. When we were younger, we would just get up there and blaaaah, scream, scream, scream you know, what we thought was like more of like a punk yell, but as years went on, I took DVD lessons from a women named Melissa Cross and I learned the correct technique of what I was doing which saves my voice every single tour. It definitely is a technique. You can’t just get up there and yell and expect to have your voice the next day, especially not doing a two-month tour. So, there’s techniques to it that after I decided this is what I wanted to do, after we both decided this is what we wanted to do and were taking it seriously, lessons definitely came into play there.

Harvey: I took lessons when I was young, especially because of my grandfather. I took some Italian operatic classes when I was very young, but I wasn’t really into it because you know, when your young, people push you into classical everything. I played the violin since I was five all the way through high school and that kind of stuff, but there was still that passion that I didn’t have because I didn’t want to be doing that. I wanted to you know, sing rock and roll or sing metal. So, I was in bands too when I was in High School. I was in a band called Gods Girlfriend and we used to play all over the Detroit area, and it was a great learning experience. Learning how to write songs and sing in a band, but nothing like being in a band that is going on tour like Heidi said, for two months at a time where your vocal technique has to you know, be tried and true, and then outside factors kind of mess with it too. When I’m on the road I have to really baby myself. I can barely drink. I have to drink water all day long. And Hot tea all day long and really be careful of talking throughout the day. More so than anything else. So, there’s a lot that goes into it, and with Heidi and I, if you haven’t seen our show, people don’t realize how much goes into running around onstage because you have that adrenalin going which also kind of dries you out a little bit. Singing high notes and then screaming low notes. It’s like we’re up and down. We run the gamut while we’re onstage, so it is really intense and definitely something that we have to be prepared for.

Ohio Music Experience: You two are great role models for female musicians. What would you advise up and coming musicians or female led bands?

Shepherd: Well for us, something that we always say is perseverance because when we started, everyone told us no. Everyone says, “Oh it’s one in a million. Girls don’t belong in metal.” Every excuse in the book. We’ve heard it all, and perseverance. Just do it, do it, do it. In perseverance comes practice and honing your craft and I think for us, we’ve been a band now twelve years. For us it’s crazy that you know, over these twelve years, we’ve just kept playing. We just play, play, play. Keep going on tour. Keep playing. Play around your city. I think it’s easier now, more so now than ever for females to jump in and take that lead role. When we first started, there weren’t very many females in extreme metal. It was super rare and it was definitely a double edge sword. A lot of people weren’t interested in what we were doing, and a lot of people didn’t want to have anything to do with what we were doing. So, I think if you are a young female and want it, or even an older female. Females in general. You want to jump in, now is the time. Get in and you know, persevere. Hone your craft. Practice, practice, practice and be unique. Something that’s different. For us, we’re two females in the lead role in a band and that is super rare. Super different and very unique and I think that that garnered a lot of our success is the fact that we were very different. I think that a lot of people, a lot of young musicians, they try and sound exactly like their favorite band or vocalist, but do you. Do what’s unique for yourself and I think that that will prove to be way more successful than anything else.

Ohio Music Experience: That’s great advice.

Harvey: My advice is literally exactly the same because we’ve been answering this question together so many years (she laughed). I’ll tell you a quick story. When I was a young girl, I went to go see Everclear play ‘cause I was a huge fan of Art’s songwriting. At the time I had it in my head that I wanted to move to L. A and be a rock star. So, I went up to him and I was very um, very bold back then and I said, I want to be a rock star like you. What do I have to do? And he spent time with me and he gave me advice, and that was one of the greatest moments of my life. I told him about it years later when I went to go see his show. So, we love that question, what do you say to young people because its important. Everyone needs someone to kind of answer that question for them and just talk about what their experience was like. I think it’s important.

Ohio Music Experience: I just interviewed him and he did have a great answer to that question.

Harvey: Oh, that’s awesome!

Ohio Music Experience: What made you decide to take other female led bands on tour with you?

Harvey: ‘Cause why not? People have been asking for it for years and years and so we like to deliver. It’s something that we’ve never done before because we didn’t want to put the obvious out there. We actually did do a female fronted tour in Europe that was really successful and really fun, and I think that also planted the seed for us to do it here in the States, but what a better time to you know, celebrate all of these awesome girls in music that our first tour back since the pandemic. We’re just really excited to finally make this happen.

Shepherd: We’re like really, really close with these girls too. The singer of Infected Rain is my neighbor and during the pandemic we became super close and you know, it’s their first time to the United States and what better way to go than with someone you consider friends. Stitched Up Heart, we’ve been playing with those guys since we started basically. We started around the same time and played on the Sunset Strip together for years and years and years. So, it’s about time to take that show on the road (she laughed). About time that all of us, like best friends go on a tour together. We might as well just call it ‘The Beat Friends Tour.’ Yeah, it’s just a bunch of best friends going on tour together.

Ohio Music Experience: That’s very cool.  You mentioned Everclear. Who else would you say were your influences?

Harvey: Everclear is not the norm in my (she laughed) in my influence book, but something about that band. I really connected with the lyrics. Every song on their first album that I heard was just, it really spoke to me as a kid and I remember loving the honesty in the songs and wanting to one day write songs like that instead of just writing songs about bullshit or metal dragons or weird stuff like that. So, that’s why I loved Everclear so much, but I say that my main vocal influence is definitely Pantera. I was obsessed with Phil Anselmo when I was young. Like I said, I came from a not great you know, home life and the way that he screams. Like it felt like what I felt like on the inside you know, coming out and I was so into that and I wanted to do that with my voice too, but I’m also very influenced by Guns N’ Roses, PJ Harvey. All different kinds of people. I think having a multitude of different influences from different backgrounds. Like you know, I’m a huge fan of Miles Davis, and all that kind of stuff kind of makes you who you are and makes your project unique. Butcher Babies is so unique because all of us have crazy different tastes in music and we throw it into a pot and stir it up and get something that you know, something you’ve never heard.

Shepherd: Yeah, for me, I was more influenced by the new metal genre. Like as you can say, sub-genre when that came out. I was driven by the fear of it I think also. I remember seeing a kid at the skate park wearing a Slipknot shirt and I was like, oh my God! What is that? They’re so creepy I have to know. And then I heard their music and their music was almost like, it was almost ripped directly from my soul. Everything that they were saying and screaming about that to me was so crazy influential. I remember when I would get angry. I was the oldest of six kids. I was a rebellious teenager. Grew up in a Mormon family and I was just like, this is not for me! I would go in my closet and I would listen to these bands and I would pick out lyrics and scribble them down on a paper. It was almost like big scribbles of different words ‘cause that’s how I got my anger out. Now I get to do it onstage, but (she laughed) back then that was a huge influence for me. It was the emotion in these songs. You know, Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Static-X, those kinds of bands, but I’m also hugely influences by No Doubt. I remember seeing some music video for “Spiderwebs”.  I would sneak into my basement and turn on MTV and watch music videos, and I remember seeing that music video and Gwen Stefani’s stage presence and everything about her in front of the camera and I was just, her style. Her vocals, everything. I was like, I like that! That’s what I’m gonna be. This is who I’m gonna be, (she laughed). I’m gonna be Gwen Stefani. We’re polar opposites now, but that’s exactly how I felt watching that music video for the first time, and so I still love No Doubt. I could recite every single word on Tragic Kingdom.

Ohio Music Experience: You mentioned scribbling down stuff. I read you had a comic book years ago. How did that come about?

Harvey: Yes, in 2011, before we were even a touring band. I grew up loving comics. I still love comics. I still write comics. I always said I’d be a comic book artist or I’d be a metal singer and luckily, I got both after the world tried to tell me no multiple times, but we had a comic book come out in 2011. Stan Lee approved. We’ve got a great photo of Stan Lee holding up our comic and that was such a great experience for us to make that appearance at Comicon. Hopefully, we’ll do another one someday. You know, everyone in the band is very talented when it comes to storytelling, so I think it ‘d be great to do another, and yeah, it was just a really cool experience. I think that metal heads and comic book lovers really go hand in hand.

Ohio Music Experience: Do you draw as well or just the story part of it?

Harvey: I draw and write, so art is a huge part of my life. So, every year I put out a different sketch book. Pretty much anytime I’m on tour you can see me drawing all day (she laughed). Before we hit the stage and yeah, definitely one of my life’s passions. Like I said, for people who want to be musicians or want to be artists, there’s always someone saying you can’t make a career out of that. You can’t make a living on that and like I said, luckily now that is how I make my living by being an artist and singing in a metal band.

Ohio Music Experience: You definitely proved them wrong.

Harvey: I think I do everything out of spite. If you tell me no, then I’m just going to go after it.

Ohio Music Experience: Do you have any new videos or anything else for fans to look forward to?

Shepherd: We have a single coming out on August 27th. It’s called “It’s Killing Time Baby” and it’s featuring a very close friend of ours. We haven’t announced it yet fully, but it’s featuring a friend of ours and it’s one of the heaviest most fun songs that we’ve written. It’s actually about a comic book character, so that kind of ties it all in. We will be doing a music video for that too, but the song comes out on August 27th. Right before our tour starts. We’re super excited about it.

Ohio Music Experience: Was there anything else you want fans to know or anything else you wanted to add?

Harvey: We just want to get as many people in the door as possible to this next tour. We’re really excited to see you guys. We missed you. So, check out all of our tour dates and VIP packages on Butcherbabies.com.

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