Fight like a man
You may have seen them, heard of them; maybe a friend may have told you about those two girls that look just too good to be playing heavy metal. If you still haven’t given them a chance, after they released two albums and toured the world non-stop for a good four years straight, well, maybe the time has come. Their latest release ‘Take it Like a Man’, produced by Logan Mader (ex Machine Head, he produced Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and Fear Factory between many), is a serious statement about how serious these girls and boys are about their music and how proudly they stand behind it. From ‘Monsters Ball’ to the re-released ‘Blonde Girls All Look the Same’, Butcher Babies blast a collection of finely performed groove metal, a love letter to mosh pits and nose-bleeding headbangers around the world. We met up with Carla and Heidi for a chat about the band, the albums and their love for trash metal.
HMA: First things first, your latest record ‘Take it Like a Man’. How does a man take it? What do you really mean?
Heidi Shepherd: That’s funny. The term for us isn’t gender-based at all. It’s actually more of a term of the fight, where you essentially learn how to take it like a man, that’s the term. When you go out and you fight for your life and you fight for what you believe in and you fight for yourself and for your emotions. There have been so many times in our lives that we had to essentially learn how to fight for ourselves and that term of “take it like a man”, that’s where it came from. You can hear a lot of those situations on the album.
HMA: What is the subject of the cover? How it relates to the title and the lyrics?
Carla Harvey: The cover is this little girl who is standing in this post like she’s going to throw a rock at you. She’s got a warrior helmet on and it’s basically just kind of a non-stated idea that as little girls you can dress us up in little dresses, but we’re going to be who we are and we’re going to choose our own path. Heidi and I both chose the path of being these tough girls that liked things that maybe were typically things that little boys would like. Just fighting and growing up.
Heidi Shepherd: I’m still girly here and there, just like the little girl wearing a princess dress. I’m still girly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m the outsider. That I’m not bad-ass at the same time.
HMA: The thing with fighting, it’s there. Everywhere in your music. You consider yourself as fighters then?
Carla Harvey: We absolutely are fighters. We’ve been through so much in our lives and I think that we definitely are. We grew up completely different, but we both have been through situations that would have brought down someone who wasn’t as strong as Heidi or I. That’s been our message all throughout this band is to keep fighting and be a strong person. Believe in the things that you want the person that you are.
HMA: What’s the purpose behind the songwriting? I’m particularly talking about the latest album. Do you have themes, how does it work?
Heidi Shepherd: Not really. I think usually we like to sit in a room and all five of us just go for it and we put ideas out. We call it throwing shit at the walls, it sticks. We love to do that. This last album was a little bit different though because we were on tour so much. So what we would do is on days off we would rent rehearsal spaces in different cities and write. Set up our equipment and write, or set up a computer in the bus and hash out ideas. It was really neat to do it that way, because it was written all over the country, the US, but also at the same time, it was cool because if I had an idea, Carla was right there. I didn’t have to call her or wait as she was right there. The way that we work lyrically is that everything’s game. And it’s interesting because as she said we did grow up very different, but at the same time, with the same emotions. It seems like whenever we write, it’s always the same and the subjects are always the same somehow. It works really well and we both basically finish each other’s sentences when it comes to the writing process.
HMA: Can you tell me more about the song ‘All Blonde Girls Look the Same’?
Carla Harvey: That’s the first song we ever wrote as a band and so we thought it would be really cool because on this album ‘Take it Like a Man’ we really wanted to go back to our roots, our thrash metal, very aggressive roots. So we thought what a more perfect way to do this then to take the very first song we ever wrote and put it on the album, but updated. With the way we’ve grown as musicians with our voices now and the way the guys play their instruments now and it was such a cool experience. The first time we recorded that song, we recorded it in someone’s apartments in a closet, in the worst circumstances you can possibly imagine. It was really cool to go into a real studio and re-record it and see what came out.
HMA: Going back to your thrash roots. This album is really heavy as fuck, I really like it. What made you decide to go back to your roots?
Carla Harvey: It was a conscious effort and it came naturally to us because that’s what we wanted to do all along, was play this aggressive music. With “Goliath” I think that we wanted to prove we could sing and scream and be lauded. And “Goliath” is a great album, but, and I don’t won’t to speak for everybody, but for me personally I’ll say that it’s not as aggressive as what I would have liked it to be, but it’s a beautiful album.
Heidi Shepherd: It’s a beautiful album, but for us it was needed at the time. I feel like every album that we do is needed at the time. It’s who we are in that moment and I think with going into the heaviest parts of “Take it Like a Man” we really wanted to write these songs that would make the pit go fucking crazy and that’s what we had in mind. We’re a very live band, on stage we’re very energetic, we’re known for our live show. So we wanted to write songs that would ignite the pit and really push the edge when it came to the audience. That’s where that kinda came from.
HMA: I’m sure many told you, but it really does come through. The first time I listened to that album specifically I imagined myself moshing. Or just head-banging, just wanting to destroy shit. It’s really good. Going all the way back, how did you both get into metal?
Heidi Shepherd: I’ve been into it my whole life. I think, for me, I wasn’t allowed to listen to it and all my friends in school were, they hung out at the skate park and those were the kids that were nice to me. Kids were assholes to me when I was younger, but those kids were nice to me. They didn’t care that I was funny looking; they didn’t care about anything else. I would tell my parents that I was going running, because I was an athlete. I would run to the skate park and hang out with my friends there. Two in particular were in a metal band and they were awesome. I’m still in contact with them. They would all just listen to metal and skate. That was my introduction into metal and it wasn’t until probably 7th or 8th grade, because I wasn’t allowed to listen to it. I didn’t even know it existed.
HMA: Do you remember the first time you actually listened to a heavy metal song? Which one? Can you remember that?
Heidi Shepherd: I don’t think I remember exactly which one it is. She has a really unique story about your metal.
Carla Harvey: The very first time I really listened to heavy metal was great, I always grew up a fan of music like Guns N Roses, stuff like that, but the first time I really heard metal I was sitting in the back of friend’s van. He had a shitty van and we were there listening to thrash metal. The very first song was “The Shortest Straw” by Metallica so that was my first introduction to metal. It made every hair on my arm raise up. The music was so aggressive and it felt how I felt on the inside. It was suddenly a release for all these emotions I had on the inside. I got really into Metallica, and Anthrax, and Megadeth. The big four thrash metal bands and just absolutely loved it. Thrash metal, speed metal. Then I found Pantera. I wanted to be Phil Anselmo growing up.
Heidi Shepherd: That’s how it was, because I borrowed a Korn CD from one of those kids and that’s the exact feeling I had. I don’t remember the first metal song I heard, because it was always playing whenever we were all hanging but I just remember really loving the aggression. Watching them all skate and stuff while listening to metal, It was really cool. When I borrowed this Korn CD and just, everything, Jonathan Davis was talking about was everything that I felt and I hid it in my closet. My mom found it, broke it in front of my face, she still talks about it and it’s funny. She broke it in front of my face and I was in trouble and grounded for a year, probably. But, I was more in the era of new metal with Korn and Slipknot.
HMA: Why was the video ‘Monsters Ball’ chosen to represent you all in the beginning? I know you have to struggle to make that decision.
Carla Harvey: Oh, “Monsters ball”? What happened with ‘Monsters Ball’ is, we started before the album was even finished. We were around playing and ‘Monsters Ball’ is such a great live song. We were playing it at all these festivals and people were instantly singing back and they had never heard this song before. It was just so obvious to us and the label and everyone that that needed to be the first single. We wanted to do that and ‘Igniter’ at the same time, but we couldn’t put them out at the same time. So, ‘Monsters Ball’ came out first and I’m glad that it did as It goes over so well live. We played it at all the festivals on this side of the pond last summer, before the album had even come out. People who don’t even speak English were singing ‘Can’t stop moving! No, you can’t!’ It was amazing! It was just pretty obvious that that was going to be the very first single.
HMA: You’ve been touring a lot since 2012. Am I right? Talking about this tour, do you have any highlights that you want to share? Any good stuff?
Carla Harvey: So many, it’s been amazing to come back over here. The first time we came was in 2012. Manchester was insane, It was so packed. The kids were crowd surfing all over the stage. Same thing in Newcastle and Glasgow was an incredible day of just sight-seeing the beautiful places, the Acropolis and museums and everything. Today, Heidi and I went shopping for the first time down in the Camden market. Every day we try to go out and do something. We went and held a golden eagle at the Falconry in Chester the other day. It’s important to us to get off the bus and do something positive each day and see the world.
Heidi Shepherd: In Newcastle, it was my birthday so we got up pretty early with two members of Single Psycho and Henry from the band and we went to the Newcastle castle and roamed around that. Then we had a full English breakfast and two Bloody Marys. And every day is just kinda perfect. We’re having such a good time.
HMA: That’s amazing. It’s not very common actually to go sightseeing for bands
Heidi Shepherd: For us, it keeps us sane.
HMA: Do you have any crazy tour stories that you can share?
Heidi Shepherd: Well one was so bizarre. We watched the Super Bowl with Marilyn Manson in Canada. We were on tour with Manson and the Super Bowl was going on, so we went to some pub with them and watched the super bowl. That’s pretty cool.
HMA: You’re kind of perfectionists when it comes to record albums. You take your time; you want it to be good. Do you have anything that you’re planning? Anything for your record release already?
Carla Harvey: We’re always writing. We’re going to take some significant time this summer to write our next album. But we’re always talking about different ideas that we have and getting excited about writing together. We try to keep each other pumped up about creating something fresh and new-
Heidi Shepherd: Something diverse and we have some good ideas for this next one.
HMA: Are you going to keep writing while on tour then or are you planning on just taking some time?
Heidi Shepherd: We’re taking most of the summer off to do it. We’ve been on tour for a long time.
Carla Harvey: In the past four years, I think all together we’ve had like six months off. We are going to take a little time off to actually sit at home and write the album and refresh ourselves. And plus we’ve been touring so much around the United States that it’s like … go home. Go home. You were here a couple weeks ago. We’re pretty excited about writing new stuff.
HMA: Thank you.
Heidi Shepherd: Thanks for having us.
Interview by Andrea Saini – Copyright 2016 © Heavy Metal Artwork. All rights reserved.