DATE OF INTERVIEW: 20th February 2018
HEIDI SHEPHERD; CARLA HARVEY
METAL DISCOVERY: I’ve read that you regard your lyric writing as a form of therapy, so is Butcher Babies a cathartic outlet for you in this sense, in terms of both creativity and performance?
CARLA: It has been since the beginning. I think that’s the reason we’ve changed so much, as human beings, throughout the course of the band, because it’s given ourselves a forum to write about the things that we’ve been through. I mean, we go live onstage and scream about them, which is just like the best form of therapy, ever. We’ve healed ourselves!... no, I’m just joking. We’ve grown because of that and it’s really cool to see how many people have grasped onto the lyrics that we’ve written about ourselves and put them on something in their own life and they’re screaming back at us from the audience. It’s a really beautiful thing to be a part of.
(Carla Harvey on the positive impact of Butcher Babies' music)
"...it’s such a cool thing to hear because music had changed and saved both of our lives...It’s mind-blowing to think that something that we wrote can help somebody."
Heidi and Carla in their dressing room at the Resuce Rooms, Nottingham, 20th February 2018
Photograph copyright © 2018 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Butcher Babies Website:
Thanks to Jess Tagliani for arranging the interview
Official Butcher Babies Facebook:
Official Butcher Babies Twitter:
Official Butcher Babies Instagram:
MD: Like a mutual catharsis in a live context.
HEIDI: The exchange of energy is just like the best feeling in the world.
MD: When you’re researching stories and people’s lives that form the basis of some of your lyrics, do you engage with the feelings this engenders in the same way when you write about your personal experiences?
HEIDI: Yeah, we love doing that. We love diving into stories and putting ourselves in their place. On our first album, there’s a song called ‘Grim Sleeper’, which is about the serial killer Lonnie Franklin in the United States. He only killed African American female prostitutes, and he went away for thirteen years and came back and started killing again. And, it was a unique story for us because, A, he was a black man and that was very rare for, you know, black serial killers. And B, it’s his whole story. And, so, when we dove into the story, we put ourselves into the idea of being the victim and the idea of being the killer, and they’re kinda fighting back and forth. It’s really unique to put yourself in that mindset.
MD: Do you ever learn anything about yourselves through researching others’ lives?
HEIDI: Are you saying we’re psychopaths?!
HEIDI: You see that these people are just normal people with normal lives, with an underlying psychosis. I think it’s natural for us, as humans, to be intrigued by what goes through a psychopath’s brain because you’re thinking - what, am I like that?
CARLA: We’re all a step away from being like that. What makes a difference? You know, everyone is in the car and, at some point, thinks – man, I can drive into that tree, right now. What makes some people do it? What makes some people… you know, you’re actually fighting with someone and what makes you think – I can squeeze your fucking head together, right now? What makes one person not do it and one person do it?
MD: Civilization and so-called ‘normality’ are only a surface phenomenon, aren’t they…
HEIDI: It’s a bizarre thing, but we’re all kind of obsessed with it.
MD: How about fan feedback… do you get to hear about positive changes in people’s lives that were brought about by listening to your music?
CARLA: Yes, it’s such a cool thing to hear because music had changed and saved both of our lives. I had a chance, one time, to speak to a musician who had changed my life and they took the time to listen and acknowledge, even though I was just a kid. So, we try to do the same for everyone who meets us and tells us their story about how one of our songs changed their life. It’s mind-blowing to think that something that we wrote can help somebody. And it’s all different ages. It’s middle-aged women; older men; young girls… and it’s such an incredible thing for us to know that we’ve helped.
HEIDI: It’s the weirdest thing because, you know, you can have a bad day on tour where maybe we don’t see eye-to-eye with one of the crew or someone in the band… we rarely fight… I think we’ve only fought four times in our ten year friendship. But you can be having a day like that and someone can walk up to you and be like, “This song changed my life.” Or they come up and like, “Look, I have your band’s logo tattooed on my arm.” Something like that and it makes everything worth it. Everything. You know, missing your significant other at home or your pets or anything in your life that you miss and you leave when you alienate yourself out here on the road… [Laughs] It makes it all worth it because you get to share that moment with somebody.
MD: It must be very gratifying in that sense.
CARLA: Very gratifying.
HEIDI: It’s like she was saying, screaming the lyrics back at each other thing - that and someone coming up and telling you how this lyric helped them with this time in their life, those are the two best feelings I’ve ever felt in my life.
MD: I was chatting to a guy downstairs earlier, who’s thinking about getting each of you tattooed on his legs.
MD: Yeah, that’s dedication. That must be kind of weird seeing your faces tattooed on people’s bodies? But also very cool…
HEIDI: It’s really cool. We’ve seen all sorts of different renditions of ourselves on people’s bodies.
MD: Good and bad tattoos? Or are they all great tattoos?
HEIDI: They’re pretty much all great tattoos.
CARLA: As long as they’re good to the person that they’re on, that’s what’s important. That’s the most important thing. As long as they’re happy with it.
MD: You’re offering VIP unplugged sessions at each of the dates on this tour, so was it challenging in any way to rearrange your songs acoustically?
HEIDI: Not really. We took one heavy song… we play ‘Underground and Overrated’ acoustically, which is fun, but we took one heavy song, which is ‘In Denial’, off our first album, and made that one acoustic. That one was a little bit challenging because you definitely need to be plugged in for some of those parts so we had to kind of rewrite them but, for the most part, they kind of just write themselves.
MD: I think stripping down songs to just acoustic guitars and vocals can genuinely reveal how powerful and well written a song actually is in the first instance. Have you surprised yourself by your own songwriting through these minimalist rearrangements?
HEIDI: I think that I find a new love for the song, definitely. We play ‘Look What We’ve Done’ acoustically; we did that today, and I think that I almost like that better than… [Laughs]. I like them both, I really do, but you find a new love for it. It’s a new version. Even with ‘Headspin’, you know.
MD: Can you see yourselves doing an acoustic-based album in the future?
CARLA: Yeah, it could be fun, I don’t see why not.
MD: Out of interest, I gather you call your tour bus the ‘Silver Bullet’… is this correct?
CARLA: The one that we had was the ‘Silver Bullet’. Sometimes it’s the ‘Golden Nugget’, sometimes it’s the ‘Silver Bullet’… it depends on which bus. We have a new name for every bus. We haven’t named this bus we have yet, so…
MD: Was ‘Silver Bullet’ a reference to the old 80s movie with Gary Busey?
HEIDI: No, it was a reference to our bus was silver! I wanted to name it ‘Little Ricky’ because it was Little Ricky’s old bus, from ‘I Love Lucy’… their son, Ricky, that was his bus. So I wanted to name it ‘Little Ricky’ but, somehow, ‘Silver Bullet’ stuck… [Laughs]
MD: The final thing then, talking of horror movies, are we ever likely to see ‘Butcher Babies – The Movie’ and, hypothetically, if that did come to be, who would be your ideal director? You’ve done some acting, I gather?
CARLA: Yeah, we both have.
HEIDI: I was a child actor. I’ve acted for 20+ years… [Laughs]
CARLA: What about Guillermo del Toro… he makes incredible characters. He’d be awesome.
MD: The visuals in his films, as well. Have you seen ‘The Shape of Water’ yet?
CARLA: I haven’t seen it yet.
HEIDI: I didn’t think I’d like it but I really liked it. Also, I used to be fluent in sign language, so I could read it all completely, it was so cool. I say used to be, because you have to practice it to keep it up, but I haven’t. Er, yeah, either him or Eli Roth.
MD: Eli Roth, yeah. Or if HG Lewis was still alive… ‘Butcher Babies’ sounds like the title of one of his old films. Do you know that guy?
CARLA: I don’t know that guy.
MD: ‘Blood Feast’ and ‘Two Thousand Maniacs!’ are two of his most famous movies. Old sixties horror films.
HEIDI: Yeah, that seems like it would call for that. We’ve never even thought about that but that’s kind of a neat idea.
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
HEIDI: Thank you so much, very nice to meet you.
CARLA: Yeah, thank you.