Butcher Babies: "It Wasn't About Sex -- It Was About Punk Rock"

Sunset Strip darlings the Butcher Babies have been one of my favorite acts for a while now. They first gained notoriety from a YouTube video performing Pantera's "Fucking Hostile" and the two frontwomen, Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, started out performing in leather pants with electrical tape over their nipples, as an ode to Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams, who had a song called "Butcher Baby."

Butcher Babies provide an awesome display of brutal power from start to finish in their performances, combining their unique blend of heavy metal, thrash, and punk with stage antics channeling Alice Cooper and a confident aura that is at once mesmerizing, sexy, and penetrating.

On top of it, the musicians actually have talent.

Butcher Babies are scheduled to perform Friday, July 5, at the Rockster Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at Ak-Chin Pavilion.

A lot of critics have called them fake or even sluts, suggesting they utilized their looks to get ahead in the world of metal -- but that's okay, since Harvey and Shepherd (who have both worked with Playboy TV) branded their music as "slut metal" a long time ago while joking around one night.

In reality, Butcher Babies possess a wealth of worldly experience, talents, and drive to make it big. For example, some may not know that Harvey has a degree in mortuary science and writes acclaimed comic books, or that her mom and Alice Cooper are distant cousins. Heidi Shepherd was raised in a Mormon household, works as an actress and radio host, and is a veteran of other punk and metal bands.

The rest of the band -- guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein, and drummer Chris Warner -- all have experience in other bands, and round out the Butcher Babies with their kickass instrumentals and attitude.

Let me tell you -- I've gotten hot and bothered on more than one occasion while seeing them live. In fact, I became infatuated the second I interviewed them at the end of last year, when Harvey and Shepherd dedicated "Fucking Hostile" to me at Joe's Grotto. The way to my heart? I guess it's boobs, blood, whiskey, and Pantera.

Butcher Babies' "Fucking Hostile"

After being signed to Century Media Records, recording their debut album, Goliath (out July 9), with producer Josh Wilbur (Gojira, Lamb of God, Hatebreed) and finishing up a tour with Marilyn Manson, the Butcher Babies embarked on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem tour. Catch them this Friday at Ak-Chin Pavilion alongside Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, Amon Amarth, and more.

Up on the Sun talked with vocalist Heidi Shepherd about touring the Marilyn Manson, the recording of Goliath, and why they switched out electrical tape for studded bras.

Congrats on getting signed to Century, the Mayhem tour, and your new album. It's coming out in a couple weeks, right?

It's crazy! Dealing with press, music, merch design . . . It's a full-time job! But I can't complain at all. I feel so lucky that I'm sitting here going back and forth with our artist and designs rather than sitting in an old job doing something I hate.

After the jump: "As an artist . . . You're always creating."

I'm excited you're coming out with more women's clothes! Yay! And there's going to be all sorts of cool stuff for Mayhem too. Custom tanks, girl clothes -- we finally got creative enough to do that.

Tell me a bit about the debut album out next week, Goliath. We're super-proud of Goliath. It's a collaboration of all our influences. You've seen us live in Phoenix, and you can see in our live show and music all our influences. Jason loves the death metal, Henry loves the experimental metal, I'm into nu-metal, and Chris, our drummer, is a nu-metal hardcore kid as well. Carla is into classic metal. So all those elements are in this album. It's very diverse. We really took everything we've created our whole entire lives, and the past 28 years of my life, personally, and it's in this album.

How long have you guys been writing it? It's everything I've been writing since I was 12 years old. I started writing music really young, so did Carla and the boys. And with this being our debut album -- I think Chris is the only one who has released a full-length album with his old band -- it kind of just pulls everything up into this point into one thing. But as a group, sitting down and writing this, it can't be defined. The second song we ever wrote as a band is on this album. And the song we recently leaked, "DeathSurround," that was written while we were recording this album. Henry had an idea and we loved it. It was written very slowly but very frantically at the same time. Laughter.

I think [that] as an artist or creative person you're always creating. You, as a writer, are always writing; an artist is always drawing -- you always have something going on in your head. It's funny, our guitar player walks around all day just writing something in his head and lightly jamming out. Even now, I have ideas for album number 2. [laughs]

Are there any tracks specifically that you are super-stoked for fans to hear? I'm sure it probably changes weekly. Yeah! With these songs being created in such a long span of time, I got so sick of hearing some of them. But at the same time I have so much love for the songs. There's a song called "Gasoline" which is really -- I love it -- we just played it on the tour we finished with Marilyn Manson.

It has a great melodic chorus and really heavy verses. I think it's one the hardcore kids will love. There's another one called "In Denial" that is lyrically personal to me . . . [long pause] That one is really . . . a cool song. But I think "Deathsurround" is probably a group favorite. And we're playing that at Mayhem as well.

Speaking of your tour with Marilyn Manson, how was that? It was wild! He is definitely a rock star. [laughs] As much as you can say that.

After the jump: What it's like touring with Marilyn Manson (in the dead of winter. [In Canada.])

You know, for us, we had never toured in the winter -- and I'm talking about winter in Canada. Negative 40, not exaggerating, and the Manson crew were warning us to be careful, and how there are places you have to wear gloves, and you can't let your skin touch the cold air.

And it was true! Cold, cold, cold . . . but we did it. And we learned a lot as a band for touring and playing live. And we also learned a lot as band watching Manson side-stage. I mean, he is this icon that we all grew up loving, and I don't think there are many people in the world who haven't heard that name before. To stand side-stage and watch him play every night to a sold-out crowd was incredible.

His crew is incredible people. His tour manager kind of became a mentor for us throughout the entire tour.

Well, with Manson, he's a great performer and you never really know exactly what you're going to get with him when you go to one of his shows. Oh, you never know! Every night it was different. That's why it was such a treat standing side-stage. Not only that -- with Twiggy too. You know, he's a performer himself, with his outfits.

When I spoke to Manson at Golden Gods, he seemed really into your music -- and, of course, the fact that you are hot girls. Do you have any party tales to tell? Well, we had to stay away from the party since we had long drives and we were driving our own RV. It was Responsibility 101 on that tour. But we did get to interact with him. We watched the Super Bowl with him and hung out here and there. There wasn't too much debauchery.

During the Super Bowl, there was this guy who had an iPhone app that would turn off any TV in the room. He was sitting behind us and he kept turning of the TV that we were all watching, giggling. It became very apparent that it was him, and before Manson could freak out his tour manager threatened the guy, threatening to sic Manson on him if he didn't stop. He stopped. [laughs]

Also, the second show in, we were playing a really high stage, and he came up to us said, 'That's a high stage. You girls should wear crotchless panties.' So that was the first thing he said to us. We were just like, 'Well, this is gonna be fun!' But in truth, he was very respectful.

The last couple times I saw you guys in Phoenix, you didn't rock the electrical tape. It's interesting that it seems once you guys were signed more clothes were put on . . . just evolving the outfits or what? Well, we hadn't worn it for a while before we were signed, but it's just because we got sick of it. I mean, Carla and I have been doing it for like five years. It felt less and less creative as time went on.

The only [reason] we did it in the first place was [as] an ode to Wendy O, trying to take on what she started. It lost its appeal to us in the sense of what it really meant. People were taking it as, "Oh, how sexy!" But it wasn't about sex -- it was about punk rock. And with society as it is today, we're like, "Fuck you, guys. Your creativity is out the door."

And our nipples hurt. The label is all for what we wanna do, but we came to that decision.

When it comes to live show, are you about imperfection or perfection? The one thing we really try to get across in our live shows is controlled chaos. Obviously, we want to be as tight as possible, but it's a live show and it's metal. Coming from a punk rock background, what happens, happens.

We're there to have fun and rock out and be that crazy energy to the crowd. If I miss a line, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. As long as I'm feeling the music and passion behind it, I don't care. Of course, I want to get the songs out right, but it's more about the experience and the show.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise