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Interview conducted April 29 2016
Interview published May 05 2016

"And then some people look at it and they're like "2 girls in a metal band? Absolutely not!"."

Butcher Babies visited Sweden and Stockholm for the first time ever and Metal Covenant met up with the band's front women, Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, before their set at the venue Klubben. Carla said that she was sorry that she kept coughing and she told me that she was a little ill, which was quite evident as her voice really didn't work out so great on the stage a couple of hours later. This problem didn't seem to affect Heidi at all though, because she was really stepping up as the great entertainer she is and the about 250 people in the crowd seemed really satisfied with the performance in the end too.

"But to be fair, every lead singer of every band usually gets more attention than anyone else in the bands."

Tobbe: So let's talk a little about your latest album, Take It Like A Man. It was released like 8 months ago and what do you see when you look at it now?

Heidi: I really think that it was very diverse. A great album with a lot of emotion and honesty to it. We were really aiming for that and we also, you know, walked away with a lot of great songs to play live, that people just go nuts to, so. As you'll probably see tonight. And even to us, it was, and still is, a very special album.

Tobbe: It was a little bit heavier than your first one, Goliath. So what made it come out heavier than on the first one?

Carla: We actually started off a very raw, aggressive band and I think we kind of scaled back a little bit for Goliath, because we had something to prove, I think, to everyone. We wanted to prove we could sing and scream, and be melodic, and do all this.

And we're very proud of that album, but like I said, we had started off much more aggressive and so with this new album we wanted to go back to those aggressive roots and in fact, the first song we ever wrote, as a band, is on Take It Like A Man; Blonde Girls All Look The Same [Rerecorded version]. (Heidi:) One thing that we're kind of missing out on, with Goliath, are those live songs that really get the pit moving and I think that's really what we were aiming for, and I think we nailed it, when it came to that.

Tobbe: You also have a ballad on the record [Thrown Away] and I'm not saying it's bad, but still I wonder why you didn't go heavy all the way?

Heidi: It was kind of an accident. It wasn't really something that was really gonna happen. Henry [Flury, guitars] had written this beautiful piece and we were kind of gonna use parts of it to flow from song to song, but then it ended up kind of taking like a life of its own. And I had this idea, that I couldn't get out of my head, for the chorus.

Even when he was writing it, I would listen and I really wanted to do something for a chorus for that. Carla had such a beautiful idea for the verses, so we were like "You know what? Let's try it! If it doesn't work, we don't have to use it.". But it's crazy; I remember I was walking in the studio when Carla was doing her parts and I'd had chills and "I mean, this has to be on the album!". And we kind of came up with the rest of it and we're very, very proud of that song.

Tobbe: You're both vocalists of the band, obviously, but what can you bring to the songs in the studio, besides your vocals?

Carla: Oh, besides vocals? I mean, we write all the lyrics and all the vocal melodies together and we both have, over the years, become pros at singing and screaming and we both have very different voices. I mean, I'd say; what else could you ask of a vocalist, but to write everything and, you know? (Heidi:) It's also arrangement and when we write together, as a band, there's so many times where Carla and I will be like "That would sound fucking cool!". You know "Half-time" or "Double that". You know, different things.

I mean, we are very hands-on when it comes to the music part of the band as well, but they're also very hands-on when it comes to the vocals. Everyone has free rein at everything. You know, the drummer [Chris Warner] has written guitar parts and the guitarist has written drum parts. It's just free for all, if you will.

Tobbe: If we look at the recording sessions of both your full length albums, in what way did the work differ between Josh Wilbur [on Goliath] and Logan Mader [on Take It Like A Man], respectively, as producers?

Carla: Our schedule was a lot different, as far as working with them. Josh moved way slower than Logan did. Logan moved so fast that it was almost frightening, because we were like "Wait! I'm sure there's a better take in there!", but he really captures a raw performance.

Whereas with Josh, I think we needed him at the time that we used him and I think he really brought out the best in all of us and took us to a different level of performance. (Heidi:) Something great about Josh, as well as his energy, is just he's so like "Yeah, let's do this! Yeah, that sound great! Try it again!". He was so particular and he wanted to have every little thing perfect, which is so perfect for that album. And then going in with Logan, he's like "Just do it how you do it.". So like first take in, he's like "That's great!" and we're like "What?" and he said "No. He nailed it.".

And what I learned in that is that sometimes you can dull your performance down by doing it over and over and over again, because I think our passion, that emotion, seems to decrease as the takes come along. So I really loved the fast pace, like the recording style of Logan's.

Tobbe: So what kind of benefits have been able to get in the music industry, just because you're women?

Heidi: Pff! [Laughs] (Carla:) None, really. (Heidi:) I mean, the thing is; it's a double-edged sword. It really is. People either are interested "Oh my gosh! What can 2 girls offer to a metal band?" and they wanna hear it. And then some people look at it and they're like "2 girls in a metal band? Absolutely not!".

So it's definitely a double-edged sword, but I think for us it's just lit a fire under our asses and really pushed us to really like hone our craft and focus on the talent and, you know, making it better and better as time goes on. We've evolved so much from the beginning, it's crazy. We sound like a whole different band from when we started 7 years ago, so.

Tobbe: Do you think it's too much focus on gender, rather than your music?

Carla: Of course. It's always gonna be like that, you know. It's really hard to get that out of people's heads. We are decades away from just being a metal band and people not saying "Female fronted" in front of metal. But, like Heidi said, it's a double-edged sword. It's okay. We call ourselves just a metal band. (Heidi:) Yeah, we're just a metal band. I don't really let any of that gender stuff bother me. To me, it's just so overplayed and it's like every single thing is about us being female, rather than us being musicians. And it's like [Gasps]. [Laughs]

Tobbe: But still, don't you both, like, contribute a little bit to the gender thing by always answering those questions that's related to it.

Heidi: But that's because people are curious about it. As much as it's overplayed for us, other people are really curious about it and I don't mind talking to people about it. I think it's natural to be curious about those things. And one thing, yes, we also give in to that as well, talking about how we want to influence young girls. So we do give in to it, in that sense as well. But for the most part, you know, we grew up both with male influences, so.

Tobbe: At the same time, the blokes in your band don't get as much attention as you do.

Carla: But to be fair, every lead singer of every band usually gets more attention than anyone else in the bands. (Heidi:) Do you know who the most people are in Of Mice & Men? [I choose to stay silent] Just the singer, huh! And that's what most people are like. Do you know who any of the other people are in Bring Me The Horizon? [I answer a quiet "No" and to be honest, I didn't have a clue about any of the people in those bands, lead singer or not, but I didn't want to ruin Heidi's moment.] See! That's kind of just the way that the music industry has been.

And it's unfortunate, because we've all been together, with the boys in the band, for 7 years and they are incredible musicians and they get up there and if you see 'em, it's not like the 2 of us and a bunch of dudes behind us. It's really a unit and you can see that and we work really well with each other. You know, they don't get as much attention when it comes to the media and the press, but when it's the fan base, we'll have people come up and "Oh my God! Henry. That guitar part…blah, blah, blah.".

Our fan base is really great about the equality of the band in that sense. It's not about the 2 girls. They see it as 5 people. (Carla:) They each have their own little distinct personalities too and it's really cool to see it and they're great guys.

Tobbe: Let's get back to the music instead. Butcher Babies is about to get ready for a new album, I've heard, and you're pretty frequent with album releases, I must say, with 2 EPs out too and just 2 years between the full length records.

Heidi: Yeah, you know, for us it's we're constantly creating and we don't wanna have to wait 2 years to release another album. We work on tour so much. And we've been on tour for 4 years, straight. Really! It's been a constant, so for us to take, you know, 2 months off in the summer and go into the studio and write is gonna be like so therapeutic for us and then also so relaxing. Because it has been "Go! Go! Go!" for 4 years, so taking, you know, just 2 months off, I think is gonna be a really great thing for us, personally and musically.

Tobbe: But still, touring is what brings the money nowadays, for most bands.

Heidi: Yeah, absolutely. (Carla:) You also gotta take care of your soul and your health and get some work done at home too, so it's necessary to take some time off once in a while.

Tobbe: But do you believe that too many musicians, like take it for granted, that as soon as they get some recognition or have a record out, they automatically are gonna make some money?

Heidi: It's such a misconception. [Laughs] It's a huge misconception. (Carla:) People have said nasty things about us "Well, you're rich now and go…". It's so funny, because we really live hand-to-mouth, especially, you know, when we're not touring, at home. And we've had to do many things to make money. We have our own little hobbies that we do to make money.

Music is not what it once was, but if you have a passion for it and you love it, you can do it anyways. (Heidi:) I even ventured into the stock market. I was like "Okay, I can do it on the road. It's fun for me. I love the stock market and it's a great money maker.". And then I realized that it's actually very difficult to do from the road [laughs] ,so maybe when I have time off later in life I'll jump back into it, because I really liked it.

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