It\’s hard to believe Butcher Babies are just now releasing their sophomore album – Take It Like A Man, but it\’s true. Just two years ago, they unleashed Goliath upon the public and it was no looking back. Ever since then, it\’s been a whirlwind for the band led by Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd- the latter of which took some time recently to talk to us about the band\’s new album, which is out TODAY as well as their upcoming tour with GWAR and Battlecross.
FRR: We’re here to talk about the new album, the tour, all of this awesome stuff coming up for you guys. The new album Take it Like A Man, is out the August 21, the sophomore album, which has been 2-3 years in the making, how pumped are you to get this album out?
Heidi Shepherd: Obviously just so excited. We’ve been working on it since last November, that’s when we started. We want people to hear what we’ve been working on, we want people to hear what we have to say, we want to be able to play these songs live and how people know it, so we’re really, really, really excited.
FRR: The last time we spoke it was a phoner with you and Carla and it was to promote the covers EP and you guys were either writing or recording this record and I could tell how excited you were at that point. What are some of the things you’re trying to say with this album and wanting to address?
Heidi Shepherd: That’s a good question. For us it’s more…it’s a very emotional album, it’s very honest, I think one thing we were trying to accomplish was our cathartic feelings for ourselves. There’s a couple songs on there that mean a lot. Some things that we really needed to talk about, some things that were suppressed emotions and we really needed to bring those up and talk about it for ourselves and I think we definitely accomplished it with this album.
FRR: I’ve listened to “Monster’s Ball” so many times now, going off of that song, it’s hard to gauge an entire album off of one track, but I feel like with “Monster’s Ball” there are so many, it’s such an interesting song because musically some parts are heavier than the stuff from Goliath, some parts are also more melodic all in one song. How much is “Monster’s Ball” similar to the rest of the album, or is it different than the rest of the album?
Heidi Shepherd: The whole album is very diverse. It’s interesting that you say softer than Goliath and heavier than Goliath because that does encompass Take it Like A Man, it really does, but it’s so diverse. It’s really impossible to encompass the whole song, it really, really was. There is one song on the album that is complete clean vocals, soft, I wouldn’t say a ballad by any means but its soft- as soft as you’ll ever hear us. It’s slow, it’s emotional, and it didn’t call for any screaming so we didn’t scream in it. It was just a very, very emotional song. We didn’t do it on purpose, it’s like the song was a complete accident, but we loved it so much we put it on the album, but then the heaviest you’ll ever hear us is on this album too. I guess “Monster’s Ball” kind of encompasses it, but it was really difficult to find one song that would define the whole album, because you can’t really!
FRR: Monster’s Ball, let’s go back to the video, that alone is just so complex from the make-up to the scenes. How long did it take to shoot that video, and how long did the makeup take? It’s almost horror movie style makeup, it’s really cool.
Heidi Shepherd: Our makeup artists work for Knott’s Berry Farm here in Los Angeles and we wanted to do a spoof on little monsters here and there and Halloween makeup type stuff. It took for me probably about an hour, not too long, but the music video itself took 12 hours to shoot.
It was really fun, we wanted to do something a little quirky and a little different. All of our music videos have been very serious up to this point that we wanted to kind of show something a little different. With that, it was so fun to do not a performance video at the beginning, it was more so a spoof of a jazz band at a ball to keep it nice and light. It was fun. It was supposed to be a monster’s ball- it was really fun.
FRR: You pulled it off perfectly- it was awesome. I probably shouldn’t have been watching it at work but I was…they can deal with it.
Heidi Shepherd: Thank you!
FRR: I feel like almost everything Butcher Babies does has a very strong message to it from the imagery, to the lyrics, to the titles themselves. The album title Take It Like A Man, I know you guys had to fight for that title, which shows that it means that much more to you. What is behind the album title?
Heidi Shepherd: Well, at a very young age I had to learn how to basically take it like a man. It’s not a gender based emotion, it’s more of the term. You’ve had to fight, you’ve had to fight for your life, for what you believe, what you do, who you are.
It comes from the track “Dead Man Walking” on the album. That song, when you see the lyrics you’ll understand, it tells the story of the exact moment in my life when I had to learn how to take it like a man, and I was very young. I dealt with crazy child abuse as a kid and I never really wanted to ever talk about it, like I said, these emotions that I had suppressed, but I needed to. I needed to talk about it. I needed to put it on the album, I needed to get it out of my system to get over it and turn that negative into a positive. But with Take It Like A Man it shows the fight, it shows everything that we fought for in our lives and the lyrics says “Where were you when I learned to take it like a man / where were you when I learned to stand?” and for us it was just, it was the absolute perfect album title. The second we thought of it we weren’t going back, that was it- no backups.
FRR: I know exactly where you’re coming from with that, because I personally went through exactly the same thing you did. It’s a very sensitive topic and it’s up to you for when you talk about that. That’s what music and art is for because you can express that and I feel this style of music is perfect for that kind of thing because it’s a very emotional and angry subject for people who have dealt with that kind of thing.
Heidi Shepherd: Completely. And one thing I definitely wanted to do was use this for my outlet- my outlet for my therapy and if one person hears it and feels like they understand, to me that’s important, that’s the most important thing.
It is a very sensitive subject and something I never thought I would ever talk about, but I needed to. Those emotions that I felt in the lyrics in the song, it was the exact moment I needed to talk about and that moment carried on into my adolescence and adulthood and everything, so it was a subject and a title we needed to keep, so yea, we did fight for it.
FRR: One thing that I love about music, especially with songs like that, is that you can connect to it so much more especially when you’ve been through it, but I think sometimes what fans forget is that those are real experiences, and when you see that live you’re seeing that person relive and go back to that place. Have you thought about that song specifically, what it might be like playing that live and how emotional it will be?
Heidi Shepherd: We have played it live, only once though. We tested it at a show and it went over really well but it was interesting but I’ve become so used to that, using that emotion to fuel my show, because I wrote a couple of songs on Goliath that I felt that with as well, and it’s more of a fire now.
FRR: When it comes to the songwriting, with two main vocalists how do you write the lyrics? Is every song a cohesive songwriting process with lyrics and all of that, or how does it work with two singers? Is it harder or easier?
Heidi Shepherd: Oh, it’s so easy. She and I write really well together and actually when we write the whole band writes everything. I have say in guitar and drums they have say in lyrics. That’s really how it goes. There’ve been several songs when Chris our drummer has helped immensely with the song writing lyrically.
But with Carla and me it’s so easy. She and I work so well, it sounds so cheesy but we basically finish each other’s sentences when it comes to writing. She and I have been working together for 8 years, something like that, so it’s so easy and when it comes to delegating parts we write for the certain vocal range that I have or the vocal range that she has. It’s been a really, really nice process and it’s also really nice too because when we bring up those emotions I have someone to talk to about it and vice versa.
It’s interesting, Carla and I grew up in a different time, very different places, very different experiences but a lot of the same emotion, and she completely understands what I want to say and vice versa.
FRR: You guys are about to hit the road again for an awesome tour with Battle Cross and GWAR. That’s going to be one of the best shows ever.
Heidi Shepherd: We’re so excited- we’re so pumped.
FRR: You guys all know each other so well, you’ve toured together numerous times, you’ve toured with GWAR and you’ve toured with Battle Cross, so that’ll be awesome.
Heidi Shepherd: Well GWAR, this is actually our first time.
FRR: I thought you’d toured with them before, my bad.
Heidi Shepherd: No, no, Battlecross has, but this is our first time with GWAR so we’re so excited and it’s their 30 year anniversary so we’re pumped. But we toured with Battle Cross and those guys are just the coolest, the coolest guys and love them together. We did the whole Mayhem Fest together in 2013 so I’m excited to see all of them again.
FRR: Awesome. You guys are one of the only bands coming back to Louder than Life in Louisville. It’s a great way to kick off the fall and end the year too. So many good bands. Is it hard to go from playing a tour set to playing a festival set, or is it a bit easier?
Heidi Shepherd: No, for us we thrive at festivals. That is where we live and breathe. I think every band looks forward to those festivals. The Danny Whimmer team, they just know how to throw those. They know how to make it a great experience for everyone, they know how to make it a great experience for the bands and the fans. It’s so much fun. It’s a big reunion for us with other bands but when it comes to the shows, having that sort crowd that’s just ready to throw down, ready to party from the get-go, it’s so much fun, and I love it.
FRR: I love watching the crowd when you play- You’re out in the crowd, it’s like you almost don’t know what hit you when you guys play a festival- I love it so much.
Heidi Shepherd: It’s gonna be fun. They have some great bands this year at Louder Than Life We played with ZZ Top at Hellfest in France just recently and I’m so excited to see them again- I love ZZ Top, they’re great!
FRR: Thanks for taking the time and being so open and honest- I really appreciate it.
Heidi Shepherd: Yea! I’m excited for you to hear it- it’s a fun one.