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INTERVIEW – Heidi Shepherd, Butcher Babies – August 2014

| 18 September 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Heidi Shepherd, Butcher Babies – August 2014
By Shane Pinnegar

Butcher Babies Heidi Shepherd 01

With a new covers EP – appropriately titled Uncovered – being released in a couple of weeks, and a coveted slot on the 2015 Soundwave Festival coming up, we got co-lead singer Heidi Shepherd on the phone to tell us about life in the band.
100% ROCK: Hey, Heidi, how are you today?

Heidi: Hello. How are you doing?

100% ROCK: Very good. Thanks for your time, I appreciate that.

Heidi: Oh, absolutely. Thanks for asking to speak with me!

100% ROCK: Butcher Babies were one of the first five bands officially announced for next year’s Soundwave Festival. Did that make you guys feel a bit special?

Heidi: Yeah, absolutely. It’s cool to be announced in general, and to be in the first five, it’s kind of cool to get that moment – because I know there [was] going to be a lot of huge bands added.

Butcher Babies Heidi Shepherd 02

100% ROCK: You must be looking forward to your trip to Australia. Have you not been here before?

Heidi: No I haven’t. I’ve actually always wanted to go. What was really cool about learning that we were going to be able to be at Soundwave, I’ve never been [to Australia] and that’s the number one country that I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve had family and friends go, but I’ve never been able to, so really excited to be able to go and play music.

100% ROCK: Is there anything aside from the shows, that you want to see or do whilst you’re in Australia?

Heidi: I want to see everything! No, we were all talking about how we want to see kangaroos and the koala bears. All the things that you would imagine would just be roaming around the city – but I’m sure we’d have to adventure [further] out for that! [laughs] I just really want to take in the culture and the people [and] just want to hang out there.

100% ROCK: Excellent. Well, we’re looking forward to having you.

Heidi: … and spend some time by the ocean!

100% ROCK: Yes, you’re coming at the perfect time of year for going down to the beach, believe me.

Heidi: Uh-huh! I’m really excited.

100% ROCK: Butcher Babies are getting a real buzz going – do you feel like you’re closer to crossing over to the mainstream?

Heidi: Mainstream, I don’t know. In the United States we have a lot of radio play and [we play a lot of] festivals. Overseas I have no idea how it is. I would hope that we’re kind of getting in that scene to become a household name. I don’t want to have it be where it’s so common that it sells out very quickly, I guess we want longevity. I’m just taking it in stride. You know how these radio bands come in and go out and come in and go out? I really want to be able to carry this on as long as we can.

Butcher Babies Heidi Shepherd 03

100% ROCK: Yeah. The band has got one hell of an image. For an older bloke like me, there’s reflections of Alice Cooper and Slipknot and Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson in there and so many other things. When you formed the band, how much of that did you sit down and map out instantly and how much sort of came naturally?

Heidi: Carla [Harvey, co-vocalist and partner in crime] and I were in a punk metal cover band together prior to Butcher Babies and we quit that and we decided we wanted to do something original. However, one of the songs that we did cover in that old band was Butcher Babies by Wendy O Williams.

Wendy O Williams spoke volumes to us, she’s one of the first females in heavy metal and she really went out there and didn’t really care what anyone else had to say. She really paved the way for females and herself to be a part of this genre. We wanted to kind of create the band as an ode to Wendy O Williams and that’s where the creation of the image in this band came from.

And you know, it’s changed a lot over the last couple of years. We got a bit tired of the image [Shepherd and Harvey would often appear topless except for some gaffa tape covering their nipples, in the same way Williams used to], and we’re playing to more diverse type of crowds age-wise, so you can’t really continue with that whole nipple tape [wearing] and everything that Wendy O. Williams [did]. Yeah, it was definitely conceptualised, and we came up with all of it, and [it has] changed over the years but we welcome the evolution.

100% ROCK: The thing I love the most about Wendy O Williams and The Plasmatics was that her and Rod Swenson, everything they did was kind of a subversive art project.

Heidi: Oh yeah.

100% ROCK: Do you approach Butcher Babies with a desire for a similar deeper meaning behind what you’re doing?

Heidi: Yeah, absolutely. Yes – being art, absolutely. One thing that we kind of wanted to go with, the whole trying to do shock value, is that it’s not really shocking anymore. The whole shock value at first was kind of to break up the monotony of the cookie cutter world that is the music industry. It’s all very safe and there’s not a lot of creativity that is put into it and everyone’s just trying to copy whatever – if a band’s hot at the moment then there’s 30 other bands trying to do exactly what they do.

I think, one thing that we wanted to do with this is do something different. Bring back the creativity [to the] artists, whether it’s the art of it, the music, everything. We wanted to bring back the art of creativity. It seems like it kind of went away and there’s just a bunch of suits around the table, and lawyers and everything. That’s one thing we’re cheering for and we’ve definitely accomplished since we started. Just by doing something different that has paid off.

Butcher Babies Heidi & Carla

100% ROCK: Excellent. You mentioned wearing the tape over your nipples like Wendy O Williams did in the early days. The image has changed a bit, you’re wearing a little bit more demure clothes nowadays, but you’re obviously not afraid to use your looks and sex to sell the band. Did that sexualisation of the band become a hindrance at all in terms of getting treated equally?

Heidi: The looks – that’s not using our looks to sell the band, that wasn’t it at all. It was the message of like, ‘fuck you,’ the big giant ‘fuck you’ to the music industry is what it was. That’s how Wendy O Williams – that’s how it was for her too, just a big, giant ‘fuck you. I’m a female and who are you to tell me what I have to look like and what I’m supposed to be?’

That’s kind of where it was… and it’s funny actually, a lot of people still talk about it, obviously, because that’s how it was at the beginning. It’s been about four years since [we did that] for us. But yeah – it definitely hurt the band. I think so. People have a whole different view point nowadays and it’s more of a sexual thing. Just like you said right there, where you’re using your looks and tits or whatever to sell it – but that wasn’t it! People wanted to sexualise it, rather than seeing it more punk, as to where it came from.

So I think it definitely hurt us. It doesn’t define me – that look right there isn’t who I am, I’m not like some nudist who runs around. I’m a normal girl with normal hopes and dreams. I’m not some crazy person, it’s just that that’s – I loved the image and the woman that started that look. I love what she started and that’s where it came from.

Butcher Babies Heidi & Carla 02

100% ROCK: Did you get any negative misunderstandings, shall we say, from other bands or from promoters and that sort of thing, who just wrote you off because of what you were wearing on stage?

Heidi: Yeah, of course, but we never did any major performances in that attire at all – that was all local. So in Los Angeles, no. Here’s a funny story, we played [a venue in] Nashville, we’ve played there several times, and every single time we go there – we’ve never worn the nipple tape there – but every single time we go there, people come up to us and they’re like, ‘okay, we need to make sure you guys aren’t wearing the nipple tape.’ We’re like, ‘we haven’t done that in four years!’

So yeah, we’ve definitely – it’s behind us, but I still love what it stands for and I will back up that story ’til my dying day. [laughs]

100% ROCK: It’s funny, isn’t it, with the internet you can Google a picture of you and those pictures are going to be right next to pictures of stuff you’ve done last week. It’s kind of lends a timeless quality to it, in a way.

Heidi: Yeah, they’re timeless in that sense, I guess. It’s funny, there’s a picture of Carla and I from our very first Butcher Babies show ever, in 2009, I believe it was, and it is the most hideous thing. I hate that photo and it’s everywhere. People have it tattooed on them and it’s like, ‘oh, can I not get rid of this?’

100% ROCK: It’ll never, ever go!

Heidi: No! They’re going to haunt me forever. [laughs]

100% ROCK: It doesn’t fade – photos don’t fade in the sun when they’re online, unfortunately.

Heidi: No. They’ll be there forever. I’m actually embracing it.

Butcher Babies Heidi Shepherd 04

100% ROCK: You guys have gone out doing bigger and bigger scale tours. You’ve toured with Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and more. They say don’t meet your idols, lest they disappoint you, have you had any let downs in that department yet?

Heidi: I did – just one. I love Marilyn Manson, I’ve met him a couple of times and flirted with him. Good grief. It like, it seems every girl has different stories. I will tell you my touring experience with Marilyn Manson was 100% fantastic. He’s wonderful. However, there was a tour at the beginning of our career, and we toured with one of my female inspirations. She’s been around since the late ’90’s and she’s been one of my biggest inspirations and she was A. Total. Bitch.

100% ROCK: Oh no.

Heidi: [She acts like] just the sweetest person, and she was a total false idol. The things that she stood for, she stands for anti-bullying, and freedom of speech, and everything, and she is just the biggest hypocrite, she’s a bully, she treats people terribly… so I decided to write a song about her, so there’s a song on Goliath called Dead Poet, and that’s about her.

100% ROCK: Okay.

Heidi: I’m not going to let everyone know just who that was. [laughs]

100% ROCK: Okay, so I’m not going to be getting a name out of you there, am I?

Heidi: That’s a no!

100% ROCK: Fair enough. I believe you were the oldest of six kids, growing up, so did that give you experience, to take the role of like, the big sister in the band now?

Heidi: Yes! I’m the youngest in the band by quite a few years, but I have and do act like the big sister, or the mom. I think it’s just a natural thing for me growing up like that. I always think I’m right. I think Carla and I work well together as sisters. In this band, definitely, we are a family unit and we do make decisions as a group and as a family, even we don’t all agree, we’ll come up with the right decision. [And] I think I’ve learned to curb my bossy, big sister ways in this band.

100% ROCK: Excellent. Goliath came out in the middle of last year, is it too soon to be thinking about a follow up yet? [At the time of talking the new EP hadn’t been officially announced]

Heidi: We’ve already – well, we have something coming out in October.

Butcher Babies 01

100% ROCK: Oh, cool.

Heidi: And we’re in pre-sessions for our new album.

100% ROCK: Excellent.

Heidi: Not too soon, but we have a release date already, and a producer, everything – so we’re definitely making that happening.

100% ROCK: What’s coming in October, is that an EP or a single?

Heidi: You’ll see! [excitedly]

100% ROCK: Oh, look at you and your little secrets.

Heidi: Yeah, sorry. [laughs]

Butcher Babies 02

100% ROCK: Last one to finish up with, just a hypothetical question. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording of any one record in history, which would you choose?

Heidi: Oooh. Iowa, possibly, by Slipknot, or maybe even Tragic Kingdom, by No Doubt. I can’t help it, I love No Doubt. But… mainly Slipknot.

100% ROCK: What did that mean to you growing up, when you first heard it?

Heidi: Oh! Slipknot for me, I’ve seen them, for the first time, a picture of them. For the first time, when I was a kid, I may have been 12 or 13, I don’t remember, but it was something that scared me. And I was intrigued – I was like, what is that, a band? I have to know what this is. It kind of made me who I am. I love things that scare me and I think that I’m intrigued by things that are questionable. I think that definitely paved the way for me as an adult.

100% ROCK: Excellent. Thank you very much for your time, Heidi. Good luck with everything and we’ll see you in Australia next year.

Heidi: All right, perfect. Thank you.

Uncovered by Butcher Babies is released September 28.

You can see the band at Soundwave 2015:





Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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