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| 4 February 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Innovative rockers – Butcher Babies – release the video for their newest single “Sleeping With The Enemy” which showcases the musical and diversity that Butcher Babies has cultivated over the years. The video for the track is darkly beautiful and artistic, so the band paired with Fashion and Culture magazine, BLACKBOOK to premiere it. American Songwriter in a feature on the band,  lauded the new single, saying, “‘Sleeping With The Enemy’ is the best of both old and new Butcher Babies. The turn to melodic vocals is seen executed by Shepherd and co-vocalist Carla Harvey with just enough intermittent screams to give texture and peaks to a song already hardened by chunky, power riffs.” In 2020, Butcher Babies released “Bottom of A Bottle” and celebrated 10 years as a band by creating and releasing their own signature wine called “Butcher Burgundy”. “Sleeping With The Enemy” marks the second release from Butcher Babies’ forthcoming EP, which is set for release in mid-2021.” We were able to grab some phone time with guitarist Henry to discuss new music and more…

Toddstar: Well, Henry, thank you so much for taking time out for us. We really appreciate it.

Henry: No problem. How’s it going today?

Toddstar: It’s good. I can’t complain. Not that anybody would listen, but it is what it is, right? How yourself, everything going well?

Henry: That’s right, exactly. Everything’s going good, yeah. I’m out here in Vegas, and yeah, we’ve just been very, very busy despite everything that’s going on, so it’s very nice, actually.

Toddstar: Good segue, you mentioned being busy, and you guys, just recently, on January 25th, launched a video for “Sleeping with the Enemy.” What’s it like for you guys to be out there trying to get this kind of stuff done when there’s so many roadblocks of getting anything done right now, even just the process of doing a video and everything else. What were some of the roadblocks you guys encountered that you just didn’t expect?

Henry: Well, the ones we didn’t expect were just, one, coordination. When you start to look at all the moving parts with shooting a video or recording or doing anything, you take kind of everything for granted. Pre-quarantine you could schedule things and you could have… Now, you have to think about flights, and risk, and people not wanting to be exposed or travel anywhere. I mean, there was all kinds of complications. And then, of course, we’re kind of scattered all over the country too, so trying to get everybody in one spot at one time to be able to do things. It’s a challenge. And I think working remotely and trying to be creative and put out content, and be able to do things virtually instead of what we’re used to, that has been a challenge. But I think that’s part of being in a band and being an artist is being creative, and being able to overcome these obstacles that… a lot of times we just put obstacles in our way, when we can really just work around them, and that’s kind of what we’ve been able to. So it’s been a really interesting experiment to say the least.

Toddstar: The video and single, “Sleeping with the Enemy,” is the second song I believe from the EP that’s going to be coming out. How is it creatively doing this kind of stuff? Like you said, you’re in Vegas and you guys are all split up, and is the process of writing, recording, the mixing, mastering, is it a lot different for you guys now? Or did you guys kind of do things separate before?

Henry: Well, here’s the thing, is we were doing this stuff pre-quarantine. So this EP, we did this a while back. And so, we are actually… haven’t had a lot of time in the studio since this had begun. So, yeah, we were able to do this kind of traditionally for this EP. But yeah, writing and being able to do all that, we all tend to write separately, especially since we’re scattered. So everybody will come up with ideas and we’ll pass them back and forth, and if we’re able to all get in the same room, that’s great. And a lot of great ideas come from just being the same room, playing together, hashing out ideas. And a lot of times when we’re in the studio too, we’ll get in the studio and ideas will just flow. And that’s a lot with these new songs, where we were able to sit down altogether and just kind of bang them out. And there were some ideas this one in particular, was just, the idea started, and we built on that, and I would say by the end of the day, we have that song done. So, that’s kind of how this thing… It came out really, really fast and working with Matt Good, he’s that kind of producer where he can just make things happen almost on the fly. It’s incredible how quickly he works. And so when you have an idea, you can just put it down and it’ll sound great. And we’re like, “Okay, I think we have something here.” And that’s very rare, when you’re in a studio situation to have something sound that good, that quickly, and it really gives you a chance to explore different avenues, and be like, “Well, let’s see if this works and if it doesn’t work, great, we can just scratch it and start over.” And that happened a few times, but for the most part, it was just like, boom, here’s an idea, and we can just write on that. And by the end, we’re just like, “This is awesome.” So he made it sound very… Like these new songs were very much a departure from our usual Butcher Babies sound, but that was kind of the idea going in, and we just kind of let ourselves… let’s express ourselves freely, and see what we can come up with, and this is kind of where we’re at.

Toddstar: I love the sound of the two new tracks. I think you nailed it when you said sonically it’s kind of a deviation from the path that you guys have cut in the past, but you guys didn’t totally break away from the sound either. Is this more a progress of you guys just growing as musicians and performers? Or is it you guys wanting to just make sure you’re always accelerating and taking everything to the next level?

Henry: Well, from the time we started, the idea was basically to experiment and try different things. So we all have different musical backgrounds and we all listen to different things. We all… We don’t sit around and listen to metal all the time. We’re listening to everything. We’ll listen to country and we’ll listen to pop. And we’re so influenced by so many different things, and it’s fun to incorporate those styles into our music as much as possible. And you’ll hear it in our music and the really, really cool thing about our audience and our fans is they pretty much embrace anything we try, and they’re always looking for like, what are these guys going to do next? Like we’re always trying things. And of course we tend to keep things on the heavier side. We’re always throwing curve balls at people. And we knew that if we kept on the path of just like, okay, this is the type of band we are, and we knew the kind of results we would get. So we were like, let’s really try something different this time, and see how people would react and see what they would think. And so we kind of went out on the limb. We were like, we’re used to throwing curve balls at people, let’s really try and reinvent the band and see what happens. And fortunately it worked out, because the response has been great. People love it. And so we’re really excited for people to hear more.

Toddstar: You guys all listen to different stuff, but what fans sometimes don’t understand is you guys aren’t, like you said, metalheads all the time. So, if a fan were to grab your phone or your iTunes account or Spotify, what are your couple of guilty pleasures, Henry, that might really kind of shock fans of the Butcher Babies?

Henry: Guilty pleasures? Okay. Well, like I said, country is a big one and I’m not saying so much pop country, but old country. Like I grew up listening to a lot of Waylon Jennings and Alabama and ’80s pop. I mean, dude, I was a huge Van Halen… I mean, that’s not a guilty pleasure, it’s Van Halen, but I would listen to anything like, dude, Prince, a ton of ’70s stuff, I literally listened to everything. Just the catalog is huge. And I’ll listen to stuff that’s like very… Or, dude, I’ll listen to atmospheric black metal one day, that’ll be for today. I’m like, I think I want to listen to some really washed out black metal that’s seriously, that’s… Seriously, we all listen to different stuff. Lately, Heidi and I, we’ve been listening to this band called Igorrr from France. And I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered that band, but if you get a chance, listen to it, and it is the most obscure, random thing you’ve ever heard in your life, but we love it. And we’ll listen to that stuff and be like, “That’s a cool idea, let’s think about that one. Maybe we can incorporate that somehow into our playing.” So yeah, it’s literally all over the place. Oh, and Sinatra, we love Sinatra.

Toddstar: Oh, and who doesn’t, right?

Henry: Another guilty pleasure. We’re in Vegas, so a lot of that Rat Pack stuff we love it.

Toddstar: Looking back at some of those influences and some of those guilty pleasures, and some of those things you just were smacked in the face with growing up, who are the players that kind of formulated your style? Not the fact that you wanted to play guitar, but who kind of formed how you approach it?

Henry: Well, that was various degrees growing up. And I would say, for me personally, if you were to think of a band that really defines our sound, we kind of… we tend to use Pantera or Slipknot, in that it’s very aggressive. It’s also very dynamic. They’re able to do a lot of things. And a lot of it is serious but fun at the same time. And that was one thing that we wanted our band to be, is we wanted to be able to deliver a serious message, but we’re always having a good time. And when you see us live, we’re having a good time, and we want the crowd to have a good time. So it’s that dynamic fun, aggressive, those are the influences that we have for the band. And for me personally, the one thing that made me want to play music more than anything, I went to see a show, Bad Brains and Prong, early on, I was in high school. And when I saw the energy and what they delivered on stage, I was like, “That is what I want to do. That’s the kind of band I want. That is… I want to go on stage and just blow everyone away.” And that’s what we got with Butcher Babies. And that was our goal is to get up on stage and just rip people’s faces off. And so any kind of band like that is an influence for us.

Toddstar: It’s always been fun watching you guys live. I’ve seen you out of Pine Knob in Detroit. I’ve seen you guys down at St. Andrew’s in Detroit. One of my favorite venues in the world, The Machine Shop up in Flint.

Henry: Oh, yes. One of ours, too.

Toddstar: When it comes to the shows like that, the smaller shows, and you mentioned The Machine Shop’s one of your favorite places, what is it about a venue like The Machine Shop, and The Butcher Babies that just makes it the right mix for an evening of killer rock and roll?

Henry: It’s funny, you mentioned that, because it’s like, it is odd, we get there and… I remember, the one thing about The Machine Shop, and there’s a lot of venues like that is, before you even get up there, you know what the energy is going to be, you know the people that are going to show up, you know that everyone’s going to be having a good time, you just know it’s going to be a good show before you even show up. Like, “This place is going to be awesome.” And it literally is consistently awesome every time we play. It’s the crowd… Some cities, they are just chomping at the bit to see a metal show, and you never… Some places are just like, “Well, I hope there’s a good turnout tonight, and I hope people show up.” The Machine Shop in Flint and there are certain cities, you just… It’s just going to be awesome. It’s going to be awesome no matter what, rain or shine, and the weather doesn’t even matter, people just show up in droves and go crazy. So, yeah that is definitely a highlight.

Toddstar: It definitely is. Seeing you guys on different stages, I know everybody wants to play the big arenas and do the big, huge sold out shows, but is there an intimacy at the smaller venues that you guys, as performers, kind of embrace from your side of the stage? I know from our side, we love being that much closer and actually being able to see and hear and feel, but what’s it like for you guys on that side of the coin on some of those smaller, intimate stages?

Henry: Well, it’s funny. I just read an interview with Alex Van Halen and he has really, really great quotes. And he basically said, he was just like, “The barrier in front of the stage is not a barrier, it’s just a thing that’s put in place to keep the audience from throwing up on you or drinks being spilled on you.” He’s like, “You and the audience are one.” And when you have these smaller intimate shows, you can really experience that, because it’s true. It’s like we connect with our fans. We don’t want a ton of space between us and them, because we’re all in this together. And so when you have those really small, intimate shows like that, you’re actually able to get into the crowd, and really… One of my favorite shows ever is we were playing in, I believe it was, Salt Lake City, the venue that we were supposed to play couldn’t for whatever reason, have the show that night, and we got moved to, basically, this biker bar. This is early on in Butcher Babies career. And it was a one level. It was like just on the floor, and there was no barrier. It was just us, and we were surrounded by people and the place was sold out. It was one of the funniest shows. The sound was whatever, but I was literally playing in front of people. And it was the most visceral, fun, crazy show we’ve ever played, and that’s so awesome. So, if you could do that every time, great, but we probably wouldn’t have gear left or anything working to actually be able to do our tour. So, yeah.

Toddstar: When you guys started out, who were the bands that you guys went out with that you seem to learn the most from both as a band, but also you individually? Who kind of took you guys under your wing or took you under their wing to kind of help show you the ropes as you guys were learning how to get out there and do what you do?

Henry: Well, what’s really, really cool about that is, when we started, we knew absolutely nothing. I mean, we… about touring or anything. All of us were completely… aside from I think Chris, our drummer, at the time, had done some small tours, but all of us, we were all newbies. We didn’t know. And so we just kind of winged it our first tour. So one thing that’s really cool about our band is we’re able to befriend everybody on tour. Every band we’ve ever gone out with, we’ve become super close with literally all of them, a crew, the members. And we learned so much from everybody very, very quickly, in how to conduct ourselves on tour and how to be professional. And it’s a very small world, the touring world, so people that are on one tour will be on the next tour. And it’s really important to maintain those relationships and conduct yourself in a professional manner. And so that was one thing we kind of pride ourselves on is, okay, do this, don’t do that. Act this way, be respectful, be on time, all of those things we learned really, really early on. But we had a lot of touring when we started, we were out there constantly. We did the Manson tour and we’re close with that crew. Black Label Society, we’re close with all those guys, were… Everyone Danzig, we’re friends with all those people, and we learned so much from all of them and they were so helpful. I can’t think of a bad tour where people weren’t super cool to us. There just hasn’t been one. So, we love touring. We really do.

Toddstar: I read a quote and it talks about the new track, and you made a reference to, “You thought we weren’t going to be heavy anymore, and boom, here’s a song for the stage.” What are some of the songs, alongside this one, that you know in your gut will always be part of that dynamic Butcher Babies show?

Henry: Well, I mean, there’s a few staples and the few songs that just resonate with the crowd. One of our first songs we ever released, it’s not on any of the albums, “Jesus Needs More Babies for his War Machine,” is just a song that as soon as we start playing that one, you just know that it’s going to be a good time. And that’s like the good times song. So, if we’re playing a festival or something, it’s like, “Okay, we’ve got to put this one in this set, because you know it’s going…” There’s a few songs that are like that. We kind of joke, off Goliath, there’s a song called “Deathsurrounds,” it’s kind of tucked away, it’s on track eight, I think, but at a festival, that song is the pit igniter. Like it’s just, you know what’s coming, and it’s almost like you have this little toolkit, songs in your toolkit. Okay. We know the crowd’s going to go off on this. We know we can set up the crowd with this song. We have a recipe for shows. We know exactly how to work the crowd and we sit down and we’re like, “Okay, this song is going to be good to kind of let people sing along and relax. This song… Okay. There’s way too much energy in the front of this set, so let’s move some of the songs to the end of the set.” So we’re constantly doing that. We’re constantly figuring out the best way to make sure that people are crawling out of that venue.

Toddstar: Going back to the quote, you said, “Just when you thought you weren’t going to be heavy anymore,” is it something that you guys really sought going into this? You thought maybe we’ve softened a little bit, let’s get back to the roots, let’s get back to what kind of got the stomach churned in the beginning.

Henry: Well, a lot of times, and this, for me personally, when I’m writing stuff, I’m always writing from the perspective of, how would this be from… I’m a fan of metal and I picture, how would this sound to me if I were in the audience? If I were watching a show and I was hearing this and watching this, would this be interesting to me? So I was always writing from the fans perspective. One of the challenges that we notice from quarantine is people are not consuming music in a live fashion, they’re… can’t go to shows, we’re not standing in front of the stage, and so they’re listening on their computers or listening in their cars. And we’ve never really taken that approach to writing. We’ve always done it from a live perspective, because we wanted… we were a live band. And then when you take the live out of the equation, then you’re like, “Oh, okay, well, this is a little bit different.” We want to have that energy. We want to have that heaviness, but we want to make sure that we have great songs and we can connect to those people without having it be right in front of them. So it was a little different take on how we kind of approach songwriting, where it used to be just, like I said, rip your face off, and we wanted to make sure that each song did that. And now it’s a little bit… We’ve had a little bit of different approach, still we’re going to have that material, they’re still going to have those aggressive songs, but, yeah, that’s a very different approach.

Toddstar: Henry, we are in a whole new world and especially for the music industry, you personally, forget the music for a minute, what are the one or two things that were kind of stripped from you when everybody went into lockdown and the pandemic hit that you miss the most?

Henry: Well, I mean, obviously, touring, we just… Man, we talk about all the time, we really miss it. And we’re hoping that there’s some sort of something that resembles normal coming into this year. Everything else I think has been really kind of eye-opening, where you start thinking about things that are… I mean, this is probably… this could be a very long answer, but you really value your relationships with people, your family and your friends. And that was one thing that was, I think, kind of missing when you just… pre-quarantine. You just kind of take a lot of things for granted and we don’t do that anymore. And so what do I miss? Like I said, being able to… like we can go out and do things, we’re in Vegas and things are open, but the touring and the being able to just go and travel and not have to worry about that is probably the big thing. Everything else has been pretty okay. Everything else has been really cool.

Toddstar: We can’t wait to get things open backup so we can get Butcher Babies out on the road. Hopefully, back up in Flint.

Henry: Absolutely, man.

Toddstar: We wish you well with the rest of the EP, and can’t wait till this thing drops later this year.

Henry: Awesome. Well, I appreciate it.

Toddstar: Thanks a lot, Henry. We’ll talk to you soon.

Henry: All right, man. Take it easy.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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