HMT Interviews: Butcher Babies

Modern metal/metalcore band Butcher Babies have come a long way since their beginnings in 2009, most notable back then for the costume of choice onstage. Over the years though, the band has changed their image, wanting their fans to focus more on their music rather than their visual appeal. We talk about this and more with band founders, Carla and Heidi.

Greetings, thanks for this opportunity to talk to you. Before we begin the interview proper, could you give us a brief introduction to Butcher Babies?

Carla: Butcher Babies formed very organically back in late 2009.  Heidi and I had been working together and we wanted to pursue a new project so we literally called all the friends we knew that played metal to see if anyone was interested.  I think many people thought we were joking.  We got together with a few guys that shared our vision and years later, after a lot of hard work, tenacity and a bit of luck we are touring the world together.

I remember each person’s entrance in to the band like it was yesterday. I had been friends with Henry since 2002 and I called him to see if he knew any guitar players.  His response was, “uh, I play guitar, remember? ” He ended up being perfect.  Jason was teaching for an ex-boyfriend’s band the night I met him. He bought me a drink and mentioned that he played the bass and loved death metal. I insisted he come audition. Chris used to come watch Heidi and I play in our old cover band and was always over the top energy wise so when he expressed interest in drumming, it was perfect. It’s crazy how people come in to your life… Chance meetings become incredible partnerships.

Heidi: The way we like to describe ourselves is just “metal”. No sub-genres. Just metal. Our live shows have become what we are known for. The raw energy on stage is natural for us. We were all kids who grew up in the pit, rocking out and we are still those kids. Just the rocking takes place on the stage now.

How did the name of the band come about?

Heidi: Wendy O’ Williams was one of the first females in metal to really take a stand against the music industry. She didn’t allow them to tell her how to look, how to dress, how to ask, how to sound, etc. Wendy was a woman of independence and individuality. A woman who went against the grain and wasn’t afraid to tell people where to shove it. We loved her punk rock attitude. One of her biggest singles was Butcher Baby. Between her attire and our name we thought it would be the perfect ode to our first lady.

Carla: We started this band as two women who were highly inspired by the late and great Wendy O Williams of the Plasmatics.  In fact, when Heidi and I were in a punk metal cover band previous to forming Butcher Babies, we would cover the Plasmatics’ tune Butcher Baby.  We thought it was the perfect tribute to someone that we admired greatly.

The band recently released its third album, Lilith, on 27 October 2017 which charted number 1 on the iTunes metal section. How has the overall response been so far from music critics and fans?

Carla: The response has been overwhelmingly positive for Lilith.  Most importantly, we’re proud of it.  We took a year off of touring to immerse ourselves in the creation of Lilith.  We’ve come so far as people and musicians since the inception of this project and Lilith really shows our growth.  The fans have really latched on to the songs on this third album; our set on our current tour is very heavy with new songs and people are already signing along, which is a great sign!

Heidi: We’re so proud of this album and the hard work we all put into it. After spending quite some time writing and re-writing and then writing again, we came out with a product that we hold so dear. We were nervous about what the response would be because we spent so much time. We were and are so pleased to see such a positive response. It seems like people are really gravitating to a diverse group of songs. Meaning, there isn’t just one or two stand out tracks. We’re very proud of that.

The album was being produced by Steve Evetts (Suicide Silence, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Cure), how did the band decide upon choosing Steve Evetts as the producer for Lilith?

Heidi: We’ve know Steve since we started and have always been a fan of his work. So when the option to work with him came up, we jumped at the opportunity. He’s known industry wide for allowing a band to sound like a band. No fake instruments, sounds or notes. Everything you hear on the album was performed by us. It’s become so easy nowadays to just insert fake drums or sounds or autotune into a band, stripping the natural raw sound away. We’re proud to say none of that exists on this album and we have Steve to thank for that. He’s a hard worker and we cant wait to work with him again.

Carla: Steve is known for being an old school producer that doesn’t rely on autotune or fake instruments or other new school tricks.  We have been looking for someone our whole career that could harness the live, raw sound we are known for.  Seemed like a perfect fit, and we couldn’t be happier with the result of our union.  I think we all become even better at what we do by working with a producer like Steve.

Lilith, being the third full-length album for the band, how was the recording process like with Steve Evetts? Were there any memorable mentions during the entire process?

Carla: As I mentioned before, Steve doesn’t do auto tune, fake instruments or pitch correction.  We’ve never relied on those things before, but Steve takes being authentic to another level.  He pushes you, HARD. As a vocalist, I welcome this. I really enjoy being pushed to do things outside my comfort zone. When you achieve something that you thought you previously couldn’t do, the satisfaction is like nothing else.  There were times when I wanted to leave the vocal booth and strangle Steve, but at the end of the day I was a better vocalist after working with him!

Heidi: The recording process was really fun this time around. I like the writing process and the live shows. The studio typically stresses me out. I think most musicians like the recording process, but I usually don’t. Weird, I know. However, Steve really had a way of making me feel ultra-comfortable. There were days that I would be having a hard time in the booth and he just had this calm about him that made it okay. We’d make some coffee hang out for a little bit then I’d jump back in refreshed. In a situation that would be very easy to get frustrated, he keeps it exciting.

Back in October 2016, after the band’s tour with Megadeth, drummer Chris Warner got engaged and left the band shortly after. How the band did come upon your current drummer Chase Brickenden?

Carla: We actually did the Megadeth tour with Chase.  Chase showed his dedication by learning our catalogue in a very short time prior to that tour.  We have been friends with Chase for years; he was actually the drummer for Otep when we toured with her back in 2012.  A member change was not something any of us wanted but we needed to have someone who was passionate about being in the band and wanted to put the work in, especially with a very important album to make.  Chase put in the time and hard work immediately and was a huge part of our evolved sound on Lilith.

Heidi: Yes, Chase was already in the band when we toured with Megadeth. We just hadn’t announced it yet. When we realised that we needed to replace Chris, we immediately knew that Chase was the guy for the job. We didn’t even call anyone else. It was a natural transition. His energy is something we really needed as a refresher. He’s a pleasure to be around and is a beast behind the kit. His dedication from the moment we called him to now has been undeniable. We had never changed our line up before and it was definitely scary but, Chase made it easy.

Being a musician for over a decade now, fronting the band and touring the world with some of the biggest names in the music industry, what are some of the best memories you had?

Heidi: Every tour breeds great memories; it’s hard to think back past the decade and not feel a little bit nostalgic. Between touring with our idols to becoming idols to a younger generation it’s been such a wild ride that I couldn’t be more grateful for. When I’m having a hard day, I think about all the crazy things I get to do and can’t help but smile. We’ve worked our asses off and are still working hard to get the most we can out of these years. One of my most fond memories was in Japan for Knotfest. We took the stage in front of 30,000 people in a country we had never been to. Yet, they knew all the lyrics and were screaming them with us. It was a surreal moment in my life. Anytime we’re in a country where they don’t speak much english, yet they are screaming our lyrics back at us, it always takes my breath away. Another great memory was the Mayhem Festival in 2013. This was a tour that really put our name on the map and still one of the best summers of my life.

Carla: It’s crazy to think that Heidi and I have been working together for a decade.  Even though we have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, I still have some of the fondest memories of the excitement we had playing shows in our old cover band back on the Sunset Strip, covered in blood and feathers. After we played a show, bloody feathers would be blowing down the sunset strip sticking to shoes for days. Some other memories I’ll never forget are getting the call for our first big tour with Marilyn Manson, signing a record deal with my best friends, walking out on stage at Hellfest in front of 50,000 people with every hair on my arm raised. I’ve been able to meet some incredible people: Mike Patton, Tony Iommi, Billy Gibbons and the list goes on. I’ve shared stages with so many people I admire. I’ve looked over side stage to see the likes of Corey Taylor and Dave Mustaine watching us play our set. I’ve been able to see the world. I’m grateful for every moment.

Currently the band is touring the States in support of the new album, and in January 2018, the band will be touring Japan as well. What will the Japanese fans expect from Butcher Babies and will the band be touring the other Asian countries as well?

Carla: Japanese fans got a taste of us at Knotfest Japan, but this time we will back with a full headlining set full of their favourite BB songs. We definitely hope to tour more Asian countries.

2018 will definitely be another busy year for Butcher Babies with the extensive touring in support of the new album. Are there any particular countries that the band would like to perform in?

Heidi: I can’t wait to play in South America. Heavy Metal runs through their veins and we all would love to take to their stages. All of our friends who have toured South America come back with incredible stories of their devout fans.

Carla: It is very exciting for us still to travel to new places.  We’ve been to a lot of Europe, Australia, Japan and the Philippines. I would love to see more of Eastern Europe, like the Czech Republic. I would love to go to Finland, where my grandmother is from.  Asian countries fascinate me, would love to see more of those!

This would be the last question from me, are there any parting words for your fans in Singapore?

Carla: THANK YOU! We can’t wait to meet you!

Heidi: Thank you so much for the support and we can’t wait to visit your beautiful island!

Lilith is out now via Century Media.

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