It was a cold and rainy day in Louisville, Kentucky. The gates for Louder Than Life opened late due to inclement weather pushing set times back. By the time Heidi Shepherd, Carla Harvey, and Henry Flury made it to the media tent, a damp drizzle hung heavy in the air. Lucky for me these fabulous Butcher Babies know how to Take It Like a Man and were fired up to talk about wardrobe, perseverance, and the inspiration behind their music.
Shockwave Magazine: Hi guys!
Heidi Shepherd: Hi.
Carla Harvey: Hi.
Henry Flury: Hey.
It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for talking with Shockwave Magazine.
HS: Of course! Thanks for having us.
Forgive me for shivering. It’s my first interview of the day, and I’m freezing as well.
CH: We were the first band of the day and we were freezing too on the main stage there.
HF: It was freezing!
HS: So we understand.
You freeze out there?
CH: Well, today we wore jackets on stage so we were okay. We wore leather pants and leather jackets.
HS: Oh yeah, we were all leathered up today.
CH: Yeah, you know, we dress appropriately for the weather. If it’s hot we wear a little bit less.
HF: Yes, we do have winter wear. We have winter suits.
I’m from Florida, so we don’t.
HF: We just came from there and it was so nice.
CH: I’m assuming you’re referring to the first look we ever did years and years ago.
Years and years ago with your Wendy O. inspired look?
HS: Yeah, but that was — we haven’t done that in like six years. So really, it’s like even indoors we’ll wear jackets and shit, so, it’s very — whatever we feel like for the day.
It’s always just so impressive to me. I love your wardrobe; I love your show. The showmanship is incredible …
HS: Thank you.
… but ultimately it’s about the music.
So you’re touring with Take It Like a Man now.
What does “take it like a man” mean to you?
HS: You know it’s so interesting, so many people are, “Oh, is that gender-based? What does it mean?” But the thing is, it’s not a gender-based term. It’s a term of fight. It’s a term of finding your inner strength and becoming who you are regardless of what everyone tells you to be, regardless of how hard you’ve been beat down. For all of us, at very young ages we had to learn to essentially take it like man and fight for our lives, fight for what we believe, and fight for what we want to be. You know, whether it be abandonment, child abuse, different things here and there, at a very young age each of us had to learn to take it like a man. That carried on into us as adults and our fight for who we are today, and our fight for our lives today. You know what I mean? Even going into our career today how many times we hear, you know just dumb shitty things people say that they have no idea who we are and probably have never even listened to the music. And it to us is, we just take it like a man and it just rolls off our shoulders because it really doesn’t matter. Of all the things that we’ve been through in our lives, something that someone else says or something that someone else does, that doesn’t matter. We’re going to define ourselves and that’s how it’s going to be. And so for us, that is basically what “take it like a man” means.
The lyrics in your music are very raw, but it’s very emotionally raw.
HS: Yes. We’re girls. (laughs)
HS: No, but boys do it too. But the things is that I think that that’s metal.
CH: Yes, I think that we really do draw our lyrics from our life experiences, and I think that’s essential. It’s essential to be honest in metal music because there are so many people out there that need to know that you’re going through the same things or you have gone through the same things that they’ve gone through. I think for us, the reason that we chose metal is because we were angry, disenfranchised, disenchanted kids. We needed an outlet for our own feelings, and it’s so cathartic to be honest and raw and passionate with the words that you write. When you put them on paper and then release them with your own voice to the world, it really does help you heal and become a better person.
HS: Oh completely. Even just through the writing of Take It Like a Man I’ve come into my own a little bit with different experiences I went through as a kid, experiences and emotions that I’d suppressed my entire life because I never wanted to ever talk about them again. Then one day on the bus we’re just driving along, we’re writing Take It Like a Man and everyone is kind of doing their own thing. It had been a couple months of writing and I was just sitting there and it just came to me, and it was something that — an emotion I really needed to get out for myself. It wasn’t necessarily “Oh, I’m going to talk about this because I think people might relate.” But it was more so, “I need to talk about this. I need to get it off my chest for myself to heal.” I think that a lot of artists, that’s what brings in the honesty with it. If anyone can relate to it later on down the line, well accomplished, thank God. But you know, for this — anyone who does art, this is why we do it. We do it for expression of ourselves.
And I think that, with the lyrics, when you talk about your vulnerability and that it’s very important to be honest in metal, I think because you do have such a tough persona on stage, to hear these vulnerable lyrics, it’s very empowering for anyone and everyone who listens.
CH: Oh, thank you.
HS: Yeah, thank you!
And I’ve heard people say, “Oh, you know with thrash metal lyrics don’t matter because you’re just in it for the emotion. And then other people say, “Oh no no, with thrash metal lyrics are everything.”
For you guys, lyrics are …?
CH: Well, obviously we’re vocalists so lyrics are everything to us. (laughs)
HS: I think it’s a collective whole. The lyrics could be over shit music and not mean anything. Every single member of this band has a hand in writing everything. It’s not like we’re only designated to vocals or writing lyrics, and they’re only designated to guitar, drums, blah blah blah. Everyone has a hand in everything and we write collectively so that everyone feels kind of empowered when we play these songs. And yes, we do have a strong persona on stage, and I think that’s from where we came from as kids and where we came from as young adults. And that whole having to basically take it like a man that we came through. And I’ve had so many people tell me, “Oh you have such a hard heart.” And I just say, well I was fucking born that way, I guess.
A hard heart? Because I don’t hear it. When I hear your music I really hear that vulnerability, and I don’t think you can have a hard heart and be so honest with your fans.
HS: I didn’t just open up to until … You can hear it on Take It Like a Man, a little bit on Goliath, but more so on Take It Like a Man.
I think it was you, Heidi, that said Goliath was therapy.
CH: Every writing is therapy, all the time.
HS: Yeah, going into Take It Like a Man I think it was just brought out because we were looking forward to that. We were looking forward to that therapeutic experience. And I think when anyone is having a hard time, just putting it down on paper and being creative with it helps a little bit.
How are your fans and the crowd receiving the new music?
CH: Everyone just loves the new music and we’re so proud. We really are. You know, one goal too was, we’re known as a live band and we wanted to have songs that go over live very well. On Goliath, we’re very proud of that album, but there’s not a lot of songs that you can play live and that …
HS: And we’re a band that kicks you in the face.
HF: Oh really?
CH: And I think in Take It Like a Man we have done that. And the fan response immediately was great. And we’ve asked people what their favorite songs are, and it’s such a wide variety that we know that we have made a great album.
CH: Yeah, it’s great.
The first time I saw you perform I felt like what you were doing was so unique, and it did remind me of my old punk days.
Really tough, strong women. Now I’m seeing it a little bit more and more, and these new young vocalists are coming out strong and empowered. What advice do you have for these new bands that are trying to come into their own in this industry?
CH: Just perseverance.
HS: That’s so cute, by the way.
CH: Yes, perseverance. You know, none of us are kids in this band and we’ve worked our whole lives to get where we are today, and we’ve been through a lot of shit to get where we are today. And you can’t give up on your dreams. If you have a strong dream, if you believe you should be doing something, you have to follow that dream and don’t let people tell you no. We’ve been told no by everyone.
CH: Parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends.
HF: Yep, you’ve got to fight, kick and scream to get heard, and don’t listen to, really, anybody. Really, just do what you want to do.
HS: I think all of us went through some crazy shit when we started this.
HS: I think every aspect of our lives, everyone told us no, and we sacrificed it all to make it happen.
HF: Important people that we trusted who were like, “don’t.”
CH: Family, relationships …
HF: I had a very important person tell me, “Do not do this. This is a bad idea.”
CH: I think it’s important for people to remember that a lot of people are afraid of living their own dreams out, and a lot of people have let go of their own dreams. So they don’t want to see you succeed, and it’s unfortunate.
HS: Especially as girls, you know how girls are so catty. You have girlfriends and they’re like, “Ah, that’s a one-in-a-million thing” and you’re like, “Well, I can be that one-in-a-million,” and so can anyone else if they work their asses off, they sure can be.
CH: I mean like what’s the fucking worst thing that could happen? What? You fail? You have the time of your life failing and then you go do something else? You know, after you’ve …
HF: Who cares? Who cares?
CH: Yeah, and like I said, you still have this great life experience to share, and it’s like, who cares at the end of the day.
CH: You know, as long as you try, you’re not failing.
I’m getting the wrap it up in two minutes warning. You are awesome! Thank you guys!
Thank you guys so much. Again, happy birthday, Carla!
CH: Thank you.
I was going to tell you guys to stay warm but I’m the one who is sitting here shivering like a chihuahua.
HS: I think we’re all in the same boat here today so I feel your pain, Babe.
HF: Yep, we’re all chillin’.
Thank you so much.