With a visceral, hatchet to the temporal lobe sound and loads of visual appeal, Californian metal exponents Butcher Babies are looking to make their mark on next year’s Soundwave festival.
The band will play on the second day of the reformatted weekend long festival when it hits Sydney Olympic Park on February 28 and March 1, 2015, sharing the day's bill with the likes of Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and Judas Priest.
According to Carla Harvey - one of the band’s two dynamic frontwomen - the mere thought of coming down under has got the band pumped.
‘‘It’s pretty awesome,’’ she said just days after their announcement on the tour. ‘‘We woke up to a bunch of tweets from our Australian fans about how excited they were that we were coming there for the first time and playing the Soundwave festival.
‘‘We were blown away by the response and we feel very flattered and we’re looking forward to coming down and meeting everybody.’’
The five-piece, also comprising Heidi Shepherd on vocals, guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, formed in 2009.
The amalgam of each players influences has created a sound based around brutal, aggressive riffs mixed with sweet melodies and a vocal attack like few others.
‘‘We all have different influences, but collectively we could all agree that Slipknot and Pantera are our biggest influences as a band,’’ said Carla. ‘‘I grew up listening to old school thrash metal and classic metal and of course Pantera; Heidi grew up listening to more nu-metal and stuff; our drummer also nu-metal. Henry listens to Meshuggah and heavier stuff and our bass player loves death metal. We put it all together and we make it something that is distinctly Butcher Babies I think.’’
Over the years the band has earned itself a formidable live reputation.
‘‘It’s a lot of raw energy,’’ said Carla. ‘‘Butcher Babies ... we pretty much go on stage and do whatever we feel like doing. We are definitely a party metal band. We like getting up there and having a good time and we we’ve always been very punk rock in attitude and we continue that to this day.
‘‘We just go up there and have a great time with our best friends and hope that everyone else is enjoying it as much as we are.’’
Carla said she enjoyed sharing centre stage with Heidi.
‘‘We definitely inspire each other to bring out our best,’’ said Carla. ‘‘It was funny, we met seven years ago and we both felt something about each other. We didn’t know if we were going to become best friends or dire enemies, but we knew that it was going to be something.
‘‘We became best friends and wanted to work together and we push each other to be the best so that our project can be the best that it can be.’’
Carla said the band was currently working on it’s second full length release, a follow-up to the well-received debut, Goliath.
‘‘This next album is really important to us,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s the album that really says, ‘are you going to keep going as a band or just stop’. It’s really important to make it the best it can be.
‘‘I think that it’s going to be a little thrashier than the current album. We’re working with a different producer too and any time you use a different producer there’s going to be a bit of a different sound. We’re really looking forward to bringing back a little more of the thrash element to our music.’’
Carla said she had always been a fan of heavy music, which did pose a few problems for her growing up.
‘‘For me it was especially hard because I am half-black and growing up in Detroit if you're black all they want you to act like a stereotypical black person who listens to rap music and I wasn't ever going to conform,’’ she said.
‘‘I liked who I liked and I wanted to be who I wanted to be and so I got a lot of sh*t for liking rock music and I continued to like rock music.
‘‘It's always cool for me to see little black girls at the rock shows because I know how tough it is and it's so stupid because I always think, ‘when I think of metal, it's a place for everybody, all the misfits, so to be judged for going to a metal show is just stupid’. I love music, I love metal and I always have ... it's in my blood.’’
It’s for these reasons that Carla enjoys the idea of serving as a role model for other young women.
‘‘I was that girl at the front row of the metal show wanting to know how I could get up and do that but not knowing how because I was a factory worker's kid from Detroit,’’ she said.
‘‘I didn't think I would ever get out of Detroit, let alone doing what I am doing now. It is huge. We always take the time to talk to everyone who comes up and talks to us because Heidi and I both remember what it was like to be that little girl.’’
Carla said she also enjoyed the notion that Butcher Babies fans were not easily defined.
‘‘You can't even pinpoint an age group or a gender ... it’s everything from 13-year-old girls who are crying when they meet us to 50-year-old men, to women in their late 40s who say that they are so inspired and say why weren't we around years ago when they we listening to metal,’’ she said.
‘‘It's all types of people, genders and races and it's awesome. People were bored. They needed something new and fresh that wasn't cookie-cutter. All the metal out is so cookie-cutter right now and we wanted to shake it up and I think that we did and I think that we're still doing it.’’
Serving as a great inspiration to both Carla and Heidi was the late Plasmatics vocalist Wendy O Williams, commonly cited as being one of the first truly hardcore punk/metal frontwomen.
‘‘Heidi and I met in a cover band and we used to cover the song Butcher Baby, and when we first started our band we used to wear the nipple tape as a homage to Wendy O Williams,’’ Carla said.
‘‘She was just a woman that was very strong. She stood for something. She did what she wanted to and she had a very dynamic personality. That is missing from music nowadays and we want to bring that back.’’
While her exploits with Butcher Babies warrants extensive discourse, Carla’s life away from the band is equally interesting.
She is a renowned comic book writer, has recently published her first novel, and is also holds a degree in Mortuary Science.
‘‘I've always loved comics since I was a kid,’’ Carla said. ‘‘I was introverted growing up. All I really cared about was heavy metal and comics. I would sit in my room and draw and listen to Pantera. Nowadays I get to live out my dreams completely ... I get to play music and write comics. I'm still pretty much that angry 13-year-old kid in my bedroom but I'm doing it for real. I couldn't be happier.’’
Of the science side of things, she still has plans to revisit the field.
‘‘It's so hard to say when I'll be able to do it again but I loved being a mortician,’’ Carla said. ‘‘I loved being a funeral director, and I love helping people.
‘‘I'm thinking of taking some classes in grief counselling, so I can at least do that when I come home in my spare time. So many people can't get past a loss in their life and I'd really love to help those people and facilitate their healing.’’
For more details about Soundwave 2015 visit the official website here.
Check out the film clip for Butcher Babies - I Smell A Massacre here.