It’s been a relatively fast rise for Butcher Babies. The quintet, fronted by eye-catching vocalists Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, released its debut album, “Goliath,” in 2013 and already has done time on the road with Danzig, Marilyn Manson, Black Label Society, Down, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch and many more. Now, they’re about to unleash “Uncovered,” an EP showing a truly eclectic range of roots and influences, and embark on their first headlining tour. Carla recently checked in with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to talk about those two exciting happenings, as well as her new book (“Death & Other Dances”) and more.
LIVE METAL: The Butcher Babies’ “Uncovered” EP comes out on Sept. 30. The songs, I think, are not what a lot of people probably would’ve expected. Tell me about the one you picked. I was not familiar with it before hearing your version.
CARLA HARVEY: We wanted to do songs what no one would expect us to do. We all dug deep and tried to find out what inspired us when we were kids and what we wanted to put out there in the world. The song that I chose was a song called “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” by Napoleon XIV. My stepdad used to always listen to that song in the car when I was riding with him, and I thought my stepdad was completely insane. But that’s a whole other story. (laughs) The song, obviously is about going insane after a breakup and getting taken away to a mental institution. Listening to the song and watching him tap the steering wheel was completely weird, and that’s why I chose that song. We could really reconstruct it and make it our own, too; we tore it apart. It was really cool.
Were you surprised by your bandmates’ picks?
No, I wasn’t. I loved Heidi’s choice, which was “Crazy Horses.” That song inspired her when she was a kid. She heard it, and it was the heaviest thing that she heard as a child, and her mom was a huge Osmonds fan. So it was a perfect choice, I thought. The Suicidal Tendencies song (“I Don’t Give a Fuck”) is a song that Heidi and I have been wanting to cover for years, and we’re all ZZ Top (“Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”) fans, too. So all the songs were great choices.
The press release that went out talks about this EP being in the tradition of Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. Were they actually an inspiration for this, or was that just something they put in the press release?
Of course. If you look at the cover of the album, you can see that Guns N’ Roses was an influence on this. I grew up on “Lies, Lies, Lies” and “The Spaghetti Incident” and “Garage Days” and stuff like that. My immediate thought for a cover for this was a throwback to Guns N’ Roses’ “Lies, Lies, Lies,” which was the first kind of covers/EP type of thing I had ever heard. And also, with the way that people have judged Heidi and I and the rest of our bandmates throughout the years, we thought it would be perfect to go along with that theme and throw it back to that album. All those bands are inspirations to us.
Do you have a favorite cover song of all time?
One cover I love is “Lay Lady Lay”—originally by Eric Clapton, of course, but covered by Ministry. I think that’s a brilliant cover. I love that song.
The other big thing for Butcher Babies coming up is the headlining tour. When you play a headline show, do you feel like there’s more or less pressure on you than when you’re supporting another band?
Honestly, I think it’s less pressure. I know that sounds silly, but it’s more of a party atmosphere for us. When we’re supporting a big act and it’s not our fan base, we get really nervous going up there. You never know how the crowd’s going to take you. We’ve toured with so many great acts, but going on your own, the crowd that is coming are your fans. They’re there to see you. They want to hear new songs. They’re already excited about it. You’ve already won them over from the start. There’s no pressure. You still get a little nervous, because you’re going on stage, but it’s a whole different feeling. It’s definitely more of a party atmosphere. We’re really, really excited to hit the road again and see what our crowd is like now that we’re actually headlining.
You might not want to give away too much, but what do you have planned for this tour? I know the earlier days of the band were a little more theatrical than it’s been in the past year or so. Do you plan to bring any of that kind of stuff back?
We definitely have some tricks up our sleeves. We’re not gonna bring back the blood or anything like that, but we definitely have some new stuff to play for everybody, including the “Uncovered” EP. I’m sure people are gonna want to hear that. The songs are so great on it. It’s such a fun album. I can’t wait for people to hear it.
Anti-Mortem is coming out on the tour with you. Do you know those guys yet?
I don’t know them yet. So it’ll be fun. I’m sure we’ll have a night of drinking to bond all together at the beginning of the tour, and we’ll all become best friends instantly.
I met those back in the spring when they came through here, and they seemed like pretty good guys, so I think you’ll have a good time.
I’ve heard good things about them, so I’m really excited to tour with them.
Early next year, you’re heading to Australia to tour on the Soundwave Festival. That’s pretty exciting. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah. We’ve never been to Australia, as individuals or as a band. I’ve heard that Soundwave Festival treats you better than any festival in the world. They totally pamper you. The fans are great. Everyone posts their pictures with the koalas after and everything. So I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a good time.
The band hasn’t been around for too long, but already, between (the Rockstar Energy Drink) Mayhem (Festival) and Marilyn Manson, Danzig, Black Label Society, you’ve gotten to tour with a lot of big bands, a lot of great bands. What’s been your favorite tour so far?
We’re so lucky, right? It’s insane the amount of bands that have been inspirations for us that we’ve actually gotten to tour with. It’s completely crazy. If I was 11 years old, I would be shitting myself. (laughs) I think the number one for me was Danzig and Doyle, because I adored Danzig growing up. I think I am a mini Danzig, actually—I like occult books and heavy metal. I think I’m a female version of him. (laughs) I was hugely inspired by him growing up, and that was an absolute pleasure to tour with him. And to watch him and Doyle on stage every night was so much fun. I’d stand on the side of the stage every single night they played and just watch.
Have you started looking ahead to the next full Butcher Babies album?
Yeah. We had the summer off to write. We’ll do some more writing as soon as we come back, and then we’ll go in the studio and record. I think it’ll come out summer next year. So it’s already in the works.
Do you have an idea of what kind of direction you want to go into with this, or is it too early for that?
I think we might bring a little bit back of the thrash element that “Goliath” was missing. We’ve always been a very party type of band, and we missed having more songs with that thrashy kind of sound. So I think we’ll definitely bring some of that back. But things are still kind of forming right now and getting put together, and we’ll see what happens.
You also just recently put out a book. You’ve described it as “creative nonfiction.” What do you mean by that?
I hate “memoir,” because I feel like, especially if you’re in a band, when you say “memoir,” people automatically think it’s a memoir about being in a band. And it’s not, so I don’t like to use that word. It’s semi-autobiographical, which is a nice way of saying it’s all true, but I don’t want my mother to know. (laughs) I feel like to protect people that you love and that love you, you sometimes call it “creative nonfiction” of “semi-autobiographical.”
I had a story to tell about a couple different careers that I had been a part of. I wrote it at first mostly for myself, and I thought even if it never gets published, I’m a better person for having finished what I started and for having come to terms with a lot of things that happened in the past and putting it down on paper and putting my feelings down.
I had a few of my friends read it, and they really liked it and encourage me to publish. So I did. They reviews are great, and I’ve gotten so many letters from people who say that my story inspired them and they’ve had the same feelings I had and they were glad that I talked about it. It’s been a great journey for me. I’m so glad people are enjoying it and reading it and picking it up.
Do you plan to do more writing?
I do. I started my second book already. So I’m working on that. We’ll see where it goes from there. I really enjoy the creative process, whether it’s writing songs with my band or touring or writing a novel or drawing. So I think I’ll continue to do it, for sure.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just I’ll see you guys on the road and a big thanks to all of our fans who have been supporting us for the last four or five years now. We’re doing all these amazing things, and that’s because of you guys. So thank you.