Taking their name from a Plasmatics song, Butcher Babies have controversial frontwoman Wendy O. Williams’ influence all over them, but the Los Angeles quintet, which features two beautiful but brutal female vocalists, have a heavy metal sound and attitude all their own.
After just performing in Scranton over the summer at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the group will be returning to NEPA tonight at Brews Brothers West in Luzerne for a headlining show that will showcase songs from their debut album, “Goliath.” The entire band chatted with The Weekender about songwriting and sexism in a phone interview late last week.
THE WEEKENDER: How did you decide on your aggressive sound with dual vocalists?
GUITARIST HENRY FLURY: We were just into metal and we wanted to play metal.
VOCALIST HEIDI SHEPHERD: Carla (Harvey) and I, when we first had the idea of starting this, it wasn’t like, “Oh, let’s have two vocalists.” We came from a band where we had five vocalists, so having two vocalists for us was very tame and very easy. We still wanted to work together and we both wanted to do something a little different, something that was fun, and we wanted to play in it together, but we both wanted to be vocalists and we both had different aspirations as vocalists, so it worked out really well that way. We knew it was going to be metal. Prior to meeting and stepping into a room with all of us, Carla and I talked to other musicians before who just didn’t get it. They didn’t understand that girls wanted to do metal.
And then we found these guys, and the second we all stood in the room together and we started playing music, every single one of our inspirations in music, through different metal genres, came together and that created our sound. We knew we wanted to create something heavy and something metal, and then when we all started doing it, it was like a whole different kind of metal than any of us had ever done, but it was interesting and very unique.
W: With two frontwomen in a very male-dominated genre, have you found it easier or harder to break into the metal scene because of appearances or gender barriers?
VOCALIST CARLA HARVEY: We’ve had it both ways. It’s kind of a pro and a con. We’ve obviously been able to open some doors that may have been harder for an all-male band to open, and there’s been a lot of controversy, which has gotten us a lot of publicity around two female vocalists, so that’s cool, but also we do hear very negative things sometimes. Not so much anymore, but in the beginning we actually did hear things like, “Women shouldn’t be playing metal. They should get back in the kitchen,” and blah blah blah. It’s actually pretty comical, the things people say.
SHEPHERD: There’s a lot of male musicians still who don’t think that women belong in this genre, and it’s funny because you look at a lot of the new bands in metal and there are a lot of females in this genre, and I think we’re taking a stand. Not just Carla and I, but females in metal taking a stand, being like, “F—k you guys. We can do what we want to do, too, and maybe we’ll do it better than you do.”
FLURY: For the guys, too, other bands will look at us and they easily dismiss us as the guy musicians. They just think, “Oh, the only reason you’re here is because of the girls.” We always end up proving them wrong once we get up on stage.
W: How did Wendy O. Williams influence the band’s direction?
SHEPHERD: She not only took a stand as a female in metal – she was the first female to really get out there and just be like, “I’m going to do what I want to do regardless of what anyone else tells me to do” – but she also did that for other musicians, male and female, for their individualism, their creativity. She kind of started a movement. Obviously, we are very inspired by that. Our old attire that we used to wear – she started that and came out dressed like that to prove a point. Just like Wendy, all of us are tired of the cookie-cutter bullshit in music nowadays where everything’s fake and you’re not allowed to be an individual. You’re not allowed to really present yourself in any sort of different way, and that’s where metal used to be and it definitely took a huge turn from that.
W: What inspires you to write a song?
HARVEY: It’s whatever we’re feeling at that moment. A lot of things that we write about are things that we fear, things that are inside of us, things that have to do with relationships or growing as a person or being stuck and needing to come unstuck – pretty much anything you can think. Heidi and I write most of the lyrics, the guys sometimes contribute as well, but we’ve both been through a lot in our lives, so we’ve got plenty of material. We’re not kids. We’re not 20-year-olds, so we’ve been through many, many things, and we get it all out in our music.